Poem: How do you think?

After Emerson

What is the hardest task in the world?

To think.

I would put myself in the attitude to look in the eye an abstract truth,

and I cannot.

I blench and withdraw on this side and on that.

I seem to know what he meant who said,

No man can see God face to face and live.

For example,

a man explores the basis of civil government.

Let him intend his mind without respite,

without rest,

in one direction.

His best heed long time avails him nothing.

Yet thoughts are flitting before him.

We all but apprehend,

we dimly forebode the truth.

We say,

I will walk abroad,

but cannot find it.

It seems as if we needed only the stillness and composed attitude of the library to seize the thought.

But we come in,

and are as far from it as at first.


in a moment,

and unannounced,

the truth appears.

A certain,

wandering light appears,

and is the distinction,

the principle,

we wanted.

But the oracle comes,

because we had previously laid siege to the shrine.

It seems as if the law of the intellect resembled that law of nature by which we now inspire,

now expire the breath;

by which the heart now draws in,

then hurls out the blood –

the law of undulation.

So now you must labor with your brains,

and now you must forbear your activity and see what the great Soul showeth.


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