What the tender poetic youth dreams, and prays, and paints to-day, but shuns the ridicule of saying aloud, shall presently be the resolutions of public bodies, then shall be carried as grievance and bill of rights through conflict and war, and then shall be triumphant law and establishment for a hundred years, until it gives place, in turn, to new prayers and pictures.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Politics,” Essays: Second Series (1844)

This quotation is more often given as the paraphrase used by another speaker of the era, the abolitionist Wendell Phillips:

What the tender and poetic youth dreams to-day, and conjures up with inarticulate speech, is to-morrow the vociferated result of public opinion, and the day after is the charter of nations.

Phillips used this phrase, prefixed with, "As Emerson says," and in quotation marks, at least twice. First in his lecture "Harper's Ferry" (1 Nov 1859), Brooklyn. Second, in a different context, in "The Scholar in a Republic" (30 Jun 1881), a famous speech at the centennial of the Phi Beta Kappa society at Harvard University.

Emerson did not use this shorter phrasing, however, in any of his written works, and frequent attributions of it to him are in error.

Added on 4-Aug-16 | Last updated 14-Mar-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Emerson, Ralph Waldo

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.