'Alphonso Of Castile' by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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I Alphonso live and learn,
Seeing nature go astern.
Things deteriorate in kind,
Lemons run to leaves and rind,
Meagre crop of figs and limes,
Shorter days and harder times.
Flowering April cools and dies
In the insufficient skies;
Imps at high Midsummer blot
Half the sun's disk with a spot;
'Twill not now avail to tan
Orange cheek, or skin of man:
Roses bleach, the goats are dry,
Lisbon quakes, the people cry.
Yon pale scrawny fisher fools,
Gaunt as bitterns in the pools,
Are no brothers of my blood,—
They discredit Adamhood.
Eyes of gods! ye must have seen,
O'er your ramparts as ye lean,
The general debility,
Of genius the sterility,
Mighty projects countermanded,
Rash ambition broken-handed,
Puny man and scentless rose
Tormenting Pan to double the dose.
Rebuild or ruin: either fill
Of vital force the wasted rill,
Or, tumble all again in heap
To weltering chaos, and to sleep.
Say, Seigneurs, are the old Niles dry,
Which fed the veins of earth and sky,
That mortals miss the loyal heats
Which drove them erst to social feats,
Now to a savage selfness grown,
Think nature barely serves for one;
With. science poorly mask their hurt,
And vex the gods with question pert,
Immensely curious whether you
Still are rulers, or Mildew.
Masters, I'm in pain with you;
Masters, I'll be plain with you.
In my palace of Castile,
I, a king, for kings can feel;
There my thoughts the matter roll,
And solve and oft resolve the whole,
And, for I'm styled Alphonse the Wise,
Ye shall not fail for sound advice,
Before ye want a drop of rain,
Hear the sentiment of Spain.
You have tried famine: no more try it;
Ply us now with a full diet;
Teach your pupils now with plenty,
For one sun supply us twenty:
I have thought it thoroughly over,
State of hermit, state of lover;
We must have society,
We cannot spare variety.
Hear you, then, celestial fellows!
Fits not to be over zealous;
Steads not to work on the clean jump,
Nor wine nor brains perpetual pump;
Men and gods are too extense,—
Could you slacken and condense?
Your rank overgrowths reduce,
Till your kinds abound with juice;
Earth crowded cries, "Too many men,"—
My counsel is, Kill nine in ten,
And bestow the shares of all
On the remnant decimal.
Add their nine lives to this cat;
Stuff their nine brains in his hat;
Make his frame and forces square
With the labors he must dare;
Thatch his flesh, and even his years
With the marble which he rears;
There growing slowly old at ease,
No faster than his planted trees,
He may, by warrant of his age,
In schemes of broader scope engage:
So shall ye have a man of the sphere,
Fit to grace the solar year.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Alphonso of Castile: A Poetic Masterpiece by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you ever read a poem that transported you to a different time and place, leaving you awestruck by its depth of meaning and beauty? Alphonso of Castile by Ralph Waldo Emerson is one such poem that evokes a range of emotions and reflects upon the human quest for power and knowledge.
The Historical Context
First, let's delve into the historical context of the poem. Alphonso of Castile was a historical figure who ruled from 1252 to 1284. He was known for his love of learning and patronage of the arts. It is said that he had a library of over 5000 books, which was a remarkable feat for the time. In the poem, Emerson portrays Alphonso as a restless seeker of knowledge who is never satisfied with what he has.
The Poem's Structure
The poem is structured into three parts, each of which explores a different facet of Alphonso's character. The first part introduces us to Alphonso's insatiable thirst for knowledge. The second part portrays his lust for power and his willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve it. The final part reflects upon the transience of human life and the ultimate futility of the quest for power and knowledge.
Interpretation of the Poem
At its core, Alphonso of Castile is a poem about the human condition. It explores our innate desire for knowledge and power, and the lengths we are willing to go to achieve them. The poem also reflects upon the transience of human life and the ultimate futility of our pursuits.
The first part of the poem portrays Alphonso as a restless seeker of knowledge. He is never satisfied with what he has and constantly yearns for more. "He stood by the shore of the ever-moving sea, / His form was bent by the land-wind, / His cheek was wet with heaven's dew," writes Emerson. These lines paint a vivid picture of Alphonso standing by the sea, gazing out into the horizon, and contemplating the mysteries of the universe.
The second part of the poem portrays Alphonso's lust for power. He is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, even if it means betraying his closest allies. "He lifted the sword and smote off the head / Of him who had been his friend," writes Emerson. These lines reveal the darker side of Alphonso's character, as he becomes consumed by his thirst for power.
The final part of the poem reflects upon the transience of human life and the futility of our pursuits. "The sun passed over his head, / The sand beneath him was hot, / The leaves of the trees were withered and sere, / And he knew not that he had lived," writes Emerson. These lines convey a sense of melancholy and resignation, as Alphonso realizes the ultimate futility of his pursuits.
