Celestial Love


Ralph Waldo Emerson



Higher far,

Upward, into the pure realm,

Over sun or star,

Over the flickering Dæmon film,

Thou must mount for love,—

Into vision which all form

In one only form dissolves;

In a region where the wheel,

On which all beings ride,

Visibly revolves;

Where the starred eternal worm

Girds the world with bound and term;

Where unlike things are like,

When good and ill,

And joy and moan,

Melt into one.

There Past, Present, Future, shoot

Triple blossoms from one root

Substances at base divided

In their summits are united,

There the holy Essence rolls,

One through separated souls,

And the sunny Æon sleeps

Folding nature in its deeps,

And every fair and every good

Known in part or known impure

To men below,

In their archetypes endure.


The race of gods,

Or those we erring own,

Are shadows flitting up and down

In the still abodes.

The circles of that sea are laws,

Which publish and which hide the Cause.

Pray for a beam

Out of that sphere

Thee to guide and to redeem.

O what a load

Of care and toil

By lying Use bestowed,

From his shoulders falls, who sees

The true astronomy,

The period of peace!

Counsel which the ages kept,

Shall the well-born soul accept.

As the overhanging trees

Fill the lake with images,

As garment draws the garment's hem

Men their fortunes bring with them;

By right or wrong,

Lands and goods go to the strong;

Property will brutely draw

Still to the proprietor,

Silver to silver creep and wind,

And kind to kind,

Nor less the eternal poles

Of tendency distribute souls.

There need no vows to bind

Whom not each other seek but find.

They give and take no pledge or oath,

Nature is the bond of both.

No prayer persuades, no flattery fawns,

Their noble meanings are their pawns.

Plain and cold is their address,

Power have they for tenderness,

And so thoroughly is known

Each others' purpose by his own,

They can parley without meeting,

Need is none of forms of greeting,

They can well communicate

In their innermost estate;

When each the other shall avoid,

Shall each by each be most enjoyed.

Not with scarfs or perfumed gloves

Do these celebrate their loves,

Not by jewels, feasts, and savors,

Not by ribbons or by favors,

But by the sun-spark on the sea,

And the cloud-shadow on the lea,

The soothing lapse of morn to mirk,

And the cheerful round of work.

Their cords of love so public are,

They intertwine the farthest star.

The throbbing sea, the quaking earth,

Yield sympathy and signs of mirth;

Is none so high, so mean is none,

But feels and seals this union.

Even the tell Furies are appeased,

The good applaud, the lost are eased.


Love's hearts are faithful, but not fond,

Bound for the just, but not beyond;

Not glad, as the low-loving herd,

Of self in others still preferred,

But they have heartily designed

The benefit of broad mankind.

And they serve men austerely,

After their own genius, clearly,

Without a false humility;

For this is love's nobility,

Not to scatter bread and gold,

Goods and raiment bought and sold,

But to hold fast his simple sense,

And speak the speech of innocence,

And with hand, and body, and blood,

To make his bosom-counsel good:

For he that feeds men, serveth few,

He serves all, who dares be true.