Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
 
V. Appendix
Cosmos
 
WHO saw the hid beginnings
  When Chaos and Order strove,
Or who can date the morning,
  The purple flaming of love?
 
I saw the hid beginnings        5
  When Chaos and Order strove,
And I can date the morning prime
  And purple flame of love.
 
Song breathed from all the forest,
  The total air was fame;        10
It seemed the world was all torches
  That suddenly caught the flame.
*        *        *        *        *
Is there never a retroscope mirror
  In the realms and corners of space
That can give us a glimpse of the battle        15
  And the soldiers face to face?
 
Sit here on the basalt courses
  Where twisted hills betray
The seat of the world-old Forces
  Who wrestled here on a day.
*        *        *        *        *
        20
When the purple flame shoots up,
  And Love ascends his throne,
I cannot hear your songs, O birds,
  For the witchery of my own.
 
And every human heart        25
  Still keeps that golden day
And rings the bells of jubilee
  On its own First of May. 1
 
Note 1. These verses have no title in the verse-books. “Cosmos” is given by the editor. They were originally trials for a “Song of Nature,”—Nature is speaking. The May element claimed the later verses, though their sequence was never made out, the first divisions harmonizing fairly, but the last two hopelessly dislocated, though they have a certain charm. [back]
 
 
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