If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.
Far or forgot to me is near,
Shadow and sunlight are the same,
The vanished gods to me appear,
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem Brahma


  1. syeda says:

    it is different from other poems its amazing.

  2. Arun says:

    I belive that Brahma is the god of hindhu.It is standing for every where.Especially it is seeing by a baby.

  3. sharika says:

    here goes my analysis:
    Emerson has very beautifully summarised the entire Bhagvath Gita in this poem.Brahma here refers to that universal energy that is behind this entire creation, that which is indestructible. Call it God, Big mindconsciousness, Self, Paramatman, Nature, Light..
    and thta big mind is speaking to us, revealing itself that shadow and light are in fact same, ( opposite values are complementary) and my favourite bit is Find me.. all of us need to seek the brahma within us 🙂

    the doubter and the doubt being one is basis for all the indian text. the actor and teh act is one, the dancer and the dance is one..when that happens there is true union ..( that is the actual meaning of yoga, union) If you are into any art form, you will realise at some point, there is a space where you becoem one with music, that is when you ar ein touch with the cosmos or the brahma

    for more understanding of the poem, you may need to do sudarshan kriya ( the awesomest process ever invented by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) in workshops conducted by the Art of Living 😀

  4. Javier says:

    i really agree with this poem. you dont god in your life

  5. Aaron Quintana says:

    Brahma – the single absolute being pervading the universe and found within the individual; atman.

    I think that in “The vanished gods to me appear,
    And one to me are shame and fame.”, it means that he doesn’t care for the gods, for in saying “The strong gods pine for my abode,
    And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
    But thou, meek lover of the good!
    Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.”, it means that if you find Brahma, you no longer need the “gods”, or faith, because they are one in the same, & if you have found Brahma, you are self-fufiled, and need not faith, for you are above humanity, and in turn you are your own “god”, or symbol of faith, so turn your back on primitive beliefs, or “heaven”, for you are better, you are all in one.

  6. S S Samant says:

    Brahma is pronounced as Brahm, means self. The poem explains the Hindu belief that soul never dies, body does. Soul just change bodies, leaves one and takes another. Until the soul attains perfection it keeps coming back to earth in some form or another. On getting perfection with good deeds, it reaches God, and becomes one with Him.
    Some critics wrongly ananlyze Brahma as Brahmaa – one of the Hindu God among Trinity. Here Brahma is Brahm, also spelled as Brahman that means the self, soul.

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