Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Gansevoort Melville


The Cuban Pirate

Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

From the manuscript collection "Weeds and Wildings," posthumously published in The Works of Herman Melville Volume 16 (Constable and Company, 1924) on page 320. Melville's poem "The Cuban Pirate" is also available in the 2017 Northwestern-Newberry Edition Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings, edited by G. Thomas Tanselle, Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, Robert Sandberg and Alma MacDougall Reising at page 101; and Herman Melville: Complete Poems (Library of America, 2019) edited by Hershel Parker at page 758.


(Some of the more scintillant West Indian humming-birds are in frame hardly bigger than a beetle or bee.)

BUCCANEER in gemmed attire —
Ruby, amber, emerald, jet —
Darkling, sparkling dot of fire,
Still on plunder are you set?
Summer is your sea, and there
The flowers afloat you board and ravage,
Yourself a thing more dazzling fair —
Tiny, plummed, bejewelled Savage!
Midget! yet in passion fell
Furioso, Creoles tell.
Wing'd are you Cupid in disguise
Now flying spark of Paradise?

Northwestern-Newberry and LOA editions have "plumed" instead of "plummed" and both supply the comma after "Wing'd" in the penultimate line. Both these editions give "You" for "Now" in the last, making it "You flying spark of Paradise?" Regarding Now vs. You, you might like to examine the manuscript version of "The Cuban Pirate" at Houghton Library, Harvard University and decide for yourself. On the Harvard Mirador Viewer it looks to me like it could be You. Or Thou. Or how about "Mon," as in Mon petit chou-chou

And check out the rejected alternative version of the last line, also visible in the manuscript image. At least for a while Melville wanted to call his brazen hummingbird "little Paul Jones" after the British pirate and hero of the American Revolution John Paul Jones.
  • Persistent Link https://nrs.lib.harvard.edu/urn-3:fhcl.hough:16083258?n=291
  • Description Melville, Herman, 1819-1891. Unpublished poems : autograph manuscript, undated. Herman Melville papers, 1761-1964. MS Am 188 (369.1). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.Folder 5. Weeds & wildings with a rose or two.
  • Page sheet 67 (seq. 291)
  • Repository Houghton Library
  • Institution Harvard University
  • Accessed 23 April 2024

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Odile Gannier on Melville’s MARDI as Astronomical Metaphor in MIRANDA


Saturday, April 6, 2024

Doolittle "the Lenox expressman" in Leyda's postscript to THE MELVILLE LOG