'The Day's Ration' by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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When I was born,
From all the seas of strength Fate filled a chalice,
Saying, This be thy portion, child; this chalice,
Less than a lily's, thou shalt daily draw
From my great arteries; nor less, nor more.
All substances the cunning chemist Time
Melts down into that liquor of my life,
Friends, foes, joys, fortunes, beauty, and disgust,
And whether I am angry or content,
Indebted or insulted, loved or hurt,
All he distils into sidereal wine,
And brims my little cup; heedless, alas!
Of all he sheds how little it will hold,
How much runs over on the desert sands.
If a new muse draw me with splendid ray,
And I uplift myself into her heaven,
The needs of the first sight absorb my blood,
And all the following hours of the day
Drag a ridiculous age.
To-day, when friends approach, and every hour
Brings book or starbright scroll of genius,
The tiny cup will hold not a bead more,
And all the costly liquor runs to waste,
Nor gives the jealous time one diamond drop
So to be husbanded for poorer days.
Why need I volumes, if one word suffice?
Why need I galleries, when a pupil's draught
After the master's sketch, fills and o'erfills
My apprehension? Why should I roam,
Who cannot circumnavigate the sea
Of thoughts and things at home, but still adjourn
The nearest matters to another moon?
Why see new men
Who have not understood the old?
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Day's Ration by Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Wow. Just wow. That's the only thing that comes to my mind after reading The Day's Ration by Ralph Waldo Emerson. This masterpiece of a poem is a perfect example of Emerson's unique style of writing that combines simplicity with depth, and wisdom with humor.
In this 34-line poem, Emerson captures the essence of life in a few simple and yet profound words. The Day's Ration is a metaphor for life itself, and the poet uses various images and symbols to convey his message. Let's dive deeper into this poem and explore its themes, symbols, and literary devices.
One of the main themes of The Day's Ration is the idea of living in the present moment. The poem starts with the line "If on my theme I rightly think," which suggests that the poet is about to share his thoughts on a particular subject. However, he immediately shifts his focus to the present moment by saying, "There are some thousand mornings now, / Emerging from the night," indicating that the only thing that truly matters is the present moment.
Emerson also emphasizes the importance of gratitude and contentment in life. He says, "Enough if there is nothing more, / Than at the end of each long day, / We've loafed with Patience by the door, / And cheered the melancholy way." Here, the poet suggests that we should be grateful for what we have and find joy in the small things in life, such as spending time with loved ones or enjoying a quiet moment.
Another theme of the poem is the impermanence of life. Emerson says, "Our life is brief, and then we die, / What's gone is done, and we're supplied; / O let us not then waste our breath, / But live each day as 'twere our last." This line underscores the idea that life is fleeting and that we should make the most of the time we have.
The Day's Ration is filled with symbols that add depth and meaning to the poem. One of the most prominent symbols is the loaf of bread. The bread represents the sustenance that we need to survive, but it also represents the simple pleasures of life. Emerson says, "One crust of bread and liberty, / A book of verse, and thou beside me." Here, the bread is a symbol of the basic necessities of life, and the book and the company of a loved one represent the things that bring us joy and comfort.
Another symbol in the poem is the night. Night is a symbol of darkness and uncertainty, but it is also a time of rest and rejuvenation. Emerson says, "There are some thousand mornings now, / Emerging from the night." Here, the night represents the challenges and difficulties of life, while the morning represents the hope and possibility of a new day.
Emerson's use of literary devices adds texture and complexity to the poem. One of the most notable devices is repetition. The phrase "The day's ration" is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the theme of living in the present moment and making the most of what we have.
Emerson also uses alliteration in several lines, such as "One crust of bread and liberty," "Loafed with Patience by the door," and "What's gone is done and we're supplied." These lines not only add musicality to the poem but also highlight the key words and phrases.
The poet also employs metaphor in The Day's Ration. The entire poem is a metaphor for life, and the bread and water are metaphors for the basic necessities of life. The book of verse represents the things that bring us joy, while the company of a loved one represents the emotional support that we need.
The Day's Ration is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that encourages us to live in the present moment, be grateful for what we have, and make the most of the time we have. Emerson's use of symbols, themes, and literary devices adds depth and complexity to the poem, making it a true masterpiece of American literature.
As I read this poem and reflect on its message, I can't help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. Emerson's words have a timeless quality that speaks to us even today, reminding us of the fleeting nature of life and the importance of living each day to the fullest. The Day's Ration is a true gem of American poetry, and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to explore and interpret it.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Day's Ration: A Poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most celebrated American poets and essayists of the 19th century, wrote a poem titled "The Day's Ration." This poem is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece that explores the idea of living in the present moment and appreciating the simple things in life. In this article, we will analyze and explain this classic poem in detail.
The poem begins with the lines, "If on my theme I rightly think, / There are five reasons why men drink." Here, Emerson is referring to the five reasons why people drink alcohol. He then goes on to list these reasons, which include "the first for fun, the second one / For friends and wine, the third for whine," and so on. These lines suggest that people often turn to alcohol to escape their problems or to find temporary happiness. However, Emerson is quick to point out that this is not a sustainable solution.
The next stanza of the poem reads, "The fourth for sleep, the fifth for waking, / And the fifth for keeping the first from breaking." Here, Emerson is suggesting that people drink to help them sleep or to wake up in the morning. He also suggests that some people drink to keep themselves from drinking too much. These lines highlight the fact that alcohol can be both a crutch and a hindrance to a person's well-being.
The third stanza of the poem reads, "If I o'ercharge my day with wine, / I may go forth, but not to dine; / Sink in the mire, and there be stuck, / And die like a poisoned dog or duck." Here, Emerson is warning against the dangers of excessive drinking. He suggests that if a person drinks too much, they will not be able to function properly and may even put themselves in danger. The imagery of sinking in the mire and dying like a poisoned dog or duck is powerful and evocative.
The fourth stanza of the poem reads, "There's a cunning way to drown, / And a foolish way to go down; / And the peril of the sea / Is a paltry peril, it seems to me." Here, Emerson is suggesting that there are smart and foolish ways to deal with life's challenges. He also suggests that the dangers of the sea are insignificant compared to the dangers of excessive drinking. This is a powerful statement that highlights the importance of making wise choices in life.
The fifth stanza of the poem reads, "I'll drink to the second reason, / And hope to find the first in season." Here, Emerson is suggesting that he will drink with his friends and enjoy their company, but he hopes to find true happiness and fulfillment in other aspects of his life. This is a powerful statement that suggests that true happiness cannot be found in alcohol or other temporary pleasures.
The sixth and final stanza of the poem reads, "But if, while thus I sit and quaff, / Death should the meeting-house put on, / I'll leave the ale, and take my staff, / And answer at the Master's throne." Here, Emerson is suggesting that if he were to die while drinking with his friends, he would leave the ale behind and answer to God for his actions. This is a powerful statement that suggests that we are all accountable for our actions and must be mindful of the choices we make.
In conclusion, "The Day's Ration" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the dangers of excessive drinking and the importance of living in the present moment. Emerson's use of powerful imagery and evocative language makes this poem a timeless classic that is still relevant today. As we navigate the challenges of life, let us remember the lessons of this poem and strive to make wise choices that will lead us to true happiness and fulfillment.
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