Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

No man acquires property without acquiring with it a little arithmetic, also.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Montaigne; or, the Skeptic," Representative Men (1850).
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The charming landscape which I saw this morning is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape. There is property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all parts, that is, the poet. This is the best part of these men's farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Nature, ch. 1 (1836, revised and repr. 1849). While in college, Emerson struggled with and eventually rejected the writings of the British philosopher John Locke. We might take this passage to be a wry commentary on Locke's empiricism and his labor theory of value.
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What is it men love in Genius, but its infinite hope, which degrades all it has done? Genius counts all its miracles poor and short. Its own idea it never executed.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Lecture given on March 3, 1884 in Amory Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. "New England Reformers," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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To educate the wise man, the State exists; and with the appearance of the wise man, the State expires. The appearance of character makes the state unnecessary. The wise man is the State.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Politics," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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The reverence for the Scriptures is an element of civilization, for thus has the history of the world been preserved, and is preserved.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Religion," English Traits (1856).
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Things said for conversation are chalk eggs. Don't say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Social Aims," Letters and Social Aims (1876).
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The secret of poetry is never explained—is always new. We have not got farther than mere wonder at the delicacy of the touch, & the eternity it inherits. In every house a child that in mere play utters oracles, & knows not that they are such, 'Tis as easy as breath. 'Tis like this gravity, which holds the Universe together, & none knows what it is.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Journal entry, July 1873. "Taking Sail (1866-1874)," quoted in Joel Porte, Emerson in His Journals (1982).
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Truly speaking, it is not instruction, but provocation, that I can receive from another soul. What he announces, I must find true in me, or reject; and on his word, or as his second, be he who he may, I can accept nothing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Address, July 15, 1838, delivered before the senior class in Divinity College, Cambridge. "The Divinity School Address," repr. in The Portable Emerson, ed. Carl Bode (1946, repr. 1981).
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It is not an arbitrary "decree of God," but in the nature of man, that a veil shuts down on the facts of to-morrow; for the soul will not have us read any other cipher than that of cause and effect. By this veil, which curtains events, it instructs the children of men to live in to-day.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "The Over-Soul," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
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The squirrel hoards nuts and the bee gathers honey, without knowing what they do, and they are thus provided for without selfishness or disgrace.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. speech, January 1842, at the Masonic Temple in Boston, repr. In The Dial (1843) and Nature, Addresses, and Lectures (1849). "The Transcendentalist," repr. in The Portable Emerson, ed. Carl Bode (1946, repr. 1981).
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