Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

We shall one day learn to supersede politics by education. What we call our root-and-branch reforms of slavery, war, gambling, intemperance, is only medicating the symptoms. We must begin higher up, namely, in Education.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Culture," The Conduct of Life (1860).
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In the morning I awake, and find the old world, wife, babes, and mother, Concord and Boston, the dear old spiritual world, and even the dear old devil not far off. If we shall take the good we find, asking no questions, we shall have heaping measures.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Experience," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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But let us honestly state the facts. Our America has a bad name for superficialness. Great men, great nations, have not been boasters and buffoons, but perceivers of the terror of life, and have manned themselves to face it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Fate," The Conduct of Life (1860).
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The service a man renders his friend is trivial and selfish, compared with the service he knows his friend stood in readiness to yield him, alike before he had begun to serve his friend, and now also. Compared with that good-will I bear my friend, the benefit it is in my power to render him seems small.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Gifts," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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The Gothic church plainly originated in a rude adaptation of the forest trees with all their boughs to a festal or solemn arcade, as the bands about the cleft pillars still indicate the green withes that tied them. No one can walk in a road cut through pine woods without being struck by the architectural appearance of the grove, especially in winter when the bareness of the trees shows the low arch of the Saxons. In the woods in a winter afternoon one will see as readily the origin of the stained glass window with which the Gothic cathedrals are adorned, in the colors of the western sky seen through the bare and crossing branches of the forest.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "History," Essays, First Series (1841).
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Be a little careful about your library. Do you foresee what you will do with it? Very little to be sure. But the real question is, What it will do with you? You will come here and get books that will open your eyes, and your ears, and your curiosity, and turn you inside out or outside in.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Journals, ed. Joel Porte (1982).
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O birds, your perfect virtues bring, Your song, your forms, your rhythmic flight, Your manners for your heart's delight, Nestle in hedge, or barn, or roof, Here weave your chamber weather-proof, Forgive our harms, and condescend To man, as to a lubber friend, And, generous, teach his awkward race Courage, and probity, and grace!
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "May-Day," May-Day and Other Pieces (1867).
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Plants are the young of the world, vessels of health and vigor; but they grope ever upwards towards consciousness; the trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment, rooted in the ground.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Nature," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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Each man, if he attempts to join himself to others, is on all sides cramped and diminished of his proportion; and the stricter the union, the smaller and the more pitiful he is. But leave him alone, to recognize in every hour and place the secret soul, he will go up and down doing the works of a true member, and, to the astonishment of all, the work will be done with concert, though no man spoke.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "New England Reformers," Essays, Second Series (1844). This is another clear articulation that Emersonian individualism is not a form of separatism but a specific, utopian vision of community, where, left alone to discover the eternal soul in each one of us, we eventually come together for the common good.
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Every man finds a sanction for his simplest claims and deeds, in decisions of his own mind, which he calls Truth and Holiness.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Politics," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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