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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

English 10 Honors/Pre-AP– Comparing poems of Emerson and Thoreau

Explain the message of each poem and the basic ideas the poems share.

The Rhodora

On being asked, Whence is the flower?

In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask; I never knew;
But in my simple ignorance, suppose
The self-same Power that brought me there, brought you.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


O nature I do not aspire
To be the highest in thy quire,
To be a meteor in the sky
Or comet that may range on high,
Only a zephyr that may blow
Among the reeds by the river low,
Give me thy most privy place
Where to run my airy race.
In some withdrawn unpublic mead
Let me sigh upon a reed,
Or in the woods with leafy din
Whisper the still evening in,
For I had rather be thy child
And pupil in the forest wild
Than be the king of men elsewhere
And most sovereign slave of care
To have one moment of thy dawn
Than share the city’s year forlorn.
Some still work give me to do
Only be it near to you.

-Henry David Thoreau


Hollyann B. said...

Personally I think that both Emerson and Thoreau love the woods. Emerson talks to flowers and Thoreau loves nature. I can understand how much they love nature because it's a place to just sit and reflect on how good or bad life is or how better or worse it could get.

Sam Sm!th said...

Emerson's "The Rhodora"

--i think it's a tree in blosom, and the tree is a symbol of beauty (and charm?) Something so beautiful as the Rhodora was created for someone like him to see..the Rhodora was created to be seen and to inspire (smiles?)(to show what beauty and perfect really look like)

Thoreau's "Nature"

1. a gentle, mild breeze.
2. (initial capital letter) Literary. the west wind.
3. any of various things of fine, light quality, as fabric, yarn, etc.

--Thoreau wants a job or wants to work near nature...so he's pretty much saying he wants to work in nature and be free to think on his own and experiment/experience life on his own. He want to live an actual life and suck all the marrow from life like he said in "Walden"...He would rather work in nature than work in the city.

Maggie B said...

"The Rhodora"

- In this poem, Emerson is using the Rhodora to symbolize beauty. The Rhodora shows the perfection of nature and its beauty, as well as its ability to use its beauty to brighten its surroundings.


- Thoeau is talking about how he sees natures beauty and says that he wishes to find a private place where he can think on his own and get all that he can out of life("upon a reed," "or in the woods with leafy din"). He also talks about how he would rather go back to his childhood than have authority over others (lines 13-16).

Jennifer L. G. said...

In "The Rhodora," Emerson telling of his love for the plant, and using beautiful imagery to describe it ("The purple petals fallen in the pool Made the black water with their beauty gay"). At the end of the poem, he references his belief in a God or Supreme Being.

In "Nature" Thoreau also expresses his adoration for nature, but doesn't focus on one specific plant. He says he would prefer to be nature's child than a king.

Both poets love nature, and enjoy being near it.

Sean M. said...

Emerson's "The Rhodora"

Rhodora: A deciduous shrub of northeast North America, having rose-purple, two-lipped flowers that bloom before the leaves appear.

This poem is basically talking about how nature is beautiful but the Rhodora flower or flowers in general add to the beauty of it and make it seem perfect.

Thoeau's "Nature":

This poem is talking about how nature as a whole is most divine and beautiful. All aspects of nature are perfect and delicate.

Basic Idea's:

The basic ideas of both poems are that nature as a whole is the most perfected thing on this earth.

Emily W. said...

"The Rhodora" By Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Rhodora in this poem symbolizes beauty, and that sometimes beauty's only purpose is to be simply recognized. It makes some things happy, and makes others feel inferior, but is being comforted by Emerson, who assures it that it is there for a simple purpose.

"Nature" By Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau is asking Nature to let him near to him. It doesn't matter what kind of job he is given, it could be the most trivial thing he could think of, like a breeze on a reed. He would rather be lowly in nature than high and mighty in the hustle of the city. This shows his extreme romanticism.

Ashley Keever said...

Emerson's "The Rhodora" is a poem about a purple flower and Emerson's description of how beautiful the flower is. Then near the end he ends with how a supeme being brought placed the rhodora in the woods also placed him there.

