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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.
Novelist, short story writer, and poet Herman Melville (1819–1891) is best known for his novels of the sea, especially Moby-Dick and Billy Budd. Though his poetry is read less frequently, critics argue that it too is historically significant, thematically complex, and highly crafted. Stanton Garner, author of The Civil War World of Herman Melville, described Melville as “the third participant in the mid- 19th-century American poetic revolution,” along with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. In fact, Melville spent the last decades of his life writing poetry. His published collections include Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866), an intimate and highly personal response to the Civil War, and the allegorical epic Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876).
Source: Poetry Foundation