Ralph Waldo Emerson

The World-Soul

Thanks to the morning light,
  Thanks to the foaming sea,
To the uplands of New Hampshire,
  To the green-haired forest free;
Thanks to each man of courage,
  To the maids of holy mind,
To the boy with his games undaunted
  Who never looks behind.

Cities of proud hotels,
  Houses of rich and great,
Vice nestles in your chambers,
  Beneath your roofs of slate.
It cannot conquer folly,
  Time-and-space-conquering steam,
And the light-outspeeding telegraph
  Bears nothing on its beam.

The politics are base;
  The letters do not cheer;
And 'tis far in the deeps of history,
  The voice that speaketh clear.
Trade and the streets ensnare us,
  Our bodies are weak and worn;
We plot and corrupt each other,
  And we despoil the unborn.

Yet there in the parlor sits
  Some figure of noble guise,
Our angel, in a stranger's form,
  Or woman's pleading eyes;
Or only a flashing sunbeam
  In at the window-pane;
Or Music pours on mortals
  Its beautiful disdain.

The inevitable morning
  Finds them who in cellars be;
And be sure the all-loving Nature
  Will smile in a factory.
Yon ridge of purple landscape,
  Yon sky between the walls,
Hold all the hidden wonders
 In scanty intervals.

Alas! the Sprite that haunts us
  Deceives our rash desire;
It whispers of the glorious gods,
  And leaves us in the mire.
We cannot learn the cipher
  That's writ upon our cell;
Stars taunt us by a mystery
  Which we could never spell.

If but one hero knew it,
  The world would blush in flame;
The sage, till he hit the secret,
  Would hang his head for shame.
Our brothers have not read it,
  Not one has found the key;
And henceforth we are comforted,
  We are but such as they.

Still, still the secret presses;
  The nearing clouds draw down;
The crimson morning flames into
  The fopperies of the town.
Within, without the idle earth,
  Stars weave eternal rings;
The sun himself shines heartily,
  And shares the joy he brings.

And what if Trade sow cities
  Like shells along the shore,
And thatch with towns the prairie broad
  With railways ironed o'er?
They are but sailing foam-bells
  Along Thought's causing stream,
And take their shape and sun-color
  From him that sends the dream.

For Destiny never swerves
  Nor yields to men the helm;
He shoots his thought, by hidden nerves,
  Throughout the solid realm.
The patient Daemon sits,
  With roses and a shroud;
He has his way, and deals his gifts,
  But ours is not allowed.

He is no churl nor trifler,
  And his viceroy is none,
  Of Genius sire and son.
And his will is not thwarted;
  The seeds of land and sea
Are the atoms of his body bright,
  And his behest obey.

He serveth the servant,
  The brave he loves amain;
He kills the cripple and the sick,
  And straight begins again;
For gods delight in gods,
  And thrust the weak aside;
To him who scorns their charities
  Their arms fly open wide.

When the old world is sterile
  And the ages are effete,
He will from wrecks and sediment
  The fairer world complete.
He forbids to despair;
  His cheeks mantle with mirth;
And the unimagined good of men
  Is yeaning at the birth.

Spring still makes spring in the mind
  When sixty years are told;
Love wakes anew this throbbing heart,
  And we are never old;
Over the winter glaciers
  I see the summer glow,
And through the wild-piled snow-drift
  The warm rosebuds below.

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