Homework Help

Ralph Waldo Emerson contends that our attitude toward the stars would change if they...

user profile pic

burt1331 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 17, 2013 at 3:04 AM via web

dislike 2 like

Ralph Waldo Emerson contends that our attitude toward the stars would change if they appeared only once every thousand years. What point is Emerson making about nature with this striking example from Nature?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 17, 2013 at 4:47 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.

                         --from Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson

In his Transcendental essay, Emerson points to a common trait of human nature: That which is always present for man will be taken for granted and not truly appreciated. In fact, when certain conditions are ever present, their value in the minds of men are diminished. But, Emerson makes the argument that if the mind is open to the influence of great Nature, the mind will remain impressionable and learn; he writes, "Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit." Always there is something new, something that lifts the spirit and transcends man to a higher realm of experience and knowledge when he contemplates the magnificence of Nature that frees him from the mundane with its burdens and sorrows.

In short, Nature provides nourishment and solace for the soul--it comforts him; it delights him; it inspires him. Man should never ignore the wonders of Nature, for they are essential to his well-being. If the stars were to appear only once in a millenium, the miracle of Nature would be received openly by man and he would be enlightened profoundly as its memory would be preserved in generations to come. Thus, Emerson urges people to appreciate the opportunity to experience the delights of Nature and to learn from the communication with this wondrous realm.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes