Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”. This quote was the outline of Waldo’s life. This famous poet was a transcendentalist. He did not believe in religious ideals. Although he had strong regards for life relationships. His poetry was influenced by romanticism. This exemplary man was not only a poet. He was an essayist, a philosopher and a lecturer. Moreover, he was a central figure in the transcendentalist movement in the 19th century. This man believed in living his life to the fullest. In addition to that, through his poetry he inspired many young minds.
Today Brag Social uncovers his life. We study his early life and then try to understand his exceptional poetry:
Ralph Waldo Emerson was the son of William Emerson and Ruth Haskins. He was born in the bay state of Massachusetts on May 25th, 1853. From the beginning, he was only raised by his mother and aunt. Waldo was majorly influenced by the women in his life. This can also be reflected in his poetry. He studied law and is an alumni of Harvard University.
When one studies the life of Emerson, it is noticed that all his writings revolved around the happenings of his life. He majorly started denying religious beliefs after his first wife died. Emerson’s journey as a poet began when he met William Wordsworth, the poet of the famous poem ‘Daffodils’. Moreover, he even came in contact with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas Carlyle. Having said that, Emerson served Carlyle as his literary agent.
Waldo’s Literary career:
Emerson published multiple essays in relation to his beliefs. His lectures and books revolved around transcendentalism. The Indian Philosophy immensely transformed what Emerson believed in. He was introduced to Indian philosophy through Victor Cousin. Additionally, his essays and books reflect that he was reading Bhagavad Gita and the famous “Essays on the Vedas”. Furthermore, scholars have noticed non dualism in his works. This aspect is an effect of the Vedanta.
Emerson published this book in 1849. This book basically looked into the bedrock of transcendentalism. This novel was originally composed in the form of essays. He appreciated nature in an unorthodox way. He conveyed to his audience that all religious entities such as the divine and God can be better understood with a detailed study of nature.
In this novel, Emerson furcates nature into four parts. They are Language, Commodity, Beauty and Discipline. In this Waldo urges humans to try to absorb the vast beauty of nature. Additionally, he believes we humans are so caught up in our own little worlds that we have forgotten to pay attention to our surroundings.
Representative Men was published in 1850, only a year after Nature. Ralph Waldo’s seven lectures are included in this book. All his lectures were transformed into essays and published through this novel. The book starts with talking about the role of great men in building a successful society. He moves on to talk about men who Waldo respects and thinks of as great.
Firstly, he talks about Plato. Then Emanuel Swedenborg, the Mystic. Next, he talks about the skeptic- Michel de Montaigne. He also has essays dedicated to William Shakespeare and Napoleon. Lastly, he talks about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Society and Solitude:
In this book, Waldo uncovers the notions of society. One of his major themes as witnessed by many is nature and its elements. In this book as well, he starts the book by talking about a man who left all his materialistic pleasures to go live alone. Furthermore, this man takes refuge in the forests within nature. Waldo moves on to talk about a humorist who takes shelter in abandoned pastures. This book majorly unearths how we live in a materialistic world. Moreover, he recites stories of men who were happy leaving the civil life for the non materialistic things in his life.
Waldo wrote this poem in 1838. This poem is related to Ralph’s personal story. He lived in Concord with his step-grandfather. In this poem, Waldo represents Concord as a spiritual center of America. Moreover, he wrote this poem at the request of the Battle Monument Committee of Concord. He explicitly talks about the battle and reminds his audience what it was like.
“The Rhodora, On Being Asked, Whence Is the Flower”:
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote this poetry in 1834. This poem yet again revolves around his primary theme Nature. In this poem, Waldo talks about a Rhodora flower he found in the woods. This poem conveyed a similar message like his book “Nature”. He projected the idea that man can reach God through nature. He tries to tell his readers that Rhodora is a flower as pretty as a rose. Although, it does not let its beauty get in the way. This flower is humble and provokes humility in humans.