Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
I. Poems
WHAT 1 care I, so they stand the same,—
  Things of the heavenly mind,—
How long the power to give them name
  Tarries yet behind?
Thus far to-day your favors reach,        5
  O fair, appeasing presences!
Ye taught my lips a single speech,
  And a thousand silences.
Space grants beyond his fated road
  No inch to the god of day;        10
And copious language still bestowed
  One word, no more, to say.
Note 1. The first rhapsody for this poem, from the verse-book (in which a more advanced form bears the title “Rhyme”), shows the writer’s longing to express himself in verse, and how patiently he bore the check that his taste, which grew with this desire, put upon it.
  What care I, so the things abide,
The heavenly-minded,
The rich and enriching presences,
How long the power to give them form
Stays behind?
If they remain to me,
I can spare that,
I can wail
Till the stammering fit of life is past,
Till the soul its weed has cast,
And led by desire of these heavenly guides
I have come into the free element
And won a better instrument.
They taught me a new speech
And a thousand silences;
For, as there is but one path for the sun,
So is there ever but one word for me to say.
  Merops, in the mythology, was king of Cos, and wedded one of the Oceanides, and hence, but only after his death, was granted a place as a soaring eagle among the constellations.
  Professor Charles Eliot Norton, Mr. William Sloane Kennedy says, suggested to him as a reason for the title that Merops in Greek means “articulate speech.” This gives further appropriateness to the name of the poem. [back]

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