In Thoreau's Nature he does not describe one specific thing about nature, as Emerson did with the flower, he describes nature as a whole. He talks of his admiration for nature and how he would rather be in the forest("for I had rather be they child and pupil in the forest wild") than to be any where else ("Than be the king of men elsewhere").

Both of these poems display the romatic characteristic of getting back to nature, and enjoying life to the fullest by taking a moment out of their busy life to stop and enjoy nature. Also Thorea and Emerson display their love for nature by describing it's beauty.

Stephanie M said...

"The Rhodora"

You can tell Emerson is very connected with nature because he writes about a flower that is found out in the woods, instead of the usual romantic flower (the rose). I think the main message of the poem is that beauty does not need an "excuse" to exist. Beauty does not need to be useful or have a specific purpose. Emerson also talks of a higher power of some kind. He speaks of a connection between humans and nature, both were created by the same supreme power.


You can tell through this poem that Thoreau is greatly attached to nature. (Same as Emerson) In the poem he says that he wants to be a light breeze out in nature. He would rather be with nature and be nature's "child" than be a king working in other places. Basically he just wants to be near nature, position and power do not matter to him.

Meghan Bucher said...

In "The Rhodora" Emerson uses the flower to display his ideas on the beauty being that every thing in nature has. When Emerson says:
"...if eyes were made for seeing, Then beauty is its own excuse for Being..."
he is saying that if we were given eyes to see and appreciate beauty, then there is no other explanation for beauty than existing or being alive. Since Being is capitalized, Emerson could also be alluding to a "God" or "Spiritual Being" which could mean that "Beauty is its own excuse for Being" is saying that because a God created it, it will be beautiful. The last line in the poem says "The self-same Power that brought me there, brought you". Power is capitalized here which leads me to believe that Emerson is saying that everything is created by God and everything is beautiful. This ties Man, God, and Nature together supporting one of Transcendentalism's main views.

In "Nature" Thoreau speaks to Nature and tells it that he wishes to live in harmony with Nature and does not wish to rule or be at the top of Nature's Empire. Thoreau explains that he would much rather live low and far away from society, people, and in solitude. When Thoreau says:
"For I had rather be thy child
And pupil in the forest wild
Than be the king of men elsewhere
And most sovereign slave of care"
He is going along with the Transcendentalist idea that children live and appreciate nature with their imagination rather than just acknowledging that it is there. He is also saying that he would not enjoy ruling over men or being in society with the "slavery" and restrictions it imposes. At the end of the poem Thoreau is implying that he would take up any job if it insured that he lived near, and in harmony with nature.

Both Emerson and Thoreau share the idea of Man, God, and Nature being in harmony and display this in each of their poems.

Tia Hutchinson said...

Emerson's "The Rhodora"
Emerson's message in this poem is the idea that all things, including the Rhodora, originate from a higher power such as God. Most of the poem focuses on the beautiful effect that spring has on nature. The purple petals falling into the water signifies the dispelling of winter's melancholy mood. The red plumes of the bird represent the vitality of spring itself. The line, "I never thought to ask..." shows how nature is a mystery that we should not try to solve. Lastly, the line, "But in my simple ignorance suppose the self-same Power that brought me there, brought you," shows how Emerson view nature with childlike innocence. He sees it with his heart instead of the critical, analytical eyes of the average adult.

Thoreau's Nature
Thoreau's message in this poem is that living a life of simplicity can be more satisfying than living a life praised by society. Thoreau views nature as a sanctuary where he can truly be himself. He does not feel the need to be as highly esteemed as a meteor or comet. He's content being as lowly as a mild breeze(zephyr) as long as he can be himself. He wants to live a life of simplicity far removed from the common stresses of society. He would rather observe and learn from society rather than rule men. In conclusion, perhaps, Thoreau values the connection he has with nature more highly than he does the bonds that hold society together.

Anna-Grace Long said...

"The Rhodora"

-I think that this poem is about how we take things for granted in life. Emerson used the Rhodora as a symbol of beauty and life in the wood to show how everything around it envious of it. Like the "rival of the rose". He shows how nature gets jealous just like people get jealous. We take things for granted like our uniqueness and individualism. We need to look around us at the nature and that is original beauty.


