“To the Unknown Friend”
For those of you who may not know it already, I took the phrase “the unknown friend” from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote in one of his journals in the Spring of 1848:
“Happy is he who looks only into his work to know if it will succeed, never into the times or the public opinion; and who writes from the love of imparting certain thoughts & not from the necessity of sale—who writes always to the unknown friend.”
This sentence is just one of the many for which I’m lovingly indebted to Mr. Emerson.
In a speech to the Academy of American Poets in 1958, Robert Frost said that he had often thought that he would like to name in a poem the men he thought of as our four greatest Americans: George Washington, as our pre-eminent statesman and general; Thomas Jefferson as our political thinker; Abraham Lincoln as our martyr and savior; and Emerson as our poet.