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Meditations

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Sunday, 12 May 1833

The clouds are marshalling across the sky,
Leaving their deepest tints upon yon range
Of soul-alluring hills. The breeze comes softly,
Laden with tribute that a hundred orchards
Now in their fullest blossom send, in thanks
For this refreshing shower. The birds pour forth
In heightened melody the notes of praise
They had suspended while God’s voice was speaking,
And his eye flashing down upon his world.
I sigh, half-charmed, half-pained. My sense is living,
And, taking in this freshened beauty, tells
Its pleasure to the mind. The mind replies,
And strives to wake the heart in turn, repeating
Poetic sentiments from many a record
Which other souls have left, when stirred and satisfied
By scenes as fair, as fragrant. But the heart
Sends back a hollow echo to the call
Of outward things, — and its once bright companion,
Who erst would have been answered by a stream
Of life-fraught treasures, thankful to be summoned, —
Can now rouse nothing better than this echo;
Unmeaning voice, which mocks their softened accents.
Content thee, beautiful world! and hush, still busy mind!
My heart hath sealed its fountains. To the things
Of Time they shall be oped no more. Too long,
Too often were they poured forth: part have sunk
Into the desert; part profaned and swollen
By bitter waters, mixed by those who feigned
They asked them for refreshment, which, turned back,
Have broken and o’erflowed their former urns.
So when ye talk of pleasure, lonely world,
And busy mind, ye ne’er again shall move me
To answer ye, though still your calls have power
To jar me through, and cause dull aching here.

No so the voice which hailed me from the depths
Of yon dark-bosomed cloud, now vanishing
Before the sun ye greet. It touched my centre,
The voice of the Eternal, calling me
To feel his other worlds; to feel that if
I could deserve a home, I still might find it
In other spheres, — and bade me not despair,
Though ‘want of harmony’ and ‘aching void’
Are terms invented by the men of this,
Which I may not forget.
                                 In former times
I loved to see the lightnings flash athwart
The stooping heavens; I loved to hear the thunder
Call to the seas and mountains; for I thought
‘Tis thus man’s flashing fancy doth enkidle
The firmament of mind; ‘tis thus his eloquence   
Calls unto the soul’s depths and heights; and still
I defied the creature, nor remembered
The Creator in his works.
                                    Ah now how different!
The proud delight of that keen sympathy
Is gone; no longer riding on the wave,
But whelmed beneath it: my own plans and works,
Or, as the Scriptures phrase it, my ’inventions’
No longer interpose ‘twist me and Heaven.

Today, for the first time, I felt the Deity,
And uttered prayer on hearing thunder. This
Must be thy will, — for finer, higher spirits
Have gone through this same process, — yet I think
There was religion in that strong delight,
Those sounds, those thoughts of power imparted. True,
I did not say, ‘He is the Lord thy God,’
But I had feeling of his essence. But
‘’Twas pride by which the angels fell.’ So be it!
But O, might I but see a little onward!
Father, I cannot be a spirit of power;
May I be active as a spirit of love,
Since thou hast ta’en me from that path which Nature
Seemed to appoint, O, deign to ope another,
Where I may walk with thought and hope assured;
‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!’
Had I but faith like that which fired Novalis,
I too could bear that the heart ‘fall in ashes,’
While the freed spirit rises from beneath them,
With heavenward-look, and Phoenix-plumes upsoaring!


Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)
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Meditations

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  • Sarah Margaret Fuller was one of the most prominent literary women of the nineteenth century, and is sometimes thought of as America’s first feminist. After a rigorous classical education in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, she sought out Ralph Waldo Emerson. A brilliant conversationalist, Fuller applied many of Emerson’s Transcendental ideas to women in a series of open discussions. These conversations, which included some of the finest minds of the day, pioneered the idea that women could argue philosophy on par with men. She was sent to Rome as foreign correspondent for the New York Tribune, and there met Marchese Giovanni Ossoli, a lieutenant in the Italian Unification Movement, whom she married. After the revolt failed, she set off for America, but perished when her ship was wrecked off Fire Island.

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