Indian Superstition

Indian Superstition

Indian Superstition

Indian Superstition

Excerpt

Through the courtesy of John L. Cooley, Esq., of Pleasantville, New York, a friend of Dartmouth and one of the Friends of the Dartmouth Library, we are permitted to publish for the first time an Emerson poem, "Indian Superstition," written 132 years ago as an assignment for the Harvard College Exhibition of April 24, 1821. Once believed to be irrecoverably lost, Mr. Cooley's manuscript appears to be the poet's final draft, stitched with black thread, probably by his mother. (The family has kept alive a tradition that Ruth Emerson regularly sewed the college papers of her sons.) Another manuscript of this poem must at one time have belonged to Harvard College, for the early regulations required all participants in public exercises to deposit a neat transcript of their lines with the president before performance. Emerson's fair copy, however, if submitted under the rule, cannot now be located. The little quarto gathering to be edited in the following pages has, therefore, the honor of keeping alive the evidence of Emerson's earliest reading in East Indian lore and of evoking, for literary historians and students of human culture, a new chapter on the Orient in American letters. Ralph was only seventeen when he completed his poem on April 14, 1821, and was doubtless proud . . .

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