Herman Melville

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

Herman Melville Quotes

  • ''Whatever has made, or does make, or may make music, should be held sacred as the golden bridle-bit of the Shah of Persia's horse, and the golden hammer, with which his hoofs are shod.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 49, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
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  • ''We are the pioneers of the world; the advance-guard, sent on through the wilderness of untried things, to break a new path in the New World that is ours.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
  • ''The retaliation is apt to be in monstrous disproportion to the supposed offense; for when in anybody was revenge in its exactions aught else but an inordinate usurer?''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Billy Budd, Sailor (posthumous), ch 13, eds. Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. (1962).
  • ''I will live and die by this testimony: that I loved a good conscience; that I never invaded another man's liberty; and that I preserved my own.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 124, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Babbalanja, the philosopher, reading from a book.
  • ''There is a touch of divinity even in brutes, and a special halo about a horse, that should forever exempt him from indignities.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 40, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
  • ''Like all high functionaries, he deemed it indispensable religiously to sustain his dignity; one of the most troublesome things in the world, and one calling for the greatest self-denial.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 6, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969). Concerning the commodore aboard the Neversink.
  • ''Coke and Blackstone hardly shed so much light into obscure spiritual places as the Hebrew prophets.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Billy Budd, Sailor (posthumous), ch 11, eds. Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. (1962). Coke and Blackstone were authorities on the law.
  • ''Better to sink in boundless deeps, than float on vulgar shoals; and give me, ye gods, an utter wreck, if wreck I do.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 169, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
  • ''It is plain and demonstrable, that much ale is not good for Yankee, and operates differently upon them from what it does upon a Briton; ale must be drank in a fog and a drizzle.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 28, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
  • ''Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 114, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988).

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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

Immolated

Children of my happier prime,
When One yet lived with me, and threw
Her rainbow over life and time,
Even Hope, my bride, and mother to you!
O, nurtured in sweet pastoral air,
And fed on flowers and light and dew
Of morning meadows -spare, ah, spare
Reproach; spare, and upbraid me not
That, yielding scarce to reckless mood,

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