Emerson: On Thoreau

(Photo Credit: Catherine Hall, http://www.shepherd.edu/transweb/waldenpond.htm)

[One of the weapons] with which he conquered all obstacles in science was patience. He knew how to sit immovable, a part of the rock he rested on, until the bird, the reptile, the fish, which had retired from him, should come back, and resume its habits, nay, moved by curiosity, should come to him and watch him.                                        –R. W. Emerson, from “Thoreau”

More Emerson: There Are Doubts

It stands in [the Sceptic’s] mind that our life in the world is not of quite so easy interpretations as churches and schoolbooks say. He does not wish to take ground against these benevolences, to play the part of the devil’s attorney, and blazon every doubt and sneer that darkens the sun for him. But he says, There are doubts.

–R. W. Emerson, from “Montaigne; or, the Sceptic”

Emerson: Expecting Nothing

I compared notes with one of my friends who expects everything of the universe, and is disappointed when anything is less than the best, and I found that I begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing, and am always full of thanks for moderate goods. I accept the clangor and jangle of contrary tendencies. 

–R. W. Emerson, from “Experience”

Emerson: The Poet is One Chasing Beauty

Even when Emerson says something I disagree with–which is often–I still like the way he says it. Here, I like both what he says and the way he says it. 


[The poet] pursues a beauty, half seen, which flies before him. The poet pours out verses in every solitude. Most of the things he says are conventional, no doubt; but by and by he says something which is original and beautiful. That charms him. He would say nothing else but such things. 

–R. W. Emerson, from the essay “The Poet”