-In this poem nature is looked upon as the greatest thing in life. We know that Thoreau is a Romantic writer and it shows in this poem. He wants to be more like nature, free and powerful in itself. He does not want to take the place of nature just be near to it and get away from the chaos of life with its laws and government. He wants to get away and just be able to breathe.

Megan B said...

"The Rhodora"

I believe that Emerson thought that true beauty was found in the heart of nature. This flower, which he found breathtaking, grew in the woods in " a damp nook" and beside a pond. He saw it as divinely made and a gift that he was led to so that he might know true beauty.


Thoreau thought nature to be the most desirable place to be. He wishes to become a part of nature, even just in a simple way. He states that he does not mind working as long as his work can be done in or near nature. He loves the complexity and beauty of nature and knows how much he can learn from it.

Both of these poems deal with the beauty of nature. Emerson and Thoreau would both rather be in nature than anywhere else. They understand the beauty of nature and how priceless it is. They know the joy of the earth and how beautiful it can be.

jamesc said...

Emerson's "The Rhodora"

i think that the Rhodora is a symbol of beauty and that beauty can be found in any place and the flower was there to motivate Emerson

Thoreau's Nature

this poem shows how much Thoreau adores nature and how much he wants a job that has to do with being around nature

Becca M. said...

Both of the poems discuss the beauty of nature.They both show how you can learn from nature and how nature should be respected.

Emerson's "The Rhodora" shows how the flower can enhance nature's beauty. The flower symbolizes the perfection of the flower and how delicate it is. The poem also discusses a divine power, that brought us all here?

Thoreau's "Nature" also talks about the beatuy of nature and how he loves to be in nature. He wants to be with nature and learn from it. He makes the cities and public places seem bad, and he wants to be in the solitude of nature.

haley moore said...

"The Rhodora"

The poem is about how something beautiful can make everything else around it seem beautiful as well. It also talks about the power from God (?) that makes everything beutiful, even something as simple as nature. When he says
"the charm is wasted on the earth and sky"
I believe that he means that nobody appreciates the beauty of life like they should. He says that we are given eyes so we can see, but we still miss beautiful things when we don't pay attention.

The poem talks about how much he loves natures, and how we wants to become one with nature. He thinks that nature is the most desirable place to be, because it is so beautiful. He wants nature to let him be a part of it because he'd rather be nature's child.

Both poems are about the beauty of nature and how it should be appreciated, instead of ignored.

Whitney Foster said...

"The Rhodora"

I believe that Emerson is telling his readers about his realization of the strong connection between man and nature. The rhodora represents pure beauty that he discovers in nature. He believes that the flower is much too precious and heavenly to be wasting away on Earth. While admiring the flower, he realizes that both the beautiful flower and himself were created by the same "Power" (the Oversoul). The capabilities of innocence and beauty rest as much in him as they do in the rhodora.


Thoreau's message in this poem is that all the riches the world has to offer cannot satisfy his true needs. He wants to remain a common being in nature so that he can be a pupil and not a cluless leader. He finds comfort in nature and believes it is the one true source to knowledge. Thoreau says he would rather "Have one moment of thy dawn Than share the city's year forlon." In this, he means that just one day spent in nature is better than a whole year spent in society. This poem shows his deep passion for nature and all it has to offer.

The two poems both show a passionate love for nature and a want to be constantly near it. Both speakers in the poems learn something from nature. In "The Rhodora," the speaker discovers the connection between himself and nature. In "Nature" the speaker looks to nature in order to learn about the world.

Caitie Cox! said...

It's clear in both poems that the authors are adoring and admiring nature's beauty and mystery. Emerson relates nature to his personal life and is thankful that whatever God or "Power" made him, also made beautiful things such as the Rhodora.

Thoreau hints that he is almost envious or jealous of how beautiful and peaceful nature is, as opposed to his life or love(s). It seems as if he wants to do everything in life around nature, e.g. work, live, relax, etc.

