Another feature of his rhetorical style involves exploring the contrary poles of a particular idea, similar to a poetic antithesis. As a philosopher-poet, Emerson employs a highly figurative style, while his poetry is remarkable as a poetry of ideas.
The language of the essays is sufficiently poetical that Thoreau felt compelled to say critically of the essays—"they were not written exactly at the right crisis [to be poetry] though inconceivably near it. In the wide-ranging style of his essays, he returns to the subject of nature, suggesting that nature is itself a repetition of a very few laws, and thus implying that history repeats itself consistently with a few recognizable situations.
Like the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard , Emerson disavowed nineteenth century notions of progress, arguing in the next essay of the book, "Society never advances. For everything that is given, something is taken. The emphasis on the unity of experience is the same: "what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men. No less a friend of Emerson's than Herman Melville parodied excessive faith in the individual through the portrait of Captain Ahab in his classic American novel, Moby-Dick.
source url Nevertheless, Emerson argued that if our promptings are bad they come from our inmost being. If we are made thus we have little choice in any case but to be what we are. Translating this precept into the social realm, Emerson famously declares, "Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist"—a point of view developed at length in both the life and work of Thoreau.
Equally memorable and influential on Walt Whitman is Emerson's idea that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. This philosophy of art has its premise in the Transcendental notion that the power of nature operates through all being, that it is being: "For we are not pans and barrows.
Emerson's aesthetics stress not the object of art but the force that creates the art object, or as he characterizes this process in relation to poetry: "it is not metres, but a metre-making argument that makes a poem. While Emerson does not accept in principle social progress as such, his philosophy emphasizes the progress of spirit, particularly when understood as development. This process he allies with the process of art: "Nature has a higher end. It is also an essay written out of the devastating grief that struck the Emerson household after the death of their five-year-old son, Waldo.
He wrote, whether out of conviction or helplessness, "I grieve that grief can teach me nothing. Each portrait balances the particular feature of the representative man that illustrates the general laws inhabiting humanity along with an assessment of the great man's shortcomings.
Like Nietzsche, Emerson did not believe that great men were ends in themselves but served particular functions, notably for Emerson their capacity to "clear our eyes of egotism, and enable us to see other people in their works. While Plato receives credit for establishing the "cardinal facts.
Unity, or Identity; and, 2. Variety," Emerson concedes that through Plato we have had no success in "explaining existence. But although he approves of the religion Swedenborg urged, a spirituality of each and every moment, Emerson complains the mystic lacks the "liberality of universal wisdom. The English poet possessed the rare capacity of greatness in that he allowed the spirit of his age to achieve representation through him.
The Poet. size Big text size Bigger text size Biggest text size. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Essays: Second Series . The Poet. Web Study Text by Ellen Moore. "The Poet" is an essay by U.S. writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, written between and and published in his Essays: Second Series in It is not about.
Nevertheless the world waits on "a poet-priest" who can see, speak, and act, with equal inspiration. In The Conduct of Life , Emerson describes "concentration," or bringing to bear all of one's powers on a single object, as the "chief prudence. Yet, "the lawgiver of art is not an artist," and repeating a call for an original relation to the infinite, foregoing even the venerable authority of Goethe, Emerson concludes, "We too must write Bibles.
English Traits was published in but represented almost a decade of reflections on an invited lecture tour Emerson made in to Great Britain. English Traits presents an unusually conservative set of perspectives on a rather limited subject, that of a single nation and "race," in place of human civilization and humanity as a whole. English Traits contains an advanced understanding of race, namely, that the differences among the members of a race are greater than the differences between races, but in general introduces few new ideas.
The work is highly "occasional," shaped by his travels and visits, and bore evidence of what seemed to be an erosion of energy and originality in his thought. The Conduct of Life , however, proved to be a work of startling vigor and insight and is Emerson's last important work published in his lifetime. Some of Emerson's finest poetry can be found in his essays. He refines and redefines his conception of history as the interaction between "Nature and thought.
