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"Under Her Solemn Fillet Saw The Scorn"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This short philosophical poem is notable for its compression, its symbolism, and its expression of Emerson's belief in taking practical advantage of all of one's opportunities. "Hypocritic Days," who are the "daughters of Time," come to us in single file, offering us whatever gifts we choose to take from them. In other words, we can do with Time whatever we wish, and we are free to take what we want from each day: "Bread, kingdoms, stars, and sky that holds them all." Man, Emerson says, is free to accomplish whatever his heart desires. But mankind is not aware of this freedom. The Day (symbolizing a lifetime) comes and offers the poet infinite gifts. The poet, forgetting his early desire for glorious achievements in his life, snatches a few insignificant gifts from Time. When the Day turns away with contempt, he realizes that he has passed up glorious opportunities:

I, in my pleach├Ęd garden, watched the pomp,
Forgot my morning wishes, hastily
Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day
Turned and departed silent. I, too late,
Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.