The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

In the six-stanza poem “Give All to Love,” Ralph Waldo Emerson connects the finite cycles of natural order with the infinite eternal order through individual feelings and experiences that are governed by love. The persona of the poem advises the audience to withhold nothing and to “Give all to love.”

The first stanza explains what “all” entails in the context of this poem. It encompasses the entire reality of an individual’s experiences: relationships with friends and relatives, the turn of events, ownership of property, recognition and renown, plans for the future, and encouraging sources of inspiration. When love guides one’s actions and interactions, human relations and transactions define the very existence and identity of an individual—enfolding both the material and spiritual aspects of reality. In this stanza, the “Muse” suggests a harmonious link between memories of the past and the promising dreams of the future through the poetic language of love.

Love is decribed as a brave “master” and “a god” in the second stanza, connoting a powerful force in the individual’s struggles in life. Love functions as the supreme authority, “utterly” controlling the choices of an individual; as a result, this individual’s life expands in “scope.” Because love “Knows its own path,” it offers new possibilities that unfold new heights, which reach out to the “outlets of the sky,” displaying hope beyond...

(The entire section is 452 words.)