Emerson and guidance

Our age isn’t much into poetry, perhaps, and our memory of American saints such as Emerson is dimmed by so much that has happened since his day. But this morning a familiar fragment of Emerson’s poem “Terminus” came to mind: ““Lowly faithful, banish fear,” and i thought it would be well to share it. He wrote this when he was 64, younger than I am now, but his creative life was more or less over, and he knew it. Did he kick against fate? Judge for yourself. Emerson’s life, and Thoreau’s, are almost miraculously appropriate examples of living lives in close connection to guidance.

To recast it in a form perhaps more accessible to those unused to poetry:

Terminus

It is time to be old, to take in sail:— The god of bounds, who sets to seas a shore, came to me in his fatal rounds, and said:

“No more! No farther shoot thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root. Fancy departs: no more invent; contract thy firmament to compass of a tent. There’s not enough for this and that, make thy option which of two; economize the failing river, not the less revere the Giver, leave the many and hold the few.

“Timely wise accept the terms, soften the fall with wary foot; a little while still plan and smile, and,—fault of novel germs,— mature the unfallen fruit.

“Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires, bad husbands of their fires, who, when they gave thee breath, failed to bequeath the needful sinew stark as once, the Baresark marrow to thy bones, but left a legacy of ebbing veins, inconstant heat and nerveless reins,— amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb, amid the gladiators, halt and numb.”

As the bird trims her to the gale, I trim myself to the storm of time, I man the rudder, reef the sail, obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:

“Lowly faithful, banish fear, right onward drive unharmed; The port, well worth the cruise, is near, and every wave is charmed.”

 

Terminus

It is time to be old,

To take in sail:—

The god of bounds,

Who sets to seas a shore,

Came to me in his fatal rounds,

And said: “No more!

No farther shoot

Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.

Fancy departs: no more invent;

Contract thy firmament

To compass of a tent.

There’s not enough for this and that,

Make thy option which of two;

Economize the failing river,

Not the less revere the Giver,

Leave the many and hold the few.

Timely wise accept the terms,

Soften the fall with wary foot;

A little while

Still plan and smile,

And,—fault of novel germs,—

Mature the unfallen fruit.

Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires,

Bad husbands of their fires,

Who, when they gave thee breath,

Failed to bequeath

The needful sinew stark as once,

The Baresark marrow to thy bones,

But left a legacy of ebbing veins,

Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,—

Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb,

Amid the gladiators, halt and numb.”

 

As the bird trims her to the gale,

I trim myself to the storm of time,

I man the rudder, reef the sail,

Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:

“Lowly faithful, banish fear,

Right onward drive unharmed;

The port, well worth the cruise, is near,

And every wave is charmed.”

 

7 thoughts on “Emerson and guidance

  1. Frank,
    Your post is perhaps a good example of how guidance ‘speaks’ differently to different people. I get the strong message that what we (humans) are about these days is for each of us to listen to/connect with our own guidance, then work to see the Oneness in those (often) diverse messages.

    Rita/TGU’s “All is well, all is very well” points me to a different place then Emerson’s. Not all the way out to Dylan Thomas’ ‘edge’:
    “Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

    Closer to Henley’s Invictus (below):
    “I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.”

    I may not be that ‘master’ (yet, if ever), but having been made ‘Captain’ of this life-time (soul-building experience), I do the best I can … and fully, deeply, and gratefully accept guidance.
    Jim

    Invictus
    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.

  2. Lovely, Jim/Invictus, and Frank/Emerson.

    A sentence came to mind right now by reading yours….and trying to recall where to have read it ?…..” I`m not to bow for any man but for the brave man`s soul…”

    Thanks and B&B,
    Inger Lise

  3. I think Emerson lived another 14 years. You all have provided a wonderful way to begin the day. Thank you.

  4. eh, completely off-topic… but strangely, it seems my own flow communication with the non 3D seems to correlate strongly with Rita’s appearance here. Of course, my own emotional churning may be one reason for the quiet. But I’ve notced it other times, too. The doors of perception – is there some way to open them? Or is it because we have to take the churning cauldron here seriously enough that there are pauses?

      1. There seems to be periods when every morning I wake up there is some new insight in my mind. A more open flow with the invisible (non 3D) department feels like the normal. And then there are the dry periods, like now. Nothing comes. I feel I am as stupid as I ever was. And the more fruitful priods seem to happen when you are getting communications from Rita. Am I dependent/making myself dependent on you/Rita? Or is it just the normal ebb and flow of things? Something like this, if it makes anything clearer…

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