Rion W. said...

"The Rhodora"

-Emerson is describing his love for nature and the rhodora plant in this poem. The rhodora symbolizes beauty and the beauty of nature. Emerson calls it the "rival of the rose" to emphasize the beauty of the rhodora. Emerson is saying that the same supreme being that brought him to earth also brought the rhodora to earth.


-Thoreau is also expressing his love for nature and the beauty of nature itself just like Emerson did in his poem. Thoreau just wants to be around nature and doesn't care how rich or noble he is. He would rather be "thy child/And pupil in the forest wild/Than be the king of men elsewhere." This shows his love for nature. Also, he would work anywhere as long as his work was near nature.

Matthew Thomas said...

"The Rhodora"
Emerson made the Rhodora a symbol of beauty. When he says that it is "Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook", he means that the beauty is not for any one person and nobody owns it, but that it is meant to be shared with the world. The Rhodora is beautiful in the poem, but rather than be concieted about its beauty Emerson says that it uses its beauty for the benefit of others.

Thoreau uses this poem to display his deep love of nature. He believes that men should live simply, and he says that the lowest form of nature is better than the highest of all men. Thoreau wishes he could be a part of nature in its simplicity rather than be stuck as a man.

Morgan Bridges said...

Emerson's "The Rhodora":

This poem emphasizes the fact that things may be extremely beautiful, but they aren't necessarily more important because of their beauty. The key is that everything originates from a higher power-God, so everyone is inferior. The speaker in this poem is also speaking lovingly to the Rhodora, saying, "tell them, dear...". Seeing the speaker so connected makes the connection to the message and ideas greater for the audience. Colors also play a part in the poem's message. The key colors are purple, symbolizing majesty or royalty, black symbolizing the darker side of beauty or ignorance, and red symbolizing love or passion.

Thoreau's "Nature":

This poem urges the reader to pursue and appreciate the simple things in life, not just the beautiful and amazing. The speaker feels that he doesn't havfe to be the greatest or have the most, he just wants to be near what he holds dear, which is nature and everything that it encompasses. The poem also has good imagery because the speaker is describing the place where he would be happiest so there is a good visual for the reader.

~Both poems concentrate on nature and seem to be in awe of some part or of all of nature. The speakers are both very appreciative. Both also compare the high standings of beauty with the happiness in the simplistic.

Amy R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy R said...

In “The Rhodora” Emerson’s message is not only the beauty of nature but also the Romantic idea that not everything has to be explained with reason and rationalism. Emerson illustrates, with beautiful imagery, the beauty that the flower gives to its surroundings and how it seems to make that part of the woods come alive with beauty. The poem is a response to the question of “from what place did the flower come?”. Emerson replies in the poem that, like him, the flower was guided by a higher Power to the woods. Emerson does not give a rational explanation to the question, nor does he give a rational explanation as to “why this charm is wasted on the earth and sky”.

In “Nature” Thoreau’s message is the forlornness and desolation of life in the city and also the power and authority that nature has over him. He would rather live one moment in the dawn of nature than live a year in the city. The poem also portrays Thoreau’s idea of simplicity, which he expresses in “Walden”, because he does not wish to be the king of many men which would give him many responsibilities, he wishes to live freely in nature away from society and responsibilities.

Both poems have many ideas of Romanticism and Transcendentalism. They both illustrate the beauty and inspiration of nature and objection to social restraints and rationalism. Both poets are clearly very passionate about nature and enjoy life in the woods.

Masuma A. said...

"The Rhodora"

In this poem, Emerson is talking about a flower, the Rhodora. He is very connected with Nature which is why he uses the Rhodora a flower that is found in the woods and in the heart of nature. He talks about how beautiful the flower is and the magnificent beauty of the rhodora seems to symbolize how wonderful nature is. At the end he says that the same divine power that brough him to Earth brought the flower there too.


Thoreau talks about how nature is so wonderful and how much he loves being with nature. He talks about how he would much rather be with nature than be a king. He also says that being in a city or a more industrialized place is not as special as being with nature. He believes that we can learn a lot more from nature than other things.