Emerson employs a range of literary devices to convey the poem's message. The use of imagery, such as the sea and the sand, creates a vivid picture of Alphonso's surroundings and his state of mind. The repetition of certain phrases, such as "he knew not that he had lived," emphasizes the transience of human life and the futility of our pursuits. The use of metaphors, such as the sword and the book, adds depth and meaning to the poem.
In conclusion, Alphonso of Castile is a poetic masterpiece that explores the human quest for power and knowledge. It reflects upon the transience of human life and the futility of our pursuits. Through vivid imagery, powerful metaphors, and masterful use of language, Emerson has created a poem that continues to resonate with readers today. So, the next time you find yourself gazing out into the horizon, contemplating the mysteries of the universe, remember Alphonso of Castile and the ultimate futility of our pursuits.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Alphonso Of Castile: A Masterpiece of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American essayist, lecturer, and poet, is known for his transcendentalist philosophy and his literary works that reflect his beliefs. One of his most celebrated poems is "Alphonso Of Castile," which was published in 1847. This poem is a masterpiece that showcases Emerson's poetic genius and his ability to convey complex ideas through simple yet powerful language. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail.
The poem "Alphonso Of Castile" is a narrative poem that tells the story of a king who is torn between his love for his people and his desire for power. The poem is set in medieval Spain, and the protagonist, Alphonso, is the king of Castile. The poem begins with a description of Alphonso's kingdom, which is prosperous and peaceful. The people of Castile love their king, and Alphonso loves them in return. However, Alphonso's contentment is short-lived, as he soon becomes ambitious and desires more power.
The poem's central conflict arises when Alphonso hears of a neighboring kingdom that is weak and vulnerable. Alphonso sees an opportunity to expand his kingdom and become more powerful. However, he is torn between his love for his people and his desire for power. Alphonso knows that if he goes to war, many of his people will die, and his kingdom will suffer. On the other hand, if he does not go to war, he will miss the opportunity to become more powerful.
The poem's first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It describes the beauty and prosperity of Alphonso's kingdom, and the love that the people have for their king. The stanza reads:
"Alphonso ruled in Toledo, when the Moor Had sway in fair Granada; thence he leads His happy armies, and the foe before The city of the Vega, Alphonso bleeds."
The stanza establishes Alphonso as a powerful and beloved king, and sets the stage for the conflict that will arise later in the poem.
The second stanza introduces the conflict. Alphonso hears of a neighboring kingdom that is weak and vulnerable, and he sees an opportunity to expand his kingdom. However, he is torn between his love for his people and his desire for power. The stanza reads:
"But Alphonso's heart Was soft with pity for the foe distressed, And love, that makes the wisest head depart, Woke the young king's ambition in his breast."
The stanza shows Alphonso's internal struggle, as he is torn between his love for his people and his desire for power. The stanza also introduces the theme of love, which will play a significant role in the rest of the poem.
The third stanza describes Alphonso's decision to go to war. He knows that many of his people will die, and his kingdom will suffer, but he cannot resist the temptation of power. The stanza reads:
"Then to his council called he straight the wise, And told them all his purpose, and they said, 'Go, King, and conquer!' but with tears and sighs He heard their counsel, and he went to bed."
The stanza shows Alphonso's reluctance to go to war, as he knows that it will cause much suffering. However, he cannot resist the temptation of power, and he decides to go to war.
The fourth stanza describes Alphonso's victory in battle. He defeats the enemy kingdom and becomes more powerful. However, his victory comes at a great cost, as many of his people die in the war. The stanza reads:
"Then went he forth, and with his conquering sword He smote the foe, and won a glorious name; But many a widow wept, and many a lord Lamented for the valiant dead in shame."
The stanza shows the consequences of Alphonso's decision to go to war. While he becomes more powerful, many of his people die, and their loved ones are left to mourn.
The fifth stanza describes Alphonso's regret. He realizes that his desire for power has caused much suffering, and he wishes he had never gone to war. The stanza reads:
"Then came remorse, and with remorse despair; And Alphonso wished he ne'er had won the fight, And wished the foe were living, and the fair And happy land a prey to Moorish might."
The stanza shows Alphonso's regret and his realization that his desire for power has caused much suffering. He wishes he had never gone to war and that his kingdom had remained peaceful and prosperous.
The sixth and final stanza describes Alphonso's redemption. He realizes that his love for his people is more important than his desire for power, and he decides to dedicate his life to serving them. The stanza reads:
"But soon the better mind of Alphonso rose, And bade him seek his people's love again; And he went forth, and conquered all his foes, And won the hearts of all his loyal men."
The stanza shows Alphonso's redemption and his decision to dedicate his life to serving his people. He realizes that his love for his people is more important than his desire for power, and he wins back their love and loyalty.
In conclusion, "Alphonso Of Castile" is a masterpiece of Ralph Waldo Emerson that showcases his poetic genius and his ability to convey complex ideas through simple yet powerful language. The poem tells the story of a king who is torn between his love for his people and his desire for power, and the consequences of his decision to go to war. The poem's central theme is love, which plays a significant role in the protagonist's internal struggle and his eventual redemption. The poem is a timeless masterpiece that continues to inspire and move readers to this day.
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