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Best Famous Herman Melville Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Herman Melville poems. This is a select list of the best famous Herman Melville poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Herman Melville poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Herman Melville poems.

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Written by Herman Melville |



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 was Despair, and cruel was Pride; And the lorn Mother speechless stood, Pale at the fury of her brood.
III Yet later, and the silk did wind Her fair cold for; Little availed the shining shroud, Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm A watcher looked upon her low, and said- She sleeps, but sleeps, she is not dead.
But in that sleep contortion showed The terror of the vision there- A silent vision unavowed, Revealing earth's foundation bare, And Gorgon in her hidden place.
It was a thing of fear to see So foul a dream upon so fair a face, And the dreamer lying in that starry shroud.
IV But from the trance she sudden broke- The trance, or death into promoted life; At her feet a shivered yoke, And in her aspect turned to heaven No trace of passion or of strife- A clear calm look.
It spake of pain, But such as purifies from stain- Sharp pangs that never come again- And triumph repressed by knowledge meet, Power delicate, and hope grown wise, And youth matured for age's seat- Law on her brow and empire in her eyes.
So she, with graver air and lifted flag; While the shadow, chased by light, Fled along the far-brawn height, And left her on the crag.

Written by Herman Melville |

The Enthusiast

 "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him"

Shall hearts that beat no base retreat
In youth's magnanimous years - 
Ignoble hold it, if discreet
When interest tames to fears;
Shall spirits that worship light
Perfidious deem its sacred glow,
Recant, and trudge where worldlings go,
Conform and own them right?

Shall Time with creeping influence cold
Unnerve and cow? The heart
Pine for the heartless ones enrolled
With palterers of the mart?
Shall faith abjure her skies,
Or pale probation blench her down
To shrink from Truth so still, so lone
Mid loud gregarious lies?

Each burning boat in Caesar's rear,
Flames -No return through me!
So put the torch to ties though dear,
If ties but tempters be.
Nor cringe if come the night: Walk through the cloud to meet the pall, Though light forsake thee, never fall From fealty to light.

Written by Herman Melville |

Gold in the Mountain

 Gold in the mountain,
And gold in the glen,
And greed in the heart,
Heaven having no part,
And unsatisfied men.

More great poems below...

Written by Herman Melville |


 (November, 1863)

A kindling impulse seized the host
Inspired by heaven's elastic air;
Their hearts outran their General's plan,
Though Grant commanded there - 
Grant, who without reserve can dare;
And, "Well, go on and do your will,"
He said, and measured the mountain then:
So master-riders fling the rein - 
But you must know your men.
On yester-morn in grayish mist, Armies like ghosts on hills had fought, And rolled from the cloud their thunders loud The Cumberlands far had caught: Today the sunlit steeps are sought.
Grant stood on cliffs whence all was plain, And smoked as one who feels no cares; But mastered nervousness intense, Alone such calmness wears.
The summit-cannon plunge their flame Sheer down the primal wall, But up and up each linking troop In stretching festoons crawl - Nor fire a shot.
Such men appal The foe, though brave.
He, from the brink, Looks far along the breadth of slope, And sees two miles of dark dots creep, And knows they mean the cope.
He sees them creep.
Yet here and there Half hid 'mid leafless groves they go; As men who ply through traceries high Of turreted marbles show - So dwindle these to eyes below.
But fronting shot and flanking shell Sliver and rive the inwoven ways; High tops of oaks and high hearts fall, But never the climbing stays.
Near and more near; till now the flags Run like a catching flame; And one flares highest, to peril nighest - He means to make a name: Salvos! they give him his fame.
The staff is caught, and next the rush, And then the leap where death has led; Flag answered flag along the crest, And swarms of rebels fled.
But some who gained the envied Alp, And -eager, ardent, earnest there - Dropped into Death's wide-open arms, Quelled on the wing like eagles struck in air - Forever they slumber young and fair, The smile upon them as they died; Their end attained, that end a height: Life was to these a dream fulfilled, And death a starry night.

Written by Herman Melville |

Healed of My Hurt

 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,
But jealous of your future lot,
I sealed you in a fate subdued.
Have I not saved you from the dread Theft, and ignoring which need be The triumph of the insincere Unanimous Mediocrity? Rest, therefore, free from all despite, Snugged in the arms of comfortable night.

