‘I like people who can do things’– R W Emerson (Post No.5624)

Compiled by London Swaminathan


Date: 4 November 2018

GMT Time uploaded in London – 13-57

Post No. 5624

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Ralph Waldo Emerson had read philosophy, poetry, science and histories, but none of them had said anything about an effective and harmonious way of pushing a female calf into a barn. His son Edward grasped an ear, the father pushed diligently from behind, and together they tried to propel the animal. The heifer resisted with calm obstinacy. The pale face of the sage reddened and perspiring beads gathered on his high white forehead.

And then an Irish servant girl came by. With an amused glance she thrust a finger into the animal s mouth, and the calf, seduced by this maternal imitation, at once followed her into the barn.

Edward grinned, but Emerson was already absorbed in thought. After cleansing his hands of their hairy bovine smell, he recorded this telling declaration in his journal,

‘I like people who can do things’.


Emerson profile

American Essayist and Poet
Born May 25, 1803
Died April 27, 1882
Age at death 78


1836 Nature
1841 Essays
1844 Essays
1847 Poems
1850 Representative Men
1856 English Traits
1860 The Conduct of life
1867 May Day and other pieces
1870 Society and Solitude
1893 Natural History of Intellect

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an important 19th century American poet and essayist. His ideas had a strong influence on the development of American culture.

Emerson, the son of a minister, was born and raised in Boston. Like his father, he attended Harvard and then entered the ministry. He was appointed pastor of the important Second Unitarian Church in Boston, but three years later, at the age of 29, he had a crisis of faith and left the church. The same year Emerson visited England, where he became a close friend of the writer Thomas Carlyle.

Back in America Emerson settled in Concord, Massachusetts, and began a successful career as a lecturer and essayist. His first book Nature was published, when he was 33, summed up his ideas. He emphasised individualism and self-reliance and rejected traditional authority. He also believed that people should rely on their reason to learn what is right and should try to live a simple life in harmony with nature and with others.

Emerson became famous for his lectures. He encouraged American scholars to break free of European influences and create a new American culture. His first collection of essays, in which he explored his ideas more fully, was published when he was 38. They were widely read and further collection s followed. At the age of 44 he published his first collection of poetry. Later he became involved in the anti-slavery movement and worked for women’s rights.


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