Thoughts about Herman Melville
There is nothing namable but that some men will, or undertake to, do it for pay.Herman Melville
Hope is the struggle of the soul, breaking loose from what is perishable, and attesting her eternity.Herman Melville
Truth is in things, and not in words.Herman Melville
Life's a voyage that's homeward bound.Herman Melville
I am madness maddened! That wild madness that's only calm to comprehend itself!Herman Melville
To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee.Herman Melville
Art is the objectification of feeling.Herman Melville
It is not down in any map; true places never are.Herman Melville
He who has never failed somewhere. . . that man can not be great.Herman Melville
Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses, - for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it - not in a set way and ostentatiously, though, but incidentally and without premeditation.Herman Melville
They talk of the dignity of work. The dignity is in leisure.Herman Melville
To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it.Herman Melville
Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.Herman Melville
Were this world an endless pain, and by sailing eastward we could forever reach new distances, and discover sights more sweet and strange than any Cyclades or Islands of King Solomon, then there were promise in the voyage.Herman Melville
O Pride of the days in prime of the months
Now trebled in great renown,
When before the ark of our holy cause
Fell Dagon down-
Dagon foredoomed, who, armed and targed,
Never his impious heart enlarged
Beyond that hour; God walled his power,
And there the last invader charged.
He charged, and in that charge condensed
His all of hate and all of fire;
He sought to blast us in his scorn,
And wither us in his ire.
Before him went the shriek of shells-
Aerial screamings, taunts and yells;
Then the three waves in flashed advance
Surged, but were met, and back they set:
Pride was repelled by sterner pride,
And Right is a strong-hold yet.
Before our lines it seemed a beach
Which wild September gales have strown
With havoc on wreck, and dashed therewith
Pale crews unknown-
Men, arms, and steeds. The evening sun
Died on the face of each lifeless one,
And died along the winding marge of fight
And searching-parties lone.
Sloped on the hill the mounds were green,
Our centre held that place of graves,
And some still hold it in their swoon,
And over these a glory waves.
The warrior-monument, crashed in fight,
Shall soar transfigured in loftier light,
A meaning ampler bear;
Soldier and priest with hymn and prayer
Have laid the stone, and every bone
Shall rest in honor there.
Men may seem detestable as joint stock-companies and nations; knaves, fools, and murderers there may be; men may have mean and meagre faces; but man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature, that over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes.Herman Melville
The Maldive Shark
About the Shark, phlegmatical one,
Pale sot of the Maldive sea,
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim,
How alert in attendance be.
From his saw-pit of mouth, from his charnel of maw,
They have nothing of harm to dread,
But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank
Or before his Gorgonian head;
Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth
In white triple tiers of glittering gates,
And there find a haven when peril's abroad,
An asylum in jaws of the Fates!
They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey,
Yet never partake of the treat --
Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull,
Pale ravener of horrible meat.
Falstaff's Lament Over Prince Hal Become Henry V
One that I cherished,
Yea, loved as a son -
Up early, up late with,
My promising one:
No use in good nurture,
None, lads, none!
Here on this settle
He wore the true crown,
King of good fellows,
And Fat Jack was one -
Now, Beadle of England
In formal array -
Best fellow alive
On a throne flung away!
Companions and cronies
Keep fast and lament; -
Come, drawer, more sack here
To drown discontent;
For now intuitions
Shall wither to codes,
Shall libel the gods.
One I instructed,
Yea, talked to -alone:
Clean away thrown!
Sorrow makes thirsty:
Sack, drawer, more sack! -
One that I prayed for,
I, Honest Jack!
To bring down these grey hairs -
To cut his old pal!
But, I'll be magnanimous -
Here's to thee Hal!
When ocean-clouds over inland hills
Sweep storming in late autumn brown,
And horror the sodden valley fills,
And the spire falls crashing in the town,
I muse upon my country's ills--
The tempest burning from the waste of Time
On the world's fairest hope linked with man's foulest crime.
Nature's dark side is heeded now--
(Ah! optimist-cheer dishartened flown)--
A child may read the moody brow
Of yon black mountain lone.
With shouts the torrents down the gorges go,
And storms are formed behind the storms we feel:
The hemlock shakes in the rafter, the oak in the driving keel.
Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the fields in cloudy days,
The forest-field of Shiloh -
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh -
The church, so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foeman mingled there -
Foeman at morn, but friends at eve -
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.