The Rhodora, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The poem begins with an explanation for the existence of the poem itself. Emerson writes, “On being asked, whence is the flower,” (Lewis). The speaker starts off by saying this because the idea itself parallels with the entire theory of Transcendentalism. To a practicing Transcendentalist, the answers in life are provided by God through nature, so the question is present to explain that the through the poem God provides wisdom in his answer through nature’s Rhodora. In the poem, the word “whence” does not actually represent “when” so they are not asking when was the flower, but rather “why”. The idea here is that the Transcendentalist speaker is looking upon this flower and wondering why it exists, wondering what its sole purpose is and why he stumbled upon it. “[Through Transcendentalism] the speaker is moved by something in nature. He is open to what nature has to teach and, as a result, he gains something from the experience,” (Bussey 196). This moving feeling is what causes the poem to be written. From there, the speaker begins his journey of discovery by saying, “In May, when the sea-winds pierced our solitudes,” (Lewis 1). The use of a plural solitudes leaves reason to believe that the speaker is not alone in this journey, which would explain the origin of the question. His companion, from asking of the source of the flower, is also partaking in the spiritual journey. The word piercing helps to personify the sea winds that blow past the speaker and his companion along their walk, giving it an animated feeling. The idea of piercing is acting as a hyperbole due to the fact that it cannot actually physically pierce the body; however, the image behind piercing is to break or tear through something. In this sense, the speaker is ... ... middle of paper ... ... not share his transcendentalist beliefs about the value of Works Cited Bera, Susan. “The Rhodora” by Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Critical Overview. N.p. 2010. Web. 9 March 2014. Bussey, Jennifer. Critical Essay on “The Rhodora.” Poetry for Students. Vol. 17. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2002. Print. Kelly, David. ed. “The Rhodora –Ralph Waldo Emerson.” Poetry for Students. Vol. 17 Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale group 2002. Print. Lewis, Joan Johnson. “The Rhodora by Ralph Waldo Emerson”. 3 September 2009. Emerson Central. 11 March 2014 Prebilic, Michelle. Critical Essay on “The Rhodora.” Poetry for Students. Vol. 17. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2002. Print. Yoder, R.A. Critical Essay on “The Rhodora.” Poetry for Students. Vol. 17. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2002. Print.

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