Ralph Waldo Emerson: how to Know Him
Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1921 - 234 pages
The mind of Emerson was a searchlight revealing not itself but the various objects on which it successively turned. An intense and narrow beam of light would shoot through the darkness and reveal some object. Then it would pick up another object which would have its brief moment of visibility. The landscape was never revealed in any one view.The only way to know Emerson is to join him in his intellectual exercises. In spite of his personal aloofness I know of no one with whom we can more readily come to a feeling of intellectual intimacy. He had no pretensions and no reserves. In clear sentences he told us what from time to time he thought. He made no attempt to connect these thoughts into a coherent system. For any one else to attempt to do this would be to misrepresent him.In the short chapters which follow I have treated Emerson as a contemporary rather than as a writer of the last generation. His thought is as pertinent to the twentieth century as to the nineteenth. Indeed I think that in many respects we may be nearer to him than were those who first listened to him. The prejudices which he encountered have largely died away. The problems over which he was mediating remain.
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American answer beautiful become beginning believe better century CHAPTER character clear comes courage criticism Emerson England English existence experience expression eyes face fact Fate fear feel follow force genius give goes hand heart hold hour human imagination intellect interest Italy kind land laws leave less light literary live look manners means mind mountain nature never object pass peace perfect person play poet poetry political poor question reality reason represent seeking seems seen sense side smile social society soul speak spirit stand sure tells thee things thou thought tion town true truth turn universe virtue voice whole wisdom wise write young youth
Page 77 - Ineffable is the union of man and God in every act of the soul. The simplest person, who in his integrity worships God, becomes God ; yet for ever and ever the influx of this better and universal self is new and unsearchable.
Page 31 - A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.
Page 72 - By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.
Page 68 - Not the sun or the summer alone but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind from breathless noon to grimmest midnight.
Page 109 - Such and so grew these holy piles, Whilst love and terror laid the tiles. Earth proudly wears the Parthenon, As the best gem upon her zone.
Page 69 - Standing on the bare ground — my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.
Page 68 - The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other ; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.
Page 128 - Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well. What satire on government can equal the severity of censure conveyed in the word politic, which now for ages has signified cunning, intimating that the State is a trick...