What if some camp on crags austereFirst published in the Christian Watchman on March 2, 1838, the poetic "Lines" signed "Melville" were reprinted in the Boston Recorder for March 9, 1838. "Melville" also contributed the six-part essay on Missions to the Western Indians that appeared in the Christian Watchman between November 10, 1837 and July 13, 1838.
The Stoic held ere Gospel cheer ?
There may the common herd abide,
Having dreamed of heaven? Nay, and can you?
--Herman Melville, Clarel 3.21 - In Confidence
For the Watchman.
WRITTEN ON READING A CELEBRATED INFIDEL BOOK.
Well, be it thus;— renounce the page
Which tells of brighter worlds on high;
Then rest content, as stoic sage,
In gloomy doubt, to grope and die.
Shut out the light which shines from heaven;
To boastful creed of reason keep;
Say brutish life to men is given,
And death is but eternal sleep.
But leave thy neighbor’s spirit free,
Nor, with rash hand, the hope destroy,—
Blest hope of immortality,
Which all dilates the heart with joy;
Nor wake the peaceful dreamer thou,
The bitter dregs of life to taste:
If vain the hopes which bind us now,
O, let the sweet delusion last!
If life a false speck can be shown,
The ocean of eternity
Up from its heaving depth has thrown;
If hapless man may never see
Aught when this anxious being dies,
But sink to nothingness again,
As on the earth he shuts his eyes,
O, let him wish and hope till then!
Go to the mother, as she gives
Her first-born to the arms of death;—
How sinks her heart, which anguish rives
Its chords to mark the final breath!
And wilt thou soothe her frenzied thought,
With words of cold philosophy;
Or say the infant soul is nought,
As her’s, anon, shall surely be?
Away, away, a voice within
Gives thy vain sophistry the lie;
It pleads for that which is,—hath been,—
And, all divine, can never die.
Hope, reason, Scripture,—all proclaim,
To virtue’s ear, a nobler rest:
‘Tis writ, in characters of flame,
On ev’ry heart, in ev’ry breast.
The holy light of day; the sun,
Bright image of the Lord Supreme;
The clouds, the viewless wind; in one,
All things which vast or lovely seem;
The hoary earth, the deep blue sea,
Each with ecstatic life replete;
The thin, free air, o'er land and sea,
Where nature’s subtler wonders meet;—
The sombre majesty of night,
As o’er the pensive mind it steals;
The calm, bright moon, whose silver light
In vain the fleecy cloud conceals;
The stars, so eloquent, which seem
Of silent consciousness possest,
Which active fancy well might deem
Kind heralds of the heavenly rest.
Speak to the soul, and wake its glow,
While the far-vault of heaven on high
Wide echoes to the deep below
Its soft and sacred minstrelsy.
All mind, the universe, where’er
A thought has ranged, or science trod,
With voice united, all declare
A Spirit, and that Spirit’s God.