A child said, “What is the grass?” fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? … I do not know what it is any more than he.
As for me, I know nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water, Or stand under the trees in the woods, Or talk by day with any one I love, Or sleep in bed at night with any one I love, Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon… Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, Or of stars shining so quiet and bright, Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring… What stranger miracles are there?
Henceforth I ask not good fortune. I myself am good fortune.
And I will show that there is no imperfection in the present, and can be none in the future, and I will show that whatever happens to anybody it may be turn’d to beautiful results, and I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death, and I will thread a thread through my poems that time and events are compact, and that all the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each as profound as any.
I know nothing grander, better exercise, better digestion, more positive proof of the The Past triumphant result of faith in human kind, than a well-contested American national election.
Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
Out of every fruition of success, no matter what, comes forth something to make a new effort necessary.
It is only the novice in political economy who thinks it is the duty of government to make its citizens happy. Government has no such office. To protect the weak and the minority from the impositions of the strong and the majorityto prevent any one from positively working to render the people unhappy, to do the labor not of an officious inter-meddler in the affairs of men, but of a prudent watchman who prevents outragethese are rather the proper duties of a government. Under the specious pretext of effecting the happiness of the whole community, nearly all the wrongs and intrusions of government have been carried through. The legislature may, and should, when such things fall in its way, lend its potential weight to the cause of virtue and happinessbut to legislate in direct behalf of those objects is never available, and rarely effects any even temporary benefit.
Have you learned lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who rejected you, and braced themselves against you, or disputed the passage with you?
I am large; I contain multitudes.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Ralph Waldo Emerson American Philosopher
- Christopher Morley American Novelist, Essayist
- Gore Vidal American Novelist
- Henry David Thoreau American Philosopher
- John Jay Chapman American Biographer
- Edna St. Vincent Millay American Poet
- Herman Melville American Novelist
- James Russell Lowell American Poet, Critic
- Natalie Clifford Barney American Playwright
- John Vance Cheney American Poet