Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 - 1882
A founder of Transcendentalism and of a uniquely American philosophy emphasizing optimism, individuality and mysticism, Ralf Waldo Emerson was one of the most influential writers of the nineteenth century. Reams have been written about this gentle man; and he, himself, wrote voraciously. Go to rwe.org to read more.
In classic Emerson form, The Rhodora is written in Iambic pentameter with AABBCDCD end rhymes. Also characteristic of his work, the poem explores the notion of a higher entity creating all things, large and small. Emerson also notes that beauty exists whether or not people observe or appreciate it. So, how does that sync with "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"?
Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense)
On being asked, whence is the flower.
In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask; I never knew;
But in my simple ignorance suppose
The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.