If you believe in LOA’s mission and would like to support our activities in a substantial way, nothing is more helpful than endowing a volume in the series to keep it permanently in print. Your gift will have prominent recognition in the book, and as a Guardian of American Letters you will make a lasting contribution to American culture.Herman Melville: Complete Poems, the only definitive one-volume edition of his verse and a major landmark in American letters. Ranking with Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson as one of the three great American poets of the nineteenth century, Melville wrote powerfully of the horrors and glories of the Civil War, the spiritual and sexual awakenings of youth, the struggle between religious faith and doubt, and the sublime allure of the sea.
The fruit of decades of textual scholarship, this fourth and final volume of the Library of America Melville edition gathers the four books of poetry published in his lifetime, his uncollected poems, and the poems from two projected volumes of poetry and prose left unfinished at his death.
Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866), Melville’s first published book of verse, is one of the very few literary masterpieces to emerge from the Civil War, in dialogue with events including the shock of the young Union soldiers at Bull Run “enlightened by the vollied glare,” the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack, the brutal New York City Draft Riots, and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876), a work Melville spent seven years writing following his own travels in Palestine, occupies the heart of the volume. At 18,000 lines, it is one of the longest poems in the English language, inviting comparisons to Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Divine Comedy, and engaging provocatively with the problem of religious faith in a scientific age.
Also included are the two late privately published collections, the haunting nautical book John Marr and Other Sailors (1888) and Timoleon Etc. (1891). Rounding out the volume are the poems from Melville’s two unfinished manuscripts, Weeds and Wildings and Parthenope, along with miscellaneous uncollected poems. All are presented in authoritative texts established by the multivolume Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Writings of Herman Melville.
Make your mark on American literary history. A fully tax-deductible contribution of $75,000 to the Guardians of American Letters Fund will help to keep this historic edition of masterworks of American poetry in print and available to future generations of readers—a lasting testimony to Melville’s greatness and to your generous gift. Guardians and individuals they designate are recognized on a special acknowledgment page in the front of the volume of their choice, and this acknowledgment will appear in every future printing of the book.
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