That you are fair or wise is vain,
Or strong, or rich, or generous;
You must have also the untaught strain
That sheds beauty on the rose.
There is a melody born of melody,
Which melts the world into a sea.
Toil could never compass it,
Art its height could never hit,
It came never out of wit,
But a music music-born
Well may Jove and Juno scorn.
Thy beauty, if it lack the fire
Which drives me mad with sweet desire,
What boots it? what the soldier’s mail,
Unless he conquer and prevail?
What all the goods thy pride which lift,
If thou pine for another’s gift?
Alas! that one is born in blight,
Victim of perpetual slight;—
When thou lookest in his face,
Thy heart saith, Brother! go thy ways!
None shall ask thee what thou doest,
Or care a rush for what thou knowest,
Or listen when thou repliest,
Or remember where thou liest,
Or how thy supper is sodden,—
And another is born
To make the sun forgotten.
Surely he carries a talisman
Under his tongue;
Broad are his shoulders, and strong,
And his eye is scornful,
Threatening, and young.
I hold it of little matter,
Whether your jewel be of pure water,
A rose diamond or a white,—
But whether it dazzle me with light.
I care not how you are drest,
In the coarsest, or in the best,
Nor whether your name is base or brave,
Nor tor the fashion of your behavior,—
But whether you charm me,
Bid my bread feed, and my fire warm me,
And dress up nature in your favor.
One thing is forever good,
That one thing is success,—
Dear to the Eumenides,
And to all the heavenly brood.
Who bides at home, nor looks abroad,
Carries the eagles, and masters the sword.

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


  1. Evelin Diaz says:

    Poem basically supports all the transcendentalists historical path of the american dream and also has a sentence where describes the revolutionaries of belief of god and optimistic,the poem is a great poem to use to compare with the “Self-Reliance” text i believe fate is one great poem to use to describe transcendentalists.

  2. Ana says:

    Well this poem is amazing and I have to agree with the eprson who stated that tis meanign si the show inner beauty and i also have to agree that most disregard that at times, i do it all the time and this poem inspired me to make others look beyond hwo I look and actually know who i am !

  3. frodo says:

    How strange it was after googling this link – the poem was on one side of the web page and an advertisement directly to the right of it with a girl laying down her lush breasts popping out of black lingerie – the internet is a strangely perverse thing at times…

  4. Caitlin says:

    Wow, this is a truly beautiful poem. I love the poems of the Transcendentalists. I believe what he is saying (summed up) is that fortune, in ways that are not superficial, favors no one. People, though, think otherwise and scorn those “not favored” and praise those “fortunate ones”. But all people are born with the ability to see true beauty, inner beauty, though too often people never do this. And at the end of the poem, Emerson tells us that success (which is “forever good”) can only be acheived by finding that beauty within yourself. And once you have been able to understand yourself, only then can you “carry the eagles, and master the sword.”

  5. Lindsey says:

    Yeah I am very confuzzled also.

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