Ralph Waldo Emerson

(1803 - 1882 / Boston / United States)

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

  • ''It seems as if nature, in regarding the geologic night behind her, when, in five or six millenniums, she had turned out five or six men, as Homer, Phidias, Menu, and Columbus, was no wise discontented with the result. These samples attested the virtue of the tree.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Plato: New Readings," Representative Men (1850).
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  • ''Every true man is a cause, a country, and an age; requires infinite spaces and numbers and time fully to accomplish his design;—and posterity seem to follow his steps as a train of clients.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Self-Reliance," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
  • ''Foolish, whenever you take the meanness and formality of that thing you do, instead of converting it into the obedient spiracle of your character and aims.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Spiritual Laws," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
  • ''The fate of the poor shepherd, who, blinded and lost in the snow-storm, perishes in a drift within a few feet of his cottage door, is an emblem of the state of man. On the brink of the waters of life and truth, we are miserably dying.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "The Poet," Essays, Second Series (1844).
  • ''The law of nature is, do the thing, and you shall have the power: but they who do not the thing have not the power.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Compensation," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847). This is reminiscent of Emerson's advice in "Self-Reliance": "But do your thing and I shall know you." What is this "thing"? It might be argued that Emerson chooses such an ambiguous, open- ended word to concentrate the reader's attention on the verb "to do," for he is as much a philosopher of action as he is a theologian of contemplation.
  • ''I have heard that stiff people lose something of their awkwardness under high ceilings, and in spacious halls. I think, sculpture and painting have an effect to teach us manners, and abolish hurry.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Culture," The Conduct of Life (1860).
  • ''To judge from a single conversation, he made the impression of a narrow and very English mind; of one who paid for his rare elevation by general tameness and conformity. Off his own beat, his opinions were of no value.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. English Traits, ch. 1 (1856). Emerson met Wordsworth on his first voyage to England in Aug. 1833.
  • ''The only compensation which war offers for its manifold mischiefs, is in the great personal qualities to which it gives scope and occasion.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Speech, September 12, 1835, on the occasion of the second centennial anniversary of the town of Concord. "Historical Discourse at Concord," Miscellanies (1883, repr. 1903).
  • ''The world leaves no track in space, and the greatest action of man no mark in the vast idea.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Speech, December 2, 1841, at the Masonic Temple, Boston, Massachusetts. "Introductory Lecture on the Times," Nature, Addresses, and Lectures (1849).
  • ''A man is but a little thing in the midst of the objects of nature, yet, by the moral quality radiating from his countenance, he may abolish all considerations of magnitude, and in his manners equal the majesty of the world.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Manners," Essays, Second Series (1844).

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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

Eros

The sense of the world is short, -
Long and various the report, -
To love and be beloved;
Men and gods have not outlearned it;
And, how oft soe'er they've turned it,
'Tis not to be improved.

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