Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Daemonic Love

The Daemonic Love

Man was made of social earth, Child and brother from his birth, Tethered by a liquid cord Of blood through veins of kindred poured. Next his heart the fireside band Of mother, father, sister, stand; Names from awful childhood heard Throbs of a wild religion stirred;— Virtue, to love, to hate them, vice; Till dangerous Beauty came, at last, Till Beauty came to snap all ties; The maid, abolishing the past, With lotus wine obliterates Dear memory's stone-incarved traits, And, by herself, supplants alone Friends year by year more inly known. When her calm eyes opened bright, All else grew foreign in their light. It was ever the self-same tale, The first experience will not fail; Only two in the garden walked, And with snake and seraph talked.  Close, close to men, Like undulating layer of air, Right above their heads, The potent plain of Daemons spreads. Stands to each human soul its own, For watch and ward and furtherance, In the snares of Nature's dance; And the lustre and the grace To fascinate each youthful heart, Beaming from its counterpart, Translucent through the mortal covers, Is the Daemon's form and face. To and fro the Genius hies,— A gleam which plays and hovers Over the maiden's head, And dips sometimes as low as to her eyes. Unknown, albeit lying near, To men, the path to the Daemon sphere; And they that swiftly come and go Leave no track on the heavenly snow. Sometimes the airy synod bends, And the mighty choir descends, And the brains of men thenceforth, In crowded and in still resorts, Teem with unwonted thoughts: As, when a shower of meteors Cross the orbit of the earth, And, lit by fringent air, Blaze near and far, Mortals deem the planets bright Have slipped their sacred bars, And the lone seaman all the night Sails, astonished, amid stars.  Beauty of a richer vein, Graces of a subtler strain, Unto men these moonmen lend, And our shrinking sky extend. So is man's narrow path By strength and terror skirted; Also (from the song the wrath Of the Genii be averted! The Muse the truth uncolored speaking) The Daemons are self-seeking: Their fierce and limitary will Draws men to their likeness still. The erring painter made Love blind,— Highest Love who shines on all; Him, radiant, sharpest-sighted god, None can bewilder; Whose eyes pierce The universe, Path-finder, road-builder, Mediator, royal giver; Rightly seeing, rightly seen, Of joyful and transparent mien. 'T is a sparkle passing From each to each, from thee to me, To and fro perpetually; Sharing all, daring all, Levelling, displacing Each obstruction, it unites Equals remote, and seeming opposites. And ever and forever Love Delights to build a road: Unheeded Danger near him strides, Love laughs, and on a lion rides. But Cupid wears another face, Born into Daemons less divine: His roses bleach apace, His nectar smacks of wine. The Daemon ever builds a wall, Himself encloses and includes, Solitude in solitudes: In like sort his love doth fall. He doth elect The beautiful and fortunate, And the sons of intellect, And the souls of ample fate, Who the Future's gates unbar,— Minions of the Morning Star. In his prowess he exults, And the multitude insults. His impatient looks devour Oft the humble and the poor; And, seeing his eye glare, They drop their few pale flowers, Gathered with hope to please, Along the mountain towers,— Lose courage, and despair. He will never be gainsaid,— Pitiless, will not be stayed; His hot tyranny Burns up every other tie. Therefore comes an hour from Jove Which his ruthless will defies, And the dogs of Fate unties. Shiver the palaces of glass; Shrivel the rainbow-colored walls, Where in bright Art each god and sibyl dwelt Secure as in the zodiac's belt; And the galleries and halls, Wherein every siren sung, Like a meteor pass. For this fortune wanted root In the core of God's abysm,— Was a weed of self and schism; And ever the Daemonic Love Is the ancestor of wars And the parent of remorse.