Ralph Waldo Emerson: Fragments

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff


Pale genius roves alone,
No scout can track his way,
None credits him till he have shown
His diamonds to the day.

Not his the feaster's wine,
Nor land, nor gold, nor power,
By want and pain God screeneth him
Till his elected hour.

Go, speed the stars of Thought
On to their shining goals:?
The sower scatters broad his seed,
The wheat thou strew'st be souls.

I grieve that better souls than mine
Docile read my measured line:
High destined youths and holy maids
Hallow these my orchard shades;
Environ me and me baptize
With light that streams from gracious eyes.
I dare not be beloved and known,
I ungrateful, I alone.

Ever find me dim regards,
Love of ladies, love of bards,
Marked forbearance, compliments,
Tokens of benevolence.
What then, can I love myself?
Fame is profitless as pelf,
A good in Nature not allowed
They love me, as I love a cloud
Sailing falsely in the sphere,
Hated mist if it come near.

For thought, and not praise;
Thought is the wages
For which I sell days,
Will gladly sell ages
And willing grow old
Deaf, and dumb, and blind, and cold,
Melting matter into dreams,
Panoramas which I saw
And whatever glows or seems
Into substance, into Law.

For Fancy's gift
Can mountains lift;
The Muse can knit
What is past, what is done,
With the web that's just begun;
Making free with time and size,
Dwindles here, there magnifies,
Swells a rain-drop to a tun;
So to repeat
No word or feat
Crowds in a day the sum of ages,
And blushing Love outwits the sages.

Try the might the Muse affords
And the balm of thoughtful words;
Bring music to the desolate;
Hang roses on the stony fate.

But over all his crowning grace,
Wherefor thanks God his daily praise,
Is the purging of his eye
To see the people of the sky:
From blue mount and headland dim
Friendly hands stretch forth to him,
Him they beckon, him advise
Of heavenlier prosperities
And a more excelling grace
And a truer bosom-glow
Than the wine-fed feasters know.
They turn his heart from lovely maids,
And make the darlings of the earth
Swainish, coarse and nothing worth:
Teach him gladly to postpone
Pleasures to another stage
Beyond the scope of human age,
Freely as task at eve undone
Waits unblamed to-morrow's sun.

By thoughts I lead
Bards to say what nations need;
What imports, what irks and what behooves,
Framed afar as Fates and Loves.

And as the light divides the dark
Through with living swords,
So shall thou pierce the distant age
With adamantine words.

I framed his tongue to music,
I armed his hand with skill,
I moulded his face to beauty
And his heart the throne of Will.

For every God
Obeys the hymn, obeys the ode.

For art, for music over-thrilled,
The wine-cup shakes, the wine is spilled.

Hold of the Maker, not the Made;
Sit with the Cause, or grim or glad.

That book is good
Which puts me in a working mood.
Unless to Thought is added Will,
Apollo is an imbecile.
What parts, what gems, what colors shine,?
Ah, but I miss the grand design.

Like vaulters in a circus round
Who leap from horse to horse, but never touch the ground.

For Genius made his cabin wide,
And Love led Gods therein to bide.

The atom displaces all atoms beside,
And Genius unspheres all souls that abide.

To transmute crime to wisdom, so to stem
The vice of Japhet by the thought of Shem.

He could condense cerulean ether
Into the very best sole-leather.

Forbore the ant-hill, shunned to tread,
In mercy, on one little head.

I have no brothers and no peers,
And the dearest interferes:
When I would spend a lonely day,
Sun and moon are in my way.

The brook sings on, but sings in vain
Wanting the echo in my brain.

He planted where the deluge ploughed.
His hired hands were wind and cloud;
His eyes detect the Gods concealed
In the hummock of the field.

For what need I of book or priest,
Or sibyl from the mummied East,
When every star is Bethlehem star?
I count as many as there are
Cinquefoils or violets in the grass,
So many saints and saviors,
So many high behaviors
Salute the bard who is alive
And only sees what he doth give.

Coin the day-dawn into lines
In which its proper splendor shines;
Coin the moonlight into verse
Which all its marvel shall rehearse,
Chasing with words fast-flowing things; nor try
To plant thy shrivelled pedantry
On the shoulders of the sky.

Ah, not to me those dreams belong!
A better voice peals through my song.

The Muse's hill by Fear is guarded,
A bolder foot is still rewarded.

His instant thought a poet spoke,
And filled the age his fame;
An inch of ground the lightning strook
But lit the sky with flame.

If bright the sun, he tarries,
All day his song is heard;
And when he goes he carries
No more baggage than a bird.

The Asmodean feat is mine,
To spin my sand-heap into twine.

Slighted Minerva's learnd tongue,
But leaped with joy when on the wind
The shell of Clio rung.