Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
VII. Ralph Waldo Emerson
By Henry Septimus Sutton (1825–1901)

AS robe majestic down a statue flows,
So noble thought down Emerson. Withal,
Such sweetness went, you even might suppose,
Spite of that bearing dignified and tall,
A woman’s gentle heart beat under all;        5
For while no prayers his constancy could shake,
No storm avail his spirit’s barque to make
From anchor of his settled purpose break,
His every action could not but confess
The tempering of ingrainëd tenderness.        10
Yet, while our young souls loved him, ’twas agreed
Amongst us that this man, though ever apt
For kind deed, and in self so little wrapped,
Almost too high for love was; had indeed
Of no man’s love or admiration need.        15
And yet he, loving, liked to be beloved;
And if at times it might appear he moved
Austerely calm and cold, that was because
Grand hearts may not transcend their nature’s laws
Either to beat more quickly or to pause.        20
There was the genial waiting on his friend
That friendship loves to feel. Absence would send
As much pain, as much pleasure presence lend
To him as one could wish; but the control
Was over all of a self-mastered soul.        25
Therefore in our brief intercourse was mixed,
With strangeness, intimacy; and a feud
There came our awe and confidence betwixt;
And moods of his there were that must be viewed
Like gated ways where none might dare intrude.        30
One foolish man, by his sweet mien betrayed,
An undue freedom took. Swift silence played
Line lambent lightning round, and on us fell
Awe of the great majestic soul that well
Knew, still or speaking, how to be obeyed.        35
So have I seen in festive season go
A summer barque, laugh-lightened, ’neath the flow
Of waving flags, the while, in their sweet pride,
On deck the youths and maidens gaily glide
With motions by sweet music justified.        40
Sudden, o’er sunken rock, harsh grates the keel;
From every mouth the merry laughter dies;
The founts of music freeze; astonished eyes
Gaze wide on eyes astonished; and all feel
The fears proud hearts indignantly conceal.        45
But, no new shock confirming what each dreads,
Again the music melts and flows; its threads
The dance reweaves; over each mouth there spreads
The young vermilion laughter; and once more
The fluttering flags wave wind-filled as before.        50

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