Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Notice of Battle-Pieces in the Troy Daily Whig

From the Troy [New York] Daily Whig, Saturday Morning, October 27, 1866:

“Battle Pieces and Aspects of the war” is the title of a handsome volume of poems by Herman Melville. Mr. M’s muse was heard with great pleasure many times during the late war. His poetry has attained to great and deserving popularity for its beauty of rhythm, striking imagery and ringing boldness. His battle pictures especially are replete with beauty, force and feeling. The volume is appropriately dedicated to the memory of the brave men who fell in the late war. Published by Harper & Brothers. For sale in Troy by Wm H. Young.
Does the Troy reviewer mean Melville wrote lots of poems about the Civil War, as prompted or dictated by his muse, or that before publication, Melville was known to have declaimed his Civil War poems locally and informally, or that multiple poems had previously appeared in newspapers?  The claim of "great and deserving popularity" makes me wonder if the writer had Melville confused with somebody else--say George Henry Boker.

Or, even more likely, Henry Howard Brownell.

Five poems from Battle-Pieces had appeared in Harper's magazine, but too recently one would think to qualify as "many times during the late war."

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