Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
In the Prison Pen
By Herman Melville (1819–1891)
 
[From Battle Pieces, and Aspects of the War. 1866.]

LISTLESS he eyes the palisades
  And sentries in the glare;
’Tis barren as a pelican-beach,
  But his world is ended there.
 
Nothing to do; and vacant hands        5
  Bring on the idiot-pain;
He tries to think—to recollect,
  But the blur is on his brain.
 
Around him swarm the plaining ghosts
  Like those on Virgil’s shore—        10
A wilderness of faces dim,
  And pale ones gashed and hoar.
 
A smiting sun. No shed, no tree;
  He totters to his lair—
A den that sick hands dug in earth        15
  Ere famine wasted there;
 
Or, dropping in his place, he swoons,
  Walled in by throngs that press,
Till forth from the throngs they bear him dead—
  Dead in his meagreness.

  1864.
        20
 
 
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