Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
V. Appendix
How much, preventing God, how much I owe
To the defences thou hast round me set;
Example, custom, fear, occasion slow,—
These scorned bondmen were my parapet.
I dare not peep over this parapet        5
To gauge with glance the roaring gulf below,
The depths of sin to which I had descended,
Had not these me against myself defended. 1
Note 1. The Memoir of Margaret Fuller Ossoli was written by her friends, Rev. James Freeman Clarke, Rev. William Henry Channing and Mr. Emerson. Mr. Emerson, writing to Mr. Channing about their joint work, referred to this poem thus:—
  “For your mottoes to your chapter, I saw that the first had the infinite honor done it of being quoted to Herbert! The verses are mine,—‘Preventing God,’ etc.,—so I strike them out.”
  The poem was published in the Dial of January, 1842. [back]

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