Margaret Fuller

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To one who has enjoyed the full life of any scene, of any hour, what thoughts can be recorded about it, seem like the commas and semicolons in the paragraph, mere stops.
It seems that it is madder never to abandon one's self than often to be infatuated; better to be wounded, a captive and a slave, than always to walk in armor.

Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli (23 May 181019 June 1850) was an American author, journalist, critic and women's rights activist. She, her husband, and their child all died at the end of a five week voyage from Europe in a shipwreck just off of Fire Island.

Quotes[edit]

It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods.
Might the simple maxim, that honesty is the best policy be laid to heart!
There is a beauty in natural form, if its law and purpose be understood.
I accept the universe.
I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own.
  • There are noble books but one wants the breath of life sometimes. And I see no divine person. I myself am more divine than any I see — I think that is enough to say about them...
    • Letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson (1 March 1838); published in The Letters of Margaret Fuller vol. I, p. 327, , edited by Robert N. Hudspeth (1983).
  • Beware of over-great pleasure in being popular or even beloved.
    • Letter to her brother, (20 December 1840) as quoted in The Feminist Papers (1973) by Alice Rossi.
  • Put up at the moment of greatest suffering a prayer, not for thy own escape, but for the enfranchisement of some being dear to thee, and the sovereign spirit will accept thy ransom.
    • "Recipe to prevent the cold of January from utterly destroying life" (30 January 1841), quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1898) by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 97.
  • Men disappoint me so, I disappoint myself so, yet courage, patience, shuffle the cards ...
    • Letter to Reverend William Henry Channing (21 February 1841) quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1898) by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 112.
  • It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods.
    • Notes from Cambridge, Massachusetts (July 1842) published in Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1852), Vol. II, p. 64.
  • How many persons must there be who cannot worship alone since they are content with so little.
    • Letter to Rev. W. H. Channing (31 December 1843) quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1898) by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 184.
  • Might the simple maxim, that honesty is the best policy be laid to heart! Might a sense of the true aims of life elevate the tone of politics and trade, till public and private honor become identical!
  • Let no one dare to call another mad who is not himself willing to rank in the same class for every perversion and fault of judgment. Let no one dare aid in punishing another as criminal who is not willing to suffer the penalty due to his own offenses.
    • Article, The New York Daily Tribune (22 February 1845), p. 19; quoted in Brilliant Bylines (1986) by Barbara Belford
  • Were the destiny of woman thus exactly marked out, did she invariably retain the shelter of a parent’s or guardian’s roof till she married, did marriage give her a sure home and a protector, were she never liable to be made a widow, or, if so, sure of finding immediate protection from a brother or new husband, so that she might never be forced to stand alone one moment, and were her mind given for this world only, with no faculties capable of eternal growth and infinite improvement, we would still demand of her a far wider and more generous culture than is proposed by those who so anxiously define her sphere.
    • Article, The New York Daily Tribune (30 September 1845); quoted in Brilliant Bylines (1986) by Barbara Belford
  • The use of criticism, in periodical writing, is to sift, not to stamp a work.
    • "A Short Essay on Critics" in Papers on Literature and Art (1846), p. 5.
  • Genius will live and thrive without training, but it does not the less reward the watering-pot and pruning-knife.
    • "Life of Sir James Mackintosh" in Papers on Literature and Art (1846), p. 50.
  • Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.
    • Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1852), Vol. I, p. 132.
  • It does not follow because many books are written by persons born in America that there exists an American literature. Books which imitate or represent the thoughts and life of Europe do not constitute an American literature. Before such can exist, an original idea must animate this nation and fresh currents of life must call into life fresh thoughts along its shores.
    • "American Literature" in Papers on Literature and Art (1846), p. 122.
  • Essays, entitled critical, are epistles addressed to the public, through which the mind of the recluse relieves itself of its impressions.
    • "A Short Essay on Critics" in Art, Literature and the Drama (1858).
  • There are two modes of criticism. One which … crushes to earth without mercy all the humble buds of Phantasy, all the plants that, though green and fruitful, are also a prey to insects or have suffered by drouth. It weeds well the garden, and cannot believe the weed in its native soil may be a pretty, graceful plant.
    There is another mode which enters into the natural history of every thing that breathes and lives, which believes no impulse to be entirely in vain, which scrutinizes circumstances, motive and object before it condemns, and believes there is a beauty in natural form, if its law and purpose be understood.
    • "Poets of the People" in Art, Literature and the Drama (1858).
  • It is not because the touch of genius has roused genius to production, but because the admiration of genius has made talent ambitious, that the harvest is still so abundant.
    • "The Modern Drama" in Art, Literature and the Drama (1858).
  • We doubt not the destiny of our country — that she is to accomplish great things for human nature, and be the mother of a nobler race than the world has yet known. But she has been so false to the scheme made out at her nativity, that it is now hard to say which way that destiny points.
    • "American Facts" in Life Without and Life Within (1860) edited by Arthur Buckminster Fuller, p. 108.
  • For precocity some great price is always demanded sooner or later in life.
  • Man tells his aspiration in his God; but in his demon he shows his depth of experience; and casts light into the cavern through which he worked his cause up to the cheerful day.
    • As quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1898) by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 289-91.
  • Your prudence, my wise friend, allows too little room for the mysterious whisperings of life.
    • To Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972).
  • You are intellect, I am life!
    • To Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972).

Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 (1844)[edit]

To one who has enjoyed the full life of any scene, of any hour, what thoughts can be recorded about it, seem like the commas and semicolons in the paragraph, mere stops.
  • To one who has enjoyed the full life of any scene, of any hour, what thoughts can be recorded about it, seem like the commas and semicolons in the paragraph, mere stops.
    • p. 10.
  • All around us lies what we neither understand nor use. Our capacities, our instincts for this our present sphere are but half developed. Let us confine ourselves to that till the lesson be learned; let us be completely natural; before we trouble ourselves with the supernatural. I never see any of these things but I long to get away and lie under a green tree and let the wind blow on me. There is marvel and charm enough in that for me.
    • "Good Sense" in a dialogue between Free Hope, Old Church, Good Sense, and Self -Poise. p. 127.
  • Who sees the meaning of the flower uprooted in the ploughed field? The ploughman who does not look beyond its boundaries and does not raise his eyes from the ground ? No — but the poet who sees that field in its relations with the universe, and looks oftener to the sky than on the ground. Only the dreamer shall understand realities, though, in truth, his dreaming must not be out of proportion to his waking!
    • "Free Hope" p. 127.
  • I never lived, that I remember, what you call a common natural day. All my days are touched by the supernatural, for I feel the pressure of hidden causes, and the presence, sometimes the communion, of unseen powers. It needs not that I should ask the clairvoyant whether "a spirit-world projects into ours." As to the specific evidence, I would not tarnish my mind by hasty reception. The mind is not, I know, a highway, but a temple, and its doors should not be carelessly left open. Yet it were sin, if indolence or coldness excluded what had a claim to enter; and I doubt whether, in the eyes of pure intelligence, an ill-grounded hasty rejection be not a greater sign of weakness than an ill-grounded and hasty faith.
    • "Free Hope" p. 128.
  • The better part of wisdom is a sublime prudence, a pure and patient truth that will receive nothing it is not sure it can permanently lay to heart. Of our study there should be in proportion two-thirds of rejection to one of acceptance. And, amid the manifold infatuations and illusions of this world of emotion, a being capable of clear intelligence can do no better service than to hold himself upright, avoid nonsense, and do what chores lie in his way, acknowledging every moment that primal truth, which no fact exhibits, nor, if pressed by too warm a hope, will even indicate. I think, indeed, it is part of our lesson to give a formal consent to what is farcical, and to pick up our living and our virtue amid what is so ridiculous, hardly deigning a smile, and certainly not vexed. The work is done through all, if not by every one.
    • "Self-Poise" p. 130.
  • Thou art greatly wise, my friend, and ever respected by me, yet I find not in your theory or your scope, room enough for the lyric inspirations, or the mysterious whispers of life. To me it seems that it is madder never to abandon oneself, than often to be infatuated; better to be wounded, a captive, and a slave, than always to walk in armor.
    • "Free Hope" p. 131.

Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)[edit]

Full text online - This work was based on her earlier essay "The Great Lawsuit — Man versus Men: Woman versus Women" in The Dial IV, (July 1843)
Those who seem overladen with electricity frighten those around them.
When the intellect and affections are in harmony; when intellectual consciousness is calm and deep; inspiration will not be confounded with fancy.
Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another.
Let us be wise, and not impede the soul … Let us have one creative energy, one incessant revelation. Let it take what form it will, and let us not bind it by the past to man or woman, black or white.
  • There exists in the minds of men a tone of feeling toward women as toward slaves.
  • We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down. We would have every path laid open to Woman as freely as to Man. Were this done, and a slight temporary fermentation allowed to subside, we should see crystallizations more pure and of more various beauty. We believe the divine energy would pervade nature to a degree unknown in the history of former ages, and that no discordant collision, but a ravishing harmony of the spheres, would ensue.
    Yet, then and only then will mankind be ripe for this, when inward and outward freedom for Woman as much as for Man shall be acknowledged as a right, not yielded as a concession.
  • Let it not be said, wherever there is energy or creative genius, 'She has a masculine mind.'
    This by no means argues a willing want of generosity toward Woman. Man is as generous towards her as he knows how to be. Wherever she has herself arisen in national or private history, and nobly shone forth in any form of excellence, men have received her, not only willingly, but with triumph.
  • The electrical, the magnetic element in Woman has not been fairly brought out at any period. Everything might be expected from it; she has far more of it than Man. This is commonly expressed by saying that her intuitions are more rapid and more correct. You will often see men of high intellect absolutely stupid in regard to the atmospheric changes, the fine invisible links which connect the forms of life around them, while common women, if pure and modest, so that a vulgar self do not overshadow the mental eye, will seize and delineate these with unerring discrimination.
    Women who combine this organization with creative genius are very commonly unhappy at present. They see too much to act in conformity with those around them, and their quick impulses seem folly to those who do not discern the motives. This is an usual effect of the apparition of genius, whether in Man or Woman, but is more frequent with regard to the latter, because a harmony, an obvious order and self-restraining decorum, is most expected from her.
    Then women of genius, even more than men, are likely to be enslaved by an impassioned sensibility. The world repels them more rudely, and they are of weaker bodily frame.
    Those who seem overladen with electricity frighten those around them.
  • The especial genius of Woman I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency.
  • It is with just that hope that we welcome everything that tends to strengthen the fibre and develop the nature on more sides. When the intellect and affections are in harmony; when intellectual consciousness is calm and deep; inspiration will not be confounded with fancy.
  • Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.
    History jeers at the attempts of physiologists to bind great original laws by the forms which flow from them. They make a rule; they say from observation what can and cannot be. In vain! Nature provides exceptions to every rule. She sends women to battle, and sets Hercules spinning; she enables women to bear immense burdens, cold, and frost; she enables the man, who feels maternal love, to nourish his infant like a mother.
  • What I mean by the Muse is that unimpeded clearness of the intuitive powers, which a perfectly truthful adherence to every admonition of the higher instincts would bring to a finely organized human being. It may appear as prophecy or as poesy. … and should these faculties have free play, I believe they will open new, deeper and purer sources of joyous inspiration than have as yet refreshed the earth.
    Let us be wise, and not impede the soul. Let her work as she will. Let us have one creative energy, one incessant revelation. Let it take what form it will, and let us not bind it by the past to man or woman, black or white.
  • Heroes have filled the zodiac of beneficent labors, and then given up their mortal part to the fire without a murmur. Sages and lawgivers have bent their whole nature to the search for truth, and thought themselves happy if they could buy, with the sacrifice of all temporal ease and pleasure, one seed for the future Eden. Poets and priests have strung the lyre with heart-strings, poured out their best blood upon the altar which, reare'd anew from age to age, shall at last sustain the flame which rises to highest heaven. What shall we say of those who, if not so directly, or so consciously, in connection with the central truth, yet, led and fashioned by a divine instinct, serve no less to develop and interpret the open secret of love passing into life, the divine energy creating for the purpose of happiness; — of the artist, whose hand, drawn by a preexistent harmony to a certain medium, moulds it to expressions of life more highly and completely organized than are seen elsewhere, and, by carrying out the intention of nature, reveals her meaning to those who are not yet sufficiently matured to divine it; of the philosopher, who listens steadily for causes, and, from those obvious, infers those yet unknown; of the historian, who, in faith that all events must have their reason and their aim, records them, and lays up archives from which the youth of prophets may be fed. The man of science dissects the statement, verifies the facts, and demonstrates connection even where he cannot its purpose·
Plants of great vigor will almost always struggle into blossom, despite impediments.
  • Plants of great vigor will almost always struggle into blossom, despite impediments. But there should be encouragement, and a free genial atmosphere for those of more timid sort, fair play for each in its own kind.
If nature is never bound down, nor the voice of inspiration stifled, that is enough.
  • Harmony exists no less in difference than in likeness, if only the same key-note govern both parts. Woman the poem, man the poet; woman the heart, man the head; such divisions are only important when they are never to be transcended. If nature is never bound down, nor the voice of inspiration stifled, that is enough.
  • What Woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely and unimpeded.
  • Those who are not intimately and permanently linked with others, are thrown upon themselves; and, if they do not there find peace and incessant life, there is none to flatter them that they are not very poor, and very mean.
    A position which so constantly admonishes, may be of inestimable benefit. The person may gain, undistracted by other relationships, a closer communion with the one. Such a use is made of it by saints and sibyls.
  • The position I early was enabled to take was one of self-reliance. And were all women as sure of their wants as I was, the result would be the same. But they are so overloaded with precepts and guardians who think that nothing is so much to be dreaded for a woman as originality of thought or character, that their minds are impeded with doubts till they lose their chance of fair, free proportions. The difficulty is to get them to the point from which they shall naturally develop self-respect, and learn self-help.
  • Woman, self-centred, would never be absorbed by any relation it would be only an experience to her as to man. It is a vulgar error that love, a love, to Woman is her whole existence; she also is born for Truth and Love in their universal energy.
Always the soul says to us all, Cherish your best hopes as a faith, and abide by them in action. Such shall be the effectual fervent means to their fulfilment.
  • I stand in the sunny noon of life. Objects no longer glitter in the dews of morning, neither are yet softened by the shadows of evening. Every spot is seen, every chasm revealed. Climbing the dusty hill, some fair effigies that once stood for symbols of human destiny have been broken; those I still have with me show defects in this broad light. Yet enough is left, even by experience, to point distinctly to the glories of that destiny; faint, but not to be mistaken streaks of the future day. I can say with the bard,
    "Though many have suffered shipwreck, still beat noble hearts."
    Always the soul says to us all, Cherish your best hopes as a faith, and abide by them in action. Such shall be the effectual fervent means to their fulfilment.
    • Though "the Bard" is often reference to William Shakespeare, Fuller here probably uses the term in a generic sense, and in tribute to the poet-philosopher she considered in some ways her mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who may have made such a statement, which she elsewhere quotes as "I have witnessed many a shipwreck, yet still beat noble hearts".
  • Every relation, every gradation of nature is incalculably precious, but only to the soul which is poised upon itself, and to whom no loss, no change, can bring dull discord, for it is in harmony with the central soul.
    If any individual live too much in relations, so that he becomes a stranger to the resources of his own nature, he falls, after a while, into a distraction, or imbecility, from which he can only becured by a time of isolation, which gives the renovating fountains time to rise up. With a society it is the same.

Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1852)[edit]

I am absurdly fearful, and various omens have combined to give me a dark feeling.
I have a vague expectation of some crisis, — I know not what it is...
  • There is a Polish countess here, who likes me much. She has been very handsome, still is, in the style of the full-blown rose. She is a widow, very rich, one of the emancipated women, naturally vivacious, and with talent. This woman envies me; she says, "How happy you are; so free, so serene, so attractive, so self-possessed!" I say not a word, but I do not look on myself as particularly enviable. A little money would have made me much more so; a little money would have enabled me to come here long ago, and find those that belong to me, or at least try my experiments; then my health would never have sunk, nor the best years of my life been wasted in useless friction. Had I money now, — could I only remain, take a faithful servant, and live alone, and still see those I love when it is best, that would suit me. It seems to me, very soon I shall be calmed, and begin to enjoy.
    • Letter (17 November 1847).
  • Safety is not to be secured, then, by the wisest foresight. I shall embark more composedly in our merchant-ship, praying fervently, indeed, that it may not be my lot to lose my boy at sea, either by unsolaced illness, or amid the howling waves; or, if so, that Ossoli, Angelo, and I may go together, and that the anguish may be brief.
    • Letter (21 April 1850).
  • I am absurdly fearful, and various omens have combined to give me a dark feeling. I am become indeed a miserable coward, for the sake of Angelino. I fear heat and cold, fear the voyage, fear biting poverty. I hope I shall not be forced to be as brave for him, as I have been for myself, and that, if I succeed to rear him, he will be neither a weak nor a bad man. But I love him too much! In case of mishap, however, I shall perish with my husband and my child, and we may be transferred to some happier state.
    • Letter (Spring 1850)
    • I am absurdly fearful about this voyage. Various little omens have combined to give me a dark feeling.... Perhaps we shall live to laugh at these. But in case of mishap I should perish with my husband and child, perhaps to be transferred to some happier state.
      • Letter to Marchioness Visconti Arconati (6 April 1850) as quoted in Margaret Fuller Ossoli by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, p. 274, the differences could be from differing translations or from omissions, as Emerson is said to have highly edited many of the letters as published in Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli.
  • I feel perfectly willing to stay my threescore years and ten, if it be thought I need so much tuition from this planet; but it seems to me that my future upon earth will soon close. It may be terribly trying, but it will not be so very long, now. God will transplant the root, if he wills to rear it into fruit-bearing.
    • Letter (Spring 1850).
  • I have a vague expectation of some crisis, — I know not what. But it has long seemed, that, in the year 1850, I should stand on a plateau in the ascent of life, where I should be allowed to pause for a while, and take more clear and commanding views than ever before. Yet my life proceeds as regularly as the fates of a Greek tragedy, and I can but accept the pages as they turn.
    • Letter (Spring 1850).
  • I long so much to see you! Should anything hinder our meeting upon earth, think of your daughter, as one who always wished, at least, to do her duty, and who always cherished you, according as her mind opened to discover excellence. … I hope we shall be able to pass some time together yet, in this world. But, if God decrees otherwise, — here and HEREAFTER, — my dearest mother, "Your loving child, MARGARET."
    • Last letter to her mother, (14 May 1850).

At Home And Abroad (1856)[edit]

Art can only be truly art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life.
Full text online
  • Art can only be truly art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life.
    • Part II, Things and Thoughts of Europe, p. 198.
  • My friends write to urge my return the talk of our country as the land of the future. It is so, but that spirit which made it all it is of value in my eyes, which gave me all hope with which I can sympathize for that future, is more alive here at present than in America. My country is at present spoiled by prosperity, stupid with the lust of gain, soiled by crime in its willing perpetuation of slavery, shamed by an unjust war, noble sentiment much forgotten even by individuals, the aims of politicians selfish or petty, the literature frivolous and venal. In Europe, amid the teachings of adversity, a nobler spirit is struggling — a spirit which cheers and animates mine. I hear earnest words of pure faith and love. I see deeds of brotherhood. This is what makes my America. I do not deeply distrust my country. She is not dead, but in my time she sleepeth, and the spirits of our fathers flame no more, but lies hid beneath the ashes. It will not be so long; bodies cannot live when the soul gets too overgrown with gluttony and falsehood.
    • Letter XXIV (19 April 1848), ** Part II, Things and Thoughts of Europe, p. 326.

Life Without and Life Within (1859)[edit]

Life Without and Life Within: Or, Reviews, Narratives, Essays, and Poems by Arthur Buckminster Fuller (1895 edition) (Downloadable PDF at Google Books Search)

Freedom and Truth[edit]

The shrine is vowed to freedom, but, my friend,
Freedom is but a means to gain an end.
  • The shrine is vowed to freedom, but, my friend,
    Freedom is but a means to gain an end.
    Freedom should build the temple, but the shrine
    Be consecrate to thought still more divine.
    The human bliss which angel hopes foresaw
    Is liberty to comprehend the law.
    Give, then, thy book a larger scope and frame,
    Comprising means and end in Truth's great name.

Sub Rosa, Crux[edit]

The pass-word now is lost to that initiation full and free...
  • In times of old, as we are told,
    When men more child-like at the feet
    Of Jesus sat, than now,
    A chivalry was known more bold
    Than ours, and yet of stricter vow,
    Of worship more complete.
Be to the best thou knowest ever true, Is all the creed...
  • Knights of the Rosy Cross, they bore
    Its weight within the heart, but wore
    Without, devotion's sign in glistening ruby bright;
    The gall and vinegar they drank alone,
    But to the world at large would only own
    The wine of faith, sparkling with rosy light.
  • The pass-word now is lost
    To that initiation full and free;
    Daily we pay the cost
    Of our slow schooling for divine degree.

    We know no means to feed an undying lamp;
    Our lights go out in every wind or damp.
  • Though deepest dark our efforts should enfold,
    Unwearied mine to find the vein of gold;
    Forget not oft to lift the hope on high;
    The rosy dawn again shall fill the sky.

    And by that lovely light, all truth-revealed,
    The cherished forms which sad distrust concealed,
    Transfigured, yet the same, will round us stand,
    The kindred angels of a faithful band;
    Ruby and ebon cross both cast aside,
    No lamp is needed, for the night has died.

  • Be to the best thou knowest ever true,
    Is all the creed
    ;
    Then, by thy talisman of rosy hue,
    Or fenced with thorns that wearing thou must bleed,
    Or gentle pledge of Love's prophetic view,
    The faithful steps it will securely lead.

    Happy are all who reach that shore,
    And bathe in heavenly day,
    Happiest are those who high the banner bore,
    To marshal others on the way;
    Or waited for them, fainting and way-worn,
    By burdens overborne.

Flaxman[edit]

Absorbed in the creations of thy mind,
Forgetting daily self, my truest friend I find.
This is said to have been written in reference to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  • We deemed the secret lost, the spirit gone,
    Which spake in Greek simplicity of thought,
    And in the forms of gods and heroes wrought
    Eternal beauty from the sculptured stone

    A higher charm than modern culture won,
    With all the wealth of metaphysic lore,
    Gifted to analyze, dissect explore.
  • A many-colored light flows from our sun;
    Art, 'neath its beams a motley thread has spun;
    The prison modifies the perfect day;
    But thou hast known such mediums to shun,
    And cast once more on life a pure white ray.
    Absorbed in the creations of thy mind,
    Forgetting daily self, my truest friend I find.

My Seal-Ring[edit]

Mercury has cast aside
The signs of intellectual pride,
Freely offers thee the soul:
Art thou noble to receive?
  • Mercury has cast aside
    The signs of intellectual pride,
    Freely offers thee the soul:
    Art thou noble to receive?

    Canst thou give or take the whole,
    Nobly promise and believe?
    Then thou wholly human art,
    A spotless, radiant, ruby heart,
    And the golden chain of love
    Has bound thee to the realm above.
  • Guard thee from the power of evil;
    Who cannot trust, vows to the devil.

The Captured Wild Horse[edit]

See the wild herd nobly ranging,
Nature varying, not changing,
Lawful in their lawless ranging.
  • On the boundless plain careering
    By an unseen compass steering, Wildly flying, reappearing, —
    With untamed fire their broad eyes glowing
    In every step a grand pride showing,
    Of no servile moment knowing
    , —

    Happy as the trees and flowers, In their instinct cradled hours,
    Happier in fuller powers, —

    See the wild herd nobly ranging,
    Nature varying, not changing,
    Lawful in their lawless ranging.

  • Wouldst have the princely spirit bowed?
    Whisper only, speak not loud,
    Mark and leave him in the crowd.

    Thou need'st not spies nor jailers have;
    The free will serve thee like the slave,
    Coward shrinking from the brave.

The Thankful and the Thankless[edit]

  • With equal sweetness the commissioned hours
    Shed light and dew upon both weeds and flowers.

    The weeds unthankful raise their vile heads high,
    Flaunting back insult to the gracious sky;
    While the dear flowers, wht fond humility,
    Uplift the eyelids of a starry eye
    In speechless homage, and, from grateful hearts,
    Perfume that homage all around imparts.

Prophecy and Fulfilment[edit]

  • The pencil moved prophetic: together now men read
    In the fair book of nature, and find the hope they need.
    The wreath woven by the river is by the seaside worn,
    And one of fate's best arrows to its due mark is borne.

The One In All[edit]

Existence is as deep a verity:
Without the dual, where is unity?
Only upon the old can build the new;
The symbol which you seek is found in you.
One presence fill and floods the whole serene;
Nothing can be, nothing has ever been,
Except the one truth that creates the scene.
This is my tendency; but can I say
That this my thought leads the true, only way?
I only know it constant leads, and I obey.
Live earnestly by turns without despair,
Nor seek a home till home be every where!
  • There are who separate the eternal light
    In forms of man and woman, day and night;
    They cannot bear that God be essence quite.
  • Existence is as deep a verity:
    Without the dual, where is unity?

    And the "I am"" cannot forbear to be;

    But from its primal nature forced to frame
    Mysteries, destinies of various name,
    Is forced to give that it has taught to claim.

  • And dost thou seek to find the one in two?
    Only upon the old can build the new;
    The symbol which you seek is found in you.
  • There are to whom each symbol is a mask;
    The life of love is a mysterious task;
    They want no answer, for they would not ask.
  • A single thought transfuses every form;
    The sunny day is changed into the storm,
    For light is dark, hard soft, and cold is warm.

    One presence fill and floods the whole serene;
    Nothing can be, nothing has ever been,
    Except the one truth that creates the scene.

  • You ask a faith, — they are content with faith;
    You ask to have, — but they reply "IT hath."
    There is no end, there need be no path.
  • The day wears heavily, — why, then, ignore it;
    Peace is the soul's desire, — such thoughts restore it;
    The truth thou art, — it needs not implore it.
  • The Presence all thy fancies supersedes,
    All that is done which thou wouldst seek in deeds,
    The wealth obliterates all seeming needs.
  • To me, our destinies seem flower and fruit
    Born of an ever-generating root...
  • I do not think we are deceived to grow,
    But that the crudest fancy, slightest show,
    Covers some separate truth that we may know.

    In the one Truth, each separate fact is true;
    Eternally in one I many view,
    And destinies through destiny pursue.

  • This is my tendency; but can I say
    That this my thought leads the true, only way?
    I only know it constant leads, and I obey.
  • I only know one prayer — "Give me the truth,
    Give me that colored whiteness, ancient youth,
    Complex and simple, seen in joy and ruth.

    Let me not by vain wishes bar my claim,
    Nor soothe my hunger by an empty name,
    Nor crucify the Son of man by hasty blame.

    But in the earth and fire, water and air,
    Live earnestly by turns without despair,
    Nor seek a home till home be every where!
    "

A Greeting[edit]

Life-flow of my natal hour, I will not weary of thy power,
Till in the changes of thy sound
A chord's three parts distinct are found.
  • Thoughts which come at a call
    Are no better than if they came not at all

    Neither flower nor fruit,
    Yielding no root
    For plant, shrub, or tree.
  • I prize thy gentle heart,
    Free from ambition, falsehood, or art,
    And thy good mind,
    Daily refined,
    By pure desire
    To fan the heaven-seeking fire.

Sistrum[edit]

A musical instrument of the ancients, employed by the Egyptians in the worship of Isis. It was to be kept in constant motion, and, according to Plutarch, was intended to indicate the necessity of constant motion on the part of men — the need of being often shaken by fierce trials and agitations when they become morbid or indolent. — Editor's note on the sistrum by Arthur Buckminster Fuller
  • Triune, shaping, restless power,
    Life-flow from life's natal hour,
    No music chords are in thy sound;
    By some thou'rt but a rattle found;
    Yet, without thy ceaseless motion,
    To ice would turn their dead devotion.
  • Life-flow of my natal hour, I will not weary of thy power,
    Till in the changes of thy sound
    A chord's three parts distinct are found.
    I will faithful move with thee,
    God-ordered, self-fed energy,
    Nature in eternity.

Dryad Song (1900)[edit]

Gathering strength, gaining breath, — naught can sever
Me from the Spirit of Life!
Published in An American Anthology 1787-1900: Selections, Illustrating the Editor's Critical Review of American Poetry in the Nineteenth Century (1900) by Edmund Clarence Stedman, p. 772
It was thy kiss, Love, that made me immortal...
  • I am immortal! I know it! I feel it!
    Hope floods my heart with delight!

