"The Riddles of Emerson's "Sphinx"" American Literature 27.2 (1955).
The true poet will be "the translator of nature into thought" and will not get lost in unintelligible private symbolism, in "the mistake of an accidental and individual symbol for an universal one." Nearing the end of the essay, Emerson notes that he looks "in vain for the poet whom I describe.... We have yet had no genius in America, with tyrannous eye, which knew the value of our incomparable materials, and saw, in the barbarism and materialism of the times, another carnival of the same gods whose picture he so much admires in ." It is a passage which seems to predict the advent of . Emerson continues, "yet America is a poem in our eyes, its ample geography dazzles the imagination, and it will not wait long for metres." Eleven years later, 's appeared as if in answer.
"Loving Bondage: Emerson�s Ideal Relationships." 5 (1991): 183-93.
On 15 July 1838 Emerson delivered what has come to be known as the "Divinity School Address" before the senior class of the Harvard Divinity School and their guests. In this important speech, which critic Joel Porte says Emerson was born to deliver, Emerson flung down a major challenge to Orthodox and even Unitarian Christianity. Emerson argues that the concept of the divinity of Jesus and the absolute authority of the Bible are obstacles to true religious feeling. This is not to say Emerson did not value the Bible. He did, and very highly; and this very address has been described as taking its form, that of the jeremiad, from a book of the Old Testament. What Emerson wished to do was to warn of the consequences of revering one text as the sole fountain of truth. To hold up the of the Bible as infallible was to divert attention from the of the text. "The idioms of his [Jehovah's] language, and the figures of his rhetoric, have usurped the place of his truth; and churches are not built on his principles, but on his tropes." Furthermore, if the ancient Hebrew and Greek writings known as the Old and New Testaments respectively are regarded as the sole legitimate revelations, then we in the present age are contenting ourselves with this history of revelations to an earlier generation, and we are denying the possibility of a religion by revelation to us. "Men have come to speak of the revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead." In order to affirm the possibility of a living religion for the present, one must be careful not to get caught in a system that believes no prophet since Jesus has anything to say and no text since the Bible has religious validity.
Despite ill health which necessitated a period of recuperation inSouth Carolina and Florida Emerson became established as anoccasional preacher of sermons in churches in the Boston area.
Essays & Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson eBook Kindle
In 1871, in a short speech on , Emerson linked Scott to his times, noting how Scott, "apprehended in advance the immense enlargement of the reading public ... which his books and 's inaugurated." In 1875 Emerson published an anthology of poetry, called , which is remarkable both for its inclusions and its exclusions. The volume is heavily weighted toward English poetry. In addition to the expected poets, , , Wordsworth, Keats, there are substantial selections from such poets as Blake and Clough. Among American poets, there is no , no , and no Emerson, but interesting selections from--among many others--, , Frederic H. Hedge, , and Lucy Larcom. Emerson's range is shown in his inclusion of selections from the Greek Simonides to the Hindu Calidasa.
Early Emerson Poems - Ralph Waldo Emerson
He also continued to be alert to the social and political contexts of literature. In a speech about in 1859, published in (1884), he noted shrewdly that Burns, "the poet of the middle class, represents in the mind of men to-day that great uprising of the middle class against the armed and privileged minorities, that uprising which worked politically in the American and French Revolutions, and which, not in governments so much as in education and social order, has changed the face of the world." In 1870 he included an essay called "Books" in a volume titled . The essay contains Emerson's reading list, his recommendations about the best books to read. Coming during the same period as 's concept of "touchstones," it is an interesting prefiguration of the premise that underlies modern general education, namely that there is a body of knowledge that all educated people should share. For the Greeks, for instance, he lists , , , , and , then goes on to give some background reading in ancient history and art. It is an eminently practical essay, as well as a useful indication of Emerson's own broad taste.
Ralph Waldo Emerson - Poet | Academy of American Poets
Emerson's final word is reserved for Goethe not Faust, the creator not the creation, and what he says of Goethe is true of Emerson himself. "Goethe teaches courage, and the equivalence of all times.... We too must write Bibles, to unite again the heavens and the earthly world. The secret of genius is to suffer no fiction to exist for us; to realize all that we know; in the high refinement of modern life, in art, in sciences, in books, in men, to exact good faith, reality and a purpose; and first, last, midst and without end, to honor every truth by use." Thus, Emerson, like most critics who get their bearings from , has little to say about fiction, about the novel. Fiction he regarded as unreal, but poetry was for him, "the science of the real." In his later writings, while he would comment on novels and romances occasionally, he continued to deepen and widen his conception of poetry.