The Rhodora *** Each And All***Hamatreya ***Two Rivers
|In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes, |
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals, fallen in the pool,
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being:
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose
The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.
|LIttle thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown |
Of thee from the hill-top looking down;
The heifer that lows in the upland farm,
Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm;
The sexton, tolling his bell at noon,
Deems not that great Napoleon
Stops his horse, and lists with delight,
Whilst his files sweep round yon Alpine height;
Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbor's creed has lent.
All are needed by each one;
Nothing is fair or good alone.
I thought the sparrow's note from heaven,
Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
I brought him home, in his nest, at even;
He sings the song, but it cheers not now,
For I did not bring home the river and sky;--
He sang to my ear, -- they sang to my eye.
The delicate shells lay on the shore;
The bubbles of the latest wave
Fresh pearls to their enamel gave,
And the bellowing of the savage sea
Greeted their safe escape to me.
I wiped away the weeds and foam,
I fetched my sea-born treasures home;
But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
Had left their beauty on the shore
With the sun and the sand and the wild uproar.
The lover watched his graceful maid,
As 'mid the virgin train she strayed,
Nor knew her beauty's best attire
Was woven still by the snow-white choir.
At last she came to his hermitage,
Like the bird from the woodlands to the cage;--
The gay enchantment was undone,
A gentle wife, but fairy none.
Then I said, "I covet truth;
Beauty is unripe childhood's cheat;
I leave it behind with the games of youth:"--
As I spoke beneath my feet
The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath,
Running over the club-moss burrs;
I inhaled the violet's breath;
Around me stood the oaks and firs;
Pine-cones and acorns lay on the ground;
Over me soared the eternal sky,
Full of light and of deity;
Again I saw, again I heard,
The rolling river, the morning bird;--
Beauty through my senses stole;
I yielded myself to the perfect whole.
"Each and All" comes from an experience recorded in Emerson's journal, May 16, 1834. Miller suggests that the poem "illustrates most neatly that injunction which Thoreau forumulated as never underestimating the value of a fact, for someday it might flower into a 'truth.'"
Bulkeley, Hunt, Willard, Hosmer, Meriam, Flint,
Where are these men? Asleep beneath their
When I heard the Earth-song,Earth-Song'Mine and yours;
I was no longer brave;
My avarice cooled
Like lust in the chill of the grave.
"Hamatreya" is a free rendering of a passage in the Vishnu Purana which Emerson copied into his 1845 Journal. The names, however, are of founding fathers of Concord.
| Thy summer voice,
Repeats the music of the rain;
But sweeter rivers pulsing flit
Through thee, as thou through the Concord Plain.
Thou in thy narrow banks art
I see the inundation
Musketaquit, a goblin
So forth and brighter fares my
"Two Rivers." Compare with the prose
version he wrote first in his journal of 1856: