In 1872 Emerson sailed for England and then Egypt with his daughter, Ellen. As he toured the cities of Alexandria and Cairo, Emerson noted observations about the Pyramids, the Nile River, and his woeful ignorance of the Arabic language. But at seventy years old, Emerson’s most significant writings about the East were behind him. Ten years later, on 27 April 1882, Emerson died in Concord, leaving an enduring legacy as the seminal figure of modern American Orientalism. His lifelong excursions into the libraries of classical Asian and Middle Eastern literatures were those of an enthusiast instead of a rigorous scholar, and he often relied on crude Romantic stereotypes and failed to recognize the differences among the cultures and peoples of the East. But Ralph Waldo Emerson was a pioneering figure of what is now called “multiculturalism” who expanded the Eastern horizons of generations of American readers and writers, and he persuasively demonstrated how classical Indian, Chinese, and Persian works could be used as a means to bring the inquiring self into a fresh appreciation of its own profound powers.
Spirit , that made those heroes dare ,
To die , and leave their children free ,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
Rusk, Ralph L. The Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1949.
The Lord will either
calm your storm . . or allow it to rage while
He calms you.