Wednesday, August 24, 2011

when land is like sea...

the wind rises, screaming faintly, intensely against the north side, and the old house creaks.


"the hemlock shakes in the rafter, the oak in the driving keel."

and in a letter, he (melville)

"i have a sort of sea-feeling, here in the country, now that the ground is covered with snow. i look out of my window in the morning while i rise as i would out of a port-hole of a ship in the atlantic. my room seems a ship's cabin; & at nights when i wake up & hear the wind shrieking, i almost fancy there is too much sail in the house, & i had better go on the roof and rig the chimney."

and again, at another season,

"in summer too, canute-like: sitting here, one is reminded of the sea. for not only do ground-swells roll the slanting grain, and little wavelets of the grass ripple over upon the low piazza, as their beach, and the blown down of dandelions is wafted like the spray, and the purple of the mountains is just the purple of the billows, and a still august noon broods upon the deep meadows, as a calm upon the line; but the vastness and the lonesomeness are so oceanic, and the silence and the sameness, too, that the first peep of a strange house, rising beyond the trees, is for all the world like spying, on the barbary coast, an unknown sail."

paul metcalf, quoting herman melville (his great grandfather), in genoa, 1965


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