Herman Melville

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

Herman Melville Quotes

  • ''The god Janus never had two more decidedly different faces than your sea captain.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Etchings of a Whaling Cruise" (1847), 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).
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  • ''If not against us, nature is not for us.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 69, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Spoken by Babbalanga, the philosopher.
  • ''Surely a gentle sister is the second best gift to a man; and it is first in point of occurrence; for the wife comes after.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. I, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
  • ''Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses,—for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it,—not in a set way and ostentatiously, though, but incidentally and without premeditation.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Letter, June 29, 1851, to Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Letters of Herman Melville, eds. Merrell R. Davis and William H. Gilman (1960).
  • ''Indolence is heaven's ally here,
    And energy the child of hell:
    The Good Man pouring from his pitcher clear
    But brims the poisoned well.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. poet, novelist. Fragments of a Lost Gnostic Poem of the Twelfth Century (l. 5-8). . . Selected Poems of Herman Melville. Hennig Cohen, ed. (1991) Fordham University Press.
  • ''We are only what we are; not what we would be; nor every thing we hope for. We are but a step in a scale, that reaches further above us than below.''
    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.
  • '''Tis no great valor to perish sword in hand, and bravado on lip; cased all in panoply complete. For even the alligator dies in his mail, and the swordfish never surrenders. To expire, mild-eyed, in one's bed, transcends the death of Epaminondas.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 9, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
  • ''Surely no mere mortal who has at all gone down into himself will ever pretend that his slightest thought or act solely originates in his own defined identity.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. X, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
  • ''Let America first praise mediocrity even, in her children, before she praises ... the best excellence in the children of any other land.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Hawthorne And His Mosses," Literary World (August 17-24, 1850).
  • ''Peradventure at this instant, there are beings gazing up to this very world as their future heaven.''
    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

America

I

Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand
I saw a Banner in gladsome air-
Starry, like Berenice's Hair-
Afloat in broadened bravery there;
With undulating long-drawn flow,
As rolled Brazilian billows go
Voluminously o'er the Line.
The Land reposed in peace below;
The children in their glee
Were folded to the exulting heart
Of young Maternity.

II

Later, and it streamed in fight
When tempest mingled with the fray,
And over the spear-point of the shaft
I saw the ambiguous lightning play.
Valor with Valor strove, and died:
Fierce ...

Read the full of America

Healed Of My Hurt

Healed of my hurt, I laud the inhuman Sea--
Yea, bless the Angels Four that there convene;
For healed I am even by the pitiless breath
Distilled in wholesome dew named rosmarine.

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