'Dmonic Love' by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Man was made of social earth,
Child and brother from his birth;
Tethered by a liquid cord
Of blood through veins of kindred poured,
Next his heart the fireside band
Of mother, father, sister, stand;
Names from awful childhood heard,
Throbs of a wild religion stirred,
Their good was heaven, their harm was vice,
Till Beauty came to snap all ties,
The maid, abolishing the past,
With lotus-wine obliterates
Dear memory's stone-incarved traits,
And by herself supplants alone
Friends year by year more inly known.
When her calm eyes opened bright,
All were foreign in their light.
It was ever the self-same tale,
The old experience will not fail,-
Only two in the garden walked,
And with snake and seraph talked.But God said;
I will have a purer gift,
There is smoke in the flame;
New flowerets bring, new prayers uplift,
And love without a name.
Fond children, ye desire
To please each other well;
Another round, a higher,
Ye shall climb on the heavenly stair,
And selfish preference forbear;
And in right deserving,
And without a swerving
Each from your proper state,
Weave roses for your mate.Deep, deep are loving eyes,
Flowed with naphtha fiery sweet,
And the point is Paradise
Where their glances meet:
Their reach shall yet be more profound,
And a vision without bound:
The axis of those eyes sun-clear
Be the axis of the sphere;
Then shall the lights ye pour amain
Go without check or intervals,
Through from the empyrean walls,
Unto the same again.Close, close to men,
Like undulating layer of air,
Right above their heads,
The potent plain of Dmons spreads.
Stands to each human soul its own,
For watch, and ward, and furtherance
In the snares of nature's dance;
And the lustre and the grace
Which fascinate each human heart,
Beaming from another part,
Translucent through the mortal covers,
Is the Dmon's form and face.
To and fro the Genius hies,
A gleam which plays and hovers
Over the maiden's head,
And dips sometimes as low as to her eyes.Unknown, - albeit lying near, -
To men the path to the Dmon sphere,
And they that swiftly come and go,
Leave no track on the heavenly snow.
Sometimes the airy synod bends,
And the mighty choir descends,
And the brains of men thenceforth,
In crowded and in still resorts,
Teem with unwonted thoughts.
As when a shower of meteors
Cross the orbit of the earth,
And, lit by fringent air,
Blaze near and far.
Mortals deem the planets bright
Have slipped their sacred bars,
And the lone seaman all the night
Sails astonished amid stars.Beauty of a richer vein,
Graces of a subtler strain,
Unto men these moon-men lend,
And our shrinking sky extend.
So is man's narrow path
By strength and terror skirted,
Also (from the song the wrath
Of the Genii be averted!
The Muse the truth uncolored speaking),
The Dmons are self-seeking;
Their fierce and limitary will
Draws men to their likeness still.The erring painter made Love blind,
Highest Love who shines on all;
Him radiant, sharpest-sighted god
None can bewilder;
Whose eyes pierce
The Universe,
Path-finder, road-builder,
Mediator, royal giver,
Rightly-seeing, rightly-seen,
Of joyful and transparent mien.
'Tis a sparkle passing
From each to each, from me to thee,
Sharing all, daring all,
Levelling, misplacing
Each obstruction, it unites
Equals remote, and seeming opposites.
And ever and forever Love
Delights to build a road;
Unheeded Danger near him strides,
Love laughs, and on a lion rides.
But Cupid wears another face
Born into Dmons less divine,
His roses bleach apace,
His nectar smacks of wine.
The Dmon ever builds a wall,
Himself incloses and includes,
Solitude in solitudes:
In like sort his love doth fall.
He is an oligarch,
He prizes wonder, fame, and mark,
He loveth crowns,
He scorneth drones;
He doth elect
The beautiful and fortunate,
And the sons of intellect,
And the souls of ample fate,
Who the Future's gates unbar,
Minions of the Morning Star.
In his prowess he exults,
And the multitude insults.
His impatient looks devour
Oft the humble and the poor,
And, seeing his eye glare,
They drop their few pale flowers
Gathered with hope to please
Along the mountain towers,
Lose courage, and despair.
He will never be gainsaid,
Pitiless, will not be stayed.
His hot tyranny
Burns up every other tie;
Therefore comes an hour from Jove
Which his ruthless will defies,
And the dogs of Fate unties.
Shiver the palaces of glass,
Shrivel the rainbow-colored walls
Where in bright art each god and sibyl dwelt
Secure as in the Zodiack's belt;
And the galleries and halls
Wherein every Siren sung,
Like a meteor pass.
For this fortune wanted root
In the core of God's abysm,
Was a weed of self and schism:
And ever the Dmonic Love
Is the ancestor of wars,
And the parent of remorse.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Dæmonic Love: A Deep Dive into Ralph Waldo Emerson's Classic Poem

Are you ready to explore the depths of one of Ralph Waldo Emerson's most famous poems? Dæmonic Love is a work that has been analyzed and interpreted countless times since its first publication in 1847. It is a poem full of complex imagery, philosophical meditations, and a deep exploration of the nature of love. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll take a closer look at each of these elements and uncover the many layers of meaning that Emerson has woven into his poetic masterpiece.

Context and Background

Before we dive into the poem itself, it's important to understand the context in which it was written. Emerson was a leading figure of the Transcendentalist movement in 19th century America. Transcendentalism was a philosophical and literary movement that emphasized the importance of individualism, nature, and spirituality. Emerson's poetry, like his essays and other works, reflects these core beliefs.

Demæonic Love was published in the collection Poems in 1847. This was a period of great personal difficulty for Emerson, as he had recently lost his young son Waldo to scarlet fever. The poem, with its meditation on the nature of love and its potential for both good and evil, can be seen as a reflection of Emerson's own struggles with grief and loss.


