A stranger: what is the meaning of that?

A stranger: what is the meaning of that? The fork falling sticks upright in the floor and the children say, a stranger is coming. A stranger is expected or announced & and an uneasiness betwixt pleasure & pain invades all the hearts of a household. A commended stranger appears and almost brings fear to the good hearts that would welcome him. The house is dusted; all things fly into their places; the old coat is exchanged for the new; & we must get up a dinner if we can. Of a commended stranger, only the good report is told by others, only the good & new is heard by us. He stands to us for humanity. The stranger is what we wish: the best possibilities of a man. Having thus imagined & clothed him, we ask how we should stand related in conversation & action to such a man & are uneasy with fear. The same Idea exalts conversation with a stranger. We talk better than we are wont. We have no obstructions. For a long time we can continue a series of sincere, graceful, rich communications, drawn from the oldest, secretest experience, so that they who sit by of our own kinsfolk & acquaintance shall feel a lively surprise at our unusual powers. But as soon as the stranger begins to intrude his partialities, his definitions, his defects into the conversation, it is all over. He has heard the first, last & best he will ever hear from us. He is no stranger now. Vulgarity, ignorance, misapprehension, are old acquaintances. Now, when he comes, he may get the order, the dress, & the dinner, but the throbbing of the heart, & the communications of the soul, no more.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks 7:76

Posted in: Journals on February 13, 2014 | No Comments »
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I cannot tell why I should feel myself such a stranger in nature

I went at sundown to the top of Dr. Ripley’s hill & renewed my vows to the Genius of that place. Somewhat of awe, somewhat grand & solemn mingles with the beauty that shines afar around. In the west, where the sun was sinking behind clouds, one pit of splendor lay as in a desert of space, — a deposite of still light, not radiant. Then I beheld the river like God’s love journeying out of the grey past on into the green future. Yet sweet & native as all those fair impressions on that summit fall on the eye & ear, they are not yet mine. I cannot tell why I should feel myself such a stranger in nature. I am a tangent to their sphere, & do not lie level with this beauty. And yet the dictate of the hour is to forget all I have mislearned; to cease from man, & to cast myself again into the vast mould of nature.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks 7:74

Posted in: Journals on August 12, 2013 | 1 Comment »
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I love my wife, my mother, my child, better than strangers…

Natural affection so-called, the relation of father, mother, brother, sister, wife, child, is merely opportunity, no more. Let my brother live & die in Japan, his virtues & affections & qualities quite unknown to me, I should not yield him one tear. I love my wife, my mother, my child, better than strangers, because I can see nearer & know the talents, graces, virtues that are in them; not because they are the best people in the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks 7:73

Posted in: Journals on August 11, 2013 | No Comments »
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You must read a great book to know how poor are all books

You must read a great book to know how poor are all books. Shakespear suggests a wealth that beggars his own, & I feel that the splendid works which he has created & which in other hours we extol as a sort of self existent poetry take no stronger hold of real nature than the shadow of a passing traveler on the rock.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks 7:73

Posted in: Journals on August 10, 2013 | 1 Comment »
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A single flute heard out of a village window…

A single flute heard out of a village window, a single prevailing strain of a village maid, will teach a susceptible man as much as others learn from the orchestra of the Academy.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks 7:72

Posted in: Journals on August 9, 2013 | No Comments »
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I please myself with the thought that my accidental freedom…

I please myself with the thought that my accidental freedom by means of a permanent income is nowise essential to my habits, that my tastes, my direction of thought is so strong that I should do the same things, — should contrive to spend the best of my time in the same way as now, rich or poor. If I did not think so, I should never dare to urge the doctrines of human Culture on young men. The farmer, the laborer, has the extreme satisfaction of seeing that the same livelihood he earns, is within the reach of every man. The lawyer, the author, the singer, has not.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks 7:71

Posted in: Journals on August 7, 2013 | No Comments »
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The stream feels its banks, which it had forgotten…

After thirty a man is too sensible of the strait limitations which his physical constitution sets to his activity. The stream feels its banks, which it had forgotten in the run & overflow of the first meadows.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks 7:71

Posted in: Journals on August 6, 2013 | No Comments »
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I hate to be conspicuous for blame or praise. It spoils thought.

That which is individual & remains individual in my experience is of no value. What is fit to engage me & so engage others permanently, is what has put off its weeds of time & place & personal relation. Therefore all that befals me in the way of criticism & extreme blame & praise drawing me out of equilibrium, — putting me for a time in false position to people, & disallowing the spontaneous sentiments, wastes my time, the reads me of thoughts, & shuts me up within poor personal considerations. Therefore I hate to be conspicuous for blame or praise. It spoils thought.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks 7:65

Posted in: Journals on February 23, 2013 | 1 Comment »
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