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Download American Writers, Volume 2 by Leonard Unger PDF

By Leonard Unger

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There was, too, a decided sprinkling of scoffers among the audience, whose sentiments were disclosed during the decorous exit. Incomprehensibility, at that epoch generally, was the great offence; it was a sort of universal charge against anything uncomprehended, made in complete innocence of any obligation to comprehend. Nevertheless the small audience was manifestly more or less spellbound. Even the dissenters—as in the circumstances the orthodox of the day may be called—were impressed. It might be all over their heads, as they contemptuously acknowledged, or vague, as they charged, or disintegrating, as they— vaguely—felt.

Form, change, purpose were organic for him in the classic sense, a part of a pattern, as he said, not a romantic caprice. So England could not but add strength to his beliefs; as his beliefs could not but inform that Saxon substance. These three main volumes in the decade of his maturity were built upon works already established in the heart of New England readers through the two series of Essays and the Poems of the 1840's. Together these six collections of his thoughts give us Emerson's most formal and formulated wisdom.

Therefore his poetic allegiances were divided —on the one hand to the succinctness of a Jonson, as in prose, yet on the other to the materials and moods of his own day, which were freer, more natural, more exploratory. His was a sensorily active and receptive vocabulary like that of the English eighteenth and American nineteenth centuries, its especial impact being in its direct joining of man and nature, a nature wise and good, an air, sky, sea, star related to joy, form, beauty. This stylistic joining of human and natural realms as both natural, though differently, is like the metaphysical joining, as in Cowper's "church-going bell," which Wordsworth with his more literal connecting processes disapproved; it made condensations of Emerson's widest extensions.

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