Ralph Waldo Emerson

(1803 - 1882 / Boston / United States)

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

  • ''The scholar may lose himself in schools, in words, and become a pedant; but when he comprehends his duties, he above all men is a realist, and converses with things.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Speech, July 24, 1838, at Dartmouth College. "Literary Ethics," Nature, Addresses, and Lectures (1849).
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  • ''I can reason down or deny everything, except this perpetual Belly: feed he must and will, and I cannot make him respectable.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Montaigne, or the Skeptic," Representative Men (1850).
  • ''The sensual man conforms thoughts to things; the poet conforms things to his thoughts. The one esteems nature as rooted and fast; the other, as fluid, and impresses his being thereon.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Nature, ch. 6 (1836, revised and repr. 1849).
  • ''Great men or men of great gifts you shall easily find, but symmetrical men never.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Nominalist and Realist," Essays, Second Series (1844).
  • ''The tendencies of the times favor the idea of self-government, and leave the individual, for all code, to the rewards and penalties of his own constitution, which work with more energy than we believe, whilst we depend on artificial restraints.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Politics," Essays, Second Series (1844).
  • ''Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Representative Men, "Plato; or, the Philosopher," (1850).
  • ''My doom and my strength is to be solitary.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Society and Solitude," Society and Solitude (1870). This is quoted by Edward Waldo Emerson in the notes to the Riverside Press edition of Society and Solitude.
  • ''Convert life into truth.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Address, July 15, 1838, delivered before the senior class in Divinity College, Cambridge. "The Divinity School Address," The Portable Emerson, ed. Carl Bode (1946, repr. 1981). This is the epigram in the middle of a sentence that reads: "The capital secret of his profession, namely to convert life into truth, he had not learned." Here Emerson is criticizing an unnamed minister who Conrad Wright later convincingly argued to be Barzillai Frost, minister of the Concord Unitarian Church from 1837 to 1857. See Wright's The Liberal Christians (Unitarian Universalist Association, 1970, repr. 1980).
  • ''The boxer's ring is the enjoyment of the part of society whose animal nature alone has been developed.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Speech given to the American Peace Society, Boston, Massachusetts. "War," (1838).
  • ''Art should exhilarate, and throw down the walls of circumstance on every side, awakening in the beholder the same sense of universal relation and power which the work evinced in the artist, and its highest effect is to make new artists.''
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Art," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).

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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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