Published here in full are Ralph Waldo Emerson's nine poetry notebooks, the single greatest source of information about his creative habits in poetry. Emerson kept rough drafts, revised versions, and fair copies of hundreds of poems in these notebooks, so that the genesis and development of poems both famous and obscure can be traced closely. The notebooks have been remarkably little consulted, primarily because their unedited textual condition makes them difficult to use. This edition makes them accessible to scholars by presenting a faithful transcription of each notebook, a detailed analysis of the history of each poem, an introduction, and a cross-referenced index.
For this edition, the editors have followed the high standards of textual practice developed for Harvard University Press's edition of The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson. That editorial approach makes possible a logical, clear presentation of material that Emerson often jotted down in segments or with multiple erasures and insertions.
Because it will allow scholars to examine as never before the many facets of Emerson the poet, The Poetry Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson will be a major impetus to study of the man considered by many to be America's greates thinker.