They dull its edge with their monotony.
To know one element, explore another,
And in the second, reappears the first. (Poems 5-13)
The idea that each object represents another one, gives insight to man to know that every person introduces another one. Everyone can find his identity in another person. If someone tries to be good, he is going to make others better people and vice versa. It shows that when each person harms another man, he ruins himself.
The lines eight and nine express that all things are consist of one pattern. These lines reflect the famous statement of Emerson in his journal of 1859 which was discussed in the previous chapter that “the perception of universal identity or unity 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 it cannot answer and each new fact tears it to pieces, and it is vanquished by the distracting variety” (qtd. in Wayne, Critical Companion to Emerson 247). Likewise, the next six lines recite the same idea. The idea artistically is shown as the images of the day and year in lines fourteen and fifteen: “A year is a multiply image of a day” to show that a year and a day are not different notions but day is the same entity which is only multiplied and repeated. Joel Benton declares in the analysis of the poem that the images of day and year illustrate Emerson’s doctrine of “unity and variety” since a year is variant shape of a day (Jason, 6: 235). It is not necessary to seek very deep into the meanings Emerson wants to convey to his reader. Most of the time they are stated very clearly and in simple words that some lines echo exactly his prose writings. He explores the unity among entities in the world although they are apparently various. The poem in the mentioned lines proposes a new identity for the substances of the universe. It reveals that each everything can be identified by another thing in the world. This doctrine is justified many times in Emerson’s prose works since he believes that the real essence of all the entities is one truth.
The last three lines states the same notion revealed through the poem that from the beginning to the end of the universe is made of one stuff, that is the universal soul with her dream-like variety: “And universal Nature, through her vast / And crowded whole, an infinite paroquet, / Repeats one note” (17-19). According to Benton the last lines states the united reality of the world that has many shapes but its truth is one whole reality (Jason, 6: 235). Although there are multiple shapes, but man knows that he and the other creatures are one entity. They all are the universal truth of the world that is infinite. This new identity of man and other living creatures makes the entire globe sacred to human. He tries to know more about them, to worship them and to feel calmness through this relation with them.
۳.۲.۴. Unity in “Brahma”
Brahma was published in the first issue of the Atlantic Monthly (November 1857) and was later collected in the book May-Day and other pieces and the other book selected poems (1876). Some parts of the poem are a rewrite of passages of the Vishnu Purana (a religious Hindu text) as in the poem “Hamatreya”. The poem thematically refers to the physical and spiritual unity and harmony in the universe, the divine relationship and continuity of life. It illustrates the idea that was developed in the essay “The Over-Soul” and was its central theme, that an all-encompassing power contains everything in the world and also rules it. Brahma is an eternal spirit that encompasses all things. It has no beginning and no end, can neither slay nor be slain. It is in fact the whole soul or ‘the Over-Soul’, so there is unity among all the notions whether time, space or knowledge which are contained in this universal entity. The theme of “Brahma” expresses this idea that Human beings can find fulfillment and contentment only when they realize that they are part of a universal entity.
Emerson uses a series of images that borrowed from Hindu texts to convey the unity in the universe. Clark Mayo states that Emerson utilizes some images from Hindu Texts to reflect the coordinated pattern and unity in the physical universe which is itself a reflected pattern of the same unity in the spiritual universe (Jason, 2: 537).In Hinduism Brahma is the god of creation but Brahmin is the name of the caste, the social class, to which Hindu priests belong to; it is also a priest himself (Wayne, Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism 28). Many ancient Hindus believed that the god Brahma encompasses the essence of the universe, Brahman, which is according to Hinduism the ultimate soul of the universe: “an un-created, illimitable and timeless essence of being”. Brahman encompasses the nature of everything that exists, every human, animal, tree, cloud, grain of sand, emotion, idea, etc. (29). As Wayne states, in Hindu theology, Brahma is the supreme spirit or divine reality in the universe, the eternal spirit to which all shall return. It is one of the three gods along with Vishnu and Shiva. Also it represents creation, eternal truths, and the interconnectedness of all things in the universe (Critical Companion to Emerson 51). Hindus learned about Brahma and Brahman from priests called Brahmins, who were schooled in Hindu texts (51). In his edition of the book Complete Works of Emerson, Edward Waldo Emerson recites his father’s statement about Brahma: “If you tell people to say Jehovah instead of Brahma, they will not feel any perplexity” (52). According to Emerson, Brahma is the universal energy hidden in the entire creation. It can be named God or “Paramatma”, “Self”, “Nature”, also in Zoroastrian religion it is called “Light”. Emerson explains in the simplest terms that Brahma means “God everywhere” (qtd. in Wayne, Critical Companion to Emerson 52). To recite Emerson’s sentences of Brahma: “everything is encompassed in Brahma and it is comparable to the Christian idea of God” (51). Lastly, it should be added that the idea is similar to what developed by Emerson as ‘the Over-Soul’ as he believed that God and nature and man are one united reality.
