Melville’s Antithetical Muse: Reading the Shorter Poems
This study examines Melville’s oppositional poetics––the contrariety of his approach to writing poetry––by focusing on topical, thematic, rhetorical and technical aspects of the author’s poems. Melville’s fraught relationship with his country rehearsed in his novels is distilled in the poetry examined here. As poet, Melville is no less a clamoring voice in the wilderness, with the long traditions of the Western classics and the Bible echoing in these poems. The works discussed in this book are selected from the three collections of poetry published in Melville’s lifetime–Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War, John Marr and Other Sailors with Some Sea-Pieces, and Timoleon Etc. The dissidence that emanates from this poetic corpus underscores Melville’s nonconformity with orthodox expectations of late-nineteenth-century America.