Emerson’s Music

In his book Moral Fire, Musical Portraits from America’s Fin De Siecle, Joseph Horowitz writes about Charles Ives’ admiration of the American Transcendentalists.  He refers to the last stanza of Emerson’s poem Music. Here’s the whole thing.

Let me go where’er I will,
I hear a sky-born music still:
It sounds from all things old,
It sounds from all things young,
From all that’s fair, from all that’s foul,
Peals out a cheerful song.

It is not only in the rose,
It is not only in the bird,
Not only where the rainbow glows,
Nor in the song of woman heard,
But in the darkest, meanest things
There alway, alway something sings.

‘T is not in the high stars alone,
Nor in the cup of budding flowers,
Nor in the redbreast’s mellow tone,
Nor in the bow that smiles in showers,
But in the mud and scum of things
There alway, alway something sings.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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