Both of these believe that nature is very beautiful and they would rather be there than anywhere else. They share the ideas that you can learn a lot from nature and should respect because it is a great thing.

A Gupta said...

Emerson and Thoreau are both talking about and praising nature in their respective poems. Emerson is more specific and is praising a flower, the rhodora, where as Thoreau is talking about nature in general. Eemrson is admiring the beauty of the flower. Emerson all of sudden starts defending the flower as if the sages were seeking to get rid of it because to them, it seems to be a waste of space. Emerson says the flower has its own excuse for being just because of its beauty. Thoreau's Nature just comments on nature relaxing characteristics. The narrator seems to just want to go somewhere in the woods and sit in a corner. "Give my thy most privy place" shows the narrator's love for nature for he is even willing to accept nature's most secluded corner rather than be in a city amongst other men. He is ready to do anything, as long it is near nature. He would even deny to rule over a people just to be near nature.

Both poems express their love for nature and its beauty. They also have a little bit of resentment towards society. Thoreau expresses his discontent with society when he says he would rather be near nature than rule a kingdom. While Emerson does not express such strong dislike for society, he is not in favor of it either. In his The Rhodora, he portrays the sages, who are very respected because of their wisdom, negatively. The sages question the rhodora's purpose even though it is aesthetically pleasing.

Casey L said...

i thought that these poems showed Emerson and Thoreau's love for nature. They both talk about how beautiful nature is. i think that the Rhodora symblolizes beauty. i think Emerson is saying that nature can make us happy if we only appreciate the beauty that it holds.

in Nature i think that Thoreau is saying that if you just go back and live in nature you will appreciate it. i think he is saying that you can't rule nature, it's better if you are a part of it. These characteristics of these poems show their romanticism. This poem sort of related back to Walden for me in the idea that you should go back to nature and simplify your life.

Philip Coffey said...

"The Rhodora"

One message of this poem is that often times, great beauty can come from unexpected places. The beautiful flower is found in "a damp nook" amongst "black water". The negative diction used to describe the place it is found contrasts with the flower itself which is portrayed as very beautiful, creating a juxtaposition. Another message of the poem is to not over-expend yourself trying to please others to the point that you no longer take time for yourself. The rhodora makes efforts "to please the desert and the sluggish brook" and yet the rhodora is so beyond the menial task of pleasing others that "this charm is wasted on the earth and sky". The author wishes for the audience to do things for their own joy, not because others want them to do something.


Thoreau is portraying the value and pure joy of simplicity. He encourages the reader to just be happy with their current station in life and to not depend on being admired by others to obtain happiness. Thoreau shows how highly he values simplicity when he says, "For I had rather be thy child...Than be the king of men elsewhere." He also seeks the solitude so commonly spoken upon by the transcendentalists, "Give me thy most privy place."

Both poems show a profound respect and admiration for nature. They express a need for a return to nature for answers to the search for self-identity. Also, both works put an emphasis on trusting yourself, and not conforming to the commonplace statutes of the world, as well as valuing simple things.

C Ham said...

It is obvious that both of the poems are talking about nature. The poets talk about being in it an admiring it.

The Rhodora

Emerson talks about looking/admiring a certain flower, the Rhodora. This flower can symbloize beauty. Its beauty is the only reason for its being. Emerson infers this when he states, "The beauty is its own excuse for being." This poem is basically saying that something so beautiful can do nothing but be beautiful. That can be its only purpose.


Thoreau says, "Give me thy most privy place. Where to run my airy race." I think he admires nature so much that we wants to be near it. He wants to get away from all the troubles the world offers and just sit and reflect. He wants to be a part of nature, to be in its family. He admires nature so much he wants to become it.

Jonathan C.N. said...

On the Rhodora, I think that the poem is similer to "To a Waterfowl," where both poems deal with the "Power" that place everybody in this world. Both of the poems also deal with the fact that the waterfowl was alone and so is the Rhodora. What I do not understand is why does Emerson say a rival with the rose? Why did he use a Rhodora? I thought that was strange to me.

