Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
I. Poems
Initial, Dæmonic and Celestial Love
II. The Dæmonic Love
MAN was made of social earth,
Child and brother from his birth,
Tethered by a liquid cord
Of blood through veins of kindred poured.
Next his heart the fireside band        5
Of mother, father, sister, stand;
Names from awful childhood heard 1
Throbs of a wild religion stirred;—
Virtue, to love, to hate them, vice;
Till dangerous Beauty came, at last,        10
Till Beauty came to snap all ties;
The maid, abolishing the past,
With lotus wine obliterates
Dear memory’s stone-incarved traits,
And, by herself, supplants alone        15
Friends year by year more inly known.
When her calm eyes opened bright,
All else grew foreign in their light.
It was ever the self-same tale,
The first experience will not fail;        20
Only two in the garden walked,
And with snake and seraph talked. 2
Close, close to men,
Like undulating layer of air,
Right above their heads,        25
The potent plain of Dæmons spreads. 3
Stands to each human soul its own,
For watch and ward and furtherance,
In the snares of Nature’s dance;
And the lustre and the grace        30
To fascinate each youthful heart,
Beaming from its counterpart,
Translucent through the mortal covers,
Is the Dæmon’s form and face.
To and fro the Genius hies,—        35
A gleam which plays and hovers
Over the maiden’s head,
And dips sometimes as low as to her eyes. 4
Unknown, albeit lying near,
To men, the path to the Dæmon sphere;        40
And they that swiftly come and go
Leave no track on the heavenly snow.
Sometimes the airy synod bends;
And the mighty choir descends,
And the brains of men thenceforth,        45
In crowded and in still resorts,
Teem with unwonted thoughts:
As, when a shower of meteors
Cross the orbit of the earth,
And, lit by fringent air,        50
Blaze near and far,
Mortals deem the planets bright
Have slipped their sacred bars,
And the lone seaman all the night
Sails, astonished, amid stars.        55
Beauty of a richer vein,
Graces of a subtler strain,
Unto men these moonmen lend,
And our shrinking sky extend.
So is man’s narrow path        60
By strength and terror skirted;
Also (from the song the wrath
Of the Genii be averted!
The Muse the truth uncolored speaking)
The Dæmons are self-seeking:        65
Their fierce and limitary will
Draws men to their likeness still.
The erring painter made Love blind,—
Highest Love who shines on all;
Him, radiant, sharpest-sighted god,        70
None can bewilder;
Whose eyes pierce
The universe,
Path-finder, road-builder,
Mediator, royal giver;        75
Rightly seeing, rightly seen,
Of joyful and transparent mien.
’T is a sparkle passing
From each to each, from thee to me,
To and fro perpetually;        80
Sharing all, daring all,
Levelling, displacing
Each obstruction, it unites
Equals remote, and seeming opposites.
And ever and forever Love        85
Delights to build a road:
Unheeded Danger near him strides,
Love laughs, and on a lion rides.
But Cupid wears another face,
Born into Dæmons less divine:        90
His roses bleach apace,
His nectar smacks of wine.
The Dæmon ever builds a wall,
Himself encloses and includes,
Solitude in solitudes:        95
In like sort his love doth fall. 5
He doth elect
The beautiful and fortunate,
And the sons of intellect,
And the souls of ample fate,        100
Who the Future’s gates unbar,—
Minions of the Morning Star.
In his prowess he exults,
And the multitude insults.
His impatient looks devour        105
Oft the humble and the poor;
And, seeing his eye glare,
They drop their few pale flowers,
Gathered with hope to please,
Along the mountain towers,—        110
Lose courage, and despair.
He will never be gainsaid,—
Pitiless, will not be stayed;
His hot tyranny
Burns up every other tie.        115
Therefore comes an hour from Jove
Which his ruthless will defies,
And the dogs of Fate unties.
Shiver the palaces of glass;
Shrivel the rainbow-colored walls,        120
Where in bright Art each god and sibyl dwelt
Secure as in the zodiac’s belt;
And the galleries and halls,
Wherein every siren sung,
Like a meteor pass.        125
For this fortune wanted root
In the core of God’s abysm,—
Was a weed of self and schism;
And ever the Dæmonic Love
Is the ancestor of wars        130
And the parent of remorse.
Note 1. A much stronger line than the one for which it was substituted,—
  These like strong amulets preferred.
Note 2. Here followed in the original the passage later rightly placed by Mr. Emerson at the beginning of “The Celestial Love”:—
  But God said
There is smoke in the flame, etc.
Note 3. In the note to the tenth stanza of “The World-Soul,” is a reference by Mr. Emerson, quoted from a letter, to the ancient doctrine of Dæmons.
  In the passage on the Neo-platonists, in the essay on Books (Society and Solitude, p. 203), he said, “The imaginative scholar will find few stimulants to his brain like these writers. He has entered the Elysian Fields; and the grand and pleasing figures of gods and dæmons and dæmoniacal men, of the ‘azonic’ and the ‘aquatic gods,’ dæmons with fulgid eyes, and all the rest of the Platonic rhetoric, exalted a little under the African sun, sail before his eyes.” [back]
Note 4. The four lines thus ending appear separately in one of Mr. Emerson’s verse-books, where they are thus continued:—
  Of her faults I take no note,
Fault and folly are not mine;
Comes the genius,—all’s forgot,
Replunged again into that upper sphere
Which scatters wide and wild its lustres here.
Note 5. These four lines here followed in the original,—
  He is an oligarch;
He prizes number, fame and mark;
He loveth crowns,
He scorneth drones.

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