'Fable' by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter, "little prig":
Bun replied,
You are doubtless very big,
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year,
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry:
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Fable by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever read a poem that left you feeling refreshed and renewed? One that made you pause and consider the world around you in a new light? If you haven't, then you need to read "Fable" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. This classic poem is not only beautiful but also thought-provoking, and it will leave you feeling inspired to live your life to the fullest.

The Poem

Let's start by examining the poem itself. "Fable" is a short poem, consisting of only three stanzas. Each stanza has four lines, and the rhyme scheme is AABBA. The poem tells the story of a bird that is born in a cage and has never known anything but captivity. The bird dreams of freedom and longs to soar in the sky, but it fears the unknown and never leaves the safety of its cage. The moral of the story is that we are all born with the potential for greatness, but we must be willing to take risks and step out of our comfort zones if we want to achieve our dreams.

The Language

Emerson's use of language in "Fable" is masterful. He paints a vivid picture of the bird's cage, describing it as "bars of rage" and "wires of wrong." These phrases conjure up images of a prison, and we can't help but feel sympathy for the bird. Emerson also uses alliteration, such as "bars of rage" and "wires of wrong," to add to the musicality of the poem. The repetition of the "w" sound in "wires of wrong" adds to the feeling of entrapment and emphasizes the idea that the bird is trapped.

The imagery in the poem is also striking. The image of the bird dreaming of freedom and longing to soar in the sky is a powerful one. We can imagine the bird looking up at the sky, wishing it could be free to fly. The fact that the bird never leaves its cage adds to the tragedy of the story. It is clear that the bird's potential is being wasted, and we can't help but feel a sense of loss.

The Theme

The theme of "Fable" is one that is timeless and universal. We all have dreams and aspirations, but we often let fear hold us back. The bird in the poem is a metaphor for all of us. We are all born with the potential for greatness, but we must be willing to take risks and step out of our comfort zones if we want to achieve our dreams.

The poem reminds us that we should never let fear hold us back. We should be willing to take risks and embrace the unknown if we want to achieve our goals. We should not be content to live in the safety of our cages, but should instead strive to soar in the sky and achieve our full potential.

The Impact

The impact of "Fable" is undeniable. The poem has resonated with readers for over a century and continues to be read and studied today. Its message of perseverance and the importance of taking risks is one that is still relevant today.

The poem has also inspired countless artists and writers. Its themes of freedom and the pursuit of happiness have been echoed in everything from music to literature. The idea of breaking free from one's constraints and achieving one's dreams is one that is universal and speaks to us all.


In conclusion, "Fable" by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a masterpiece of literature. Its powerful message, beautiful language, and universal themes have made it a classic that continues to inspire readers today. The poem reminds us that we all have the potential for greatness, but we must be willing to take risks and step out of our comfort zones if we want to achieve our dreams. So, what are you waiting for? Break free from your cage and soar in the sky!

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Fable by Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Masterpiece of Moral Philosophy

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American philosopher, poet, and essayist, is known for his profound insights into human nature, spirituality, and the meaning of life. His poem "Fable" is a masterpiece of moral philosophy that teaches us the importance of self-reliance, courage, and perseverance in the face of adversity. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, symbols, and literary devices.

The poem "Fable" is a short, allegorical tale that tells the story of a traveler who meets a sphinx, a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion. The sphinx challenges the traveler to solve a riddle, and if he fails, she will devour him. The traveler, however, is not intimidated by the sphinx's threat and confidently answers the riddle, which is "What is that which never was yet always is?" The answer, of course, is "Tomorrow."

The sphinx is impressed by the traveler's wit and wisdom and allows him to pass. The traveler then reflects on the lesson he has learned from the encounter, which is that "The only way out is through." In other words, he realizes that the only way to overcome obstacles and challenges in life is to face them head-on with courage and determination.

The poem is rich in symbolism and metaphor, which adds depth and complexity to its meaning. The sphinx, for example, represents the challenges and obstacles that we encounter in life, while the traveler symbolizes the human spirit, which has the power to overcome adversity. The riddle that the sphinx poses is a metaphor for the mysteries and uncertainties of life, which we must confront and solve if we are to succeed.

The theme of self-reliance is also central to the poem. The traveler's confidence and courage in the face of danger demonstrate the importance of relying on oneself and one's own abilities to overcome obstacles. Emerson was a strong advocate of self-reliance, which he believed was essential for personal growth and fulfillment. In his essay "Self-Reliance," he writes, "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."

The poem also emphasizes the importance of perseverance and determination. The traveler does not give up or back down in the face of the sphinx's challenge, but instead uses his wit and intelligence to solve the riddle. This demonstrates the power of perseverance and determination in overcoming obstacles and achieving success.

The poem's language and imagery are also noteworthy. Emerson's use of vivid and evocative language creates a sense of mystery and wonder, which adds to the poem's allegorical quality. For example, he describes the sphinx as having "the eyes of a demon's dream" and "the voice of all the winds." These descriptions create a sense of otherworldliness and mystery, which adds to the poem's symbolic power.

Emerson's use of repetition is also effective in emphasizing the poem's themes. The phrase "The only way out is through" is repeated twice in the poem, which reinforces the idea that facing challenges head-on is the only way to overcome them. The repetition also creates a sense of rhythm and musicality, which adds to the poem's aesthetic appeal.

In conclusion, "Fable" is a masterpiece of moral philosophy that teaches us the importance of self-reliance, courage, and perseverance in the face of adversity. Through its allegorical tale of a traveler and a sphinx, the poem explores the mysteries and uncertainties of life and the power of the human spirit to overcome them. Its rich symbolism, metaphor, and literary devices create a sense of depth and complexity that makes it a timeless work of art. As Emerson himself wrote, "The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be." "Fable" is a powerful reminder of the importance of self-determination and the human capacity for greatness.

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