"Good-bye, Proud World! I'm Going Home"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This poem, written when Emerson was a twenty-year-old teacher in Boston, reflects his theories about self-reliance, the holiness of nature and solitude, and the decadence of organized society. The youthful poet is eager to leave the sterile, lonely life of the city and return to his family's peaceful "sylvan home." By leaving the city, Emerson bids farewell to "Flattery's fawning face," "Grandeur," "upstart Wealth," and "supple Office." Almost cursing the "frozen hearts and hasting feet" of the city, he goes back to his "hearthstone" in the "green hills" which are "sacred to thought and God." Through self-reliance and solitude we find God in nature and in ourselves. In the first and last stanzas, the young poet bids farewell to the civilized world and treads "on the pride of Greece and Rome":

Good-bye, proud world! I'm going home:
Thou are not my friend, and I'm not thine.
Long through thy weary crowds I roam;
A river-ark on the ocean brine,
Long I've been tossed like the driven foam;
But now, proud world! I'm going home.
. . .
And when I am stretched beneath the pines,
Where the evening star so holy shines,
I laugh at the lore and the pride of man,
At the sophist schools and the learned clan;
For what are they all, in their high conceit,
When man in the bush with God may meet?