Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
II. May-Day and Other Pieces
The Romany Girl
THE SUN 1 goes down, and with him takes
The coarseness of my poor attire;
The fair moon mounts, and aye the flame
Of Gypsy beauty blazes higher.
Pale Northern girls! you scorn our race;        5
You captives of your air-tight halls,
Wear out indoors your sickly days,
But leave us the horizon walls. 2
And if I take you, dames, to task,
And say it frankly without guile,        10
Then you are Gypsies in a mask,
And I the lady all the while.
If on the heath, below the moon,
I court and play with paler blood,
Me false to mine dare whisper none,—        15
One sallow horseman knows me good.
Go, keep your cheek’s rose from the rain,
For teeth and hair with shopmen deal;
My swarthy tint is in the grain,
The rocks and forest know it real.        20
The wild air bloweth in our lungs,
The keen stars twinkle in our eyes,
The birds gave us our wily tongues,
The panther in our dances flies.
You doubt we read the stars on high,        25
Nathless we read your fortunes true;
The stars may hide in the upper sky,
But without glass we fathom you.
Note 1. This poem was one of the group contributed by Mr. Emerson to the opening number of the Atlantic Monthly, in November, 1857. It was written nearly three years earlier.
  The books of the Englishman George Borrow, who combined in a singular manner love of wild human nature and the missionary zeal of an agent of the Bible Society, were attractive to Mr. Emerson. They gave the motive for this poem, at first in the note-book called “Gypsy Song.” [back]
Note 2. I find in a journal this uncredited line,—
  Pâles filles du Nord! vous n’etes pas mes sœurs.

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