    Running on air mad with life dizzy, reeling,
    Upward I mount, — faith is sight, life is feeling,
    Hope is the day-star of might!
  • It was thy kiss, Love, that made me immortal.
  • Come, let us mount on the wings of the morning,
    Flying for joy of the flight
    ,
    Wild with all longing, now soaring, now staying,
    Mingling like day and dawn, swinging and swaying,
    Hung like a cloud in the light:
    I am immortal! I feel it! I feel it!
    Love bears me up, love is might!
  • Chance cannot touch me! Time cannot hush me!
    Fear, Hope, and Longing, at strife,
    Sink as I rise, on, on, upward forever,
    Gathering strength, gaining breath, — naught can sever
    Me from the Spirit of Life!

The Love Letters Of Margaret Fuller (1903)[edit]

PDF online at Google Book Search
  • We will worship by impromptu symbols, till the religion is framed for all Humanity. The beauty grows around us daily, the trees are now all in blossom and some of the vines; there is a Crown Imperial just in perfection, to which I paid my evening worship by the light of the fire, which reached to us, and there are flashes of lightening too. But I do not like the lightening so well as once, having been in too great danger. Yet just now a noble flash falls upon my paper, it ought to have noble thoughts to illumine, instead of these little nothings, but indeed to-night I write only to say: thou dear, dear friend, and we must must meet soon.
    • Letter IV to James Nathan (March 1845).
  • To feel that there is so quick a bound to intercourse, makes us prize the moment, but then also makes it so difficult to use. Yet this one thing I wish to say, where so many must be left unsaid. You tell me, that I may, probably never know you wholly. Indeed the obstacles of time and space may prevent my understanding the workings of character; many pages of my new book may be shut against me, better than to yourself. Perhaps? I believe in Ahnungen beyond anything.
    • Ahnungen means "Premonitions"; letter XIII to James Nathan (31 March 1845).


Misattributed[edit]

  • Be what you would seem to be.
    • English proverb, used by many authors, including some prior to Margaret Fuller's time; Thomas Fuller expresses related thoughts in his "Panegyric" on Charles II, Section 21" in The History of the Worthies of England (1662):
Be you above your ancestors renown'd,
Whose goodness wisely doth your greatness bound;
And, knowing that you may be what you would,
Are pleased to be only what you should.
  • When your dreams tire, they go underground and out of kindness that's where they stay.
    • Libby Houston, in the poem "Gold" in Necessity (1988).
  • When people keep telling you that you can't do a thing, you kind of like to try it.
    • Margaret Chase Smith, quoted in More Than Petticoats : Remarkable Maine Women (2005) by Kate Kennedy

Quotes about Fuller[edit]

