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
 
II. May-Day and Other Pieces
The Test
 
(Musa loquitur.)

I HUNG my verses in the wind,
Time and tide their faults may find.
All were winnowed through and through,
Five lines lasted sound and true;
Five were smelted in a pot        5
Than the South more fierce and hot;
These the siroc could not melt,
Fire their fiercer flaming felt,
And the meaning was more white
Than July’s meridian light.        10
Sunshine cannot bleach the snow,
Nor time unmake what poets know.
Have you eyes to find the five
Which five hundred did survive? 1
 
Note 1. This poem, the author’s test of scholars in guessing the five poetic teachers of the race, appeared, with no Solution, in the Atlantic Monthly for January, 1861. Mr. Emerson did not prize the poems sufficiently to include them in the Selected Poems. [back]
 
 
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