'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 by Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Literary Analysis

Are you looking for a poem that takes you on an adventure through time and space, introduces you to historical figures, and explores timeless themes? Look no further than Alphonso Of Castile, a poem written by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Emerson was an American essayist, poet, and philosopher who lived in the 19th century. He was a prominent figure in the Transcendentalist movement, which emphasized the importance of intuition, individualism, and the spiritual over the material. His poetry, like his essays, often dealt with philosophical and moral themes.

Alphonso Of Castile was published in 1847 as part of a collection of poems titled Poems. The poem tells the story of Alphonso, a king of Castile who ruled in the 13th century.

The Poem

The poem is divided into three parts, each of which explores a different aspect of Alphonso's life and character.

Part I: The King

The first part of the poem introduces us to Alphonso as a king. We see him surrounded by his courtiers and advisors, receiving their counsel and making decisions. But there is something about Alphonso that sets him apart from other rulers: he is a philosopher.

A monarch thoughtful and profound
Beyond the common kings of earth
Who hath a secret sense
To know the springs of action and the source of consequence

Alphonso's philosophical nature is evident in the way he approaches his role as king. He is not content to simply make decisions based on what is expedient or popular; he wants to understand the underlying principles and motivations. This makes him a wise ruler, but it also sets him apart from those around him.

Part II: The Lover

The second part of the poem explores a different aspect of Alphonso's character: his love life. We learn that Alphonso is in love with a woman named Estrella, but their relationship is complicated by political and social factors.

Estrella she that knew his heart
And knew the truth of all his mind
Which none of all his courtiers knew
The secret nature could they find

Estrella is a kind of kindred spirit for Alphonso, someone who understands him in a way that no one else can. But their love is threatened by the fact that Estrella is a Moor, a member of a group that is at war with Alphonso's Christian kingdom.

The tension between Alphonso's love for Estrella and his duty as king is palpable in the poem. He wants to be with her, but he knows that it would not be politically wise. In the end, he decides to give her up, even though it breaks his heart.

Part III: The Philosopher

The third and final part of the poem brings together the themes of the first two parts. We see Alphonso as a philosopher who is reflecting on his life and his place in the world.

And now he sits in his old age
A man whom destiny makes wise
Remembering his pilgrimage
Through prospect of his enterprise

Alphonso has lived a long and eventful life, and he has learned many lessons along the way. He has seen the world and its many wonders, but he has also experienced its sorrows and disappointments. Through it all, he has remained true to his philosophical nature, seeking to understand the world and his place in it.


Alphonso Of Castile explores several themes that are typical of Emerson's work.


One of the central themes of the poem is individualism. Alphonso is a man who thinks for himself, who is not content to simply follow the crowd. This sets him apart from the other kings and courtiers who surround him.


Another theme of the poem is wisdom. Alphonso is a wise ruler who understands the complexities of the world and is able to make decisions based on that understanding. He is a philosopher in the truest sense of the word.


The theme of love is also important in the poem. Alphonso's love for Estrella is a kind of ideal love, one that transcends social and political barriers. But it is also a love that cannot be realized, and so it becomes a source of pain for Alphonso.


Finally, the theme of fate is present in the poem. Alphonso is a man who has been shaped by his experiences, but he has also been shaped by the forces of destiny. He is a man who has made choices, but he is also a man who has been shaped by the choices of others.


Alphonso Of Castile is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores timeless themes in a historical context. It is a testament to Emerson's skill as a poet and his insight as a philosopher. If you are looking for a poem that will challenge you and make you think, this is the one to read.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Alphonso Of Castile: An Analysis of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Classic

Ralph Waldo Emerson is a name that is synonymous with transcendentalism, a literary movement that emerged in the mid-19th century in America. Emerson was a leading figure in this movement, and his works have been studied and analyzed by scholars and literary enthusiasts for decades. One of his most famous works is the poem "Poetry Alphonso Of Castile," which was first published in 1847. In this article, we will take a detailed look at this classic poem and analyze its themes, structure, and meaning.

The poem "Poetry Alphonso Of Castile" is a tribute to the power of poetry and the role it plays in shaping our lives. The poem is named after Alphonso X, the king of Castile in the 13th century, who was known for his patronage of the arts and his love for poetry. Emerson uses Alphonso as a symbol of the power of poetry and its ability to inspire and uplift us.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of the power of poetry. The first stanza begins with the lines, "Thou art the Dream of the Wise / The Hopes of the Good / Who, sleeping or waking, / Wouldst never forsake them." These lines set the tone for the rest of the poem, emphasizing the importance of poetry as a source of inspiration and hope. Emerson suggests that poetry is not just a form of entertainment but a powerful force that can shape our dreams and aspirations.

The second stanza explores the idea that poetry is a source of comfort and solace in times of trouble. Emerson writes, "When the Fates sit weaving / The Web of our Doom, / And our hearts are half broken, / And our tears are in gloom." Here, he suggests that poetry can provide us with a sense of comfort and hope even in the darkest of times. The image of the Fates weaving the web of our doom is a powerful one, suggesting that our lives are predetermined and that we have little control over our fate. However, Emerson suggests that poetry can help us to find meaning and purpose in our lives, even in the face of adversity.

The third and final stanza of the poem explores the idea that poetry is a source of inspiration and creativity. Emerson writes, "Thou art the Source of the Song / That the Bard sings to-day; / And the World shall be dumb, / Till it learn thy lay." Here, he suggests that poetry is not just a form of entertainment but a powerful force that can inspire us to create and innovate. The image of the bard singing to the world is a powerful one, suggesting that poetry has the power to shape our culture and our society.

Overall, "Poetry Alphonso Of Castile" is a powerful tribute to the power of poetry and its ability to inspire, uplift, and comfort us. Emerson's use of imagery and symbolism is masterful, and his words are both beautiful and thought-provoking. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of poetry and its ability to shape our lives and our world.

In conclusion, Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Poetry Alphonso Of Castile" is a classic poem that continues to inspire and uplift readers today. Its themes of hope, comfort, and inspiration are timeless, and its message is as relevant today as it was when it was first published over 150 years ago. If you are a lover of poetry, then this is a poem that you simply cannot afford to miss.

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