Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
VI. Poems of Youth and Early Manhood (1823–1834)
The Summons
A STERNER 1 errand to the silken troop
Has quenched the uneasy blush that warmed my cheek;
I am commissioned in my day of joy
To leave my woods and streams and the sweet sloth
Of prayer and song that were my dear delight,        5
To leave the rudeness of my woodland life,
Sweet twilight walks and midnight solitude
And kind acquaintance with the morning stars
And the glad hey-day of my household hours,
The innocent mirth which sweetens daily bread,        10
Railing in love to those who rail again,
By mind’s industry sharpening the love of life—
Books, Muses, Study, fireside, friends and love,
I loved ye with true love, so fare ye well!
  I was a boy; boyhood slid gayly by        15
And the impatient years that trod on it
Taught me new lessons in the lore of life.
I ’ve learned the sum of that sad history
All woman-born do know, that hoped-for days,
Days that come dancing on fraught with delights,        20
Dash our blown hopes as they limp heavily by.
But I, the bantling of a country Muse,
Abandon all those toys with speed to obey
The King whose meek ambassador I go.

Note 1. In the year 1822, Mr. Emerson wrote to a classmate: “I am (I wish I was otherwise) keeping a school, and assisting my venerable brother to lift the truncheon against the fair-haired daughters of this raw city…. Better tug at the oar,… or saw wood,… better sow hemp, or hang with it, than sow the seeds of instruction!” Next year matters were worse, for William went abroad, leaving him the school,—a formidable experience for a shy youth, still a minor, and younger than some of his fair and troublesome pupils. The “Good-bye, proud world” was his utterance of relief when he fled from them. They were the “silken troop,” skilful in producing his “uneasy blush” alluded to in the present poem. Now he was to have the pulpit for a breastwork, for in 1826 he was approbated to preach.
  It is interesting to see that the image of the procession of Days, so often used later, was already in his thought. [back]

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