Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
I. Poems
The Park
THE PROSPEROUS 1 and beautiful
  To me seem not to wear
The yoke of conscience masterful,
  Which galls me everywhere.
I cannot shake off the god;        5
  On my neck he makes his seat;
I look at my face in the glass,—
  My eyes his eyeballs meet.
Enchanters! Enchantresses!
  Your gold makes you seem wise;        10
The morning mist within your grounds
  More proudly rolls, more softly lies.
Yet spake yon purple mountain,
  Yet said yon ancient wood,
That Night or Day, that Love or Crime,        15
  Leads all souls to the Good.
Note 1. “The Park” appeared in the same number of the Dial with the preceding poem.
  The poem describes the bewilderment which the youth with traditions and manners inbred from generations of Puritan ancestors feels when he first meets charming and gracious friends of a wider experience and culture. Yet the beauty of their behavior seems to warrant the quality of its hidden foundations.
  Emerson wrote to such a friend in March, 1841:—
  “I find myself, maugre all my philosophy, a devout student and admirer of persons. I cannot get used to them: they daunt and dazzle me still. I have just now been at the old wonder again. I see persons whom I think the world would be richer for losing; and I see persons whose existence makes the world rich. But blessed be the Eternal Power for those whom fancy even cannot strip of beauty, and who never for a moment seem to me profane.” [back]

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