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
 
VI. Poems of Youth and Early Manhood (1823–1834)
Prayer
 
WHEN 1 success exalts thy lot,
God for thy virtue lays a plot:
And all thy life is for thy own,
Then for mankind’s instruction shown;
And though thy knees were never bent,        5
To Heaven thy hourly prayers are sent,
And whether formed for good or ill,
Are registered and answered still.
  1826 [?].
 
I BEAR in youth the sad infirmities
That use to undo the limb and sense of age;        10
It hath pleased Heaven to break the dream of bliss
Which lit my onward way with bright presage,
And my unserviceable limbs forego.
The sweet delight I found in fields and farms,
On windy hills, whose tops with morning glow,        15
And lakes, smooth mirrors of Aurora’s charms.
Yet I think on them in the silent night,
Still breaks that morn, though dim, to Memory’s eye,
And the firm soul does the pale train defy
Of grim Disease, that would her peace affright.        20
Please God, I ’ll wrap me in mine innocence,
And bid each awful Muse drive the damned harpies hence.
  CAMBRIDGE, 1827.
 
BE of good cheer, brave spirit; steadfastly
Serve that low whisper thou hast served; for know,
God hath a select family of sons        25
Now scattered wide thro’ earth, and each alone,
Who are thy spiritual kindred, and each one
By constant service to that inward law,
Is weaving the sublime proportions
Of a true monarch’s soul. Beauty and strength,        30
The riches of a spotless memory,
The eloquence of truth, the wisdom got
By searching of a clear and loving eye
That seeth as God seeth. These are their gifts,
And Time, who keeps God’s word, brings on the day        35
To seal the marriage of these minds with thine,
Thine everlasting lovers. Ye shall be
The salt of all the elements, world of the world.
 
Note 1. The incident of the hayfield where the Methodist haymaker said to Emerson, raking hay beside him on his uncle’s farm, that men are always praying, and that all prayers are granted, which gave him the subject of his first sermon, is told in Mr. Cabot’s Memoir. It seems to have suggested lines in this poem. [back]
 
 
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