“The Rhodora” was published in 1847 in Poems, the first of Emerson’s two volumes of poetry. In this response to a question, Emerson finds an opportunity to celebrate a flower simply for “being.” A deeper look, however, reveals that the poem is in keeping with Emerson’s transcendentalist beliefs about the mystical unity of God’s love throughout all nature. He comes to an appreciation of the Rhodora, a relatively common New England flowering shrub, by seeing it in its own context—by visiting it at home—and he offers that appreciation as a model for contemplating all of nature.
Readers might compare this to an earlier poem of William Wordsworth’s, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” which also concerns the effect of an encounter with flowers in the wild. Wordsworth was a literary idol of Emerson, and his work profoundly influenced Emerson. For a more contemporary yet similar approach, readers might also investigate some of the work of e. e. cummings, whom many considered a modern transcendentalist.