Children of my happier prime,
When One yet lived with me, and threw
Her rainbow over life and time,
Even Hope, my bride, and mother to you!
O, nurtured in sweet pastoral air,
And fed on flowers and light and dew
Of morning meadows -spare, ah, spare
Reproach; spare, and upbraid me not
That, yielding scarce to reckless mood,
But jealous of your future lot,
I sealed you in a fate subdued.
Have I not saved you from the dread
Theft, and ignoring which need be
The triumph of the insincere
Unanimous Mediocrity?
Rest, therefore, free from all despite,
Snugged in the arms of comfortable night.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Herman Melville's poem Immolated

1 Comment

  1. ALEX says:

    This poem has intrigued me, especially who is it addressed to. Something from his youth he has buried, kept from the world, relegated to nothingness in a positive sense. Is it some of his earlier work that he never published? His first son did commit suicide and his second son died I think. He has “sealed them in a subdued fate.” There is the exploration of negation in a nearly Buddhist sense, nothingness as a place that is better than the limelight, the night being more comforting. Hope was his bride but I guess over the years the attraction between Melville and hope fizzled away with the failures of his life. Who or what is immolated, or killed as a sacrifice or by fire ( dictionary)? His children, his literary output, his ambition (Illusions Perdues), his hopes and dreams, or wanting in a Buddhist sense, desire, ? Clearly Melville is doing the immolating here, he admittedly alters their fate, like killing a child to protect them from the world ( Beloved Toni Morrison). Better not to do than to do, an ethos so different than today just do it.

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