Coincidences, good and bad, contretemps, seals, ciphers, mottoes, omens, anniversaries, names, dreams, are all of a certain importance to her. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
She chose the Sistrum for her emblem, and had it carefully drawn with a view to its being engraved on a gem.
Only her presence can give you the meaning of the name Margaret Fuller.
Her specter haunted all who knew her, and many who did not. ~ Perry Miller
Margaret sat with her back to the foremast, with her hands on her knees, her husband and child already drowned. A great wave came and washed her aft. The steward had just before taken her child and started for shore. Both were drowned. ~ Henry David Thoreau
  • In American literature she will remain a remarkable biographic phenomenon, while the tragic death of this Lycidas of women, a most painful personal story of shipwreck, was intensified by so many melancholy incidents that whoever, long years hence, may read them, will wonder how the gods could have been so pitiless, and why the life of new happiness and larger intellectual achievement which was before her should so suddenly have ended upon that savage and inhospitable shore.
    • Charles T. Congdon, in Reminiscences of a Journalist (1880), p. 121.
  • Without doubt Margaret Fuller stood first among women of the nineteenth century. … Though today almost forgotten, Margaret Fuller still probably holds more firsts than any other American woman who ever lived. As editor of the transcendentalist Dial, she was the first woman editor of an important intellectual magazine. She was the first woman to write a book about the West and such experiences as sleeping in a barroom, shooting rapids in an Indian canoe, and witnessing maltreatment of the red man by the white man. She was the first woman to break the taboo against the female sex in the Harvard College Library. As columnist for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, she was the first U.S. woman journalist and and the first professional literary critic of cither sex in the United States.
  • I remember that she made me laugh more than I liked; for I was, at that time, an eager scholar of ethics, and had tasted the sweets of solitude and stoicism, and I found something profane in the hours of amusing gossip into which she drew me...
  • She wore this circle of friends, when I first knew her, as a necklace of diamonds about her neck. They were so much to each other that Margaret seemed to represent them all, and to know her was to acquire a place with them. The confidences given her were their best, and she held them to them. She was an active, inspiring companion and correspondent, and all the art, the thought, the nobleness in New England seemed at that moment related to her and she to it. She was everywhere a welcome guest.
  • Coincidences, good and bad, contretemps, seals, ciphers, mottoes, omens, anniversaries, names, dreams, are all of a certain importance to her. Her letters are often dated on some marked anniversary of her own, or of her correspondent's calendar. She signalized saints' days, "All-Souls," and "All-Saints," by poems, which had for her a mystical value.
  • She chose the Sistrum for her emblem, and had it carefully drawn with a view to its being engraved on a gem. And I know not how many verses and legends came recommended to her by this symbolism. Her dreams, of course, partook of this symmetry. The same dream returns to her periodically, annually, and punctual to its night. One dream she marks in her journal as repeated for the fourth time: "In C., I at last distinctly recognized the figure of the early vision, whom I found after I had left A., who led me, on the bridge, towards the city, glittering in sunset, but, midway, the bridge went under water. I have often seen in her face that it was she, but refused to believe it."
  • Just before the forecastle sunk, the remaining sailors determined to leave.
    The steward, with whom the child had always been a great favorite, took it, almost by main force, and plunged with it into the sea; neither reached the shore alive.
    The Marquis Ossoli was soon afterwards washed away, but his wife remained in ignorance of his fate. The cook, who was the last person that reached the shore alive, said that the last words he heard her speak were: "I see nothing but death before me, — I shall never reach the shore." It was between two and three o'clock in the afternoon, and after lingering for about ten hours, exposed to the mountainous surf that swept over the vessel, with the contemplation of death constantly forced upon her mind, she was finally overwhelmed as the foremast fell.
  • Only her presence can give you the meaning of the name Margaret Fuller.
    • Elizabeth Sherman Hoar, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" by Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972).
  • "I accept the universe" is reported to have been a favorite utterance of our New England transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and when some one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic comment is said to have been: "Gad! she'd better!" At bottom the whole concern of both morality and religion is with the manner of our acceptance of the universe. Do we accept it only in part and grudgingly, or heartily and altogether? Shall our protests against certain things in it be radical and unforgiving, or shall we think that, even with evil, there are ways of living that must lead to good? If we accept the whole, shall we do so as if stunned into submission — as Carlyle would have us — "Gad! we'd better!" — or shall we do so with enthusiastic assent? Morality pure and simple accepts the law of the whole which it finds reigning, so far as to acknowledge and obey it, but it may obey it with the heaviest and coldest heart, and never cease to feel it as a yoke. But for religion, in its strong and fully developed manifestations, the service of the highest never is felt as a yoke. Dull submission is left far behind, and a mood of welcome, which may fill any place on the scale between cheerful serenity and enthusiastic gladness, has taken its place.
  • After having admired the women of Rome, say to yourself, ‘I too am beautiful!’ … In you I met a real person. I need not give you any other praise.
    • Adam Mickiewicz, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" by Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972).
  • The only woman to whom it has been given to touch what is decisive in the present world and to have a presentiment of the world of the future.
    • Adam Mickiewicz, as quoted in "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" by Joseph Jay Deiss in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972).
  • Margaret had done her strenuous work under fire while her husband stood in daily peril of death and while she herself was cut off from all communication with her baby. Only after it was all over might Emerson even begin to measure the depth of the distress out of which she wrote him from Rome, “Let me feel, that, amid the fearful agitations of the world, there are pure hands, with healthful, even pulse, stretched out toward me, if I claim their grasp.” In fact, we do not know whether the heart that beat with this healthful, even pulse ever did comprehend.
  • If our imagination is challenged to picture what Margaret Fuller would have been like had she remained in Boston, it is positively staggered at trying to conceive what would have been the career of the Marchioness Ossoli in America. The wreck of the Elizabeth deprived the cultural history of this country of what would surely have been an exciting chapter.
    • Perry Miller in "I find no intellect comparable to my own" in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 8, Issue 2 (February 1957).
  • Her specter haunted all who knew her, and many who did not. Henry James, born in New York in 1843, stood beside his father on a Hudson River excursion boat and heard Washington Irving tell that Margaret Fuller had been drowned the day before. Even at the age of seven this small boy was resolved to be one on whom nothing is lost, and he knew, if nobody else did, that a heroine had gone to a heroic death.
    • Perry Miller in "I find no intellect comparable to my own" in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 8, Issue 2 (February 1957).
  • The ship struck at ten minutes after four A.M., and all hands, being mostly in their nightclothes, made haste to the forecastle, the water coming in at once. There they remained; the passengers in the forecastle, the crew above it, doing what they could. Every wave lifed the forecastle roof and washed over those within. The first man got ashore at nine; many from nine to noon. At flood-tide, about half past three o'clock, when the ship broke up entirely, they came out of the forecastle, and Margaret sat with her back to the foremast, with her hands on her knees, her husband and child already drowned. A great wave came and washed her aft. The steward had just before taken her child and started for shore. Both were drowned.

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