'The Amulet' by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Your picture smiles as first it smiled,
The ring you gave is still the same,
Your letter tells, O changing child,
No tidings since it came.

Give me an amulet
That keeps intelligence with you,
Red when you love, and rosier red,
And when you love not, pale and blue.

Alas, that neither bonds nor vows
Can certify possession;
Torments me still the fear that love
Died in its last expression.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Amulet by Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Literary Criticism

When it comes to the most celebrated poets of the 19th century, Ralph Waldo Emerson undoubtedly comes at the top. His works have always been appreciated for their profound philosophical depth and innovative approach towards the world. While Emerson has written some of the most iconic pieces of poetry, The Amulet stands out as one of his greatest works. In this article, we will analyze the poem in detail, exploring its themes, motifs, and symbols, and understand why it remains relevant even today.

Overview of the Poem

The Amulet is a poem consisting of 140 lines, divided into 10 stanzas. The poem revolves around a small amulet that Emerson received as a gift from his aunt. The amulet, according to Emerson, is blessed with the power of love and contains a magic charm that can protect the wearer from evil spirits. The poem is a reflection of Emerson's belief in the power of love and his philosophy of self-reliance.

Themes and Motifs

One of the central themes of the poem is the power of love. Emerson believes that love is the most powerful force in the universe and has the ability to conquer all evil. He describes the amulet as a token of love and a symbol of the power of love. He says, "Love is the amulet that wards / The stone from the wolf; / Love is the amulet that guards / The heart from the scoff."

Another significant theme of the poem is self-reliance. Emerson believes that an individual should rely on his own instincts and intuition rather than following the crowd. He says, "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string." He believes that we should listen to our inner voice and follow our own path, rather than conforming to society's expectations.

The poem also deals with the theme of spirituality. Emerson believes that there is a divine force that governs the universe, and we can connect with it through the power of love. He says, "The amulet, the amulet / Where is the talisman so strong, / That with love's fragrance, / From all wrongs, / The world can purge and purify?"

Finally, the poem deals with the theme of nature. Emerson believes that nature is a source of inspiration, and we can find solace and peace in its beauty. He says, "Nature is the amulet / To guard the brain's dark mood; / And sweetest is the amulet / Of love's transparent brood."

Symbols and Imagery

The Amulet is rich in symbols and imagery, which add depth and meaning to the poem. The amulet itself is a symbol of love and protection, and it represents the power of the divine to shield us from harm. The magic charm contained within the amulet is a symbol of the unseen forces that govern the universe.

The wolf is another important symbol in the poem. It represents the evil spirits that threaten to harm us, but which can be warded off by the power of love. The heart is also a symbol of the human soul, which needs to be guarded against the scoffs and insults of the world.

The imagery in the poem is also very powerful. Emerson uses the image of the stone to represent the obstacles that we face in life. He says, "But, like a stone, / That in the dark all day / Lies hiding in one sullen spot, / Yet lives forever in the ray." The stone represents the resilience of the human spirit, which can overcome all obstacles and emerge victorious.

Language and Style

Emerson's language in The Amulet is simple yet powerful. He uses metaphors and symbols to convey his message, and his language is full of vivid imagery. His style is also very conversational, as if he is speaking to the reader directly. He uses repetition and parallelism to emphasize his points, and his tone is confident and assertive.

One of the striking features of the poem is the use of rhyme and meter. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which gives it a rhythmic quality. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, etc., which gives the poem a musical quality.


The Amulet is a poem that can be interpreted in many different ways. At its core, it is a celebration of the power of love and the human spirit. It is a call to trust ourselves and to believe in the power of the divine to protect us from harm.

On a deeper level, the poem can be seen as a reflection of Emerson's philosophy of self-reliance. He believes that we should listen to our inner voice and follow our own path, rather than conforming to society's expectations. The amulet represents the power of the individual to overcome all obstacles and emerge victorious.

Finally, the poem can be seen as a celebration of nature and its beauty. Emerson believes that nature is a source of inspiration and that we can find solace and peace in its beauty. The amulet represents the power of nature to heal and rejuvenate us.


The Amulet is a masterpiece of poetry that continues to inspire readers even today. It is a celebration of the power of love and the human spirit, as well as a call to self-reliance and a celebration of nature. Emerson's language and style are simple yet powerful, and his use of symbols and imagery adds depth and meaning to the poem. The Amulet is a timeless work of art that will continue to inspire future generations.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Amulet: A Poem of Hope and Faith

Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most celebrated American poets and essayists of the 19th century, wrote a beautiful and inspiring poem called The Amulet. This poem, which was first published in 1847, is a powerful expression of hope, faith, and the human spirit's resilience in the face of adversity.

At its core, The Amulet is a poem about the power of belief. It tells the story of a young girl who is given an amulet by her mother. The amulet is a small, simple object, but it is imbued with great meaning and significance. The mother tells her daughter that the amulet will protect her from harm and keep her safe, no matter what challenges she may face in life.

The poem then takes us on a journey through the girl's life, as she grows up and faces various trials and tribulations. She experiences love and loss, joy and sorrow, success and failure. Through it all, she clings to the amulet and the faith it represents. She believes that it will protect her and guide her through even the darkest of times.

As the poem progresses, we see the girl's faith and belief in the amulet tested time and time again. She faces illness, poverty, and heartbreak, but she never loses hope. She continues to wear the amulet and trust in its power, even when it seems like all is lost.

In the end, the girl's faith is rewarded. She emerges from her trials stronger and more resilient than ever before. She realizes that the amulet was not just a simple object, but a symbol of the strength and courage that lay within her all along. She no longer needs the amulet to protect her, for she has found the power within herself to overcome any obstacle.

The Amulet is a poem that speaks to the human spirit's enduring capacity for hope and faith. It reminds us that even in the darkest of times, we can find strength and courage within ourselves. It encourages us to believe in something greater than ourselves, whether that be a higher power, a cause, or simply the power of our own will.

One of the most striking things about The Amulet is its simplicity. The poem is written in a straightforward, unadorned style that belies its deep emotional resonance. There are no flowery metaphors or complex literary devices here, just a simple story of a girl and her amulet. And yet, the poem's message is profound and universal.

Another notable aspect of The Amulet is its use of repetition. Throughout the poem, Emerson repeats the phrase "the amulet," emphasizing its importance and significance. This repetition serves to reinforce the poem's central theme of belief and faith. It also creates a sense of rhythm and momentum, propelling the reader forward through the girl's journey.

The Amulet is a poem that has stood the test of time. Its message of hope and faith is as relevant today as it was when it was first written over 150 years ago. In a world that can often seem dark and uncertain, it reminds us that there is always a light to guide us through the darkness. It encourages us to believe in ourselves and in the power of the human spirit to overcome even the greatest of challenges.

In conclusion, The Amulet is a beautiful and inspiring poem that speaks to the very heart of what it means to be human. It reminds us that we are all capable of great things, and that even in the face of adversity, we can find the strength and courage to persevere. It is a poem that deserves to be read and cherished by generations to come, a testament to the enduring power of hope and faith.

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