Design a site like this with
Get started

The American Transcendentalists

The Garden Of Pensiveness

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson    

      ~ Art by Tara Turner


A little background on RWE: 

Ralph Waldo Emerson —  1803-1882  (from

“…Emerson became known as the central figure of his literary and philosophical group, now known as the American Transcendentalists. These writers shared a key belief that each individual could transcend, or move beyond, the physical world of the senses into deeper spiritual experience through free will and intuition. In this school of thought, God was not remote and unknowable; believers understood God and themselves by looking into their own souls and by feeling their own connection to nature. …

…Emerson’s later work, such as The Conduct of Life (1860), favored a more moderate balance between individual nonconformity and broader societal concerns. He advocated for the abolition of slavery and continued to lecture across the country throughout the 1860s.

By the 1870s the aging Emerson was known as “the sage of Concord.” Despite his failing health, he continued to write, publishing Society and Solitude in 1870 and a poetry collection titled Parnassus in 1874.

Emerson died on April 27, 1882, in Concord. His beliefs and his idealism were strong influences on the work of his protégé Henry David Thoreau and his contemporary Walt Whitman, as well as numerous others. His writings are considered major documents of 19th-century American literature, religion and thought.…


Those Emerson words and beautiful image lifted me up for a moment, then dropped me back into the desk seat of that first class of my Masters graduate studies where I found myself sitting uncomfortably with students much younger than I was at the time (my late 30’s), most of whom had far better backgrounds in English Literature than I had had back then with my BA in Art/minor in Music; and having to make up 24 English undergrad credits just to be ‘probationally admitted’ to their English Masters Program.  

The best thing about this particular ‘Graduate Center’ established at a local private college in conjunction with the major universities of both Iowa and Illinois, was that it accounted for and accommodated its “students” to be full-time employees at day jobs so that classes were offered at night, weekends, and in two-week blocks during the daytime summer months so most of us could squeeze in the class time without endangering our livelihoods. 

The bad thing was that this endeavor took my every waking hour, every work break and lunch, and all my accumulated vacation time to pull it off. Working fulltime as a Graphic Artist, I still accomplished the English Masters in two and a half years and did so with honors, proving that stubbornness and determination do pay off.  

But back to that first grad-class….for me it was the absolute perfect introduction to my NEW vocation: “The American Transcendentalists.”  It covered Emerson of course, but also Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Melville, Hawthorne, Poe, …all the ones I truly loved—all naturalists and spiritually connected folks. It was the perfect welcoming intro to the English Masters program.

During those studies I found that Emerson was definitely the ‘philosophical statesman’ of his time—a scholar of both academic and theological training:

  “…He was the son of William and Ruth (Haskins) Emerson; his father was a clergyman, as many of his male ancestors had been. He attended the Boston Latin School, followed by Harvard University (from which he graduated in 1821) and the Harvard School of Divinity. He was licensed as a minister in 1826 and ordained to the Unitarian church in 1829. …

Emerson married Ellen Tucker in 1829. When she died of tuberculosis in 1831, he was grief-stricken. Her death, added to his own recent crisis of faith, caused him to resign from the clergy.

In 1832 Emerson traveled to Europe, where he met with literary figures Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. When he returned home in 1833, he began to lecture on topics of spiritual experience and ethical living. He moved to Concord, Massachusetts, in 1834 and married Lydia Jackson in 1835.

Emerson’s early preaching had often touched on the personal nature of spirituality. Now he found kindred spirits in a circle of writers and thinkers who lived in Concord, including Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau and Amos Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May Alcott)….”


So today seeing that kaleidoscopic image with his words beneath it, made me smile and nod my head in recognition that RWE really had it together back in the 1800’s—he knew his stuff, both intellectually and spiritually.


“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.”

 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 



Published by Rebecca A. Holdorf

Rebecca A. Holdorf, has a Masters in English, and is a certified hypnotist specializing in Past-Life Exploration and Spirit World Exploration. She is also a Usui and Karuna REIKI Master Teacher presently located near Davenport, Iowa. Author of five books, she also conducts workshops and training in Self-empowerment, True-self Actualization and REIKI. Her company is Foundations of Light, LLC, web address is . Contact her at .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: