Introduction

“The Nation Builders” by Ralph Waldo Emerson is very instructive and inspiring. Here the poet tells us that gold or material wealth cannot make a nation great and strong. But the spiritual power of the countrymen makes a nation strong. To be great, a nation needs people who are brave, hardworking, and courageous.

About the poet

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 25, 1803, a son of Ruth Haskins and the Rev. William Emerson, a Unitarian minister. Emerson’s formal schooling began at the Boston Latin School in 1812, when he was nine. In October 1817, at age 14, Emerson went to Harvard College and was appointed freshman messenger for the president.

Theme

The poem ‘The Nation Builders’ tells us that material wealth does not make a nation strong and great. The people of strong character build a nation. People who are ready to make sacrifices for the truth and honour, who are ready to stand firm and suffer, lay a solid foundation for a nation.

Stanza 1

Not gold, but only men can make
A people great and strong _____
Men who, for truth and honour's sake,
Stand fast and suffer long.

According to the poet, Gold cannot make a nation great as it has no life, it’s just material. Strong men are required to make the nation great, men who can fight for sake of honour and truth. The men who sacrifice for the truth and honour, who are ready to stand firm and suffer.

Stanza 2

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly____
They builds a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

The poet means that there are brave and courageous men who work hard, while the others pass their time in idleness. The brave ones are the nation builders of the nation pillars, they make the nation great and raise the nation to a great height.