Herman Melville

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

Herman Melville Quotes

  • ''If you begin the day with a laugh, you may, nevertheless, end it with a sob and a sigh.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 33, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
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  • ''Your Englishman is rather reserved, and your Yankee, he does not fancy that sort of thing in anybody but himself.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 53, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988). On the coolness between crewmen.
  • ''To be a born American citizen seems a guarantee against pauperism; and this, perhaps, springs from the virtue of a vote.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 41, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
  • ''They were in the jelly of youth.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 83, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969). Referring to adolescent boys.
  • ''Fathoms down, fathoms down, how I'll dream fast asleep.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. poet, novelist. Billy Budd, Foretopman (l. 28). . . Selected Poems of Herman Melville. Hennig Cohen, ed. (1991) Fordham University Press.
  • ''This were to be truly immortal;Mto be perpetuated in our works, and not in our names.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 142, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Spoken by Babbalanja, the philosopher.
  • ''A laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 5, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988).
  • ''Though gilded and golden, the serpent of vice is a serpent still.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 46, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
  • ''Of all insults, the temporary condescension of a master to a slave is the most outrageous and galling. That potentate who most condescends, mark him well; for that potentate, if occasion come, will prove your uttermost tyrant.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 66, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
  • ''A true military officer is in one particular like a true monk. Not with more self-abnegation will the latter keep his vows of monastic obedience than the former his vows of allegiance to martial duty.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Billy Budd, Sailor (c. 1889), ch. 21, eds. Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. (1962).

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Best Poem of Herman Melville

Misgivings

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 ...

Read the full of Misgivings

The Berg (A Dream)

I saw a ship of material build
(Her standards set, her brave apparel on)
Directed as by madness mere
Against a solid iceberg steer,
Nor budge it, though the infactuate ship went down.
The impact made huge ice-cubes fall
Sullen in tons that crashed the deck;
But that one avalanche was all--
No other movement save the foundering wreck.

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