Herman Melville

Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (eds), The Writings of Herman Melville: The Northwestern-Newberry Edition, Vol. 12: Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land

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pg 257. Beyond the Walls

  • Editor’s Note1In street at hand a silence reigns
  • 2Which Nature's hush of loneness feigns.
  • 3Few casements, few, and latticed deep,
  • 4High raised above the head below,
  • 5That none might listen, pry, or peep,
  • 6Or any hint or inkling know
  • 7Of that strange innocence or sin
  • 8Which locked itself so close within.
  • 9The doors, recessed in massy walls,
  • 10And far apart, as dingy were
  • 11As Bastile gates. No shape astir
  • 12Except at whiles a shadow falls
  • 13Athwart the way, and key in hand
  • 14Noiseless applies it, enters so
  • Critical Apparatus15And vanishes. By dry airs fanned,
  • 16The languid hyssop waveth slow,
  • 17Dusty, on stones by ruin rent.
  • 18'Twould seem indeed the accomplishment
  • 19Whereof the greater prophet tells
  • Editor’s Note20In truth's forecasting canticles
  • 21Where voice of bridegroom, groom and bride
  • 22Is hushed.
  • Each silent wall and lane—
  • 23The city's towers in barren pride
  • 24Which still a stifling air detain,
  • 25So irked him, with his burden fraught,
  • Editor’s Note26Timely the Jaffa Gate he sought,
  • 27Thence issued, and at venture went
  • 28Along a vague and houseless road
  • 29Save narrow houses where abode
  • 30The Turk in man's last tenement
  • 31Inearthed. But them he heeded not,
  • 32Such trance his reveries begot:
  • 33      "Christ lived a Jew: and in Judæa
  • 34May linger any breath of Him?
  • 35If nay, yet surely it is here
  • 36One best may learn if all be dim."
  • pg 2637      Sudden it came in random play
  • 38"Here to Emmaus is the way;"
  • Editor’s Note39And Luke's narration straight recurred,
  • 40How the two falterers' hearts were stirred
  • 41Meeting the Arisen (then unknown)
  • 42And listening to his lucid word
  • 43As here in place they traveled on.
  • 44      That scene, in Clarel's temper, bred
  • 45A novel sympathy, which said—
  • 46I too, I too; could I but meet
  • 47Some stranger of a lore replete,
  • 48Who, marking how my looks betray
  • 49The dumb thoughts clogging here my feet,
  • 50Would question me, expound and prove,
  • 51And make my heart to burn with love—
  • 52Emmaus were no dream to-day!
  • 53      He lifts his eyes, and, outlined there,
  • 54Saw, as in answer to the prayer,
  • 55A man who silent came and slow
  • 56Just over the intervening brow
  • 57Of a nigh slope. Nearer he drew
  • 58Revealed against clear skies of blue;
  • 59And—in that Syrian air of charm—
  • 60He seemed, illusion such was given,
  • 61Emerging from the level heaven,
  • 62And vested with its liquid calm.
  • 63      Scarce aged like time's wrinkled sons,
  • 64But touched by chastenings of Eld,
  • 65Which halloweth life's simpler ones;
  • 66In wasted strength he seemed upheld
  • 67Invisibly by faith serene—
  • Editor’s Note68Paul's evidence of things not seen.
  • 69      No staff he carried; but one hand
  • 70A solitary Book retained.
  • 71Meeting the student's, his mild eyes
  • 72Fair greeting gave, in faint surprise.
  • 73But, noting that untranquil face,
  • 74Concern and anxiousness found place
  • 75Beyond the occasion and surmise:
  • pg 2776      "Young friend in Christ, what thoughts molest
  • 77That here ye droop so? Wanderest
  • 78Without a guide where guide should be?
  • 79Receive one, friend: the book—take ye."
  • 80      From man to book in startled way
  • 81The youth his eyes bent. Book how gray
  • 82And weather-stained in woeful plight—
  • 83Much like that scroll left bare to blight,
  • Editor’s Note84Which poet pale, when hope was low,
  • 85Bade one who into Libya went,
  • 86Fling to the wasteful element,
  • 87Yes, leave it there, let wither so.
  • 88      Ere Clarel ventured on reply
  • 89Anew the stranger proffered it,
  • 90And in such mode he might espy
  • 91It was the page of—Holy Writ.
  • 92Then unto him drew Clarel nigher:
  • 93"Thou art?" "The sinner Nehemiah."

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1.7.1    a silence reigns]   On the "Interior of Jerusalem," the 1856–57 journal reads: "Silence & solitude of it" (p. 89; marked by a large crosshatch in red pencil—see the textual note at 89.12–13). The theme of silence dominates lines 1–24, and among other examples we have the "Wild solitudes" of 1.16.26.
Critical Apparatus
1.7.15     fanned,  HM     ~‸
Editor’s Note
1.7.20    truth's forecasting canticles]   The Revelation of St. John the Divine, in the chapter envisioning the fall of Babylon: "And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee …" (Rev. 18.22–23).
Editor’s Note
1.7.26    Jaffa Gate]   The main western gate (see p. 710). Half a mile out the Jaffa Road, Clarel passes the Turkish Cemetery (Map A, p. 707).
Editor’s Note
1.7.39    Luke's narration]   The account (Luke 24.13–35) of Christ's appearance after his death and burial to two disciples on the way to Emmaus, a town midway between Jerusalem and Jaffa.
Editor’s Note
1.7.68    Paul's evidence]   "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11.1).
Editor’s Note
1.7.84    poet pale]   Keats. Melville knew the anecdote from the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon's Life … from His Autobiography and Journals (ed. Tom Taylor [New York: Harper, 1853]; Sealts 262): on his deathbed "Keats made Ritchie promise he would carry his Endymion to the great desert of Sahara and fling it in the midst" (entry for December 28, 1817). The Scottish explorer Joseph Ritchie met Keats through Haydon during his preparations for an expedition to the Sudan in 1819; he died on the return trip.
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