Creator

R[alph] W[aldo] Emerson

Recipient

John Muir

Transcription

Concord.5 February. 1872.My dear Muir:Here lie your significant cedar flowers on my table, and in another letter; and I will procrastinate no longer. That singular disease of deferring, which kills all my designs, has left a pair of books brought home to send to you months and months ago, still covering their inches on my cabinet, and the letter and letters which should have accompanied to utter my thanks and lively remembrance, are either unwritten or lost, so I will send this peccavi. as a sign of remorse.I have been far from unthankful --I have everywhere testified to my friends, who should also be yours, my happiness in finding you - the right man in the right place - in your mountain tabernacle, and have expected when your guardian angel would pronounce that your probation and sequestration in the solitudes and snows had reached their term, and you were to bring your ripe fruits so rare and precious into waiting society.I trust you have also had, ere this, your own signals from the upper powers. I know that society in the lump, admired at a distance, shrinks and dissolves, when approached, into impracticable or uninter- esting individuals, but always with a reserve of a few unspoiled good men, who really give it its halo in the distance. And there are draw- backs also to solitude, who is a sublime mistress, but an intolerable wife. So I pray you to bring to an early close your absolute contracts with any yet unvisited glaciers or volcanoes, roll up your drawings, herbariums and poems, and come to the Atlantic Coast. Here in Cambridge Dr. Gray is at home, and Agassiz will doubtless be, after a month or two, returned from Terra del Fuego - perhaps through San Francisco - or you can come with him. At all events, on your arrival, which I assume as certain, you must find your way to this village, and my house. And when you are tired of our dwarf surroundings, I will show you better people.With kindest regards, Yours,R. W. Emerson.I send 2 vols. of collected essays by book-post.

I wrote the past in characters of leaf and fire the scroll The building of in the coral sea The planting of the coal.And thefts from satellites and rings And broken stars I drew. And out of spent and aged things I formed the world anew;What time the gods kept carnival Tricked out in star and flower And in cramp elf and saurian forms They swathed their too much power.Time and thought were my surveyors They laid their courses well They boiled the sea, and baked the layers Of granite, marl, and shell.But he, the man child glorious Where tarries he the while? The rainbow shines his harbinger, The sunset gleams his smile.My boreal lights leap upward Forthright my planets roll#9190And still the man child is not born The summit of the whole.Must time and tide forever run? Will never my winds go sleep in the west? Will never my wheels which whirl the sun And satellites have rest?Too much of doming and doffing Too slow the rainbow fades I weary of my robe of snow My streams and my cascades.I tire of globes and races Too long the game is played What without him is summers pomp Or winters frozen shade?I travail in pain for him, My creatures travail and wait His couriers come by squadrons He comes not to the gate.Twice I have moulded an image And thrice outstretched my hand Made one of day and one of night And one of the salt sea sand -

Song of NatureMine are the Night and Morning The pits of air, the gulf of space, The sportive sun, the gibbous moon The innumerable days.I hide in the solar glory, I am dumb in the pealing song I rest on the pitch of the torrent, In slumber I am strong.No numbers have counted my tallies, No tribes my house can fill, I sit by the shining Fount of Life, And pour the Deluge still;And ever by delicate powers Gathering along the centuries From race to race the rarest flowers, My wealth shall nothing miss.And many thousand summers My apples ripened well And light from meteorating stars With firmer glory fell.One in a Judean manger And one by Avon stream One over against the mouths of Nile And one in the Academe.I moulded kings and saviors, And bards oer kings to rule; - But fell the starry influence short The cup was never full.Yet whirl the glowing wheels once more And mix the bowl again Seethe, Fate! the ancient Elements Heat, cold, wet, dry, and peace and painLet war and trade and creeds and song Blend, ripen race on race, The sunburnt world a man shall breed Of all the zones, and countless days.No ray is dimmed, no atom worn My oldest force is good as new And the fresh rose on yonder thorn Gives back the bending heavens in dew. R W. Emerson#9190

Song of NatureMine are the Night and Morning, The pits of air, the gulf of space, The sportive sun. the gibbous moon, The innumerable days.I hide in the solar glory, I am dumb in the pealing song, I rest on the pitch of the torrent,In slumber I am strong.No numbers have counted my tallies,No tribes my house can fill,I sit by the shining Fount of Life And pour the Deluge still;And ever by delicate powers,Gathering along the centuries From race to race the rarest flowers My wealth shall nothing miss.And many thousand summers My apples ripened well,And light from meteorating stars With firmer glory fell.I wrote the past in characters Of leaf and fire the scroll,The building of in the coral sea,The planting of the coal.And thefts from satellites and rings And broken stars I drew.And out of spent and aged things I formed the world anew;What time the gods kept carnival Tricked out in star and flower,And in cramp elf and saurian forms They swathed their too much power.Time and Thought were my surveyors,They laid their courses well,They boiled the sea, and baked the layers Of granite, marl, and shell.But he, the man child glorious,Where tarries he the while?The rainbow shines his harbinger,The sunset gleams his smile.My boreal lights leap upward,Forthright my planets roll,And still the man child is not born,The summit of the whole.Must time and tide forever run?Will never my winds go sleep in the west?Will never my wheels which whirl the sun And satellites have rest?Too much of donning and doffing,Too slow the rainbow fades,I weary of my robe of snow,My streams and my cascades.I tire of globes and races,Too long the game is played,What without him is summer's pomp Or winter's frozen shade?

2Song of Nature (Continued)I travail in pain for him,My creatures travail and wait,His couriers come by squadrons,He comes not to the gate.Twice I have moulded an image,And thrice outstretched my hand,Made one of day and one of night,And one of the salt sea sand.One in a Judean manger,And one by Avon stream,One over against the mouths of Nile,And one in the Academe.I moulded kings and saviors,And bards o'er kings to rule;--But fell the starry influence short,The cup was never full.Yet whirl the glowing wheels once more,And mix the bowl again,Seethe, Fate! the ancient Elements,Heat, cold, wet, dry, and peace and pain.Let war and trade and creeds and song Blend, ripen race on race,The sunburnt world a man shall breed Of all the zones, and countless days.No ray is dimmed, no atom worn,My oldest force is good as new,And the fresh rose on yonder thorn,Gives back the bending heavens in dew.R. W. Emerson

Location

Concord [Mass]

Date Original

1872 Feb 5

Source

Original letter dimensions unknown.

Resource Identifier

muir02_0675-trans.tif

File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0675

Copyright Statement

Some letters written to John Muir may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Owning Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.

Pages

5 pages

Keywords

Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters

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