by: Ralph Waldo Emerson
- T fell in
the ancient periods
- Which the brooding soul surveys,
- Or ever the wild Time coined itself
- Into calendar months and days.
- This was the lapse of Uriel,
- Which in Paradise befell.
- Once among the Pleiads walking,
- Said overheard the young gods talking,
- And the treason too long pent
- To his ears was evident.
- The young deities discussed
- Laws of form and metre just,
- Orb, quintessence, and sunbeams,
- What subsisteth, and what seems.
- One, with low tones that decide,
- And doubt and reverend use defied,
- With a look that solved the sphere,
- And stirred the devils everywhere,
- Gave his sentiment divine
- Against the being of a line:
- "Line in nature is not found,
- Unit and universe are round;
- In vain produced, all rays return,
- Evil will bless, and ice will burn."
- As Uriel spoke with piercing eye,
- A shudder ran around the sky;
- The stern old war-gods shook their heads,
- The seraphs frowned from myrtle-beds;
- Seemed to the holy festival,
- The rash word boded ill to all;
- The balance-beam of Fate was bent;
- The bonds of good and ill were rent;
- Strong Hades could not keep his own,
- But all slid to confusion.
- A sad self-knowledge withering fell
- On the beauty of Uriel.
- In heaven once eminent, the god
- Withdrew that hour into his cloud,
- Whether doomed to long gyration
- In the sea of generation,
- Or by knowledge grown too bright
- To hit the nerve of feebler sight.
- Straightway a forgetting wind
- Stole over the Celestial kind,
- And their lips the secret kept,
- If in ashes the fibre-seed slept.
- But now and then truth-speaking things
- Shamed the angels' veiling wings,
- And, shrilling from the solar course,
- Or from fruit of chemic force,
- Procession of a soul in matter,
- Or the speeding change of water,
- Or out of the good of evil born,
- Came Uriel's voice of cherub scorn;
- And a blush tinged the upper sky,
- And the gods shook, they knew not why.
MORE POEMS BY RALPH WALDO EMERSON
"Uriel" is reprinted from
Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, 1899.