Herman Melville

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

Herman Melville Quotes

  • ''Nature is not so much her own ever-sweet interpreter, as the mere supplier of that cunning alphabet, whereby selecting and combining as he pleases, each man reads his own peculiar lesson according to his own peculiar mind and mood.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. XXV, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
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  • ''I can see that figure now—pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! It was Bartleby.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Bartleby" (1853), 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). Spoken by the lawyer-narrator.
  • ''Both the ancestry and posterity of Grief go further than the ancestry and posterity of Joy.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 106, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988). Thought by Captain Ahab.
  • ''Men there are, who having quite done with the world, all its merely worldly contents are become so far indifferent, that they care little of what mere worldly imprudence they may be guilty.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. XV, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
  • ''How feeble is all language to describe the horrors we inflict upon these wretches, whom we mason up in the cells of our prisons, and condemn to perpetual solitude in the very heart of our population.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Typee (1846), ch. 17, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 1, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968).
  • ''I was not unemployed in my profession by the late John Jacob Astor; a name which, I admit, I love to repeat, for it hath a rounded and orbicular sound to it, and rings like unto bullion.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Bartleby" (1853), The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces 1839-1860, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 9eds. Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1987). Spoken by the lawyer-narrator.
  • ''A virtuous expediency, then, seems the highest desirable or attainable earthly excellence for the mass of men, and is the only earthly excellence that their Creator intended for them.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre bk. XIV (1852), The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971). Written by Plotinus Plinlimmon, in a pamphlet.
  • ''Unsophisticated and confiding, they are easily led into every vice, and humanity weeps over the ruin thus remorselessly inflicted upon them by their European civilizers.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Typee (1846), ch. 2, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 1, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968)). In reference to the native Polynesians.
  • ''Imagine my surprise, nay, my consternation, when without moving from his privacy, Bartleby in a singularly mild, firm voice, replied, "I would prefer not to."''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Bartleby" (1853), 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). One of many instances in which Bartleby uses this phrase to refuse to work.
  • ''I am, as I am; whether hideous, or handsome, depends upon who is made judge.''
    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.

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Best Poem of Herman Melville

Art

In placid hours well-pleased we dream
Of many a brave unbodied scheme.
But form to lend, pulsed life create,
What unlike things must meet and mate:
A flame to melt--a wind to freeze;
Sad patience--joyous energies;
Humility--yet pride and scorn;
Instinct and study; love and hate;
Audacity--reverence. These must mate,
And fuse with Jacob's mystic heart,
To wrestle with the angel--Art.

Read the full of Art

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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