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this empty America before the arrival of the poets.'” He questioned whether to print his poems, “ uncertain always," he wrote, “whether I have one true spark of that fire which burns in verse;" and in a little poem, called “The Test,” he says that in some five hundred of his verses
“Five lines lasted, sound and true.”
When he wrote prose, he thought of a sentence by itself, and not of its connection with other sentences; and when he wrote verse, he thought, it would seem, of the form of each line, without much attention to the form or the length of its neighbors, or even to its own smoothness, — he whose ear for a prose sentence was trained so delicately.
Yet I, for one, would give up any other poetry of America rather than Emerson's; and I am certain that one secret of his power over men and women was his belief that every human soul is poetry
and a poet, and his waking of men and women to that belief. He had beyond other men a poet's heart; and if, as Carlyle says, to see deeply is to see musically, and poetry is musical thought, he is a poet of poets.
“God hid the whole world in thy heart," says Emerson. “ The poet,” he says elsewhere, “knows why the plain or meadow of space was strown with these flowers we call suns, and moons, and stars; why the great deep is adorned with animals, with men and gods."
Nature he lived with; and when he wrote of her, he wrote as one who knew her as his closest friend. “My book should smell of pines,” he said.
“ To read the sense the woods impart
You must bring the throbbing heart.”
“ Sheen will tarnish, honey cloy,
“ Hast thou named all the birds without a gun? Loved the wood-rose and left it on its stalk?
O be my friend, and teach me to be thine.”
“ Thou” [the poet], he said, “shalt have the whole land for thy park and manor, the sea for thy bath and navigation, without tax and without envy; the woods and the rivers thou shalt own; and thou shalt possess that wherein others are only tenants and boarders. Thou true land-lord I sea-lord ! air-lord! Wherever snow falls, or water flows, or birds fly, wherever day and night meet in twilight, wherever the blue heaven is hung by clouds or sown with stars, wherever are forms with transparent boundaries, wherever are outlets into celestial space, wherever is danger and awe and love, there is Beauty, plenteous as rain, shed for thee; and though thou shouldst walk the world over, thou shalt not be able to find a condition inopportune or ignoble."
The poet is not only a seer, he is a hearer:
“Let me go where'er I will
I hear a sky-born music still:
Yet it was not cheerfulness that made Emerson a poet; and certainly it was not music, in the common understanding of the term : it was high thought, joined with a wonderful gift — an almost inspired sense — of the right word; a gift
not always his, but his so often that he has said more memorable things than any other American. You can find no higher simplicity in the fitting of word to thought:
“Though love repine and reason chafe,
There came a voice without reply." While I speak of the poetry in him and the love of nature, let me read what he wrote to a little girl of thirteen who looked up to him then and always :
MY DEAR LUCIA:-I am afraid you think me very ungrateful for the good letters which I begged for and which are so long in coming to me, or that I am malicious and mean to make you wait as long for an answer ; but, to tell you the truth, I have had so many “composition lessons ” set me lately, that I am sure that no scholar of Mr. Moore's has had less spare time. Otherwise I should have written instantly ; for I have an immense curiosity for Plymouth news, and