Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 -1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.
Emerson was viewed as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.
Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of transcendentalism in his 1836 essay “Nature”.
Following this work, Emerson gave a speech entitled “The American Scholar” in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered to be America’s “intellectual Declaration of Independence.”
Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first and then revised them for print.
His first two collections of essays, Essays: First Series (1841) and Essays: Second Series (1844), represent the core of his thinking.
They include the well-known essays “Self-Reliance”, “The Over-Soul”, “Circles”, “The Poet”, and “Experience.”
Together with “Nature”, these essays made the decade from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s Emerson’s most fertile period.
Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for mankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world.
Emerson’s “nature” was more philosophical than naturalistic: “Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul.” Emerson is one of several figures who “took a more pantheist approach by rejecting views of God as separate from the world.”
He remains among the linchpins of the American romantic movement,and his work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that followed him.
“I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man.”
Bio Reference Attribution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Waldo_Emerson
Photo Attribution Southworth & Hawes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, c.1857
Days by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days,
Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes,
And marching single in an endless file,
Bring diadems and fagots in their hands.
To each they offer gifts after his will,
Bread, kingdoms, stars, or sky that holds them all.
I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp,
Forgot my morning wishes, hastily
Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day
Turned and departed silent. I, too late,
Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.
Poem Attribution Ralph Waldo Emerson, Days
Source Attribution https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45873/days-56d22594f3322
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