Hard Words

As I am preparing to teach a class on Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of those major thinkers I’ve admired for years, these lines nabbed my neurons once again:

“Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — `Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Self-Reliance (1841)

Emerson is a freethinker for the ages. . .

Categories: EducationTags: , , , , , ,


  1. : ) I used to quote “To be great is to be misunderstood” a lot : )
    ….didn’t remember where it came from….Thank you for the refresher! So happy to hear a class on Emerson is happening! I’ve enjoyed him and Thoreau so much — maybe because of misunderstanding them!! Lucky students!!

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