I found the following phrase when reading Ralph W. Emerson's The Poet:

The world being thus put under the mind for verb and noun, the poet is he who can articulate it.

I am not entirely sure what is meant by 'to put sth. under the mind for sth.' and I also did not find this construct in any dictionary. Is this perhaps old English and, if so, what does this phrase mean in modern English?

  • You can write out "something" here. The web page isn't going to run out of space. Jul 7, 2016 at 11:46
  • Also, the old-English tag certainly does not apply (that is not a language you would recognize as English.) Jul 7, 2016 at 11:48

1 Answer 1


"Poetic licence" means that the writing doesn't need to be grammatical, or semantically obvious: the normal rules of communication don't apply, as the purpose is to "create art" rather than communicate some information in the most clear way possible (the usual aim of speech or writing).

Since it's art, any interpretation of it will be subjective. I'm not sure if this quote qualifies as "art", but here's my interpretation of what it might mean anyway, for what it's worth.

I'd guess that "to put under the mind" is using a metaphor of the mind being a microscope or some other sort of "examining device". That is, we look at the world and attempt to convert it into "verb and noun" - the components of language. In other words, to look at the world and try to make sense of it in order to describe it.

After this has happened ("the world being thus put under"), the poet is the one who can most successfully "read" the world, and thus articulate it: like an expert in microbiology who can look into the microscope and see things that other people can't see, because they don't have her expertise, the poet is most able to manage the process of articulating their view of the world through their "examining device" (the mind).

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