Written by Herman Melville |


 In placid hours well-pleased we dream 
Of many a brave unbodied scheme.
But form to lend, pulsed life create, What unlike things must meet and mate: A flame to melt--a wind to freeze; Sad patience--joyous energies; Humility--yet pride and scorn; Instinct and study; love and hate; Audacity--reverence.
These must mate, And fuse with Jacob's mystic heart, To wrestle with the angel--Art.

Written by Herman Melville |


 O Pride of the days in prime of the months
Now trebled in great renown,
When before the ark of our holy cause
Fell Dagon down-
Dagon foredoomed, who, armed and targed,
Never his impious heart enlarged
Beyond that hour; God walled his power,
And there the last invader charged.
He charged, and in that charge condensed His all of hate and all of fire; He sought to blast us in his scorn, And wither us in his ire.
Before him went the shriek of shells- Aerial screamings, taunts and yells; Then the three waves in flashed advance Surged, but were met, and back they set: Pride was repelled by sterner pride, And Right is a strong-hold yet.
Before our lines it seemed a beach Which wild September gales have strown With havoc on wreck, and dashed therewith Pale crews unknown- Men, arms, and steeds.
The evening sun Died on the face of each lifeless one, And died along the winding marge of fight And searching-parties lone.
Sloped on the hill the mounds were green, Our centre held that place of graves, And some still hold it in their swoon, And over these a glory waves.
The warrior-monument, crashed in fight, Shall soar transfigured in loftier light, A meaning ampler bear; Soldier and priest with hymn and prayer Have laid the stone, and every bone Shall rest in honor there.

Written by Herman Melville |


 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,
But jealous of your future lot,
I sealed you in a fate subdued.
Have I not saved you from the dread Theft, and ignoring which need be The triumph of the insincere Unanimous Mediocrity? Rest, therefore, free from all despite, Snugged in the arms of comfortable night.

Written by Herman Melville |

The Portent

 Hanging from the beam, 
Slowly swaying (such the law), 
Gaunt the shadow on the green, 
The cut is on the crown 
(Lo, John Brown), 
And the stabs shall heal no more.
Hidden in the cap Is the anguish none can draw; So your future veils its face, Shenandoah! But the streaming beard is shown (Weird John Brown), The meteor of the war.

Written by Herman Melville |

The Maldive Shark

 About the Shark, phlegmatical one,
Pale sot of the Maldive sea,
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim,
How alert in attendance be.
From his saw-pit of mouth, from his charnel of maw, They have nothing of harm to dread, But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank Or before his Gorgonian head; Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth In white triple tiers of glittering gates, And there find a haven when peril's abroad, An asylum in jaws of the Fates! They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey, Yet never partake of the treat -- Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull, Pale ravener of horrible meat.

Written by Herman Melville |

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.
So warm her heart, childless, unwed, Who like a mother comforted.

Written by Herman Melville |


 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 rafter, the oak in the driving keel.

Written by Herman Melville |


 A Requiem

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the fields in cloudy days,
The forest-field of Shiloh -
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh -
The church, so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foeman mingled there -
Foeman at morn, but friends at eve -
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.

Written by Herman Melville |


 Once in English they said America.
Was it English to them.
Once they said Belgian.
We like a fog.
Do you for weather.
Are we brave.
Are we true.
Have we the national colour.
Can we stand ditches.
Can we mean well.
Do we talk together.
Have we red cross.
A great many people speak of feet.
And socks.

Written by Herman Melville |

Malvern Hill

 Ye elms that wave on Malvern Hill
In prime of morn and May,
Recall ye how McClellan's men
Here stood at bay?
While deep within yon forest dim
Our rigid comrades lay - 
Some with the cartridge in their mouth,
Others with fixed arms lifted South - 
Invoking so
The cypress glades? Ah wilds of woe!

The spires of Richmond, late beheld
Through rifts in musket-haze,
Were closed from view in clouds of dust
On leaf-walled ways,
Where streamed our wagons in caravan;
And the Seven Nights and Days
Of march and fast, retreat and fight,
Pinched our grimed faces to ghastly plight - 
Does the elm wood
Recall the haggard beards of blood?

The battle-smoked flag, with stars eclipsed,
We followed (it never fell!) - 
In silence husbanded our strength - 
Received their yell;
Till on this slope we patient turned
With cannon ordered well;
Reverse we proved was not defeat;
But ah, the sod what thousands meet! - 
Does Malvern Wood
Bethink itself, and muse and brood?

We elms of Malvern Hill
Remember every thing;
But sap the twig will fill:
Wag the world how it will,
Leaves must be green in Spring.