Friday, December 31, 2010

Ralph Waldo Emerson: thoughts on compensation

A short excerpt from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), a leader in the transcendentalist movement of the 19th century.

Compensation

The wings of time are black and white,
Pied with morning and with night
Mountain tall and ocean deep
Trembling balance duly keep.
In changing moon, in tidal wave,
Glows the feud of want and have.
Gauge of more and less through space
Electric star and pencil plays.
The lonely earth amid the balls
That hurry through the eternal halls
A makeweight flying to the void,
Supplemental asteroid,
Or compensatory spark,
Shoots across the neutral dark.
Man's the elm, and the wealth the vine,
Stanch and strong the tendrils twine:
Though the frail ringlets thee deceive,
None from its stock that vine can reave.
Fear not, then thou child infirm,
There's no god dare wrong a worm.
Laurel crowns cleave to deserts
And power to him who power exerts;
Hast not thy share? On winged feet,
Lo! it rushes three to meet;
An all that nature made thy own,
Floating in air or pent in stone,
Will rive the hills and swim the sea
And, like thy shadow, follow thee.