Treasure Island

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(1803 - 1882 / Boston / United States)

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Good-by


Good-by, proud world, I'm going home,
Thou'rt 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.

Good-by to Flattery's fawning face,
To Grandeur, with his wise grimace,
To upstart Wealth's averted eye,
To supple Office low and high,
To crowded halls, to court, and street,
To frozen hearts, and hasting feet,
To those who go, and those who come,
Good-by, proud world, I'm going home.

I'm going to my own hearth-stone
Bosomed in yon green hills, alone,
A secret nook in a pleasant land,
Whose groves the frolic fairies planned;
Where arches green the livelong day
Echo the blackbird's roundelay,
And vulgar feet have never trod
A spot that is sacred to thought and God.

Oh, when I am safe in my sylvan home,
I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome;
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.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Timothy Caffery (6/6/2014 7:25:00 AM)

    Wow! I woke up at 5: 00 am doeced to write a poem for JFK, & find this when I'm getting ready to post it. At first I thought, Oh, it's for Lincoln. But as of this moment I'm convinced it's for my ultimate teacher, my own shining star, the man I have devoted my life to: Henry David Thoreau. I'm not sure, it as much a feeling as what woke me searching for pen & paper. Which just means, it's just a feeling. (Report) Reply

  • Barnabas Michael (6/6/2014 6:15:00 AM)

    Immensly intresting one! My eyes and thought read along with my heart dancing to it harmonious tone... Love it to deepest soul! (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (6/6/2012 1:46:00 AM)

    Nice GOOD-by song for the readers of all ages. But remind again the lines before drowning.......

    Good-by to Flattery's fawning face,
    To Grandeur, with his wise grimace, .......

    so not much soft... the growling also revibrating like a sharp and cool knife....Good-by penetrating the existing soil also. Nice put. (Report) Reply

  • Hilton Ball (6/6/2011 11:00:00 AM)

    wow that was superb for these words i've heard this poem rymes by the dropp of a dime but it is well to keep in mind to watch out for swine who are unkind but once you leave peaple will beleave that a poem like this is not a swing an miss (Report) Reply

  • Anu Lal (6/6/2011 9:36:00 AM)

    Now it is time to realise there is beauty in escapism. But only art can realise it. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (6/6/2010 3:04:00 AM)

    Indeed a good bye to false life is what every good man loves finally to have a peaceful rest in paradise on Earth before he ventures to heaven to mingle one with God! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (6/6/2009 3:22:00 PM)

    What is the speaker in the poem deserting? He is forsaking all the fuss and bother, the humiliation of hypocrisy of public life for the tranquility that a Stoic philosopher seeks. He who forsakes fame and fortune for a philosopher's life is indeed 'treading on the pride of Greece and Rome' with all their false prophets and sophists of every stripe. Sophists were the confidence men of their day, teaching how to con others so as to make a name and a buck or two. The word 'bush' here refers not to an adolescent's fancy, but to what it has meant and still means - wilderness, or in Emerson's usage, the delights of nature. It has nothing to do with religious doctrine or with Moses! The fairies are imaginary beings found in myth and in Shakespeare's treatment of life in sylvan dells - it's the use of a traditional poetic device! 'Sacred to thought' implies NOT theology, but a place set aside for contemplation, which is what philosophers do 24/7! What in the world are those 'undoubted virtues that occupy the hearts of the world's majority'? Virtues like love and duty involve action, and suggest almost a saint's devotion to achieve. Take a good look at the world and tell me you believe that most folks are struggling to become saints, never mind philosophers! (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (6/6/2009 6:37:00 AM)

    This is not a moral hero, this is a deserter. If anyone is proud here it is Emerson. He may be saying goodbye to 'Flattery's fawining face etc.', but he's also saying goodbye to all the undoubted virtues that occupy the hearts of the world's majority - to all the 'vulgar' whom he denounces. He is also puts himself above 'the pride of Greece and Rome' which is a mighty claim. Altogether a tiresome envoi from an egotist afraid to risk the battle.

    Did he actually believe in fairies? Is there not a theological problem with 'sacred to thought'. Is there not something comic in 'When man in the bush with God may meet'? If that's a reference to the burning bush then God was in it, but Moses(?) was not! (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (6/6/2009 5:48:00 AM)

    Emerson puts the world and it's temporal state in pure prospective. From lofty position, to the home under a tree. Stark contrast of the highs and lows in life. (Report) Reply

Read all 24 comments »

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