Herman Melville

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

Herman Melville Quotes

  • ''His duty he always faithfully did; but duty is sometimes a dry obligation, and he was for irrigating its aridity, whensoever possible, with a fertilizing decoction of strong waters.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Billy Budd, Sailor (posthumous), ch 1, eds. Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. (1962). Referring to a British impressment officer visiting a merchant ship.
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  • ''As for the possible hereafter of the whales; a creature eighty feet long without stockings, and thirty feet round the waist before dinner, is not inconsiderately to be consigned to annihilation.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 94, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
  • ''The universe is finished; the copestone is on, and the chips were carried off a million years ago.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 2, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988).
  • ''A ship is a bit of terra firma cut off from the main; it is a state in itself; and the captain is its king.''
    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).
  • ''Time is made up of various ages; and each thinks its own a novelty.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), vol. 3, ch. 161, The Writings of Herman Melville, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Read from a scroll.
  • ''Delight,—top-gallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or lord, but the Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 9, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988). Spoken by Father Mapple.
  • ''Personal prudence, even when dictated by quite other than selfish considerations, surely is no special virtue in a military man; while an excessive love of glory, impassioning a less burning impulse, the honest sense of duty, is the first.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Billy Budd, Sailor (posthumous), ch 5, eds. Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. (1962).
  • ''Let us only hate hatred; and once give love a play, we will fall in love with a unicorn.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 13, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
  • ''Talk to me not of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 36, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988). Spoken by Captain Ahab.
  • ''There are times when even the most potent governor must wink at transgression, in order to preserve the laws inviolate for the future.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 85, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).

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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 Mound By The Lake

The grass shall never forget this grave.
When homeward footing it in the sun
After the weary ride by rail,
The stripling soldiers passed her door,
Wounded perchance, or wan and pale,
She left her household work undone -
Duly the wayside table spread,
With evergreens shaded, to regale
Each travel-spent and grateful one.

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