Friday, November 14, 2008

Call Me Ishmael

Wonder why I'm illustrating this post about Moby-Dick with one of WD's Civil War reenactment pictures?

Here it goes: Way back on this day in 1851, Moby-Dick was published in the United States, but it didn't go over very well back then, it was a little too tragic for people's tastes, but really, what did you expect when Herman Melville started palling around with that Nathaniel Hawthorne, so anyway, the book was a dud, but Melville kept writing, and he didn't just write novels, he wrote poetry too, and having lived during the Civil War, he wrote a few poems concerning that time in history, one of those poems is about the battle at Shiloh, and although I don't have a picture of WD at Shiloh, I do have one of him at the battle at Chickamauga, not the real one, the fake one, the one where you can ditch the hardtack, hop into a Ford truck and drive 80 miles per hour back to Arkansas eating White Castle hamburgers all the way.

Whew! That was a long sentence. But thankfully not as long as Moby-Dick. Here's Shiloh: A Requiem (April, 1862) by Herman Melville.

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh—
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh—
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there—
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve—
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.

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  1. I am always learning new stuff from you Ali! I get my history from you. My Dad use to do stuff similar to what hubby does and he loved dragging us to battle fields so boring as a kid but now I appreciate history. Happy Friday!

  2. Thank you for that history lesson and the great poem. I love Fridays at the Lazy Dog!

  3. Great history lesson Ali!!! Oh and check out my blog I left you something.

  4. Thanks for the lesson! I have NOT read Moby-Dick and didn't know it was a bomb early on. (I have tried to read it and still consider it a bomb!).

  5. Interesting! Civil War Reenactments are SO fun to watch. I went to one for the first time last summer. It was awesome!!

  6. Wowee! That was quite a history lesson. Very interesting.

  7. please read my blog on four books i have finished, two of them i have mentioned before, one i have read and reread on gnomes..your taste in books are on history and mine our more fanciful

  8. Something new to learn. Thanks !

  9. I am always learning new stuff from you too Ali. Thanks for always posting such fun stuff. :)

  10. I think I'll have my boys memorize this one! Beats their recent boredom with Wordsworth...

    I don't even know if you "do" awards but I gave you one just in case because anyone who can blog about Nascar, poetic forms and hard tack is someone I'm going to keep reading!

  11. Well, hello there Ishmael!
    In college, I was Tashtego in the Moby Dick play. What's that? You've never HEARD of a Moby Dick play??? Oh, well, that would be because there ISN'T ONE!!! We MADE IT UP! And I was Tashtego. A man. Fortunately it only took a sports bra to hold my girls down - not duct tape like the other leading ladies.


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