RALPH WALDO EMERSON
This writer, poet and philosopher was born in Boston, in 1803 and died in Concord in 1882, and is well acknowledged for having fixed the principles of Transcendentalism in the XIXth century, essential to outline a “New Thinking”. The transcendentalist philosophy suggests that all is not intended or given by God, but that people have access to knowledge and things directly from nature: the truth can be sensed by the human soul. These ideas were considered radical at the time, it was believed that all truth was divine.
Ralph’s father died when he was just eight years old, and his mother was who, with great effort, grew up her children even by accepting charity, and who got scholarships for them to enter the prestigious Harvard University. Through this effort, he summed up the pain of losing two of his brothers and his wife, mortally touched by tuberculosis when they were only in their twenties, in a lapse of a few years only.
After graduating from Harvard and study Theology there, he was ordained Unitarian minister, but he resigned from the priesthood three years later, influenced by the death of his wife. Already in his undergraduate years he had begun to write his ‘Diary’, and to compile texts that impressed him. He was carrying on with this work when, for health reasons, he moved to South Carolina. There he met the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, Achille Murat, who stimulated him intellectually, but he also had his first contact with slavery. Since then, Emerson proclaimed himself antislavery and an abolitionist.
From there, he decided to travel and give lectures in Europe. He got to know about German Idealism and the ideas of the English Romantic poets, such as Coleridge and Wordsworth, and about the essayist Thomas Carlyle. He embodied all these influences in his ethical writings and his poetry, which advocates on that the individual conscience is above any religious creed. Upon returning to America, he remarried and had four children. In those years, he met up with Henry Hedge, George Putnman, George Ripley, Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Hoar and Sarah Ripley, who ended up being known as the Transcendental Club, where they shared ideas of transcendentalism. Other great thinkers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau were his disciples, and poets and philosophers such as Whitman and Nietzsche recognized his ideas. Nicknamed “the Sage of Concord”, Emerson published essential works, including ‘Essays’, ‘The Meaning of Life’, ‘Poems’ and the magazine ‘The Dial’.
He is an author worth knowing and reading. Short essays as ‘Trust yourself ‘ contain delicious writing.
Paradoxically, although Emerson wrote was lavish in their creation, he hated quotes and aphorisms. To end up this post, I would like to share some of them:
“One has not learnt the lessons of daily life if one has not ever overcome any fear.”
“Meditate at sunset, watching the stars and petting your dog, it is an infallible remedy.”
“Nothing great was achieved without enthusiasm.”
“Embrace it in your heart; each day begins a new year, a new life for us.”
“If you feel that you lost all sense, there is always that ‘I love you’, there will always be a friend.”
“Though we travel around the world to find beauty , we must carry it within us to find it.”
“The only way to make a friend is to be one.”
“Leaving can be justified; abandon oneself not ever has.”
“Do not go where the path may lead you; see where there is no path and leave a trail.”
“Put your words into action, and do not let your tongue say stupidities.”
“To be yourself in a world that constantly wants you not to be you, that is the greatest accomplishment.”
“Always do what you fear.”
“Joy, the more you spend, the more left.”
Get to know him, read him. Emerson will surprise you.
I wish you a happy week.