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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 301

Emerson is a central figure in American Transcendentalism, which is a philosophical movement that developed in the early to mid nineteenth century in New England. Like the Romantics in England, the Transcendentalists believed that the divine was expressed through nature. They believed that through observing physical nature, humans could intuitively understand the divine nature without needing priests or religious dogmas. Nature and the divine, Emerson believed, existed in harmony. As Emerson described himself in a letter to his fiancee Lydia Jackson in 1835, he was a "dear lover of the harmonies that are in the soul and in matter . . ." As for aesthetics, in the chapter called "Beauty" in his 1836 book Nature, Emerson writes that aesthetic pleasure arises from the human eye taking in "outline, color, motion, and grouping." This concept of beauty as grouping or interdependency is what he tries to capture and express in "Each and All," summed up in the lines:
All are needed by each one;
Nothing is fair or good alone.
Scholars have noted the line as influencing the famous and influential twentieth century American poet William Carlos William. We can see the strong link between the insistence of "Each and All"on beauty as dependent on items in their proper context in the theme of Williams's famous poem "The Red Wheelbarrow." In "Each and All," Emerson shows the destruction of the beauty in a songbird or a seashell taken out of it natural habitat—and the intense beauty of these same elements, unconscious of their surroundings, if left untouched. Likewise, in "The Red Wheelbarrow" we can appreciate the beauty of a red wheelbarrow that emerges only because it is placed against a glaze of rainwater and the contrast of white chickens:

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white


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