'Ode To Beauty' by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Who gave thee, O Beauty!
The keys of this breast,
Too credulous lover
Of blest and unblest?
Say when in lapsed ages
Thee knew I of old;
Or what was the service
For which I was sold?
When first my eyes saw thee,
I found me thy thrall,
By magical drawings,
Sweet tyrant of all!
I drank at thy fountain
False waters of thirst;
Thou intimate stranger,
Thou latest and first!
Thy dangerous glances
Make women of men;
New-born we are melting
Into nature again.
Lavish, lavish promiser,
Nigh persuading gods to err,
Guest of million painted forms
Which in turn thy glory warms,
The frailest leaf, the mossy bark,
The acorn's cup, the raindrop's arc,
The swinging spider's silver line,
The ruby of the drop of wine,
The shining pebble of the pond,
Thou inscribest with a bond
In thy momentary play
Would bankrupt Nature to repay.
Ah! what avails it
To hide or to shun
Whom the Infinite One
Hath granted his throne?
The heaven high over
Is the deep's lover,
The sun and sea
Informed by thee,
Before me run,
And draw me on,
Yet fly me still,
As Fate refuses
To me the heart Fate for me chooses,
Is it that my opulent soul
Was mingled from the generous whole,
Sea valleys and the deep of skies
Furnished several supplies,
And the sands whereof I'm made
Draw me to them self-betrayed?
I turn the proud portfolios
Which hold the grand designs
Of Salvator, of Guercino,
And Piranesi's lines.
I hear the lofty Pæans
Of the masters of the shell,
Who heard the starry music,
And recount the numbers well:
Olympian bards who sung
Divine Ideas below,
Which always find us young,
And always keep us so.
Oft in streets or humblest places
I detect far wandered graces,
Which from Eden wide astray
In lowly homes have lost their way.
Thee gliding through the sea of form,
Like the lightning through the storm,
Somewhat not to be possessed,
Somewhat not to be caressed,
No feet so fleet could ever find,
No perfect form could ever bind.
Thou eternal fugitive
Hovering over all that live,
Quick and skilful to inspire
Sweet extravagant desire,
Starry space and lily bell
Filling with thy roseate smell,
Wilt not give the lips to taste
Of the nectar which thou hast.
All that's good and great with thee
Stands in deep conspiracy.
Thou hast bribed the dark and lonely
To report thy features only,
And the cold and purple morning
Itself with thoughts of thee adorning,
The leafy dell, the city mart,
Equal trophies of thine art,
E'en the flowing azure air
Thou hast touched for my despair,
And if I languish into dreams,
Again I meet the ardent beams.
Queen of things! I dare not die
In Being's deeps past ear and eye,
Lest there I find the same deceiver,
And be the sport of Fate forever.
Dread power, but dear! if God thou be,
Unmake me quite, or give thyself to me.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Ode To Beauty
Ode to Beauty is a classic poem written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist, lecturer, and poet. The poem was published in 1834 as part of Emerson's collection of poems, Essays: Second Series. This ode is a tribute to the beauty of nature and its power to inspire and uplift the human spirit. It is a celebration of the beauty of the natural world, which Emerson saw as a manifestation of God's presence in the world.
Emerson's poetry is often characterized by his transcendentalist philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of individualism and the relationship between the individual and nature. Ode to Beauty reflects this philosophy in its theme of the beauty of nature and its power to inspire the human spirit. Emerson saw nature as a source of spiritual renewal and enlightenment, and his poetry often reflects this view.
The poem is structured as an ode, which is a type of poem that is characterized by its formal structure and its tone of reverence and admiration. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the beauty of nature. The first stanza describes the beauty of the natural world, the second stanza focuses on the power of beauty to inspire the human spirit, and the third stanza reflects on the importance of beauty in human life.
Emerson's use of language and imagery in the poem is also noteworthy. He uses vivid, sensory language to describe the beauty of nature, such as "the flashing of the sea", "the bloom of the grape", and "the rose-lipped dawn". The imagery in the poem is also highly symbolic, with references to the sun, stars, and moon, which are all traditional symbols of the divine.
The poem's use of symbolism and metaphor is also significant. The sun, for example, is used as a metaphor for the power of beauty to inspire the human spirit. The stars are used as a symbol of the divine, and the moon is used as a symbol of the feminine. These symbols reflect Emerson's transcendentalist philosophy, which saw the natural world as a manifestation of the divine.
The poem's theme of the beauty of nature and its power to inspire the human spirit is a reflection of Emerson's transcendentalist philosophy. He believed that the natural world was a source of spiritual renewal and enlightenment, and that beauty was a manifestation of the divine. The poem can be interpreted as a celebration of the beauty of the natural world and its ability to inspire us to greatness.
The first stanza of the poem describes the beauty of the natural world, with references to the sea, the forest, and the sky. Emerson uses vivid, sensory language to create a picture of the beauty of nature, with phrases like "the flashing of the sea" and "the forest's leafy home". The stanza sets the tone for the poem, establishing the theme of the beauty of nature and its importance to human life.