In "Nature," Thoreau likes to be with nature because to him, Nature is freedom. If you think about it, many things considered "wild" because they are not bound by rules. This is what Thoreau wishes that he could be, free and not bound by rules.

L. Harrison said...

"The Rhodora"

Emerson's imagery is very vivid in this poem. The ironic part of this peom to me is that Emerson is a strong believer of the "self," but it seems that The Rhodora serves as another form of life and existence.


Thoreau's words reveal to me that nature is not just going into a park and looking at trees, but that nature is becoming, and can be created in many places. Lines 13-14 explain that Thoreau has a sense of longing for his childhood days because children seem to have the freedom to experience nature and expand their imaginary. Thoreau realizes that as adults, people are more likely to be conformed to the hustle of life!

Meleia Miller said...

Emerson's "The Rhodera"

In the poem, Emerson writes about how a flower braces the world with its beauty, making things around it just as gracious for its presence. He is uses the colors such as purple, black and red to contrast and symbolize many things. The poem is also saying that the beauty is wasted upon the earth and sky because it is prettier then other things, yet god made us all. However, sayin ignorance is holding the speaker back from seeing the beauty within the Rhodora and each human.

Thoreau's "Nature"

Thoreau is saying that the he would wrather be in nature and enjoy the beauty of the unpublic mead instead of being at the highest power such as king. He is expressing not only his passion for the nature around him but also his respect towards nature. He doesnt aspire to be the highest beauty such as a meteror or a comet, he choses rather to admire it and just observe its beauty.Overall expressing the same common thing as in other things written by him, hes simply saying that the city is no where close to the beauty and calm sensual feeling such as in the woods and our in the wild.

CALEBJM said...

In The Rhodora Emerson symbolizes nature's beuty through the one flower. When Emerson says "beauty is for its own being" he slips in a belief of a god or a higher power. Also in the last line when he says "the Power"... also could be taken as a god.

In Nature Thoreau focuses in on his love for nature but doesnt show all his love through one plant. Thoreau shows how all of Nature is beautiful and unique/divine. He also shows that a life of simplicity is a better life than one cluttered by society.

Both Poems share the belief of Nature, Man and God being at a peace.

CALEBJM said...

In The Rhodora Emerson symbolizes nature's beuty through the one flower. When Emerson says "beauty is for its own being" he slips in a belief of a god or a higher power. Also in the last line when he says "the Power"... also could be taken as a god.

In Nature Thoreau focuses in on his love for nature but doesnt show all his love through one plant. Thoreau shows how all of Nature is beautiful and unique/divine. He also shows that a life of simplicity is a better life than one cluttered by society.

Both Poems share the belief of Nature, Man and God being at a peace.

John c. Jackson said...

Both Ralph Waldo Emerson’s The Rhodora and Henry David Thoreau’s Nature deal with the qualities of nature, although they address it in different ways. While Emerson focuses on the beauty of nature Thoreau points out other, more subtle aspects. Emerson shows in his poem that nature’s beauty can bring happiness to its surroundings as well as to humans. Thoreau’s message in Nature is that living, working, and learning among nature is better than any high position a person can acquire in civilization. Emerson insinuates that he and the rhodora, which is immensely grand and beautiful, are related by the fact that they were created by the same power. This would imply that he to contained some grandness and beauty. Thoreau, on the other hand, immediately addresses that he does not want to be in the upper echelon of nature, and instead merely a mild wind blowing amongst the reeds. Some basic ideas that the two poems share are that nature is inspiring, there are things in nature that differ in level be it in beauty or altitude, and that humans can learn from nature. A basic stylistic component that both poems share is that they personify and talk directly to their subject.

nothisisnotLUKE said...

THE RHODORA- i think Waldo is useing "Rhodora" to symbolize his perception of beauty and all of its characteristics. he also shows the power beauty has and the effect it has on life in general

NATURE- Thoreau seems to be showing his appreciation for nature and all of its wonderful attrubutes...not just one simple beauty like in "Rhodora", but all the different aspects of the general idea. he kinda displays a yearn to just be with nature...not to be in control of it, just, with it.
-The Luke Justice