Emerson on America

As a rule I disdain the posting of quotations unqualified by my own reflection thereon, but for my friend Waldo I will today make an exception. The following comes from his journal “CD” of 1847.

Alas for America as I must so often say, the ungirt, the diffuse, the profuse, the procumbent, one wide ground juniper, out of which no cedar, no oak will rear up a mast to the clouds! it all runs to leaves, to suckers, to tendrils, to miscellany. The air is loaded with poppy, with imbecility, with dispersion, & sloth.

Eager, solicitous, hungry, rabid, busy-body America attempting many things, vain, ambitious to feel thy own existence, & convince others of thy talent, by attempting & hastily accomplishing much; yes, catch thy breath & correct thyself and failing here, prosper out there; speed & fever are never greatness; but reliance and serenity & waiting & perseverance, heed of the work & negligence of the effect.

America is formless, has no terrible & no beautiful condensation.



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