Herman Melville Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 367 quotes)
So, when on one side you hoist in Locke's head, you go over that way; but now, on the other side, hoist in Kant's and you come back again; but in very poor plight. Thus, some minds for ever keep trimming boat. Oh, ye foolish! throw all these thunder-heads overboard, and then you will float light and right.
Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about--however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way--either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder-blades, and be content.
Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found yourself in a wide, low, straggling entry with old-fashioned wainscots, reminding one of the bulwarks of some condemned old craft. On one side hung a very large oil painting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way defaced, that in the unequal crosslights by which you viewed it, it was only by diligent study and a series of systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors, that you could any way arrive at an understanding of its purpose. Such unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, that at first you almost thought some ambitious young artist, in the time of the New England hags, had endeavored to delineate chaos bewitched. But by dint of much and earnest contemplation, and oft repeated ponderings, and especially by throwing open the little window towards the back of the entry, you at last come to the conclusion that such an idea, however wild, might not be altogether unwarranted.
But if I know not even the tail of this whale, how understand his head? much more, how comprehend this face, when face he has none? Thou shalt see my back parts, my tail, he seems to say, but my face shall not be seen. But I cannot completely make out his back parts; and hint what he will about his face, I say again he has no face.
The sun hides not the ocean, which is the dark side of this earth, and which is two thirds of this earth. So, therefore, that mortal man who hath more of joy than sorrow in him, that mortal man cannot be true-- not true, or undeveloped. With books the same. The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomo?s, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe.
The pale Ushe?threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.
Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.
...and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.
It might be thought that this was a poor way to accumulate a princely fortune--and so it was, a very poor way indeed. But I am on of those that never take on about princely fortunes, and I am quite content if the world is ready to board and lodge me, while I am putting up at this grim sign of the Thunder Cloud.
In glades they meet skull after skull/Where pine-cones lay--the rusted gun,/Green shoes full of bones, the mouldering coat/And cuddled-up skeleton;/And scores of such. Some start as in dreams,/And comrades lost bemoan:/By the edge of those wilds Stonewall had charged--/But the Year and the Man were gone. ("The Armies of the Wilderness")
Oh, trebly hooped and welded hip of power! Oh, high aspiring, rainbowed jet?that one strives, this one jettest all in vain! In vain, oh whale, dost thou seek intercedings with yon all-quickening sun, that only calls forth life, but gives it not again. Yet dost thou, darker half, rock me with a prouder, if a darker faith All thy unnamable imminglings float beneath me here; I am buoyed by breaths of once living things, exhaled as air, but water now.
Herman Melville (August 1, 1819? September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His earliest novels were bestsellers, but his popularity declined later in his life. By the time of his death he had virtually been forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby-Dick? largely considered a failure during his lifetime, and responsible for Melville's drop in popularity? was rediscovered in the 20th century as a literary masterpiece. Source: Wikipedia