Battle-pieces and Aspects of the War

Front Cover
Harper & brothers, 1866 - Reconstruction - 272 pages
Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866) is the first book of poetry published by American author Herman Melville. The volume is dedicated "To the Memory of the Three Hundred Thousand Who in the War For the Maintenance of the Union Fell Devotedly Under the Flag of Their Country" and its 72 poems deal with the battles and personalities of the American Civil War and their aftermath. Critics at the time were at best respectful and often sharply critical of Melville's unorthodox style. The book had sold only 486 copies by 1868 and recovered barely half of its publications costs.[1] Not until the latter half of the twentieth century did Battle-Pieces become regarded as one of the most important group of poems on the American Civil War.
 

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Contents

I
13
II
14
III
19
IV
22
V
24
VI
28
VIII
30
IX
31
XXXIX
133
XLI
135
XLIII
137
XLIV
138
XLV
141
XLVII
143
XLIX
144
L
146

X
33
XI
53
XII
55
XIII
58
XIV
61
XV
63
XVI
64
XVII
67
XVIII
69
XIX
73
XX
75
XXI
79
XXII
81
XXIII
84
XXIV
86
XXV
88
XXVII
90
XXVIII
93
XXIX
105
XXX
107
XXXI
110
XXXII
116
XXXIII
118
XXXIV
120
XXXV
122
XXXVI
124
XXXVII
126
XXXVIII
128
LI
148
LII
150
LIII
153
LIV
154
LV
155
LVI
156
LVII
157
LVIII
160
LIX
163
LX
165
LXI
166
LXIII
167
LXIV
168
LXV
169
LXVI
170
LXVIII
171
LXIX
172
LXX
173
LXXI
174
LXXII
175
LXXIII
176
LXXIV
178
LXXV
180
LXXVI
182
LXXVIII
183
LXXIX
187
LXXX
229
LXXXI
239

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Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 62 - Where War belongs — Among the trades and artisans. Yet this was battle, and intense — Beyond the strife of fleets heroic; Deadlier, closer, calm 'mid storm; No passion; all went on by crank, Pivot, and screw, And calculations of caloric.
Page 17 - Power unanointed may come — Dominion (unsought by the free) And the Iron Dome, Stronger for stress and strain, Fling her huge shadow athwart the main; But the Founders
Page 11 - 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 the war.
Page 159 - What could they else - North or South? Each went forth with blessings given By priests and mothers in the name of Heaven; And honor in both was chief. Warred one for Right, and one for Wrong? So put it; but they both were young Each grape to his cluster clung, All their elegies are sung.
Page 16 - ... Time's strand with wrecks. The People spread like a weedy grass, The thing they will they bring to pass, And prosper to the apoplex. The rout it herds around the heart, The ghost is yielded in the gloom; Kings wag their heads — Now save thyself Who wouldst rebuild the world in bloom. (Tide-mark 40 And top of the ages...
Page 232 - Yet pride at hand still aidrul swelled, And up the hard ascent he held. The meeting follows. In his mien The victor and the vanquished both are seen — All that he is, and what he late had been. Awhile, with curious eyes they scan The Chief who led invasion's van — Allied by family to one, Founder of the Arch the Invader warred upon : Who looks at Lee must think of Washington ; In pain must think, and hide the thought, So deep with grievous meaning it is fraught...
Page 85 - ... 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,'1 Shall soar transfigured in loftier light...
Page 177 - Through the delightsome sea he sails, With shoals of shining tiny things Frolic on every wave that flings Against the prow its showery spray ; All creatures joying in the morn, Save them forever from joyance torn, Whose bark was lost where now the dolphins play; Save them that by the fabled shore, Down the pale stream are washed away, Far to the reef of bones are borne ; And never revisits them the light, Nor sight of long-sought land and pilot more ; Nor heed they now the lone bird's flight Round...
Page 155 - Convulsions came; and, where the field Long slept in pastoral green, A goblin-mountain was upheaved (Sure the scared sense was all deceived), Marl-glen and slag-ravine. The unreserve of 111 was there, The clinkers in her last retreat; But, ere the eye could take it in, Or mind could comprehension win, It sunk!— and at our feet.
Page 63 - April 1862 Skimming lightly, wheeling still, The swallows fly low Over the field in clouded days, The forest-field of Shiloh— Over the field where April rain Solaced the parched one 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 foemen mingled there— Foemen at morn, but friends at...

About the author (1866)

Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 - September 28, 1891) was born into a seemingly secure, prosperous world, a descendant of prominent Dutch and English families long established in New York State. That security vanished when first, the family business failed, and then, two years later, in young Melville's thirteenth year, his father died. Without enough money to gain the formal education that professions required, Melville was thrown on his own resources and in 1841 sailed off on a whaling ship bound for the South Seas. His experiences at sea during the next four years were to form in part the basis of his best fiction. Melville's first two books, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), were partly romance and partly autobiographical travel books set in the South Seas. Both were popular successes, particularly Typee, which included a stay among cannibals and a romance with a South Sea maiden. During the next several years, Melville published three more romances that drew upon his experiences at sea: Redburn (1849) and White-Jacket (1850), both fairly realistic accounts of the sailor's life and depicting the loss of innocence of central characters; and Mardi (1849), which, like the other two books, began as a romance of adventure but turned into an allegorical critique of contemporary American civilization. Moby Dick (1851) also began as an adventure story, based on Melville's experiences aboard the whaling ship. However, in the writing of it inspired in part by conversations with his friend and neighbor Hawthorne and partly by his own irrepressible imagination and reading of Shakespeare and other Renaissance dramatists Melville turned the book into something so strange that, when it appeared in print, many of his readers and critics were dumbfounded, even outraged. By the mid-1850s, Melville's literary reputation was all but destroyed, and he was obliged to live the rest of his life taking whatever jobs he could find and borrowing money from relatives, who fortunately were always in a position to help him. He continued to write, however, and published some marvelous short fiction pieces Benito Cereno" (1855) and "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (1853) are the best. He also published several volumes of poetry, the most important of which was Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866), poems of occasionally great power that were written in response to the moral challenge of the Civil War. His posthumously published work, Billy Budd (1924), on which he worked up until the time of his death, became Melville's last significant literary work, a brilliant short novel that movingly describes a young sailor's imprisonment and death. Melville's reputation, however, rests most solidly on his great epic romance, Moby Dick. It is a difficult as well as a brilliant book, and many critics have offered interpretations of its complicated ambiguous symbolism. Darrel Abel briefly summed up Moby Dick as "the story of an attempt to search the unsearchable ways of God," although the book has historical, political, and moral implications as well. Melville died at his home in New York City early on the morning of September 28, 1891, at age 72. The doctor listed "cardiac dilation" on the death certificate. He was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York, along with his wife, Elizabeth Shaw Melville.

Bibliographic information