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of the literary journal, the Dial, of October 1840 to October 1844. It was included in Poems (1847) and in abridged form in Selected Poems (1876). It poeticized the theme of his inaugural work Nature (1836) and such essays like “The Method of Nature” (1841) and “Nature” of Essays: second series (1844). It also praises the inspiration of nature in human soul.
۳.۲.۵.۱. The Existence of Universal Truth Everywhere
Emerson sometimes mentions that God exist but the matter that is of more importance in his
writings is the presence of the ‘universal truth’ everywhere. Also, it should be noted that in his philosophy, the universal truth is the united spirit of the world that contains God, nature and man. In relation to this, in “Wood-notes” the presence of the divine through the world is shown as it appears in many shapes like “sparkle of the spar” or “axis of the star”.
While the poem accepts God being the creator, “God said ‘Throb’! and there was motion, / And the vast mass became vast motion (268-269). Also, Emerson invokes the “eternal Pan”, but the poem ultimately focuses not on praising a deity but the primary theme of the poem explores the divine everywhere:
Thou askest in fountains and in fires,
He is the essence that inquires,
He is the axis of the star;
He is the sparkle of the spar;
He is the heart of every creature;
He is the meaning of each feature;
And his mind is the sky.
Than all it holds more deep, more high (Poems 311-318).
The divine can be seen as “sparkle of the spar”, “mind of the sky”, “heart of every creature”, and “the axis of the star”. Tiffany Wayne states that the main focus of the poem is finding the divine all around, “in pure transparency” (Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism 320).
Wayne writes that the three poems “The World-Soul”, “The Sphinx” and “Wood-notes I, II” represent the presence of ‘the Over-Soul’ in everything to emphasize the ‘universal soul’ as the spirit that contains all the creatures within, and also to reveal the unity in the universe (320). “Wood-notes” explores ‘the Over-Soul’ in the wood, or to state more clearly, the existence of the universal truth everywhere. It appears everywhere as “sparkle of the spar”, “heart of every creature”, and “meaning of every feature”. Consequently, the poem shows that the universal reality is the truth of the entire world and its real essence. In the poem “The World-Soul”, the world-soul manifests itself everywhere. It penetrates into the “cellars” and “factories” as it shows itself as “inevitable morning” that appears in the cellars. In “The World-Soul”, the spiritual soul of the world is shown as ‘Nature’. To state the meaning of Nature, according to Emerson in his essay “Courage”, ‘Nature’ refers to the spiritual soul of the world. Emerson defines it as “Not me” and by me he means his body. Consequently, Nature is the ‘spiritual soul’ of the world that also contains man’s soul. In “The World-Soul” Nature will smile in a factory, as morning in cellars:
The inevitable morning
Finds them who in cellars be;
And be sure the all-loving Nature
Will smile in a factory. (Complete Works 33-38)
The spiritual soul manifests itself in different ways like morning in cellars and factories. Also, in other lines the world-soul attracts everyone’s higher consciousness with “the crimson morning” that “flames into / The fopperies of the town,” and by the noon sun that “shines heartily” overhead, and also by the night stars that “weave eternal rings”. Thus, the lines show that ‘the Over-Soul’ can be discovered everywhere. Similarly, in the poem “The Sphinx”, the same meaning repeats in new lines. The Sphinx that is equal to ‘the Over-Soul’ is to be found everywhere in the world: “She melted into purple cloud, / She silvered in the moon… / She flowed into a foaming wave (Poems123-124, 127). The mentioned universal soul is the reality of everything that is the true identity of each creature as it is shown in the poems. The poems reveal that the essences of the world have many faces but one united entity. Thus, this new knowledge of everything identity that is in fact the universal truth of the world or the ‘Over-Soul’ makes everything sacred and the living beings are blessed as their real substance is the universal soul.
۳.۲.۶. Unity in “The World-Soul”
The poem “The World-Soul” was written in 1843, a year after the death of Emerson’s son, Waldo. The poem manifests human defense against death and the celebration of self-renewal and also reconciliation of man within the forces that are imposed by nature. The primary theme of the poem is the oneness of his identity in the world-soul. The poem in some parts points to the universal soul that is present in the world and encompasses the whole universe. Also, it can be said that it reverberates with two transcendentalist essays “The Method of Nature” (1841) and “Nature” (1844) and with many poems like “Woodnotes” (1847) which theorized the inner nature of the world. The poem displays the presence of the universal soul of the world that is named the world-soul in the poem. Moreover, it gives the reader an understanding of the identity of the human and the moral realization of the individual.
