The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009 - Literary Criticism - 194 pages
Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: II CIVILIZATION We flee away from cities, but we bring The best of cities with us, these learned classifiers, Men knowing what they seek, armed eyes of experts. We praise the guide, we praise the forest life: But will we sacrifice our dear-bought lore Of books and arts and trained experiment, Or count the Sioux a match for Agassiz ? O no, not we! . . . . . . Witness the mute all hail The joyful traveller gives, when on the verge Of craggy Indian wilderness he hears From a log cabin stream Beethoven's notes On the piano, played with master's hand. ' Well done!' he cries; ' the bear is kept at bay, The lynx, the rattlesnake, the flood, the fire: All the fierce enemies, ague, hunger, cold, This thin spruce roof, this clayed log wall, This wild plantation will suffice to chase. Now speed the gay celerities of art, What in the desert was impossible Within four walls is possible again, ? Culture and libraries, mysteries of skill, Traditioned fame of masters, eager strife Of keen competing youths, joined or alone, To outdo each other and extort applause. Mind wakes a new-born giant from her sleep. Twirl the old wheels! Time takes fresh start again, On for a thousand years of genius more.' CIVILIZATION A CERTAIN degree of progress from the rudest state in which man is found, ? a dweller in caves, or on trees, like an ape, ? a cannibal, and eater of pounded snails, worms and offal, ? a certain degree of progress from this extreme is called Civilization. It is a vague, complex name, of many degrees. Nobody has attempted a definition. Mr. Guizot, writing a book on the subject, does not. It implies the evolution of a highly organized man, brought to supreme delicacy of sentiment, as in practical power, religion, liberty, sense of honor and taste.1 In the he...

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About the author (2009)

Known primarily as the leader of the philosophical movement transcendentalism, which stresses the ties of humans to nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and essayist, was born in Boston in 1803. From a long line of religious leaders, Emerson became the minister of the Second Church (Unitarian) in 1829. He left the church in 1832 because of profound differences in interpretation and doubts about church doctrine. He visited England and met with British writers and philosophers. It was during this first excursion abroad that Emerson formulated his ideas for Self-Reliance. He returned to the United States in 1833 and settled in Concord, Massachusetts. He began lecturing in Boston. His first book, Nature (1836), published anonymously, detailed his belief and has come to be regarded as his most significant original work on the essence of his philosophy of transcendentalism. The first volume of Essays (1841) contained some of Emerson's most popular works, including the renowned Self-Reliance. Emerson befriended and influenced a number of American authors including Henry David Thoreau. It was Emerson's practice of keeping a journal that inspired Thoreau to do the same and set the stage for Thoreau's experiences at Walden Pond. Emerson married twice (his first wife Ellen died in 1831 of tuberculosis) and had four children (two boys and two girls) with his second wife, Lydia. His first born, Waldo, died at age six. Emerson died in Concord on April 27, 1882 at the age of 78 due to pneumonia and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.

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