The second stanza of the poem focuses on the power of beauty to inspire the human spirit. Emerson uses the sun as a metaphor for this power, describing it as "the eye of day". He suggests that beauty has the power to uplift us and inspire us to greatness, using the image of the sun rising to symbolize this power. The stanza suggests that beauty is not only an aesthetic quality, but also a source of inspiration and strength.
The third stanza of the poem reflects on the importance of beauty in human life. Emerson suggests that beauty is essential to our spiritual and emotional wellbeing, using phrases like "the heart's unresting wings" to describe the power of beauty to uplift us. He suggests that beauty is a fundamental part of human life, and that it has the power to connect us with the divine. The stanza ends with the lines "For beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament; / Welcome it in every fair face, every fair sky, every fair flower", which suggest that beauty is a manifestation of the divine, and that we should welcome it in every aspect of our lives.
Ode to Beauty is a powerful celebration of the beauty of the natural world and its power to inspire and uplift the human spirit. Emerson's use of language, imagery, and symbolism create a vivid picture of the beauty of nature, and his transcendentalist philosophy is reflected in the poem's themes of individualism, the relationship between the individual and nature, and the importance of beauty in human life. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of beauty, and its ability to connect us with the divine.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Ode To Beauty: A Celebration of the Divine Feminine
Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most celebrated poets of the Romantic era, wrote the classic poem "Ode To Beauty" in 1834. This masterpiece is a tribute to the beauty of the natural world and the divine feminine, which Emerson believed were interconnected. In this article, we will explore the themes, imagery, and symbolism of this poem and how they reflect Emerson's philosophy of transcendentalism.
The poem begins with an invocation to Beauty, which Emerson personifies as a goddess. He addresses her as "queen of the silent hour" and "mystic daughter of the morning dew," emphasizing her ethereal and elusive nature. Beauty, for Emerson, is not just a physical attribute but a spiritual force that permeates the universe. He sees her as a divine presence that inspires awe and wonder in the human heart.
Emerson then proceeds to describe the various forms of beauty that he has encountered in his life. He mentions the "rosy blush" of the dawn, the "golden sun" that illuminates the sky, and the "crimson flush" of the sunset. These images evoke a sense of natural beauty that is both timeless and ephemeral. Emerson is fascinated by the way that beauty can transform the mundane into the extraordinary, the ordinary into the sublime.
The poet then turns his attention to the human form, which he sees as the most perfect embodiment of beauty. He describes the "graceful form" of the human body, the "sparkling eye" that reflects the soul, and the "rosy cheek" that symbolizes health and vitality. Emerson celebrates the beauty of youth and innocence, which he sees as a reflection of the divine. He believes that the human form is a microcosm of the natural world, and that the beauty of one is reflected in the other.
Emerson also explores the relationship between beauty and truth. He sees beauty as a manifestation of truth, a reflection of the divine order that governs the universe. He writes, "Beauty is truth's smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror." For Emerson, beauty is not just a superficial quality but a profound expression of the underlying reality of existence. He believes that the pursuit of beauty is a spiritual quest that leads to a deeper understanding of the world and ourselves.
The poem concludes with a call to action, urging the reader to seek out and embrace beauty in all its forms. Emerson writes, "Let us roam the magic land / Where the hues of heaven unfold / Where the rainbow's radiant band / Flings its beauty o'er the wold." He encourages us to explore the natural world, to appreciate the beauty of art and music, and to cultivate our own inner beauty through self-reflection and spiritual practice.
In terms of imagery, Emerson uses a variety of natural and human images to convey his message. He employs vivid colors such as "rosy," "golden," and "crimson" to evoke the beauty of the natural world. He also uses metaphors such as "queen of the silent hour" and "mystic daughter of the morning dew" to personify Beauty as a goddess. In describing the human form, he uses words such as "graceful," "sparkling," and "rosy" to emphasize the beauty of youth and innocence.
Symbolism also plays an important role in the poem. The natural world is a symbol of the divine, with the sunrise and sunset representing the cyclical nature of life and death. The human form is a symbol of the soul, with the "sparkling eye" representing the inner light that shines within us all. Beauty itself is a symbol of truth, reflecting the underlying reality of existence that transcends the material world.
In terms of style, Emerson's writing is characterized by its lyricism and emotional intensity. He uses a variety of poetic devices such as alliteration, repetition, and imagery to create a sense of rhythm and flow. His language is rich and evocative, conveying a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of the natural world.
In conclusion, "Ode To Beauty" is a masterpiece of Romantic poetry that celebrates the beauty of the natural world and the divine feminine. Emerson's philosophy of transcendentalism is reflected in his portrayal of beauty as a spiritual force that connects us to the underlying reality of existence. Through his vivid imagery and powerful symbolism, he encourages us to seek out and embrace beauty in all its forms, both within ourselves and in the world around us. This poem is a timeless tribute to the power and majesty of the natural world and the human spirit.
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