Last week I did a post about one of the influences on my life, Henry David Thoreau. Today I post about one of the major influences of Thoreau, his good friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Which writer do you think has had the most influence on you?
1) Some of his quotes, pick a favorite:
All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.
As soon as there is life there is danger.
As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.
Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.
A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.
Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.
Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.
Earth laughs in flowers.
2) From Emerson’s poem “Give All To Love”. Who is your favorite poet?
3) From his bio on Wikipedia:
Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, philosopher and poet, best remembered for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the early 19th century. His teachings directly influenced the growing New Thought movement of the mid 1800s, while he was seen as a champion of individualism and prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society.
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 . As a result of this ground breaking work he gave a speech entitled The American Scholar in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., considered to be America’s “Intellectual Declaration of Independence”. Considered one of the great orators of the time, Emerson’s enthusiasm and respect for his audience enraptured crowds. His support for abolitionism late in life created controversy, and at times he was subject to abuse from crowds while speaking on the topic. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was “the infinitude of the private man.”
Nature is a short essay by Emerson, published anonymously in 1836. It is in this essay that the foundation of transcendentalism is put forth, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of nature . Recent advances in zoology, botany, and geology confirmed Emerson’s intuitions about the intricate relationships of Nature at large.
Emerson defines nature as an all-encompassing divine entity inherently known to us in our unfettered innocence, rather than as merely a component of a world ruled by a divine, separate being learned by us through passed-on teachings in our experience.
Many scholars identify Emerson as one of the first writers (with others, notably Walt Whitman) to develop a literary style and vision that is uniquely American, rather than following in the footsteps of Henry Wadsworth and others who were strongly influenced by their British cultural heritage. “Nature” is the first significant work to establish this new way of looking at The Americas and its raw, natural environment. In England, all natural things are a reference to layers of historical events, a reflection of human beings. However, in America, all of nature was relatively new to Western Civilization with no man-made meaning. With this clean slate , as it were, Emerson was enabled to see nature through new eyes and rebuild nature’s role in the world.
Link to the Emerson’s complete essay “Nature”