Written By John Evans 04/2011 for http://bluebellbooks.blogspot.com
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born 25 May 1802 in Boston, Massachusetts to Ruth Haskins and William Emerson. Ralph W. Emerson was educated through a sensitive knowledge of the laws of nature and he believed profoundly with individualism and non-conformity. He embraced the spiritual interior life, thus, opposing the cruel treatment of any person, man or woman, or of an indigenous people for Emerson truly believed all had a right to embrace a freedom all their own, thus, as many writers and poets coming before himself had.
Ralph discovered that all life was centered within the Divine and the Divine being in all. He saw and regarded all life to be of a special beauty and as a sacred entity in and of itself. He was at the epicenter of the Transcendentalist Movement of the 19thCentury to the present. He studied much of the Eastern philosophies and religion, as well as writings from such greats as Aurelius Augustine and William Shakespeare. Emerson also had a huge impact on 19th and 20th century Arts, Religion and Politics. It was his desire to set the human spirit free and the fire from within his heart to recognize the beauty found not only within the Laws of Nature and the subsequent beauty thereof, but also the grace and eloquence from with the divinely ordained infrastructure and working dynamics of the human heart and soul.
Ralph Waldo Emerson had many accomplishments during his literary career. In splendid order for myself to write about him, as a poet I felt a bit foolish for not having any books by Emerson. Subsequently, to write something of this brilliant writer of prose, I read a book entitled, Emerson; Collected Poems and Translations,” edited by Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University, and Paul Kane, assistant professor of English at Vassar College; edited for the Library of America, and published by the Literary Classics of the United States.
His decision to write speculatively is like any other poet of his time, a natural propensity for truth, the written word, and the beauty of his natural world, as well as the supernatural realms hidden within the hearts of men and women. Realizing this to be sanctimonious in its own rite, his heart took to the fire in his bosom and to the pen in his hand he became a mentor for other poets/writers such as Henry David Thoreau who had much of the mutual likings and passions for life. Emerson and Thoreau became close friends and at one point Ralph (Waldo is what he desired to be called), allowed Thoreau access to his property so he could also meet the challenge of the solitude and recluse one embraces as a writer/author/poet.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was truly a fascinating poet/writer in terms of his relationship and his influence towards Philosophy, Politics and American literature. He also was a great thinker and had a magnanimous heart for people to be who they were. His influence became known to be of English and German Romanticism. Through a social network of other writers and poets, Emerson with his own unique manner in which to advocate a newly born Transcendentalists Movement, one of which embraced unity of God as opposed to the Trinity of God.
What this invariably meant to Emerson was that man was an image or a likeness to God and that we had the privilege and opportunity to participate in the Divine Nature of God. His ideas and intuitive feelings towards this approach to Christianity began to unfold through many eyes and hearts that the Puritan stance of the Christian walk was in total disagreement with Ralph as well as the other well known participants of the movement.
He stated that each person had their own exclusive rights to, “an original relationship to the universe,” and this is where he decided the choicest place on earth for this truly gratifying experience was in a quiet solitude within Nature.
One of Emerson’s key essential elements towards shaping one’s character was through man’s intuitive nature. Poetry and philosophy were key ingredients characterized through his writings and within his poetry. He spoke of insight as opposed to the traditional means of success by the people of his day. He believed access to the Divine was through a personal revelation as opposed to religion, and many good people have laid claim to this personal attitude even amongst people today. His argument was against Unitarian empiricism and Humean skepticism. But during his day, this was unheard of. Emerson also in the 1850’s was already speaking and writing against American slavery.
A poetic composition by Emerson that clearly emulates his love for nature and the spirit of every living creature may be read in the following excerpt:
Woodnotes I by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1847)
“When the pine tosses its cones
To the song of its waterfall tones,
He speeds to the woodland walks,
To birds and trees he talks:
Caesar of his leafy Rome,
There the poet is at home.
Emerson found his paradise on earth through the transcendentalist movement and in a quiescent solitude of sorts, discovered in solitude his epiphanic milieu from the hidden depths of his divine nature, participating in that which his Divine Master and Creator had ready for him. Ralph Waldo Emerson died of pneumonia 27 April 1882 and is buried in Concord, Massachusetts.