Song of Nature

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 
Mine are the night and morning,
The pits of air, the gulf of space,
The sportive sun, the gibbous moon,
The innumerable days.
I hid 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 on race the rarest flowers,
My wreath shall nothing miss.
And many a thousand summers
My apples ripened well,
And light from meliorating stars
With firmer glory fell.
I wrote the past in characters
Of rock and fire the scroll,
The building 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
Or 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 leaves 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?
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 Judaean manger,
And one by Avon stream,
One over against the mouths of Nile,
And one in the Academe.
I moulded kings and saviours,
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.
 
From American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, Volume I, published by Library of America.

Poems by This Author

A Nation's Strength by Ralph Waldo Emerson
What makes a nation's pillars high
Brahma by Ralph Waldo Emerson
If the red slayer think he slays
Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson
By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Days by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days
Fable by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The mountain and the squirrel
Hamatreya by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bulkeley, Hunt, Willard, Hosmer, Meriam, Flint
Teach me I am forgotten by the dead by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Teach me I am forgotten by the dead
The Problem by Ralph Waldo Emerson
I like a church; I like a cowl;
The Snow Storm by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
The Sphinx by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Sphinx is drowsy,
Water by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The water understands


Further Reading

Poems About the Natural World
A Windflower
by Lizette Woodworth Reese
Amethyst Beads
by Eavan Boland
And the Intrepid Anthurium
by Pura López-Colomé
Atavism
by Elinor Wylie
Austerity
by Janet Loxley Lewis
Belong To
by David Baker
Butterfly Catcher
by Tina Cane
Crossings
by Ravi Shankar
Elders
by Louise Bogan
Escape
by Elinor Wylie
Farewell
by John Clare
February: The Boy Breughel
by Norman Dubie
Field
by Erin Belieu
Fish Fucking
by Michael Blumenthal
For-The-Spirits-Who-Have-Rounded-The-Bend IIVAQSAAT
by dg nanouk okpik
Four Poems for Robin
by Gary Snyder
God's World
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Imaginary June
by C. D. Wright
In a Blue Wood
by Richard Levine
In Michael Robins’s class minus one
by Bob Hicok
Kentucky River Junction
by Wendell Berry
maggie and milly and molly and may
by E. E. Cummings
Making It Up as You Go Along
by Bin Ramke
Monody to the Sound of Zithers
by Kay Boyle
Naskeag
by Alfred Corn
October (section I)
by Louise Glück
Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
by William Wordsworth
Of Many Worlds in This World
by Margaret Cavendish
Pastoral
by Jennifer Chang
Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Poppies on the Wheat
by Helen Hunt Jackson
Prairie Spring
by Willa Cather
Russian Birch
by Nathaniel Bellows
Scandal
by Lola Ridge
Sonnet
by Bill Knott
Spontaneous Me
by Walt Whitman
Tanka
by Sadakichi Hartmann
The Clouded Morning
by Jones Very
The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy
The Gladness of Nature
by William Cullen Bryant
The Leaves
by Deborah Digges
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Noble Nature
by Ben Jonson
The Parallel Cathedral
by Tom Sleigh
The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter
by Ezra Pound
The Wind and the Moon
by George Macdonald
There may be chaos still around the world
by George Santayana
Trees
by Joyce Kilmer
Two Butterflies went out at Noon— (533)
by Emily Dickinson
Vantage
by Alan Shapiro
Vision
by Robert Penn Warren
What's the railroad to me?
by Henry David Thoreau
Winter Morning
by William Jay Smith
Work Without Hope
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge