This was shared with the UMASS Extension staff during the holiday season, in the winter of 1995-96.


             by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The mountain and the squirrel
Had quarrel;
And the former called the latter "Little Prig."

Bun replied,
"You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together,
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson lived from 1803 to 1882. He is one of my favorite American authors and thinkers. The poem about the mountain and the squirrel attests to all of our individual and different talents. Among my talents (or at least my interests) is reading broadly. I like to share what I've read, since I don't have Emerson's talent for original thinking. Emerson was the mountain.

    I share this with you as a holiday season gift, because it is what I can do. Emerson's thoughts on gifts were meaningful to me. He wrote in his 1844 essay titled Gifts... Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. Fruits are acceptable gifts, because they are the lower of commodities, and admit of fantastic values being attached to them.


    Next to things of necessity, the rule for a gift... is, that we might convey to some person that which properly belonged to his character, and was easily associated with him in thought.


    The only gift is a portion of thyself... Therefore a the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture... here is a gift that is a small portion of myself - my favorite quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

From; Self-Reliance, 1841.
    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by statesmen, philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.

    Always scorn appearances and you always may.

From; Compensation, 1841.
    ...the universe is represented in every one of its particles. Every thing in nature contains all the powers of nature. Every thing is made of one hidden stuff;

From; Spiritual Laws, 1841
    Could Shakespeare give a theory of Shakespeare?

    A mutual understanding is ever the firmest chain.

From; Circles, 1841.
    Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

    Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk.

    Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

From; Experience, 1844.
    Every ship is a romantic object, except that we sail in. Embark, and the romance quits our vessel, and hangs on every other sail on the horizon.

    Nature does not like to be observed, and likes that we should be her fools.... find the journeys end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours is wisdom.

    Life is a series of surprises, and would not be worth taking or keeping, if it were not.

From; Art, 1841.
    Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.

                                         I hope you have a peaceful and loving holiday season.
                                                    John M. Gerber, December 15, 1995.

Converted by Brian Gerber