Ralph Waldo Emerson

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What is the role and function of a poet according to Emerson's essay, "The Poet"?

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The poet, according to Emerson, has to be just about everything. 

He has to be a seer into the soul of man, he must be an interpreter and a prophet.

 I know not how it is that we need an interpreter; but the great majority of men seem to be minors, who have not yet come into possession of their own, or mutes, who cannot report the conversation they have had with nature. 

Mankind may see things about them in their world, but so very few ever put into words a great expression that impacts, that influences, that makes value of the every day mundane to all other men. This is the power of a poet that interprets.

The poet must be a foreteller, a prophet:

The sign and credentials of the poet are, that he announces that which no man foretold. He is the true and only doctor; he knows and tells; he is the only teller of news, for he was present and privy to the appearance which he describes.

The poet must have the ability to color and accompany life. This is the difference between watching television in black and white or on an HD LCD screen in living color. This is the difference between a tinny cheap radio and a live orchestra.

We hear, through all the varied music, the ground-tone of conventional life. Our poets are men of talents who sing.

Poets must have imagination, and they must have energy.

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