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Transcendentalism

A strain of Romanticism that took root among writers in mid-19th-century New England. Ralph Waldo Emerson laid out its principles in his 1836 manifesto Nature, in which he asserted that the natural and material world exists to reveal universal meaning to the individual soul via one’s subjective experiences. He promoted the poet’s role as seer, a “transparent eyeball” that received insight intuitively through his or her perception of nature. Henry David Thoreau was an early disciple of Emerson’s philosophy.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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