Finish Each Day And Be Done With It

I had a bad day yesterday. Not just a normal Monday, but a tears-streaming-down-your-face kind of Monday.

Monday meme, I hate Monday

Photo from weknowmemes.com

I don’t know what my deal was, but I was glad to just be able to go to sleep and start fresh today. And today I actually had a really great day, a much happier day. Ralph Waldo Emerson has a poem that reminds me how to get through a no good rotten day.

“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Poems and Translations

Emerson confessed to be an optimist,and I need a good dose of optimism sometimes. I need to remind myself that I’m not having a bad week or a bad year, just a bad day. Each day is new and fresh. I think my favorite line is “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.” So, on that note, I’m going to bed.  :]

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5 thoughts on “Finish Each Day And Be Done With It

  1. I came across this quote, “Finish every day and be done with it….” and after searching all the quotation websites for the source, yours was the first that identified the poem and gave the full context. Thank you! What a wonderful thought is expressed in this poem! I hope that you have had many such days (487 if I have counted right) since you posted this blog!

    • I’m so glad you found my post helpful! That is such a great poem. Thanks for stopping by my blog and checking out other posts. I hope you’ll continue finding good posts on my blog.

  2. I am unable to find this quote in any of Emerson’s works. What I did find, in Works and Days, Chapter VII, was one line from this quote, but in a very different context.

    “One of the illusions is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly until he knows that every day is Doomsday.”

    Can you identify the Emerson poem that’s your source for this? Would be very interested to know! Thanks.

  3. I was puzzled by this passage at first, since it is not found on the website Emerson Central. I searched key words in Google Play and I found the original. This passage was written by Emerson (as prose, not poetry) in a letter to his teenage daughter. It is quoted in James Elliot Cabot’s A Memoir of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1887):

    Emerson was playful and winning in his ways with his children, but he did not often romp with them, and he discouraged their devoting the early hours, even of a holiday, to amusement.

    “He taught us that at breakfast all must be calm and sweet, nothing must jar; we must not begin the day with light reading or games; our first and best hours should be occupied in a way to match the sweet and serious morning.”

    From the age of thirteen or fourteen he thought they should be encouraged as much as possible to regulate their own conduct. He would put the case, and leave them to think and act for themselves; and he did not fear to inculcate, even at this age, the whole of his own doctrine of self-reliance. To one of his daughters who was away from home, at school, he writes:

    “Finish every day and be done with it. For manners and for wise living it is a vice to remember. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. To-morrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day for all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the rotten yesterdays.” (pp. 499-489).

    SOURCE: https://archive.org/details/amemoirralphwal11cabogoog

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