Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
III. Elements and Mottoes
GRACE, Beauty and Caprice
Build this golden portal;
Graceful women, chosen men,
Dazzle every mortal.
Their sweet and lofty countenance        5
His enchanted food;
He need not go to them, their forms
Beset his solitude.
He looketh seldom in their face,
His eyes explore the ground,—        10
The green grass is a looking-glass
Whereon their traits are found. 1
Little and less he says to them,
So dances his heart in his breast;
Their tranquil mien bereaveth him        15
Of wit, of words, of rest.
Too weak to win, too fond to shun
The tyrants of his doom,
The much deceived Endymion
Slips behind a tomb. 2        20
Note 1. In “Love,” Essays, First Series, pp. 176, 177, is a passage which these lines recall. [back]
Note 2. In a letter to a near friend, written in 1841, Mr. Emerson speaks of himself as “an admirer of persons. I cannot get used to them; they daunt and dazzle me still…. Blessed be the Eternal Power for those whom fancy even cannot strip of beauty, and who never for a moment seem to me profane.” [Letters to a Friend, edited by Charles Eliot Norton. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1899.] [back]

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