What is the deep meaning of Emerson's quote, "Rainbows to follow the clouds"?

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chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You are probably referring to the following recommendation, which is widely quoted online and attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.

This is wonderful, uplifting advice. It offers us positive spins on troubling or challenging times. “Rainbows to follow the clouds” is the most metaphoric of the phrases used here. Rainbows traditionally occur after rainstorms pass through an area, and the sun comes out again to shine upon the land. So wishing for rainbows after clouds is a way of wishing for good things to come after bad. All of the phrases in this quote are styled in this fashion.

The trouble is: this passage was probably not written by Emerson. It doesn’t mirror his style. And none of the posts and posters that you see online include any credits for the essay, book, or letter that these words may have come from. While it’s a good quote that continues to inspire people, it’s not one that should be associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Someone should do some digging to find out who the real author is.

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