Saturday, October 10, 2015

Clarel noticed and quoted in the Daily Albany Argus

Daily Albany [New York] Argus / July 17, 1876
This one turns up when you search the historical newspapers at Genealogy Bank for HERMAN MELLVILLE, with four L's. The notice (transcribed below) does not mention Typee or Moby-Dick, but the choice to give the parting song of the Lyonese from the canto titled The Prodigal (Clarel 4.26) indicates a discerning and sympathetic reader.

CURRENT LITERATURE. 

CLAREL: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land, in two volumes. By Herman Mellville. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. Albany: E. Ellis & Co. 
This work is inscribed to the late Peter Gansevoort, of Albany, a kinsman of the author. It is the story of a sturdent’s pilgrimage in the Holy Land, being divided into four parts, viz: I. Jerusalem. II. The Wilderness. III. Mar Saba. IV. Bethlehem. The poem is not what may be called a purely religious work, though it shows a proper appreciation of the sacred associations of the land of which it relates. As a descriptive poem it is quite meritorious, though not exactly the thing, we should say, to afford enduring fame to any author. A good idea of the writer’s talents may be gleaned from the following:
VALE OF ASHES. [Clarel 1.20] 
Beyond the city's thin resort
And northward from the Ephraim port
The Vale of Ashes keepeth place.
If stream it have which showeth face,
Thence Kedron issues when in flood:
A pathless dell men seldom trace;
The same which after many a rood
Down deepens by the city wall
Into a glen, where—if we deem
Joel's wild text no Runic dream—
An archangelic trump shall call
The nations of the dead from wreck,
Convene them in one judgment-hall
The hollow of Melchizedek. 
   That upper glade by quarries old
Reserves for weary ones a seat—
Porches of caves, stone benches cold,
Grateful in sultry clime to meet.
To this secluded spot austere,
Priests bore—Talmudic records treat—
The ashes from the altar; here
They laid them, hallowed in release,
Shielded from winds in glade of peace. 
*       *       *       *       *       *       *
“Lights of Shushan, if your urn
     Mellow shed the opal ray,
To delude one—damsels, turn,
     Wherefore tarry? Why betray ?
     Drop your garlands and away!
Leave me, phantoms that but feign:
Sting me not with inklings vain!

But, if magic none prevail,
     Mocking in untrue romance ;
Let your Paradise exhale
     Odors; and enlink the dance:
     And, ye rosy feet, advance
Till ye meet morn’s ruddy hours
Unabashed in Shushan’s bowers! ”
--Daily Albany Argus, Monday morning, July 17, 1876
Photo Credit: Vernon Wiering / The Binder's Ticket

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