The Poet is one among the essays of Emerson that was published in the first edition in 1844. In this essay, Emerson speaks about what a true poet is and how a true poet is able to express the thoughts and puts the words, what many people cannot do.
In the epigraph, Emerson explains the qualities of a poet who penetrates deeply into the true nature of things around him. Later on the essay has been categorized into four paragraphs, giving the clear picture of what a true poet and his feelings is all about.
In the first part of the essay, Emerson says that a poet represents humanity and that he could be called as the ‘Man of Beauty’ as the poet acknowledges interdependence between the material and spiritual world.
Emerson says that the poet is more close to nature and unlike many of us who stay away from nature, a poet could feel and understand and explore and in turn expose the hidden secrets of nature to us. Emerson says that poetry is not something that was found some time back, but for ages ago, poets did exist and a poem could bring out the time that the poet existed. That is the strength of poetry. He also says here that it is not the style that matter, but the content and message to be conveyed that matters, rest everything will follow.
The second section of the essay deals with the mode of communication of the poet. Emerson says that, through the language used, one could get the idea when the poem was written and what was the message conveyed. It is a poet that brings in the interpretation of nature to us. For example, in a landscape, we just see and enjoy the beauty, but as far as a pot is concerned, he could beautifully explain each and every order and interpret the landscape and recreate to something new that the public has never seen before. In short he says that, a true poet is able to set out poems that could pass through any critics, through normal minds and yet be the best.
In the next section, Emerson says that, by using the imagination ideas, a poet could bring in an inner reality and make look a poem for real, even though the poem may not be realistic. A poet releases the energizing power of our imaginations and could find our inspiration through the poet words. A poet could unlock the selfish thoughts within us and make us realize that we live in a world where we are concerned about our thoughts and needs only, turning to be very selfish.
In the last section of his essay, Emerson reflects the need of a true American poet, like how Shakespeare was to the British and Dante to the Italians. This essay was written before Robert Frost or Walt Whitman started writing, as they are considered as answers to Emerson’s seeking.
He offers his idealized American poet to rise to new heights.