Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
 
III. Elements and Mottoes
Spiritual Laws
 
THE LIVING Heaven thy prayers respect,
House at once and architect,
Quarrying man’s rejected hours,
Builds therewith eternal towers;
Sole and self-commanded works,        5
Fears not undermining days,
Grows by decays,
And, by the famous might that lurks
In reaction and recoil,
Makes flame to freeze and ice to boil;        10
Forging, through swart arms of Offence,
The silver seat of Innocence. 1
 
Note 1. This poem sheds light on “Uriel” and on “Brahma.” The essay on Circles, especially pages 317–318, contains much to the same purpose,—the beneficent compensations in Morals, as in Nature. Had Mr. Emerson ever resorted to italics, the use of them in the word “living” would have helped the reader in the first line, which is condensed to the last point. Thy prayers are concerned with a Heaven which is alive, is the meaning. This is shown in the first rhapsody in the verse-book:—
  Heaven is alive;
Self-built and quarrying itself,
Upbuilds eternal towers;
Self-commanded works
In vital cirque
By dint of being all;
Its loss is transmutation.
Fears not the craft of undermining days,
Grows by decays,
And, by the famous, might that’s lodged
In reaction and recoil,
Makes flames to freeze and ice to boil,
And thro’ the arms of all the fiends
Builds the firm seat of Innocence.
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