Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson, born in 1803, was one an extremely important philosopher, essayist, lecturer, and poet in nineteenth century America. He entered Harvard at the age of 14; during his senior year at Harvard, when Emerson was 17, he recorded in his journal a growing obsession with a fellow student, Martin Gay.
There is a strange face in the freshman class
whom I should like to know very much.
He'll either be a great friend
or a bitter enemy.
His name is Gay.
We have had already two or three
long profound stares at each other.
By night I find myself wholly wrapped up
in conjectures of his character
Well, I am sorry to have learned that my friend is dissolute.
He's "proverbially idle."
He attends rebellions, of which he is an active part.
One of those.
He was suspended with other freshmen and admonished.
My opinion of him has lowered.
Whatever: it's my own fault.
I invested him with a solemn cast of mind,
full of poetic feeling,
and an idolater of friendship,
and possessing a vein of rich sober thought.
And he had the most fantastic ass I've ever seen.
He is no more. Gone from my thoughts.
No more infectious looks.
By the way, this journal is of inferior character
and no doubt
I will have to burn it as soon as it reaches completion.
He continues to come out to see me.
I try to avoid him as we pass,
but he always looks after me.
Why do you look after me? I cannot help looking out as you pass.
With a most serious expectation of burning this book I am committing to it more of what I may by and by think childish sentiment.
I will definitely burn this book.
Gay, I love thee more than women love
And pure and warm and equal is the feeling
Which binds us and our destinies forever
But there are seasons in the change of times
When strong excitement kindles up the light
Of ancient memories.
Most definitely burning this book.
The ardour of my college friendship for Gay is nearly extinct.
The agreeable excitement over Gay
was a curious incident in this history of so cold a being as myself.
When we see one another in public
our glances are not indifferent.
END OF SCENE