Nov 20, 2014 - Sale 2367

Sale 2367 - Lot 265

Price Realized: $ 5,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,500 - $ 5,000
THE "INIMITABLE VOICE OF THE INDIVIDUAL . . . POETRY OUGHT ALWAYS TO BE" EMERSON, RALPH WALDO. Autograph Letter Signed, "R.W. Emerson," to Abby Dwight Woodbridge ("Miss A.D. Woodbridge"), explaining forthrightly but gently why her verses could not be accepted for publication in the Dial. 3 1/4 pages, written on a folded sheet with address panel on terminal page; small marginal seal hole in terminal leaf with minor loss to text; suspended between sheets of glass and framed. (MRS) Concord, 6 July 1841

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". . . In reply to the inquiry respecting our little journal, the Dial, I have to say that all the contributions . . . are gratuitous. It was set on foot by a party of friends, & is furnished with matter by them. A very few persons, on whose pen a constant dependence is placed, receive each a copy of the work & no other reward. . . . Miss Fuller, the editor, who is to have some contingent allowance from the publishers, has thus far, I believe, received none.
". . . [A]llow me to tell . . . why I did not press my friend Miss Fuller to insert these harmonious lines you have sent me in the Dial for this month? . . . [M]y quarrel with most of the verses I read is . . . that it is conventional, that it is a certain manner of writing agreed on in society . . . and caught by the ear; but is not that new, constitutional, unimitated & inimitable voice of the individual, which poetry ought always to be. . . . The imagery ought to reveal to me where & with whom he or she has spent the hours, & ought to show me what objects (never before so distinguished) his constitution & temperament have made affecting to him. In short, all poetry should be original & necessary. . . .
". . . You must not . . . judge me so ill as to think me quite contented with such verses as we have published in our magazine. Yet I please myself much with the marked taste for poetry which is showing itself everywhere in the country, & I congratulate you on the possession of an ear & talent which promise so much."
Published in Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Rusk, vol. VII, 1939.