Ralph Waldo Emerson

(1803 - 1882 / Boston / United States)

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

  • ''The intellectual life may be kept clean and healthful, if man will live the life of nature, and not import into his mind difficulties which are none of his.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Spiritual Laws," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
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  • ''Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Oration, August 31, 1837, delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The American Scholar," repr. In Emerson: Essays and Lectures, ed. Joel Porte (1983).
  • ''Mysticism is the mistake of an accidental and individual symbol for an universal one.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "The Poet," Essays, Second Series (1844).
  • ''The hero sees that the event is ancillary: it must follow him.
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    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Character," Essays, Second Series (1844).
  • ''Whilst all the world is in pursuit of power, culture corrects the theory of success.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Culture," The Conduct of Life (1860). Stanley Cavell has argued that Emerson is here referring to Kant's philosophical problem of succession. That is, how can we come to know a world that appears to be a mere surface succession of images that constantly flow by us and are ever changing. As Emerson says in the opening poem to "Culture": "And the world's flowing fates in/his own mould recast." The "mould" may refer to Kant's mental categories with which he argues we organize and order the world. Emerson's response to Kant is founded, in essence, on a pun on "success" and "succession" where worldly material success has also to do with the epistemological play of phenomena.
  • ''This hard work will always be done by one kind of man; not by scheming speculators, nor by soldiers, nor professors, nor readers of Tennyson; but by men of endurance—deep-chested, long- winded, tough, slow and sure, and timely.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Farming," Society and Solitude (1870). Edward Emerson noted that Emerson was here referring to the utopian communities of Brook Farm and Fruitlands.
  • ''Conversation is an evanescent relation,—no more.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Friendship," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
  • ''Logic is the procession or proportionate unfolding of the intuition; but its virtue is as silent method; the moment it would appear as propositions, and have a separate value, it is worthless.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Intellect," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847). In his early journal entries, Emerson often admits he is not a logical machine that can churn out syllogistic pearls of wisdom. One might read his paeans to intuition as an attempt to argue that poetic talents are epistemologically valuable and ought not to be banished by philosophers.
  • ''The gentleman is a man of truth, lord of his own actions, and expressing that lordship in his behavior, not in any manner dependent and servile either on persons, or opinions, or possessions.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Manners," Essays, Second Series (1844).
  • ''The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Nature, ch. 4 (1836, revised and repr. 1849).

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Best Poem of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fate

Deep in the man sits fast his fate
To mould his fortunes, mean or great:
Unknown to Cromwell as to me
Was Cromwell's measure or degree;
Unknown to him as to his horse,
If he than his groom be better or worse.
He works, plots, fights, in rude affairs,
With squires, lords, kings, his craft compares,
Till late he learned, through doubt and fear,
Broad England harbored not his peer:
Obeying time, the last to own
The Genius from its cloudy throne.
For the prevision is allied
Unto the thing so signified;
Or say, the foresight that awaits
Is...

Read the full of Fate

Terminus

It is time to be old,
To take in sail:--
The god of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Come to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: "No more!
No farther shoot
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs; no more invent;

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