Emerson used flowing water imagery and metaphors for water in his essays and poems. In the essay Nature, published in 1836, Emerson asks,
Who looks upon a river in a meditative hour and is not reminded of the flux of all things?Water represents fluidity, transcendence, and spiritual insight. Water reminds us of the fickle and fleeting nature of how we perceive time.
Emerson encouraged independent thinking and imagination over convention. He reveled in the spiritual nature of natural phenomena.
Appreciation for natural phenomena like the force of flowing water, the mechanics of an avalanche, the phases of the moon, or the life cycle of a mayfly invariably leads us to the vast infinity of poetry.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The water understands
It wets my foot, but prettily,
It chills my life, but wittily,
It is not disconcerted,
It is not broken-hearted:
Well used, it decketh joy,
Adorneth, doubleth joy:
Ill used, it will destroy,
In perfect time and measure
With a face of golden pleasure
- Nature, an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1836), Wikipedia.