April 09, 2013

I keep, and pass, and turn again

Say what you want about the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, but he gave me an easy topic to blog about during a busy couple of months. For that I'm grateful, anyway.

For the last month or two I've been looking at some of his most influential essays or lectures, but it turns out that what Waldo really wanted was to be a great poet. I'm not sure he hit the mark, but it wasn't for lack of trying. One line from an 1837 Fourth of July poem about his town of Concord during the American Revolution became quite famous, as in "the shot heard round the world."

I can't claim that I've read all his poems but I did find two that I really liked. Today's feature is the poem Brahma, which was published in 1857. It reflects his interest in the spiritual literature of India and was heavily influenced by the Bhagavad Gita. The poem also captures some of the monistic (as in all is One) and pantheistic (as in all is God) themes of Transcendentalism.

Here goes:
If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.
IGNORANCE is alive and well, according to this writer.

MONKEY TALK. Did human speech develop from this kind of primate communication?

ARE WE ALONE? Here's an interesting item on the search for extraterrestrial life.


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