Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ralph Waldo

Looks like Mr. Emerson was quite the spiritually-deep fellow:

If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

They recon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
I am the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

[BRAHMA by Ralph Waldo Emerson]


Andrew said...


I love this poem. I remember in eleventh-grade English class in my Christian school that my teacher used it to demonstrate what a strange, un-Christian, transcendentalist crazy Emerson was, but I kept reading it over and over again, it sent chills down my spine for some reason I couldn't begin to articulate at the time. Thanks for posting it.


Trev Diesel said...

That's cool - I certainly don't remember reading it in school - but I was browsing through a book the other day and came across it!

isaiah said...

Wow- thanks for sharing this Trev!

"And pine in vain the sacred Seven." Wonder what this is in reference too?

Can you imagine an evening's conversation in a room filled with such luminaries as Emerson, Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne,
Oliver Wendell Holmes?

Here's one of my favorites from Emerson:

From "Nature"

"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 eye-ball. I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God"

Trev Diesel said...

Wow - man, that's fantastic! I think I have that in my Emerson book, I'll look it up tonight.

My favorite line of Brahma is the last one - it's like one final zinger. "Find me, and turn thy back on heaven" - talk about defying convention! That's so... ballsy!

isaiah said...

Yeah, really ballsy....and what strikes me is how conventional these people (the Transendentalists)were, granted they were all artists, writers and advocates of social change...rubbing elbows with the social elite, dressing as proper ladies and gentlemen (except when out living on some "Pond" or an extented stay behind bars for failure to pay taxes.

These were the 'hippies', Bohemians, mystics of their time....and many, esecially Emerson and Thoreau were introducing Eastern religion and thought in the cradle of American Christianity...saying the same things Watts, Wilber, Dass, etc. are saying now.

We probably would have looked them up, Trev, had we been around then. I can see us knocking on the door of their 'society' asking if we could come in and play.

kevin beck said...

Great post, Trev. I keep a collection of Emerson on my desk.