sights of nature that shape the singing of the bird, it is the surrounding sounds of nature, “the bellowing of the savage sea”, that attract Emerson to the beauty of the shell. The act of picking up the shells is the act of separating them from their natural context, from “the bubbles of the latest wave” and the “weeds and foam”(۸۴).When the speaker takes the shells home, he realizes that they are not the same as the time they were found “bellowing” of the sea. The shells changed to “poor, unsightly, noisome things”. He finds that “their beauty” is left in their place, “on the shore / with the sun, and the sand and the wild uproar” and the beauty of each object is complete only in relation to the other objects.
The final example of the three mentioned examples shows that how nature and beauty change when they are forced into different circumstances, this time through the example of a women. The poem states that the beauty of a woman is because of her virginity: “The lover watched his graceful maid, / As’mid the virgin train she strayed” (۲۹-۳۰), and her beauty is “woven still by the snow-white choir”. But when she is brought to the home and marries a man, “like the bird from the woodlands to the cage”, she loses her attraction and becomes a gentle wife but fairy none. Until the woman is in her context, she is beautiful but when she is taken away from that situation, there is no beauty like the previous conditions. The poem shows that beauty of everything is dependent on other things. Consequently, man knows his new identity as the reality that is present in other things. If man destroys something, he will ruin another thing. How man wants to have a better life without making different objects better? As he knows the entire universe are related to each other.
In some lines (44, 46, 48) nature is illustrated as “around me” and “above me”, “I saw” and “I heard” to show that the speaker understands the beauty through all his senses. In fact, he considers the entire nature and understands the wholeness in the world. He comes to this point that the real beauty is the one that is found in the whole spirit of the world. Everyone that understands this new identity for everything learns that if he wants to achieve something, he should find it in the united essence of the world as it is the real essence of everything.
۳.۲.۱.۳. To Find the Truth through Beauty
Lines thirty seven to thirty nine in stanza five stand apart as a short reflection on growth which is understanding the beauty of everything that is present in the context. The speaker addresses himself and reflects that in his pursuit of the truth, the beauty of every creature is worthless without context and substance. Stanza five states that beauty is not the ultimate purpose but through which man could be able to find the truth of everything. The poem states that appreciating “beauty” without context is a childhood game. The speaker decides to leave his childhood “games” to find the truth of everything as the truth is hidden in the whole context: “Then I said, ‘I covet truth; / Beauty is unripe childhood’s cheat’ / I leave it behind with the games of youth (37- 39). Wayne in his book Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism asserts: “The mature Emerson now considers that appreciating “beauty” alone should not be the foundation of humanity’s relationship to nature. His first response is to dismiss his childhood ‘games’ in favor of the pursuit of truth” (۹۱). It should be considered that if someone is going to perceive beauty, one should understand the whole of the natural phenomena not just a part of it, the whole which is in fact the truth of everything in the world. The poem shows that beauty is the route to the truth that lays in the whole. Each person through experiencing different things should seek a deeper level of understanding. In fact, beauty is the surface and truth is the deep one that the viewer seeks to find behind it. This view of everything identity helps everyone to have a sharp look and understanding of his life and see the unity hidden in the world and the reality of everything.
۳.۲.۱.۴. Man is the universal reality
The last section, lines forty to fifty-one, displays the human being as not standing apart from nature. In this part, the speaker focuses on himself. He is saying that the viewer is not the centre of the universe, but part of the whole, that all plants and life forms have an equal essence and all intertwine with each other within the world. Wayne states that the speaker considers himself as he stands in, surrounded by, and part of the sights, sounds, smells, and movement of nature to reveal that he is part of the nature (84):
As I spoke, beneath my feet
The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath,
Running over the club-moth burrs;
I inhaled the violet’s breath. (All Poems 40-44)
Acceptance of this fact that man is part of the truth of the world brings joy and happiness to everyone. It helps each person to consider himself and all the other ones as sacred, as he believes they are contained in that universal reality. He will regard his character as a whole quality that spreads everywhere and knows his new identity as an oak, firs, pine, violets, pine cone, acorns and the eternal sky. He is all of them. In this way each person loves himself and also other people as he knows that all humans are one. This judgment makes each man to be kind to other men. War will be less and peace more since man has learnt that what he did to others, he has done to himself.
