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)
Written in Naples
WE 1 are what we are made; each following day
Is the Creator of our human mould
Not less than was the first; the all-wise God
Gilds a few points in every several life,
And as each flower upon the fresh hillside,        5
And every colored petal of each flower,
Is sketched and dyed, each with a new design,
Its spot of purple, and its streak of brown,
So each man’s life shall have its proper lights,
And a few joys, a few peculiar charms,        10
For him round-in the melancholy hours
And reconcile him to the common days.
Not many men see beauty in the fogs
Of close low pine-woods in a river town;
Yet unto me not morn’s magnificence,        15
Nor the red rainbow of a summer eve,
Nor Rome, nor joyful Paris, nor the halls
Of rich men blazing hospitable light,
Nor wit, nor eloquence,—no, nor even the song
Of any woman that is now alive,—        20
Hath such a soul, such divine influence,
Such resurrection of the happy past,
As is to me when I behold the morn
Ope in such low moist roadside, and beneath
Peep the blue violets out of the black loam,        25
Pathetic silent poets that sing to me
Thine elegy, sweet singer, sainted wife.

  March, 1833.
Note 1. Journal, Divinity Hall, November, 1827. “Don’t you see you are the Universe to yourself? You carry your fortunes in your own hand. Change of place won’t mend the matter. You will weave the same web at Pernambuco as at Boston, if you have only learned how to make one texture.”
  Journal, 1834. “Remember the Sunday morning in Naples when I said, ‘This moment is the truest vision, the best spectacle I have seen amid all the wonders; and this moment, this vision, I might have had in my own closet in Boston.’”
  “Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.”—Self-Reliance. [back]

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