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Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 - 1882


When I was born,

From all the seas of strength Fate filled a chalice,

Saying,  "This be thy portion, child; this chalice.

Less than a lily's, thou shalt daily draw

From my great arteries --- nor less nor more."

All substances the cunning chemist Time

Melts down into that liquor of my life ---

Friends, foes, joys, fortunes, beauty, and disgust;

And whether I am angry or content,

Indebted or insulted, loved or hurt,

All he distills into sidereal wine,

And brims my little cup; heedless, alas !

Of all he sheds, how little it will hold,

How much rains over on the desert sands.

If a new Muse draw me with splendid ray,

And I uplift myself into its heaven,

The needs of the first sight absorb my blood,

And all the following hours of the day

Drag a ridiculous age.

To-day, when friends approach, and every hour

Brings book, or star-bright scroll of genius,

The little cup will hold not a bead more,

And all the costly liquor runs to waste;

Nor gives the jealous lord one diamond-drop,

So to be husbanded for future days.

Why need I volumes, if one word suffice?

Why need I galleries, when a pupil's draught,

After the master's sketch, fills and o'erfills

My apprehension?   Why seek Italy,

Who cannot circumnavigate the sea

Of  thoughts and things at home, but still adjourn

The nearest matters for a thousand days?


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