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'Teach me I am forgotten' by the dead by Ralph Waldo Emerson | Poets.org

May 25, 2013 · 12:32 PM

Teach me I am forgotten by the dead

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Teach me I am forgotten by the dead

And that the dead is by herself forgot

And I no longer would keep terms with me.

I would not murder, steal, or fornicate,

Nor with ambition break the peace of towns

But I would bury my ambition

The hope & action of my sovereign soul

In miserable ruin. Nor a hope

Should ever make a holiday for me

I would not be the fool of accident

I would not have a project seek an end

That needed aught

Beyond the handful of my present means

The sun of Duty drop from his firmament

To be a rushlight for each petty end

I would not harm my fellow men

On this low argument, 'twould harm myself.

Today's poem is in the public domain.


Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston on May 25, 1803. A renowned lecturer, essayist, and poet, he is considered the leader of the Transcendentalist movement of 19th century philosophy and literature. He died in 1882.

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