Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
 
I. Poems
Astræa
 
EACH 1 the herald is who wrote
His rank, and quartered his own coat.
There is no king nor sovereign state
That can fix a hero’s rate;
Each to all is venerable,        5
Cap-a-pie invulnerable,
Until he write, where all eyes rest,
Slave or master on his breast.
I saw men go up and down,
In the country and the town,        10
With this tablet on their neck, 2
‘Judgment and a judge we seek.’
Not to monarchs they repair,
Nor to learned jurist’s chair;
But they hurry to their peers,        15
To their kinsfolk and their dears;
Louder than with speech they pray,—
‘What am I? companion, say.’
And the friend not hesitates
To assign just place and mates;        20
Answers not in word or letter,
Yet is understood the better;
Each to each a looking-glass,
Reflects his figure that doth pass.
Every wayfarer he meets        25
What himself declared repeats,
What himself confessed records,
Sentences him in his words;
The form is his own corporal form,
And his thought the penal worm.        30
Yet shine forever virgin minds,
Loved by stars and purest winds,
Which, o’er passion throned sedate,
Have not hazarded their state;
Disconcert the searching spy,        35
Rendering to a curious eye
The durance of a granite ledge.
To those who gaze from the sea’s edge
It is there for benefit;
It is there for purging light;        40
There for purifying storms;
And its depths reflect all forms; 3
It cannot parley with the mean,—
Pure by impure is not seen.
For there ’s no sequestered grot,        45
Lone mountain tarn, or isle forgot,
But Justice, journeying in the sphere,
Daily stoops to harbor there.
 
Note 1. Mr. Emerson’s verse-books show that at first he thought of giving this poem for a title [Greek], the Greek maxim signifying Know thyself; but considering that this would be intelligible only to the few, he gave it the name Astræa. [back]
Note 2. “With this prayer on their neck.”—First Edition. [back]
Note 3. “And its lakes reflect all forms.”—First Edition. [back]
 
 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors