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Short poem

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)


              1Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days,
              2Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes,
              3And marching single in an endless file,
              4Bring diadems and fagots in their hands.
              5To each they offer gifts after his will,
              6Bread, kingdoms, stars, or sky that holds them all.
              7I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp,
              8Forgot my morning wishes, hastily
              9Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day
            10Turned and departed silent. I, too late,
            11Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.


1] Daughters: the reading as emended in Selected Poems (1876)

2] dervishes: Muslim friars who took vows of poverty and were known for their ceremonial whirling dances.

4] diadems: crowns. fagots: bunches of sticks or branches (for burning).

7] pleached garden: "Formed by the pleaching or intertwisting of boughs and twigs; fenced, bordered, or overarched with pleached boughs, as a garden-alley or arbour" (OED "pleached" 2).

11] fillet: hair ribbon.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: May-day and Other Pieces (London: G. Routledge, 1867) PS 1624 .M3 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1857
Publication date note: Atlantic Monthly
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/12/24

Composition date: 1851
Rhyme: unrhyming

Other poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson