Ralph Emerson

From wise men the world inherits a literature of wisdom, characterized less by
its scheduled education than by its strength and shortness of statement. Thought
provoking and discerning, Ralph Waldo Emerson gave a cynical world an unbiased
perspective on human frailty. Emerson first and foremost was a poet. He has not
written a line which is not conceived in the interest of mankind. He never
writes in the interest of a section, of a party, of a church, or a man, always
in the interest of mankind." (Carlyle 19) From Emersonís poetry the reader
is able to derive a central theme of idealism and reality. Emerson was "a poet
that sings to us with thoughts beyond his song." (Howe) His never ending
search for immortality was always resolved by his reencounter with reality. In
his poem "Days" he expresses the purely ideal or mystical half of his
thoughts. "Days" suggests both points of view and is structurally divided
into two parts. The first six lines personify the "Days" as demigods who
offer the gifts of life to mortals. Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days,
muffled and dumb, like barefoot dervishes, And marching single in an endless
file, Bring diadems and fagots in their hands. To each they offer gifts, after
his will,-- Bread, kingdoms, stars, or sky that holds them all. Emerson is
saying here that the individual days arranged in an endless running bring man
indulgences and plainness alike. They bring whatever is the will of man.

Bazemore 2 Emersonís problem with this is that it is up to him to claim
responsibility for his actions. These supreme beings simply provide a steadfast
pace unchanging and unyielding. They say nothing and make no efforts to
intervene in manís path. They claim time, but so short. The time they provide
is not long enough, and that is why they are hypocrites, thus providing

Emersonís confrontation with perfection. In the last five lines he describes
his actual failure to realize the value of these gifts, and then his ideal
recognition of this mortal failure. Man is depicted as a tragic hero in

"Days." I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp, Forget my morning
wishes, hastily took a few herbs and apples, And the Day turned and departed
silent. I, too late, under her solemn fillet saw the scorn. (Emerson 437)

Emerson here refers to how he looks at these beings or demigods, with
resentment. He has high expectations in the morning but sees how time has not
given him the means necessary. He almost gives the "Days" an evil regard and
expects a reply, but instead the "Days" leave without a word. He sees the
errors of his ways and sees how because he has given the "Days" so much
thought he has wasted the day, and thus executes the last line where he
indicates he "saw the scorn." (Emerson 437) Again in another well-renown
poem by Emerson, "Rhodora," the theme of self-reliance is depicted by
combining idealistic and realistic virtues. He gives a flower the Bazemore 3
appeal of a prefect being. This time, however, his technique is reversed from
the previous poem. The first lines express the normality of the flower. He says,

I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods, Spreading its leaflets Blooms in a damp
nook, to please the desert And the sluggish brook. (Emerson) Nothing, thus far,
has portrayed the flower as anything but a delightful surprise. He speaks of the
happiness it has brought to the scene, but has not given it any unusual
attributes. Then he grants that this flower is the greatest thing to ever happen
to the world. Rhodora! If the sages ask thee why this charm is wasted on the
earth and sky, Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing, Then beauty
is its own excuse for being... In another critically acclaimed poem by Emerson,

"Forbearance", he dwells on the idea of manís nature of selfishness and
heartlessness Hast thou named all the birds without a gun? Loved the wood-rose,
and left it on its stalk? At rich menís tables eaten bread and pulse? Unarmed,
faced danger with a heart of trust? Bazemore 4 And loved so well a high
behavior, In man or maid, that though from speech refrained, Nobility more nobly
to repay? O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine! (Emerson 31) Emerson
condemns man for their unfortunate nature. Why must man kill to understand and
be glutinous with greed and predisposition. Yet other men want nothing less than
to be like these men. Men who take