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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was an American essayist and poet, who led philosophical/religious movement called transcendentalism. His liberal thinking came not from traditional Christianity, but from the Unitarian religion, within which he was ordained as a minister in 1826. However, his personal philosophy grew even too radical for this religious body, and he resigned from his pastoral appointment. He traveled extensively in Europe, but upon his return to the United States, he became quite active in the abolitionist movement. What follows is one of his poems, and an inscription he penned for a well constructed in the "memory of martyrs of the war."


Ruby wine is drunk by knaves,
Sugar spends to fatten slaves,
Rose and vine-leaf deck buffoons;
Thunder-clouds are Jove's festoons,
Drooping oft in wreaths of dread,
Lightning-knotted round his head;
The hero is not fed on sweets,
Daily his own heart he eats;
Chambers of the great are jails,
And head-winds right for royal sails.


FALL, stream, from Heaven to bless; return as well;
So did our sons; Heaven met them as they fell.

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