The Portent

By Herman Melville 1819–1891 Herman Melville
Hanging from the beam,
      Slowly swaying (such the law),
Gaunt the shadow on your green,
      Shenandoah!
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.

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Poet Herman Melville 1819–1891

Subjects War & Conflict, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Herman  Melville

Biography

Although chiefly known for his magisterial novel Moby-Dick and for other prose works, Herman Melville was also a fascinating poet who turned to the art after his serious fiction failed to find appreciative readers. His eccentric verse displays the complexity of thought and verbal richness of his novels, which has led some critics to rank him just below Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson among 19th-century American poets.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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