Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
V. Appendix
Peter’s Field
[KNOWS 1 he who tills this lonely field
  To reap its scanty corn,
What mystic fruit his acres yield
  At midnight and at morn?]
That field by spirits bad and good,        5
  By Hell and Heaven is haunted,
And every rood in the hemlock wood
  I know is ground enchanted.
[In the long sunny afternoon
  The plain was full of ghosts:        10
I wandered up, I wandered down,
  Beset by pensive hosts.]
For in those lonely grounds the sun
  Shines not as on the town,
In nearer arcs his journeys run,        15
  And nearer stoops the moon.
There in a moment I have seen
  The buried Past arise;
The fields of Thessaly grew green,
  Old gods forsook the skies.        20
I cannot publish in my rhyme
  What pranks the greenwood played;
It was the Carnival of time,
  And Ages went or stayed.
To me that spectral nook appeared        25
  The mustering Day of Doom,
And round me swarmed in shadowy troop
  Things past and things to come.
The darkness haunteth me elsewhere;
  There I am full of light;        30
In every whispering leaf I hear
  More sense than sages write.
Underwoods were full of pleasance,
  All to each in kindness bend,
And every flower made obeisance        35
  As a man unto his friend.
Far seen, the river glides below,
  Tossing one sparkle to the eyes:
I catch thy meaning, wizard wave;
  The River of my Life replies. 2        40
Note 1. This poem on the memories and associations of the field by the Concord River, where Mr. Emerson and his brothers walked in youth, must be of earlier date than the “Dirge.” It has two verses in common with this, here bracketed.
  Here is another account of the brothers’ joys,—
  We sauntered amidst miracles,
We were the fairies of the fells,
The summer was our quaint bouquet,
The winter-eve our Milky Way;
We played in turn with all the slides
In Nature’s lamp of suns and tides;
We pierced all books with criticism,
We plied with doubts the catechism,
The Christian fold,
The Bible old—
Note 2. Among the more youthful pieces at the end of this volume is another poem on the River and its associations. [back]

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