Herman Melville

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

Quotations

  • ''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.
  • ''There is something in the breast of almost every man, which at bottom takes offense at the attentions of any other man offered to a woman, the hope of whose nuptial love he himself may have discarded. Fain would a man selfishly appropriate all the hearts which have ever in any way confessed themselves his.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. XXI, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
  • ''People think that if a man has undergone any hardship, he should have a reward; but for my part, if I have done the hardest possible day's work, and then come to sit down in a corner and eat my supper comfortably—why, then I don't think I deserve any reward for my hard day's work—for am I not now at peace? Is not my supper good?''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. letter, Nov. 17, 1851, to Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Letters of Herman Melville, eds. Merrell R. Davis and William H. Gilman (1960).
  • ''Found a family, build a state,
    The pledged event is still the same:
    Matter in end will never abate
    His ancient brutal claim.''
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. poet, novelist. Fragments of a Lost Gnostic Poem of the Twelfth Century (l. 1-4). . . Selected Poems of Herman Melville. Hennig Cohen, ed. (1991) Fordham University Press.
  • '''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).

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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,

[Hata Bildir]