Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Concord (Musketaquid), Mass.


By Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

BECAUSE I was content with these poor fields,

Low, open meads, slender and sluggish streams,

And found a home in haunts which others scorned,

The partial wood-gods overpaid my love,

And granted me the freedom of their state,

And in their secret senate have prevailed

With the dear, dangerous lords that rule our life,

Made moon and planets parties to their bond,

And through my rock-like, solitary wont

Shot million rays of thought and tenderness.

For me, in showers, in sweeping showers, the spring

Visits the valley; break away the clouds,—

I bathe in the morn’s soft and silvered air,

And loiter willing by you loitering stream.

Sparrows far off, and nearer, April’s bird,

Blue-coated, flying before from tree to tree,

Courageous, sing a delicate overture

To lead the tardy concert of the year.

Onward and nearer rides the sun of May;

And wide around, the marriage of the plants

Is sweetly solemnized. Then flows amain

The surge of summer’s beauty; dell and crag,

Hollow and lake, hillside, and pine arcade,

Are touched with genius. Yonder ragged cliff

Has thousand faces in a thousand hours.

Beneath low hills, in the broad interval

Through which at will our Indian rivulet

Winds mindful still of sannup and of squaw,

Whose pipe and arrow oft the plough unburies,

Here in pine houses built of new-fallen trees,

Supplanters of the tribe, the farmers dwell.

Traveller, to thee, perchance, a tedious road,

Or, it may be, a picture; to these men,

The landscape is an armory of powers,

Which, one by one, they know to draw and use.

They harness beast, bird, insect, to their work;

They prove the virtues of each bed of rock,

And, like the chemist mid his loaded jars,

Draw from each stratum its adapted use

To drug their crops or weapon their arts withal.

They turn the frost upon their chemic heap,

They set the wind to winnow pulse and grain,

They thank the spring-flood for its fertile slime,

Earlier, on cheap summit-levels of the snow,

Slide with the sledge to inaccessible woods

O’er meadows bottomless. So, year by year,

They fight the elements with elements,

(That one would say, meadow and forest walked,

Transmuted in these men to rule their like,)

And by the order in the field disclose

The order regnant in the yeoman’s brain.

What these strong masters wrote at large in miles

I followed in small copy in my acre;

For there ’s no rood has not a star above it;

The cordial quality of pear or plum

Ascends as gladly in a single tree

As in broad orchards resonant with bees;

And every atom poises for itself,

And for the whole. The gentle deities

Showed me the lore of colors and of sounds,

The innumerable tenements of beauty,

The miracle of generative force,

Far-reaching concords of astronomy

Felt in the plants, and in the punctual birds:

Better, the linked purpose of the whole,

And, chiefest prize, found I true liberty

In the glad home plain-dealing nature gave.

The polite found me impolite; the great

Would mortify me, but in vain; for still

I am a willow of the wilderness,

Loving the wind that bent me. All my hurts

My garden spade can heal. A woodland walk,

A quest of river-grapes, a mocking thrush,

A wild-rose, or rock-loving columbine,

Salve my worst wounds.

For thus the wood-gods murmured in my ear:

“Dost love our manners? Canst thou silent lie?

Canst thou, thy pride forgot, like nature pass

Into the winter night’s extinguished mood?

Canst thou shine now, then darkle,

And being latent feel thyself no less?

As when the all-worshipped moon attracts the eye,

The river, hill, stems, foliage are obscure,

Yet envies none, none are unenviable.”