The poem begins by giving thanks to some views in nature like the morning light and the foaming sea, associating these manifestations of pristine nature with “each man of courage,” with “maids of holy mind,” and with “the boy with his games undaunted” Swinging then to the negative pole of human activity, the poem states that the human’s saving “angel” always sits among them in some disguise, “in a stranger’s form”, Or woman’s pleading eyes”. The saving grace is the world-soul’s ubiquitous presence that penetrates into many things; then, the poem states the features of this power. Lastly, the poem ends with the lines that refer to Emerson’s own aging and mortality.
In some way, the main theme of the poem is indestructibility of the human nature and the oneness of everyone’s spiritual identity in the world-soul. The world-soul is the saving angel of man that solves the problems and the power that is never thwarted. Also, it manifests itself as many things like the morning and a flashing sunbeam. Therefore, it is achieved from the lines that this spiritual force is Emerson’s notion of ‘the Over-Soul’. David Dilworth asserts that the world-soul in this poem refers to ‘the Over-Soul’. He states that Neoplatonic philosopher, Plotinus, conceived ‘the world-soul’ as the third aspect of the divine nature, namely, as an “emanation” from the One or Good to the Divine Intellect and thence to the world-soul. He adds that Emerson here expands on this mystical framework for understanding degrees or levels of spiritual consciousness. The poem first describes the soul’s downward plunge into vice and folly and then its possibilities of upward ascent toward identification with the world-soul. The world-soul thus, stands in for ‘the Over-Soul’ of the earlier essay of that name (Critical Companion to Emerson 292).
To state in details the traces of the world-soul as a reflection of ‘the Over-Soul’, the poem reveals in some lines the presence of the world-soul everywhere. The negative aspect of the human activities are the “cities of proud hotels”, the baseness of man’s politics and letters, and the ensnarement of the “trade and the streets”, but the world-soul with its presence in the world solves the problems. The poem speaks of this universal reality as “the saving angel” that sits among the human beings in some disguise: “in a stranger’s form, / Or woman’s pleading eyes; / Or only a flashing sunbeam (25-27). Even it will appear “in at the window-pane,” or in some piece of music with “its beautiful disdain”. Dilworth states that “the saving angel” is the ubiquitous presence of . He writes that Emerson is hopeful as a Transcendentalist that returns to a positive formulation in his ‘evil is good in the making’ as he later expressed it in the “Considerations by the Way” of 1860. This positive view is shown through the poem as against the mentioned litany of human plots and failures the saving angel sits somewhere nearby as a solution to the problems (292). This universal soul is the power that penetrates into the “cellars” and the “factory” and it signals each person with “yon ridge of the purple landscape”, and “yon sky between the walls”.
Rumi, the Persian poet says the same idea in previous paragraph, in his poetic language in Mathnavi:
Where are threshold and dais in reality? Where the Beloved is, where are “we” and “I”? O Thou whose soul is free from “we” and “I”, O Thou who are the essence of the spirit in men and women,
When men and women become one, Thou art that One; when the unites are wiped out, lo, Thou art that Unity. (Nicholson 1925)
Rumi reveals that the Unity of the universe is not in fact “I”, “you” and “we”. It is the real essence of everyone that manifests itself in many ways.
The lines thirty four and thirty eight of “The World-Soul” echo stanza sixteen of “The Sphinx” (1847). In “The World-Soul” Emerson displays the traces of the universal reality as the spirit that penetrates into the cellars and in the factories, a woman’s pleading eyes and also a flashing sunbeam. Similarly, in the poem “The Sphinx”, the universal soul displays itself everywhere:
She melted into purple cloud,
She silvered in the moon;
She spired into a yellow flame;
She flowered in blossoms red;
She flowed into a foaming wave;
She stood Monadnoc’s head. (123-128)
The poems in the mentioned lines display that the universal soul is present everywhere as it appears in many shapes. It is a foaming wave, blossoms, purple cloud, yellow fame, sun beam and generally it is everything. The poems introduce a new identity for everything. In this way, the reality of each substance in the world is ‘the Over-Soul’ that manifests itself in multiple ways.
In a comparison among “The World-Soul” and other poems, the poems “The World-Soul”, “Brahma” and “Unity” illustrate that there is an omnipresent universal truth that exists in the world and rules it.
Dilworth asserts the world-soul which is the energetic genius of nature is never thwarted and it overpowers everything: “The seeds of land and sea / Are the atoms of his body bright, /And his behest obey (86-88).” It “serveth the servant,” and loves the brave; it “kills the cripple and the sick, /And straight begins again (91-92)” (292). In “Unity” a bird that can stand for the universal power of the world and names cuckoo throws out all the other bird’s eggs from the nest except his own. Consequently, the poem displays that the universal soul in the world overpowers and controls everything.
As it was mentioned, other than

Author: mitra4--javid