A&O QUOTE – Emerson – all things sing to me






From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Fragments on Nature and Life”


LET me go where’er I will,

I bear 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‘s sense of connectedness is apparent in circles, but then he speaks also to the transcendence inherent in all creation, had we only the sense to find it. 

Walt Whitman (d. 1892) among many others speaks to this as well:

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,

And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,

And the tree toad is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest,

And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,

And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts scorn to all machinery,

And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any statue,        

And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels. 


CONSIDER NOW, that we may be cultivating an intuitive as well as a logical sense of the connectedness of all things.  Since we are coming to appreciate that (as Whitman put it) all truths wait in all things we can also appreciate that the most humble things can resonate with the most exalted.   In the notes collected at that A&O page one may come to sense that because of their inherent (shared) spitituality, all that we experience has worth and dignity.  As we experience and come to embody this quality of our experience, almost feel the growth og our self-actualization. (In my own mind’s eye I see the expanding of the folded wings of a butterfly newly emerged from its chrysalis.) 


     There is also a comment on that page that can link us to canonical art lore: in a comment on shodo (Japanese calligraphic painting), we are taught that the “do” form in Japanese aesthetics “is an art that allows you to grasp the ultimate nature of the whole life by examining yourself in great detail through a singular aspect of life: “to grasp the universal through the particular.”  


Look now how this idea ripples through aesthetic thinking from Heraclitis through Coleridge and Joseph Campell: Read A&O notes on UNITY in DIVERSITY.