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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

This poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson is written in the voice of the titular Brahma. Brahma is a Hindu god, part of the key triumverate. Brahma is the creator of the world and everything in it, but is little worshipped in Hinduism because his mind, in Hindu mythology, had been turned more towards the fleshly world than towards the spiritual, due to his obsessive pursuit of a beautiful woman, Shatarupa.

Emerson takes this interest in the physical world as a positive element in this poem. In the final stanza of the poem, we see Brahma urging the reader, the person who is seeking "good," not to look forward to heaven, but to look to Brahma instead, a spirit who is very present in everything that exists. Throughout the poem, Brahma describes the various states, seemingly opposites, in which he exists. "Vanished" gods are visible to him; he is the living spirit which prevents killers from truly killing and the "slain" from truly dying. Brahma is "the doubter and the doubt," the wings of those who fly, and someone whose universality makes shadow and sun the same to him. Brahma is everywhere, the universal spirit, and Emerson's point seems to be that thinking too much about the spiritual prevents people from properly enjoying the here and now.

The only other character in the poem is that of the addressed person, the implied reader, alongside the "vanished gods" who are mentioned by Brahma as being envious of his "abode."

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