'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: The Timeless Poem That Allows Us To See The World In New Ways
When it comes to poetry, there are few works as timeless and thought-provoking as Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Ode To Beauty". This poem, which was first published in 1834 as part of Emerson's collection "Poems", is a meditation on the nature of beauty and its place in our lives. From its opening lines to its poignant conclusion, "Ode To Beauty" offers readers a chance to see the world in new ways, to appreciate the richness and complexity of the natural world, and to connect with our own deepest emotions.
The Power Of Beauty
At its heart, "Ode To Beauty" is a poem about the power of beauty. Emerson begins by describing the way that beauty can transform our perceptions of the world around us:
"There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations."
Through these words, Emerson highlights the way that beauty can inspire us, lifting us out of our everyday concerns and reminding us of the grandeur of the natural world. This idea is central to the poem, as Emerson returns again and again to the idea that beauty has the power to elevate us, to connect us with the divine, and to make us more fully human.
Beauty And Truth
Perhaps the most striking aspect of "Ode To Beauty" is the way that Emerson links beauty and truth. For Emerson, beauty is not simply a pretty surface, but rather a reflection of deeper truths that lie beneath the surface of the world. He writes:
"The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood."
Through these words, Emerson suggests that beauty is not just a matter of what we see, but of how we see it. To truly appreciate beauty, we must cultivate our senses, opening ourselves up to the complex interplay of light, color, and form that surrounds us. But more than that, we must be willing to see beauty as a reflection of deeper truths about the world, about ourselves, and about the divine.
Beauty And The Divine
For Emerson, beauty is not just a matter of aesthetic experience, but of spiritual experience as well. He writes:
"The beauty of nature reforms itself in the mind, and not for barren contemplation, but for new creation."
Through these words, Emerson suggests that beauty has the power to transform us, to awaken within us a sense of creativity and vitality that can help us to connect with the divine. This idea is central to the poem, as Emerson draws upon a range of religious and philosophical traditions to suggest that beauty is a manifestation of the divine, a reflection of the deeper mysteries of existence.
In the end, "Ode To Beauty" is a timeless work of poetry that speaks to us across the centuries. Through its vivid imagery, its deep philosophical insights, and its powerful emotional resonance, this poem invites us to see the world in new ways, to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the natural world, and to connect with our own deepest emotions. Whether we read it as a meditation on the nature of beauty, a celebration of the divinity of creation, or simply a beautiful work of literature, "Ode To Beauty" remains a powerful testament to the enduring power of poetry to move us, to inspire us, and to help us see the world in new ways.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Ode To Beauty: A Celebration of the Divine Feminine
Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Ode To Beauty" is a timeless masterpiece that celebrates the beauty and power of the divine feminine. Written in 1834, this poem is a tribute to the goddess-like qualities of women and the transformative effect they have on the world around them.
Emerson begins his ode by addressing Beauty as a divine force that transcends the physical world. He describes her as "the form of forms" and "the soul within the soul." This suggests that Beauty is not just a superficial quality, but a spiritual essence that permeates all things.
Emerson goes on to describe Beauty as a force that inspires creativity and elevates the human spirit. He writes, "Thou art the inspirer of the poet's song, / The painter's pencil, and the sculptor's art." Here, Beauty is portrayed as a muse who inspires artists to create works of great beauty and meaning.
Emerson also emphasizes the transformative power of Beauty. He writes, "Thou changest all things, but thyself art unchanged." This suggests that Beauty has the power to transform the world around us, but remains constant and unchanging in her own essence.
Throughout the poem, Emerson uses vivid imagery to describe the beauty of women. He writes, "Thou art the morning and the evening star, / The fairest nymph of ocean's azure robe, / The queen of every season, every scene." Here, Beauty is portrayed as a celestial being, a sea nymph, and a queen who reigns over all aspects of nature.
Emerson also celebrates the intellectual and spiritual qualities of women. He writes, "Thou art the wisdom of the wise, / The soul's own essence, and the heart's pure flame." This suggests that women possess a wisdom and spiritual depth that is essential to the human experience.
One of the most striking aspects of "Ode To Beauty" is Emerson's use of gendered language. Throughout the poem, he refers to Beauty as "she" and "her," and celebrates the qualities traditionally associated with femininity. This suggests that Emerson saw women as embodying the divine feminine, a force that is essential to the balance and harmony of the universe.
Emerson's ode to Beauty is not just a celebration of women, but a call to action for all of humanity. He writes, "Come, then, and like the breeze / That wafts the fragrance from the blooming trees, / Dispel the mists of error, and illume / The world with thy resplendent beauty's bloom." Here, Emerson urges us to embrace Beauty and allow her transformative power to dispel the darkness and ignorance that plague our world.
In conclusion, "Ode To Beauty" is a powerful tribute to the divine feminine and the transformative power of women. Emerson's vivid imagery and gendered language celebrate the beauty, wisdom, and spiritual depth of women, while also urging us to embrace Beauty as a force for positive change in the world. This poem is a timeless masterpiece that continues to inspire and uplift readers today.
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