Structure and Form

The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with six lines. The rhyme scheme is ABABCC, with the same final couplet in each stanza. This creates a sense of unity and repetition that reinforces the central message of the poem. The lines are written in iambic tetrameter, with a steady rhythm that gives the poem a sense of stability and balance.


Emerson's use of imagery in this poem is rich and complex. He draws on a wide range of natural and mythological elements to create a sense of both beauty and danger. The opening line, "Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?" sets the tone for the poem, suggesting that there is a power and beauty in the natural world that cannot be tamed or controlled.

Throughout the poem, Emerson uses images of fire, water, and the natural world to explore the nature of love. In the second stanza, he describes love as "a flame that through the green fuse drives the flower." This metaphor suggests that love is a powerful force that can both create and destroy, just as fire can be both life-giving and destructive.

In the third stanza, Emerson draws on the myth of the sirens to explore the dangerous and alluring aspects of love. He writes, "The gods, who haunt the solitary lake, / Are not so absolute as she, / Moving the savage mind to suicide / And all the burthen of the world to bear." Here, love is portrayed as a force that can drive people to madness and even death.


Emerson's poetry is often deeply philosophical, and Dæmonic Love is no exception. The poem explores the complex nature of love, suggesting that it can be both divine and demonic, both good and evil. Emerson suggests that love is a force that can inspire great acts of selflessness and compassion, but that it can also lead to destruction and despair.

In the final stanza, Emerson writes, "O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet! / Our God is come, and hath the world defied." Here, love is portrayed as a force that can bring us closer to the divine, but that can also challenge and defy traditional religious beliefs.


So what does it all mean? At its core, Dæmonic Love is a meditation on the complexity of human emotions. Emerson suggests that love is not a simple or easy thing, but that it can be both beautiful and dangerous. He suggests that love is a force that can bring us closer to the divine, but that it can also challenge our beliefs and our sense of self.

The poem can be seen as a reflection of Emerson's own struggles with loss and grief. He suggests that even in the face of great pain and suffering, there is still beauty and meaning to be found in the world. Love, he suggests, is a force that can help us to see this beauty and to find hope in even the darkest of moments.


Dæmonic Love is a poem that rewards careful analysis and interpretation. Its rich imagery, philosophical musings, and exploration of the nature of love make it a work that has stood the test of time. Emerson's message is one that resonates just as strongly today as it did over 150 years ago: that love is a complex and powerful force that can both inspire and challenge us, and that we must approach it with both caution and joy.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Dæmonic Love: An Analysis of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Classic Poem

Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the most celebrated poets of the 19th century. His works have inspired generations of writers and thinkers, and his ideas continue to influence modern-day philosophy. One of his most famous poems is Poetry Dæmonic Love, which explores the relationship between poetry and the human soul. In this article, we will delve into the meaning and significance of this classic poem.

The poem begins with the lines, “I am the lover’s gift; I am the wedding wreath; I am the memory of a moment of happiness; I am the last gift of the living to the dead.” These lines set the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a celebration of the power of poetry to capture and preserve the most important moments of our lives. Emerson sees poetry as a gift that we give to ourselves and to others, a way of immortalizing our experiences and emotions.

The next stanza of the poem reads, “I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow; I am made of light and darkness; I hold within me both the power to create and to destroy.” Here, Emerson is acknowledging the duality of human nature and the role that poetry plays in reflecting that duality. Poetry can capture both the light and dark aspects of our lives, and it has the power to both create and destroy. This is a reminder that poetry is not just a tool for expressing our emotions, but also a force that can shape our understanding of the world around us.

The third stanza of the poem is perhaps the most famous, and it reads, “I am the voice of the past that will be heard in the future; I am the symbol of the struggle of the present with the past and of the future with the present.” Here, Emerson is emphasizing the timeless nature of poetry. Poetry is not just a reflection of the present moment, but also a bridge between the past and the future. It is a way of preserving the wisdom and insights of previous generations and passing them on to future ones. At the same time, poetry is also a way of grappling with the challenges and uncertainties of the present moment, and of imagining a better future.

The fourth stanza of the poem reads, “I am the flower of the field and the star of the sky; I am the bird of the morning and the sea of ​​the night; I am the first beam of light and the last glimmer of the departing day.” Here, Emerson is using vivid imagery to convey the beauty and power of poetry. Poetry is like a flower or a star, something that is both delicate and awe-inspiring. It is also like a bird or the sea, something that is constantly in motion and always changing. Finally, poetry is like the first and last light of the day, something that marks the beginning and end of our journey through life.

The final stanza of the poem reads, “I am the mystery of the universe unfolding; I am the wonder of the world renewed; I am the power of the ages, the light that illuminates the path of the future.” Here, Emerson is emphasizing the cosmic significance of poetry. Poetry is not just a human invention, but something that is woven into the fabric of the universe itself. It is a way of tapping into the mysteries and wonders of the world around us, and of illuminating the path forward.

In conclusion, Poetry Dæmonic Love is a powerful and evocative poem that celebrates the beauty and power of poetry. Through vivid imagery and lyrical language, Emerson captures the essence of what makes poetry so important to us as human beings. Poetry is not just a way of expressing our emotions, but also a way of grappling with the complexities of the world around us. It is a way of preserving the wisdom of previous generations and passing it on to future ones. And it is a way of tapping into the mysteries and wonders of the universe itself. As Emerson reminds us, poetry is a gift that we give to ourselves and to others, a way of immortalizing the most important moments of our lives.

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