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Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803 - 1882) U.S.A.

Raph Emerson

Poet and essayist


Born at Boston, Massachusetts, the second son of an old Puritan family, and educated at Harvard, he became an Unitarian minister at Boston. At Harvard in 1820 he began to keep the voluminous journals that he continued throughout his life, and that formed the basis of most of his essays and poems. He married in 1829, but his wife died in 1831.

Raph EmersonIn 1832 he resigned his pastorate, because he was feeling unable to believe in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. He traveled to Europe, meeting Walter Savage Landor in Italy and Thomas Carlyle in Scotland, who had a deep and lasting influence on his thought. On his return to America in 1833 he remarried and settled at Concord, where he led the Trascendalists. In this period he wrote two volumes of Essays (1841, 1844), and Representative Men (1850).

He made a second visit to France and England in 1847, and incorporated his impressions in English Traits (1856). He renewed his friendship with Carlyle that had been mantained in their notable correspondence, and made new friends among the most distinguished European thinkers and writers.

Later works include The Conduct of Life (1860), Society and Solitude (1870), and Letters and Social Aims (1876). Much of his verse was published in the literary magazine The Dial, including two of his best known poems The Problem and Woodnotes. His lucid style and clarity of thought made his writings eminently quotable, although he claimed to "hate quotations". His lover was Martin Gay.


"The only way to have a friend is to be one... In the last analysis love is only the reflection of a man's own worthiness from other men. Men have sometimes exchanged names with their friends, as if they would signify that in their friend each loved his own soul.

"The higher the style we demand of friendship, of course the less easy to establish it with flesh and blood.... Friends, such as we desire, are dreams and fables. But a sublime hope cheers ever the faithful heart, that elsewhere, in other regions of the universal power, souls are now acting, enduring, and daring, which can love us, and which we can love."

(R. W. Emerson - Essay on Friendship)


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