Misgivings

By Herman Melville 1819–1891 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 bursting 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 disheartened 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 storm we feel:
The hemlock shakes in the rafter, the oak in the driving keel.

Source: American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (The Library of America, 1993)

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Poet Herman Melville 1819–1891

Subjects Nature, Social Commentaries, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

Poetic Terms Sonnet, Metaphor

 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 Nature, Social Commentaries, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

Poetic Terms Sonnet, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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