Selected Poems of Herman Melville: A Reader's Edition

Overview

Whitman and Dickinson are the two greatest American poets of the nineteenth century, but who is the third? Some critics say Whittier, others say Poe, and these days an increasing number say Herman Melville. The revaluation of Melville's poetry is due in large part to the influence of this landmark volume, for Melville the poet has never found a more judicious, eloquent, or persuasive champion than Robert Penn Warren.

First published in 1970, Warren's edition remains the most ...

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Overview

Whitman and Dickinson are the two greatest American poets of the nineteenth century, but who is the third? Some critics say Whittier, others say Poe, and these days an increasing number say Herman Melville. The revaluation of Melville's poetry is due in large part to the influence of this landmark volume, for Melville the poet has never found a more judicious, eloquent, or persuasive champion than Robert Penn Warren.

First published in 1970, Warren's edition remains the most comprehensive selection of Melville's poetry ever presented. It brings together the best of the Civil War poems from Battle-Pieces (1866), the portraits of sailors from John Marr (1888), and the autumnal lyrics from Timoleon (1891), as well as poems uncollected during Melville's lifetime. Central to the selection are several self-contained passages from Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage to the Holy Land (1876), a book-length work that Warren calls "an important document of our modernity ... in fact, a precursor to The Waste Land, with the same central image, the same flickering contrasts of the past and the present, the same charade of belief and unbelief."

Warren introduces his selection with a valuable interpretive essay, and also provides copious textual and critical notes. It is a labor of love, this highly personal anthology: as Warren says in a preface, "I have called this book 'A Reader's Edition,' and the reader I refer to is myself. The book may be regarded as a log of my long reading of Melville's poetry -- of my preferences and prejudices, my impressions and speculations, my curiosities and investigations." But to our mind it is something more than that: it is the most important "selected" since Malcolm Cowley's Portable Faulkner, a book that showcases an American master at his most powerful and in a light that changes our perception of his work forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Edited by Robert Penn Warren (who also provides a 71-page introduction), this 1970 collection is the most extensive gathering of Melville's poetry available and solidified his reputation as a poet behind Whitman, Dickinson, and a few other 19th-century literary lights. Features an index and a portrait of Melville by Barry Moser. A beauty. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567922691
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Pages: 465
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Table of Contents

The portent 91
Misgivings 92
The conflict of convictions 93
The march into Virginia 96
Ball's bluff 98
Dupont's round fight 99
The stone fleet 100
Donelson 102
The Temeraire 117
A utilitarian view of the monitor's fight 120
Shiloh 122
Malvern Hill 123
Battle of Stone River, Tennessee 125
The house-top 127
The armies of the wilderness 128
On the photograph of a corps commander 136
The swamp angel 137
The college colonel 139
"The coming storm" 141
"Formerly a slave" 142
On the slain collegians 143
America 145
The fortitude of the north 147
Inscription 148
An uninscribed monument 149
A requiem 150
On a natural monument 151
Commemorative of a naval victory 152
The scout toward Aldie 153
Lee in the capitol 180
A meditation 187
The hostel 203
Of the crusaders 208
Nathan 209
Of Mortmain 219
Concerning Hebrews 223
Vine and Clarel 228
The inscription 232
Mortmain reappears 235
Sodom 237
Obsequies 241
The high desert 246
Derwent and Ungar 251
Ungar and Rolfe 255
The valley of decision 259
Dirge 264
Passion week 265
Easter 268
Via Crucis 270
Epilogue 272
John Marr 277
Bridegroom dick 285
Tom deadlight 302
Jack Roy 305
The Haglets 307
The man-of-war hawk 315
Old counsel 316
The tuft of kelp 317
The maldive shark 318
To Ned 319
Crossing the tropics 321
The berg 322
From Pebbles 324
After the pleasure party 327
The ravaged villa 333
Monody 334
Art 335
Venice 336
In a bye-canal 337
In a church of Padua 339
From The Parthenon 340
Immolated 343
Pontoosuce 344
Jonah's song (from Moby Dick) 348
Billy in the Darbies (from Billy Budd) 349
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