The Big Picture
A Chaplain/Theologian Reflects on Psalm 102

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Writing


Born this day in 1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and philosopher (d. 1882).

I once thought I would love to write like Emerson.

That would require some things that cannot be acquired:

To live his life and cultivate his memories.

To see what he saw and hear what he heard.

To encounter the Other as he did.

To experience  the world as he did.

To know and love those whom he knew and loved.

That is just the beginning.

We are left, then, with all we need, to read Emerson and let him take us on an occasional journey into his thinking with his words.

Then, we can gain our own experience of life and, from that experience, write our own story, having read his.

Here Are Some Samples

"There are two classes of poets — the poets by education and practice, these we respect; and poets by nature, these we love."

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered."

"The cup of life is not so shallow
That we have drained the best
That all the wine at once we swallow
And lees make all the rest."

"The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The inventor did it because it was natural to him, and so in him it has a charm. In the imitator something else is natural, and he bereaves himself of his own beauty, to come short of another man's."

"He who is in love is wise and is becoming wiser, sees newly every time he looks at the object beloved, drawing from it with his eyes and his mind those virtues which it possesses."

"If the colleges were better, if they … had the power of imparting valuable thought, creative principles, truths which become powers, thoughts which become talents, — if they could cause that a mind not profound should become profound, — we should all rush to their gates: instead of contriving inducements to draw students, you would need to set police at the gates to keep order in the in-rushing multitude."

"Poetry teaches the enormous force of a few words, and, in proportion to the inspiration, checks loquacity."