"There's No God Dare Wrong A Worm"
Context: This poem appears at the beginning of the essay entitled "Compensation." Compensation, says Emerson, is a universal law. All nature keeps a "trembling balance." Night and day, mountain and ocean, the tides–all balance out "the feud of Want and Have." In this intricately patterned universe, "the lonely Earth" must serve some sort of necessary function; it is a 'Supplemental asteroid,/ Or compensatory spark." Frail mankind also has a place in the universe. If he finds his proper function in the eternal balance, man can acquire infinite powers:
Man's the elm, and Wealth the vine,Stanch and strong the tendrils twine:Though the frail ringlets thee deceive,None from its stock that vine can reave.Fear not, then, thou child infirm,There's no god dare wrong a worm.Laurel crowns cleave to deserts,And power to him who power exerts;Hast not thy share? On winged feet,Lo! it rushes thee to meet;And all that Nature made thy own,Floating in air or pent in stone,Will rive the hills and swim the sea,And, like thy shadow, follow thee.