Friday, May 19, 2006

José Martí and Ralph Waldo Emerson

By: Pedro Pablo Rodriguez

February 08, 2006

Havana, (Cubanow).- Already knowledgeable about his work, José Martí wrote an article on Ralph Waldo Emerson nine days after the death of the U.S. philosopher on April 27 th 1882.

According to Martí scholars, the Cuban only familiarized himself with Emerson’s ideas upon his arrival in New York in 1880. Nonetheless, the article at Emerson’s death indicates that in a very short time he had read and grasped a great part of the philosopher’s work being attracted to it by his own philosophy of harmony between man and nature, as well as his love for human freedom and social justice.

In his article devoted to Emerson, Martí gave much space to the work Nature - probably the most significant to illustrate Emerson’s philosophy.

“Nature is the title of his best book”, wrote Martí, “In it he abandons himself to exquisite delights; recounting those wonderful walks; turning with magnificent vigour on those who, forgetting they have eyes, cannot see. He sees the noble human being, the Universe soft and humble, and everything alive emerging from the womb and returning to the womb; and most of all those who live in the spirit he lived, with humankind in their arms.”

Obviously, Martí recognizes himself in Nature: “(Emerson) sees nothing but analogies; he finds no contradictions in Nature; he sees that everything in it is a symbol of humankind, and everything which is in humankind is also in Nature.”

Neither did Martí ignore Emerson’s poetic creativity, saying that it “thrashes and foams, as does the sea.”

Experts on Martí’s works say that this article on Emerson paraphrases the philosopher’s words so well that they became organically integrated in Martís own body of ideas.

José Martí’s article on Emerson is considered to be one of his main essays – almost certainly the first profound analysis on the philosopher published in the Spanish language.

“Emerson has died”, wrote Martí, “and the eyes are filled with sweet tears.”


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