A Concordance to the Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson

By George Shelton Hubbell | Go to book overview
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INTRODUCTION

The undertaking of a Concordance to Emerson's, poetry need not imply, any particular theory of Emerson's greatness as a poet. The high estimate which some distinguished critics have held of these poems is not the only excuse for this new attention to them. As Arnold noted in his famous address on Emerson, the man's importance lies not specifically in his philosophy or in his literary art, whether as essayist or poet, but in his service as "the friend and aider of those who would live in the spirit." Because of the spiritual substance of his work, and because of the deftness and point of his phrasing, Emerson's poetry as well as his prose has stuck in many memories, and incidentally got itself widely quoted. Such currency in itself suggests the usefulness of a Concordance. And one might add also that the fragmentary nature of most of this verse, the apparent irrelevancy of many of the titles, and the well-known apparent lack of logical sequence of ideas all unite to make the location of lines from memory very difficult. To such reasons should, of course, be added the recent wholesome and reasonable demand by scholars and critics for more studies of American writers by Americans. It is to be hoped that this piece of unassuming drudgery may help in that program.

Personally, the compiler sought this means of improving some leisure during several years spent far from library resources for more varied studies. The selection of Emerson's poetry, too, was largely a matter of personal taste, strengthened by a rather superstitious sense of gratitude to a writer for treasured insights and inspirations.

The work on this Concordance was started in the fall of 1921. It was finished during the Christmas vacation, 1925. The compiler is personally responsible for every detail of the project up to the printing of the book. Whatever assistance he has received has been rendered under his immediate supervision, and subjected to minute inspection. The text used is that given in Volume IX of the Centenary Edition of Emerson's complete works. Nothing is omitted which that volume furnishes, and no attempt has been made to include further material. The Houghton Mifflin Company, Emerson's publishers, have very kindly furnished without charge ten copies of this basic text. These copies have been extensively mutilated to furnish the actual lines from which this book is printed. A description of the general process by which the lines are arranged on cards according to the requirements of the Concordance may be found in the preface to Lane Cooper Concordance to the Poems of William Wordsworth. Since the printing is done directly from the cards, it is hoped that various inaccuracies incident to copying may be avoided.

Naturally, in so long a task as this, the compiler has availed himself of the services and advice of more friends and helpers than may here be mentioned. To his wife he is indebted for months of labor with the proofs. He is par

-v-

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