Ball's Bluff: A Reverie Poem by Herman Melville

Ball's Bluff: A Reverie

Rating: 2.8

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; and at my window, leaving bed,
By nights I mused, of easeful sleep bereft,
On those brave boys (Ah War! thy theft);
Some marching feet
Found pause at last by cliffs Potomac cleft;
Wakeful I mused, while in the street
Far footfalls died away till none were left.

Geeta Radhakrishna Menon 06 March 2017

A very sad poem! Soldiers marching into the wars is a sight so miserable with all of them falling dead. Wish people would terminate wars and move towards peace!

2 1 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 06 March 2017

Potomac cleft! ! Thanks for sharing.

1 2 Reply
Susan Williams 06 March 2017

He captured the pending grief in the scene. What a fantastic gift for writing he had- -to pen both novels and poetry.

2 1 Reply
Tom Allport 06 March 2017

a sad poem of knowing the outcomes of war?

1 1 Reply
Ratnakar Mandlik 06 March 2017

youth feels immortal, like the gods sublime. Great poem displaying war fever and it's aftermath.

0 1 Reply
Kumarmani Mahakul 06 March 2018

A poem on war heartfeltly and poignantly depicted. Beautiful poem.

0 1 Reply
Israj Ali 06 March 2018

Weeks passed; and at my window, leaving bed, By nights I mused, of easeful sleep bereft, - - -nicely expressed- - beautiful poem- -10

0 1 Reply
Seamus O Brian 06 March 2018

I return to this piece exactly one year later, and wonder in this interval, how many young men and women have fallen? How many exuberant, patriotic, confidently smiling portraits have been replaced with images of flag-draped coffins? How many fading footfalls have been followed by grieving families across manicured lawns to freshly dug graves?

0 1 Reply
it tastes like 06 March 2018

yes that what it taste

1 0 Reply
Glen Kappy 06 March 2018

My first time reading this or any(?) Melville poem. I’m not familiar with his views on war, but without taking sides here he reminds us of part of what is inevitable in it. This poem reminds me of the song, Where have All the Flowers Gone. To the poem’s line, Youth feels immortal, how else react but too true and too sad. -GK

0 1 Reply
Herman Melville

Herman Melville

New York City, New York
Error Success