Hart Crane: “At Melville’s Tomb”

AT MELVILLE’S TOMB

Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men’s bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.

And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death’s bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.

Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.

Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides . . . High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.

Hart Crane (b. 21 July 1899)

Photo credit: Herman Melville’s Grave by syrup-tendons

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~ by matt on 21 July 2008.

3 Responses to “Hart Crane: “At Melville’s Tomb””

  1. Oh, Thanks! Really interesting. keep working!

  2. Nice photo–when i went, (in my youth) i was at first disappointed that the so called ‘TOMB’ was merely a grave.
    However, i did take a photo. & it is a very nice grave stone.

    In your photo, there are many stones placed on the top of the headstone. [& a few pencils]. The stones are a Hebraic practice–that is interesting.

    It is almost fall–& i highly recommend the journey to woodlawn cemetary to anyone in NYC. There is a subway that goes right there & they have a guide map to the famous graves.

  3. He wrote Billy Budd a block away from where I live. He had a day job. I love that.

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