۳.۲.۱.۵. The foundation of a united spirit
Lines thirty seven to thirty nine suggest the exploration of the truth in deep layers of understanding. Wayne declares that the speaker can still appreciate beauty–“Beauty through my senses stole”‒but, as is also the lesson of the poem “The Rhodora” (۱۸۳۹), beauty is not the sole purpose(Critical Companion to Emerson 84). Emerson in his doctrine of unity considers the creatures as illusions and their true existence as one spirit in the world. Consequently, in this way he reaches to unity in the world. The poem conveys this notion that each person should ignore everything in the globe as they are really illusions but instead focuses on their true existence that is the creatures’ united essence i.e., ‘the Over-Soul’. It expresses that to perceive beauty one must understand the whole of the nature; the united spirit of the world.
The coda to the poem comes in the final twelve lines of the poem that reiterate the interconnections that were presented in the first twelve lines of the poem. Also, the last lines are a running together of the three previous encounters with beauty. In previous section of the poem the three images were identified as particular qualities in connection to the whole context. The three particularities are removed from their connection and placed in a setting that rarifies their meaning. The poet also in the last lines blends into the mosaic of the forested glen by placing himself within the spectrum of particulars and re-establishing a sense of identification. Further, this blending together utilizes all of the senses that bring together the whole in a synthetic rush. The poet focuses on himself as he stands in, surrounded by, and as part of the sights, sounds, smells, and movement of nature. In praising the nature through all his senses he becomes one with nature and part of perfect whole. Emerson believes that through the connection with nature man is able to make a relation with the universal truth of the world (Complete Works I: 56). Accordingly, Wayne states that the understanding of the whole, through the use of all human senses leads one to the universal truths (Encyclopedia of Transcendental
ism 91). Lastly, the last lines manifest understanding the whole soul that is the real identity of the poet, the true beauty of everything and the universal truth that man looks for.
۳.۲.۲. Unity in “The Sphinx”
“The Sphinx”(1840) is one of Emerson’s favorite poems that published in the Dial magazine of January 1841. He chose it as the opening poem of his 1841 collection, Poems, again in Selected Poems (1876), and it held the same pride of position in Poems (1884). It seems that by putting this poem at the beginning of the book Emerson invites his readers to his own mind and the riddle of all of his writings. The riddle is the mystery and question of what is the real existence of the world, nature and man. Emerson’s answer to this question is human being. Simultaneously, the answer is the universal truth of the world that contains everything and also man. It is named Sphinx in this poem. Sphinx was a literary figure of special interest to Emerson and many others in 19 century. Herman Melville wrote a chapter on “The Sphinx” in his book Moby Dick (1851) and Edgar Allan Poe named one of his short stories “The Sphinx” (1846). According to Tiffany Wayne the Sphinx is usually associated with death and struggle, including the inability to find poetic inspiration (Critical Companion to Emerson 247), but as Lawrence Buell states, in Emerson works it is variously figured as a symbol of nature and history (Buell 171). Accordingly, in this poem the sphinx is welcomed to convey the positive meaning stated by Buell. In mythology the Sphinx is ruined but Emerson rises it up into nature: “She melted into purple cloud, / she silvered in the moon”. The poem is a challenge for humankind to unravel the mysteries of universe, nature and even the existence of humanity itself. It is a long conversation between the sphinx and a poet. The sphinx makes some questions to be answered. She has mysteries that the poet tries to unravel. She helps the speaker to know the complete answer to the question. Ultimately, the poet understands that both he and the Sphinx are the answers to the questions.
۳.۲.۲.۱. “Variety” leads to “unity”
Emerson in his journal of 1859 writes about two central principles of his philosophy: “identity” or unity and variety or change”. He believes that the variety that is present in the universe leads to unity or identity. He deems that all things in the world are apparently different but their real existence is one truth. Afterwards, in an interpretation of the poem “The Sphinx” he states “I have often been asked the meaning of “The Sphinx”. It is the perception of identity that unites all things and explains one by another, and the most rare and strange is equally facile as the most common. But if the mind lives only in particulars, and see differences, then the world addresses to this mind a question that cannot be answered and each new fact tears it to pieces, and it is vanquished by the distracting variety” (Wayne, Critical Companion to Emerson 247).Accordingly, the Sphinx is in fact equal to the notion of ‘the Over-Soul’ in Emerson’s philosophy, the universal spirit in the world that contains everything and which is simultaneously present in human being. It is the real essence of the globe or according to Emerson “identity” that is present in the universe.
The Sphinx proposes some riddles