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A Letter by Ralph Waldo Emerson


"A Letter" is a poem written by Ralph Waldo Emerson. In this letter, Emerson is addressing his brother and asking him if he ever thought Emerson would turn out the way he has. Emerson must not have believed he would end up on a farm, sought God, and read all day. He seems to be somewhat in disbelief about himself. Of course, it could all be really about his wife. He states, "The reliquaries of my dead saint, and dwell / In the sweet odor of her memory." Then ends "And aim a telescope at the inviolate sun." as if he is looking towards the future and hoping for another day to see her again. The poem revolves around these lines. He's wondering if his life would be different if she was still alive. He's praying to God that he sees her again.

This poem is written as a single stanza with twenty-two lines. It does not have a rhyme scheme. The poem is written in varied feet as well. Some seem to be iambic while others are trochaic, and even pyrrhic.


A Letter

Dear brother, would you know the life,
Please God, that I would lead?
On the first wheels that quit this weary town
Over yon western bridges I would ride
And with a cheerful benison forsake
Each street and spire and roof incontinent.
Then would I seek where God might guide my steps,
Deep in a woodland tract, a sunny farm,
Amid the mountain counties, Hant, Franklin, Berks,
Where down the rock ravine a river roars,
Even from a brook, and where old woods
Not tamed and cleared cumber the ground
With their centennial wrecks.
Find me a slope where I can feel the sun
And mark the rising of the early stars.
There will I bring my books, - my household gods,
The reliquaries of my dead saint, and dwell
In the sweet odor of her memory.
Then in the uncouth solitude unlock
My stock of art, plant dials in the grass,
Hang in the air a bright thermometer
And aim a telescope at the inviolate sun

Next: Borrowing - From the French
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Literary Movement
Transcendentalism, 19th Century

Family, Wife, God

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