Varying a biblical proverb to his own thought, Emerson argues that what we seek we will find because it is our fate to seek what is our own. On the subject of politics, Emerson consistently posited a faith in balance, the tendencies toward chaos and order, change and conservation always correcting each other.
In his early work, Emerson emphasized the operation of nature through the individual man. The Conduct of Life uncovers the same consideration only now understood in terms of work or vocation. Emerson argued with increasing regularity throughout his career that each man is made for some work, and to ally himself with that is to render himself immune from harm: "the conviction that his work is dear to God and cannot be spared, defends him. In "Wealth" we find the balanced perspective, one might say contradiction, to be found in all the late work.
Man is at the center, and the center will hold: "There is no chance, and no anarchy, in the universe. Emerson remains the major American philosopher of the nineteenth century and in some respects the central figure of American thought since the colonial period. Perhaps due to his highly quotable style, Emerson wields a celebrity unknown to subsequent American philosophers.
The general reading public knows Emerson's work primarily through his aphorisms, which appear throughout popular culture on calendars and poster, on boxes of tea and breath mints, and of course through his individual essays. Generations of readers continue to encounter the more famous essays under the rubric of "literature" as well as philosophy, and indeed the essays, less so his poetry, stand undiminished as major works in the American literary tradition.
Emerson's emphasis on self-reliance and nonconformity, his championing of an authentic American literature, his insistence on each individual's original relation to God, and finally his relentless optimism, that "life is a boundless privilege," remain his chief legacies. Vince Brewton Email: vjbrewton una. Ralph Waldo Emerson — In his lifetime, Ralph Waldo Emerson became the most widely known man of letters in America, establishing himself as a prolific poet, essayist, popular lecturer, and an advocate of social reforms who was nevertheless suspicious of reform and reformers.
Major Works As a philosopher, Emerson primarily makes use of two forms, the essay and the public address or lecture. Legacy Emerson remains the major American philosopher of the nineteenth century and in some respects the central figure of American thought since the colonial period. References and Further Reading Baker, Carlos.
New York: Penguin, Emerson, Ralph Waldo: Essays and Lectures. Joel Porte.
New York: Library of America, Essays and Poems. Joel Porte et al.
Unity, or Identity; and, 2. So much only of life as I know by experience, so much of the wilderness have I vanquished and planted, or so far have I extended my being, my dominion. Take what figure you will, its exact value, nor more nor less, still returns to you. Without it thought can never ripen into truth. English Traits was published in but represented almost a decade of reflections on an invited lecture tour Emerson made in to Great Britain. Early in his life, Emerson followed in the footsteps of his father and became minister, but this ended in when he felt he could no longer serve as a minister in good conscience. It is the nature of the soul to appropriate all things.
New York: Library of American, Ed Wesley T. Mott et al. Joel Myerson. New York: Columbia, The Heart of Emerson's Journals. Bliss Perry. Wherefore have we labored and fasted, say we, and thou takest no note? Let him not take note, if he please to hide,—then it were sublime beyond a poet's dreams still to labor and abstain and obey, and, if thou canst, to put the good spirit in the wrong. That were a feat to sing in Elysium, on Olympus, by the waters of life in the New Jerusalem.
What Dr. Holmes says in his chapter on the Poems is especially true of these fragments: "The poet reveals himself under the protection of his imaginative and melodious phrases,—the flowers and jewels of his vocabulary. The first part of this poem was written in ; from it Mr. Emerson took the motto for "Beauty," the first ten lines of which followed At court he sat in the grave Divan, and the rest of the motto followed And etiquette of gentilesse.
Emerson adds:—. In his journal of , he wrote under the heading "To-day":—. But when to-day is great I fling all the world's future into the sea. He found he could worship to more purpose in solitude and in the presence of Nature. He always gladly heard a true preacher, and in his old age, when his critical sense was dulled and the passing Day had fewer gifts for him, he liked to go to the Concord church, were it only for association's sake.
Hassan the camel-driver was, without doubt, Mr. Emerson's sturdy neighbor, Mr.