|Daily Albany [New York] Argus / July 17, 1876|
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|