Herman Melville

(1 August 1819 – 28 September 1891 / New York City, New York)

Herman Melville Quotes

  • ''The god Janus never had two more decidedly different faces than your sea captain.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Etchings of a Whaling Cruise" (1847), The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces 1839-1860, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 9, eds. Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1987).
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  • ''If not against us, nature is not for us.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 69, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Spoken by Babbalanga, the philosopher.
    18 person liked.
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  • ''Surely a gentle sister is the second best gift to a man; and it is first in point of occurrence; for the wife comes after.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. I, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
    18 person liked.
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  • ''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 (1819-1891), U.S. author. Letter, June 29, 1851, to Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Letters of Herman Melville, eds. Merrell R. Davis and William H. Gilman (1960).
    16 person liked.
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  • ''Indolence is heaven's ally here,
    And energy the child of hell:
    The Good Man pouring from his pitcher clear
    But brims the poisoned well.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. poet, novelist. Fragments of a Lost Gnostic Poem of the Twelfth Century (l. 5-8). . . Selected Poems of Herman Melville. Hennig Cohen, ed. (1991) Fordham University Press.
    3 person liked.
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  • ''We are only what we are; not what we would be; nor every thing we hope for. We are but a step in a scale, that reaches further above us than below.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 175, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Spoken by Babbalanja, the philosopher.
    5 person liked.
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  • '''Tis no great valor to perish sword in hand, and bravado on lip; cased all in panoply complete. For even the alligator dies in his mail, and the swordfish never surrenders. To expire, mild-eyed, in one's bed, transcends the death of Epaminondas.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 9, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
    3 person liked.
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  • ''Surely no mere mortal who has at all gone down into himself will ever pretend that his slightest thought or act solely originates in his own defined identity.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. X, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
    3 person liked.
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  • ''Let America first praise mediocrity even, in her children, before she praises ... the best excellence in the children of any other land.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Hawthorne And His Mosses," Literary World (August 17-24, 1850).
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  • ''Peradventure at this instant, there are beings gazing up to this very world as their future heaven.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 175, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Spoken by Babbalanja, the philosopher.
    5 person liked.
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Best Poem of Herman Melville

Ball's Bluff: A Reverie

One noonday, at my window in the town,
I saw a sight - saddest that eyes can see -
Young soldiers marching lustily
Unto the wars,
With fifes, and flags in mottoed pageantry;
While all the porches, walks, and doors
Were rich with ladies cheering royally.

They moved like Juny morning on the wave,
Their hearts were fresh as clover in its prime
(It was the breezy summer time),
Life throbbed so strong,
How should they dream that Death in rosy clime
Would come to thin their shining throng?
Youth feels immortal, like the gods sublime.

Weeks passed; ...

Read the full of Ball's Bluff: A Reverie

Shiloh - A Requiem

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh --
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched one stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh--

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