Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  669. Give All to Love

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

Ralph Waldo Emerson. 1803–1882

669. Give All to Love

GIVE all to love; 
Obey thy heart; 
Friends, kindred, days, 
Estate, good fame, 
Plans, credit, and the Muse—         5
Nothing refuse. 
‘Tis a brave master; 
Let it have scope: 
Follow it utterly, 
Hope beyond hope:  10
High and more high 
It dives into noon, 
With wing unspent, 
Untold intent; 
But it is a god,  15
Knows its own path, 
And the outlets of the sky. 
It was never for the mean; 
It requireth courage stout, 
Souls above doubt,  20
Valour unbending: 
Such ’twill reward;— 
They shall return 
More than they were, 
And ever ascending.  25
Leave all for love; 
Yet, hear me, yet, 
One word more thy heart behoved, 
One pulse more of firm endeavour— 
Keep thee to-day,  30
To-morrow, for ever, 
Free as an Arab 
Of thy beloved. 
Cling with life to the maid; 
But when the surprise,  35
First vague shadow of surmise, 
Flits across her bosom young, 
Of a joy apart from thee, 
Free be she, fancy-free; 
Nor thou detain her vesture’s hem,  40
Nor the palest rose she flung 
From her summer diadem. 
Though thou loved her as thyself, 
As a self of purer clay; 
Though her parting dims the day,  45
Stealing grace from all alive; 
Heartily know, 
When half-gods go 
The gods arrive.