Ralph Waldo Emerson

(1803 - 1882 / Boston / United States)

To J.W.


Set not thy foot on graves;
Hear what wine and roses say;
The mountain chase, the summer waves,
The crowded town, thy feet may well delay.

Set not thy foot on graves;
Nor seek to unwind the shroud
Which charitable time
And nature have allowed
To wrap the errors of a sage sublime.

Set not thy foot on graves;
Care not to strip the dead
Of his sad ornament;
His myrrh, and wine, and rings,
His sheet of lead,
And trophies buried;
Go get them where he earned them when alive,
As resolutely dig or dive.

Life is too short to waste
The critic bite or cynic bark,
Quarrel, or reprimand;
'Twill soon be dark;
Up! mind thine own aim, and
God speed the mark.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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