Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Emerson - Compensation Essay

This is a "banyan" or "banian" tree. See last sentence in quotation below.

Also, see link to Web page for FridayLive! special session "Staying Sane - in Insane Times."

A. "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else..."

B. "...the compensations of calamity are made apparent..."

See below for more extended versions of these two brief excerpts from "Compensation," an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson in "Essays — First Series"; see further below for citation, links to full text.

A. 1st Excerpt:

"… Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. Every sweet hath its sour; every evil its good. Every faculty which is a receiver of pleasure has an equal penalty put on its abuse. It is to answer for its moderation with its life. For every grain of wit there is a grain of folly. For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something…."

B. 2nd Excerpt (part of last 3 paragraphs of the full essay):

" growth comes by shocks.

"We cannot part with our friends. We cannot let our angels go. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in. We are idolaters of the old. We do not believe in the riches of the soul, in its proper eternity and omnipresence. We do not believe there is any force in to-day to rival or recreate that beautiful yesterday. We linger in the ruins of the old tent where once we had bread and shelter and organs, nor believe that the spirit can feed, cover, and nerve us again. We cannot again find aught so dear, so sweet, so graceful. But we sit and weep in vain. The voice of the Almighty saith, 'Up and onward for evermore!' We cannot stay amid the ruins. Neither will we rely on the new; and so we walk ever with reverted eyes, like those monsters who look backwards.

"And yet the compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also, after long intervals of time. A fever, a mutilation, a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of friends, seems at the moment unpaid loss, and unpayable. But the sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts. The death of a dear friend, wife, brother, lover, which seemed nothing but privation, somewhat later assumes the aspect of a guide or genius; for it commonly operates revolutions in our way of life, terminates an epoch of infancy or of youth which was waiting to be closed, breaks up a wonted occupation, or a household, or style of living, and allows the formation of new ones more friendly to the growth of character. It permits or constrains the formation of new acquaintances and the reception of new influences that prove of the first importance to the next years; and the man or woman who would have remained a sunny garden-flower, with no room for its roots and too much sunshine for its head, by the falling of the walls and the neglect of the gardener is made the banian of the forest, yielding shade and fruit to wide neighborhoods of men. ["banian" = tree; see picture above]

Image of banian tree from:

Citation, access to full text of Emerson's "Compensation" Essay:

Essay III Compensation (First published 1841?)
Available free online from Project Gutenberg:

Also see:
http://www.emersoncentral.com/compensation.htm and

"First published in 1841 as Essays. After Essays: Second Series was published in 1844, Emerson corrected this volume and republished it in 1847 as Essays: First Series."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:30 AM

    Look at this post and find more about your eyes!


What do you think?