In a contentious time — we need to stay positive.
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Poetry has a way of touching our hearts and our minds in a special way. There’s something so moving about words, shaken down to the core of meaning, and delivered to us in verse.
Right now we are all struggling with isolation. We are combating fear and grave concern for our countries. And we could use a little poetic inspiration. We could use a little uplifting of our spirits and our hearts.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American Transcendentalist poet and essayist of the 19th century. He was from Boston. Emerson was the son of a minister and a graduate of Harvard. Perhaps one of his most well known publications was an essay entitled “Self-Reliance,” but he was also a gifted poet.
A quick list of seriously cool things about Emerson:
- During his career and travels he met some really notable literary figures and big “thinkers” of the time: Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Amos Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May Alcott)
- “The American Scholar,” based on a lecture that he gave in 1837, encouraged American authors to find their own style instead of imitating their foreign predecessors. (Source)
- He advocated for the abolition of slavery
- His beliefs and his idealism were strong influences on the work of his protégé Henry David Thoreau and his contemporary Walt Whitman, as well as numerous others. His writings are considered major documents of 19th-century American literature, religion and thought. (Source)
Here are 10 of my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes to lift your soul today.
What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Plans, credit and the Muse, —
’T is a brave master;
Let it have scope:
Follow it utterly,
Hope beyond hope:
High and more high
It dives into noon,
With wing unspent,
But it is a god,
Knows its own path
And the outlets of the sky.
— From Emerson’s poem Give All to Love
Thanks for reading this brief celebration of Emerson’s poetic wisdom. I hope it has lifted your day! (Poetry can really do that, if you’ll give it the space and time to do so.) Also, in case you weren't aware, research shows that reading complex poetry and other literary treasures can actually make you smarter.
Here's another collection of poetry quotes to inspire you and lift you through your day! 12 Poetry Quotes to Get You Through Today
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