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Ode To Beauty

Written by: Ralph Waldo Emerson | Biography
 Who gave thee, O Beauty!
The keys of this breast,
Too credulous lover
Of blest and unblest?
Say when in lapsed ages
Thee knew I of old;
Or what was the service
For which I was sold?
When first my eyes saw thee,
I found me thy thrall,
By magical drawings,
Sweet tyrant of all!
I drank at thy fountain
False waters of thirst;
Thou intimate stranger,
Thou latest and first!
Thy dangerous glances
Make women of men;
New-born we are melting
Into nature again.
Lavish, lavish promiser, Nigh persuading gods to err, Guest of million painted forms Which in turn thy glory warms, The frailest leaf, the mossy bark, The acorn's cup, the raindrop's arc, The swinging spider's silver line, The ruby of the drop of wine, The shining pebble of the pond, Thou inscribest with a bond In thy momentary play Would bankrupt Nature to repay.
Ah! what avails it To hide or to shun Whom the Infinite One Hath granted his throne? The heaven high over Is the deep's lover, The sun and sea Informed by thee, Before me run, And draw me on, Yet fly me still, As Fate refuses To me the heart Fate for me chooses, Is it that my opulent soul Was mingled from the generous whole, Sea valleys and the deep of skies Furnished several supplies, And the sands whereof I'm made Draw me to them self-betrayed? I turn the proud portfolios Which hold the grand designs Of Salvator, of Guercino, And Piranesi's lines.
I hear the lofty Pæans Of the masters of the shell, Who heard the starry music, And recount the numbers well: Olympian bards who sung Divine Ideas below, Which always find us young, And always keep us so.
Oft in streets or humblest places I detect far wandered graces, Which from Eden wide astray In lowly homes have lost their way.
Thee gliding through the sea of form, Like the lightning through the storm, Somewhat not to be possessed, Somewhat not to be caressed, No feet so fleet could ever find, No perfect form could ever bind.
Thou eternal fugitive Hovering over all that live, Quick and skilful to inspire Sweet extravagant desire, Starry space and lily bell Filling with thy roseate smell, Wilt not give the lips to taste Of the nectar which thou hast.
All that's good and great with thee Stands in deep conspiracy.
Thou hast bribed the dark and lonely To report thy features only, And the cold and purple morning Itself with thoughts of thee adorning, The leafy dell, the city mart, Equal trophies of thine art, E'en the flowing azure air Thou hast touched for my despair, And if I languish into dreams, Again I meet the ardent beams.
Queen of things! I dare not die In Being's deeps past ear and eye, Lest there I find the same deceiver, And be the sport of Fate forever.
Dread power, but dear! if God thou be, Unmake me quite, or give thyself to me.



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