Spiritual Views in Emerson's The Poet
Transcendental, and therefore pantheist, views run fluidly throughout Emerson's texts, especially as he attempts to define his image of the perfect poet in his essay, The Poet. He continually uses religious terms to express his feelings, but warps these terms to fit his own unique spirituality. This technique somewhat helps to define his specific religious views which mirror the view of transcendentalism and pantheism. Emerson's ideal poet is a pantheist who can express the symbols of the world through words.
Emerson begins the essay by explaining that many people are taught "rules and particulars" to decide what is good art, and therefore deem themselves worthy critics although
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who <are> mutes, who cannot report the conversation they have had with nature." Pantheists believe that nature is a physicalization of "God," a view which helps to explain Emerson's attachment to the importance of man being able to commune with nature and then, more importantly, express it to others. (Imagine if, within Christian philosophies, the men with whom God communicated were unable to express their conversations to the world. The Bible would not exist.) Emerson expresses that men take nature, and therefore "God," for granted in the lines "too feeble fall the the impressions of nature on us to make us artists. Every touch should thrill." He continues to say "the poet... <is> the man without impediment, who sees and handles that which others dream of, traverses the whole sale of experience, and its representative of man, in virtue of being the largest power to receive and to impart." This is also Emerson's first mention that artists are men who are able to commune with nature (and therefore "God"), and the poet (a type of artist), expressing himself through the symbols of language, most clearly show "God" to man. Therefore, the poet is the closest man can get to "God." (From this point on we will assume that, unless stated otherwise, "God" and nature are interchangeable terms.)