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
 
III. Elements and Mottoes
Compensation
 
THE WINGS of Time are black and white,
Pied with morning and with night.
Mountain tall and ocean deep
Trembling balance duly keep.
In changing moon and tidal wave        5
Glows the feud of Want and Have.
Gauge of more and less through space,
Electric star or pencil plays,
The lonely Earth amid the balls
That hurry through the eternal halls,        10
A makeweight flying to the void,
Supplemental asteroid,
Or compensatory spark,
Shoots across the neutral Dark.
 
Man’s the elm, and Wealth the vine;        15
Stanch and strong the tendrils twine:
Though the frail ringlets thee deceive,
None from its stock that vine can reave.
Fear not, then, thou child infirm,
There ’s no god dare wrong a worm;        20
Laurel crowns cleave to deserts,
And power to him who power exerts.
Hast not thy share? On winged feet,
Lo! it rushes thee to meet;
And all that Nature made thy own,        25
Floating in air or pent in stone,
Will rive the hills and swim the sea,
And, like thy shadow, follow thee. 1
 
Note 1. Journal, 1840. “I read to-day in Ockley [History of the Saracens] a noble sentence of Ali, son-in-law of Mahomet: ‘Thy lot or portion of life is seeking after thee; therefore be at rest from seeking after it.’”
  See also “The Over-Soul” (Essays, First Series, p. 293). [back]
 
 
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