Ralph Waldo Emerson Explication

Topics: Madrid Metro, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Shanghai Metro Pages: 2 (1047 words) Published: January 28, 2015
Alex Brown
Mrs. Cillessen
8 December 2014
A.P. Literature
In his poem “Good-By”, Ralph Waldo Emerson illustrates his disdain for the narcissism and coldness that he experienced in urban life and speaks of his yearning for a world which is much more naturalistic and nurturing. In this poem, Emerson uses figurative language such as personification, metaphors, and similes to show the virtues of the simpler life to which he is returning. Emerson paints a picture of the peace and beauty of nature as opposed to the cold isolation and harshness of the city.

Emerson begins the poem with personification when he refers to the world as “proud” (Line 1). Whether saying good-by is interpreted as dying and going to heaven, or just moving back to a former home, Emerson is eager to return to the serenity that nature was for him. Emerson seemed very cynical towards life, as he wanted to leave the physical world and go home. In the next line he continues to use personification to further show his distaste for the life he is leaving by saying the “world is not his friend and he’s not thine” (line 2). Emerson seems to be very adverse to the world he had lived in and is eager to leave. In lines 3 and 4, Emerson speaks of his loneliness in the city by stating that he roamed through weary crowds, comparing himself to a boat on the ocean. Like a ship rides on the surface of the water, Emerson feels that he drifts through the crowds, holding himself separate. In addition, Emerson’s metaphor shows how something of man doesn’t belong so much in nature, that nature will thrash you around and make one feel unwelcomed. Ironically, that’s how Emerson felt with humanity and was actually more accustomed to nature. As in the final couplet of the first stanza he writes “Long I’ve been tossed like the driven foam, But now proud world, I’m going home” (Lines 5-6). This final simile shows how emotionally churned up he feels inside. Emerson looks forward to the peace he will find when he...
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