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Voluntaries


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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803—1882) American philosopher and poet

 

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Poem by Emerson, published in the Atlantic Monthly (1863) to commemorate the death in battle of Colonel Robert G. Shaw, leader of a regiment of black soldiers in the Civil War. It was collected in May-Day (1867). In five stanzas of alternately rhymed, irregular four-stress lines, it celebrates the heroism of those who sacrifice their lives in the cause of freedom:So nigh is grandeur to our dust,So near is God to man,When duty whispers low, Thou must,The youth replies, I can.

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