Ralph Waldo Emerson: The World-Soul

The World-Soul

Thanks to the morning light,   Thanks to the foaming sea, To the uplands of New Hampshire,   To the green-haired forest free; Thanks to each man of courage,   To the maids of holy mind, To the boy with his games undaunted   Who never looks behind.  Cities of proud hotels,   Houses of rich and great, Vice nestles in your chambers,   Beneath your roofs of slate. It cannot conquer folly,—   Time-and-space-conquering steam,— And the light-outspeeding telegraph   Bears nothing on its beam.  The politics are base;   The letters do not cheer; And 'tis far in the deeps of history,   The voice that speaketh clear. Trade and the streets ensnare us,   Our bodies are weak and worn; We plot and corrupt each other,   And we despoil the unborn.  Yet there in the parlor sits   Some figure of noble guise,— Our angel, in a stranger's form,   Or woman's pleading eyes; Or only a flashing sunbeam   In at the window-pane; Or Music pours on mortals   Its beautiful disdain.  The inevitable morning   Finds them who in cellars be; And be sure the all-loving Nature   Will smile in a factory. Yon ridge of purple landscape,   Yon sky between the walls, Hold all the hidden wonders  In scanty intervals.  Alas! the Sprite that haunts us   Deceives our rash desire; It whispers of the glorious gods,   And leaves us in the mire. We cannot learn the cipher   That's writ upon our cell; Stars taunt us by a mystery   Which we could never spell.  If but one hero knew it,   The world would blush in flame; The sage, till he hit the secret,   Would hang his head for shame. Our brothers have not read it,   Not one has found the key; And henceforth we are comforted,—   We are but such as they.  Still, still the secret presses;   The nearing clouds draw down; The crimson morning flames into   The fopperies of the town. Within, without the idle earth,   Stars weave eternal rings; The sun himself shines heartily,   And shares the joy he brings.  And what if Trade sow cities   Like shells along the shore, And thatch with towns the prairie broad   With railways ironed o'er?— They are but sailing foam-bells   Along Thought's causing stream, And take their shape and sun-color   From him that sends the dream.  For Destiny never swerves   Nor yields to men the helm; He shoots his thought, by hidden nerves,   Throughout the solid realm. The patient Daemon sits,   With roses and a shroud; He has his way, and deals his gifts,—   But ours is not allowed.  He is no churl nor trifler,   And his viceroy is none,— Love-without-weakness,—   Of Genius sire and son. And his will is not thwarted;   The seeds of land and sea Are the atoms of his body bright,   And his behest obey.  He serveth the servant,   The brave he loves amain; He kills the cripple and the sick,   And straight begins again; For gods delight in gods,   And thrust the weak aside; To him who scorns their charities   Their arms fly open wide.  When the old world is sterile   And the ages are effete, He will from wrecks and sediment   The fairer world complete. He forbids to despair;   His cheeks mantle with mirth; And the unimagined good of men   Is yeaning at the birth.  Spring still makes spring in the mind   When sixty years are told; Love wakes anew this throbbing heart,   And we are never old; Over the winter glaciers   I see the summer glow, And through the wild-piled snow-drift   The warm rosebuds below.