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A poem by Herman Melville: Commemorative Of A Naval Victory

 

Commemorative Of A Naval Victory

Sailors there are of the gentlest breed,
Yet strong, like every goodly thing;
The discipline of arms refines,
And the wave gives tempering.
The damasked blade its beam can fling;
It lends the last grave grace:
The hawk, the hound, and sworded nobleman
In Titian’s picture for a king,
Are of hunter or warrior race.

In social halls a favored guest
In years that follow victory won,
How sweet to feel your festal fame
In woman’s glance instinctive thrown:
Repose is yours–your deed is known,
It musks the amber wine;
It lives, and sheds a light from storied days
Rich as October sunsets brown,
Which make the barren place to shine.

But seldom the laurel wreath is seen
Unmixed with pensive pansies dark;
There’s a light and a shadow on every man
Who at last attains his lifted mark–
Nursing through night the ethereal spark.
Elate he never can be;
He feels that spirit which glad had hailed his
worth,
Sleep in oblivion.–The shark
Glides white through the phosphorus sea.

 

 

Herman Melville

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