"The Past": It is Never Easy Letting Go
Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson / Pages: 3 (665 words) / Published: Mar 24th, 2014

Name ENGL 1302 Professor 17 March 2014
“The Past”: It is Never Easy Letting Go
Forgetting the past is never an easy task. The poem “The Past” by Ralph Waldo Emerson describes how freeing letting go of the past can be. Everyone has a past and some may be proud of theirs while others might be ashamed. Either way it is inevitable the past must be exactly that, the past. The imagery of this poem is quite telling as the visualization of Emerson’s words makes one wonder what the poet was going through at this time in his life. Upon first reading the poem it might seem about death but as the reader digs deeper the words become clearer, what is done cannot be undone but it can be buried as if it were dead. “The past” by Emerson delivers the strong message to let the past die so one can move on and let go of anything that may be holding them back.
Emerson’s tone gives an emotional vibe throughout the whole twenty one lines. It gives the impression that he was going through his own problems when writing this powerful poem. “The debt is paid, The verdict said,” (1-2) creates a feeling of being judged. Whatever is done is done and will not be changed as he wrote “The plague is stayed, All fortunes made,” (4-5). The poem almost creates sadness in the reader and it leaves them wondering what he may have done that was so bad or unforgiving.

“The Past” was written around the mid eighteen hundreds. The wording Emerson uses makes this very clear. “Nor haughty hope, nor swart chagrin,” (8), what does that mean? In present English that would translate to not having arrogant hope to a dark past filled with humiliation or embarrassment. Writers are products of their time and Emerson tells his story so elegantly in this poem. As he writes “Sweet is death forevermore,” (7), it gives the impression of a bittersweet ending of some sort. The reader must push the limits of their mind to really feel what Emerson was going through at this moment in time when



Cited: Williams, Oscar, ed. The Mentor Book Of Major American Poets. New York: New American Library, 1962. 59. Print

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