۳.۲.۴.۱. All Things as One Reality
In this part it is shown that all the essences in the universe are one reality. This one reality is the new identity of man and every creature as the real essence of everything in the world is the universal soul or the mentioned one reality.
The first stanza draws everybody’s attention to this point that there is a power that does everything. It is hidden in the actions which happen in the world as Brahma says. Brahma is the speaker of the poem that states it does everything. The poet uses Brahma as the speaker of the poem to show the unity within variety of the world. Clark Mayo states that having Brahma as the speaker allows Emerson to posit unity within the world’s polaric structure (Jason 2:537).
If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again (Poems1-4).
Emerson uses irony as one of his poetic strategies to convey the unity of substances in this poem. For instance the second stanza states that death is not really death; shadow and sunlight are the same or another example when he says that the doubter and the doubt are contained within Brahma to which all persons aspire to return (537). This stanza states that the universe lives in harmony and not opposing forces such as good and evil. Also, the stanza reiterates the same idea in stanza one that reveals all the contradictory things are not different. Clark Mayo writes of the analysis of the second stanza as: “though contradictions seem to exist, Emerson suggests, they are in fact meaningful paradoxes not meaningless contradictions… The second stanza is a discovery of the essential unity of opposites-what Emerson calls polarity” (Jason 2: 537). Brahma tells the reader that what appear to be opposites-a warrior and his enemy, remoteness and nearness, shadow and sunlight, and shame and fame?are really the same. Whatever is “far or forgot” (line five) is in fact “near”. Furthermore, these contradictory concepts have the same spirit as also Emerson himself believes that the opposite concepts are really illusions but their truth is the same. He deems that these contrasting notions are reconciled in the unity of the universe that is ‘the Over-Soul’ and there is no difference between contrasting concepts (Collected Works, 2:123). Consequently, all these opposite qualities are part of the essence of Brahma that is according to Emerson the truth of the world and therefore are unified in Brahma. Tiffany Wayne discussing the second stanza states that Brahma is an eternal spirit, encompassing all things, and therefore has no beginning and no end, can neither slay nor be slain (Critical Companion to Emerson52).It can be implied that knowing the truth of the world everyone realizes that there is no beginning and no end, so there is no difference between time, space, and knowledge, they are interconnected. Knowing this new identity for the objects in the world, everything for man is the same and he doesn’t long for something through destroying other men or things.
In the last stanza Brahma addresses everyone that is a lover: “But thou, meek lover of the good! / Find me and turn thy back on heaven” (15-16). Here Emerson again utilizes irony to emphasize on attending to Brahma instead of Christianity. Mayo thinks that Emerson uses irony when he clearly implies that it is the abode of Brahma that is to be sought rather than Christian heaven (536). The poem states that if someone finds Brahma, he no longer needs the “gods”, or faith, because they are one in the same, and if each person has found Brahma, he is self-fulfilled, and needs not faith. Consequently, this new identity shows to man that he is above humanity, and in turn he is his own “god”. He is all in one.
Generally, the poem reveals that all gods are contained in Brahma. As Mayo writes in the analysis of the poem other Hindu gods-such as Yama, the lord of death; Agni, the god of fire; and Indra, the warrior god and god of rain-long to live in Brahma’s essence: “Strong gods pine for my abode” (13) as do the holiest Hindus of the past: “And pine in vain the sacred seven”(14).the poem shows that everything comes from Brahma since the gods seek union with Brahma and it also is the source of all actions as it is said through the poem. Consequently, Mayo concludes that Brahma is what Emerson names ‘the Over-soul’ (537). It is the united spirit of the world that not only contains the gods within but also embraces everything as it is shown in the poem.
۳.۲.۵. Unity in “Wood-notes I, II”
Four hundred lines in length, “Woodnotes” spanned two early issues
They dull its edge with their monotony.