by Herman Melville

When ocean-clouds over inland hills
Sweep storming in late autumn brown,
And horror the sodden valley fills,
And the spire falls crashing in the town,
I muse upon my country’s ills—
The tempest bursting from the waste of Time
On the world’s fairest hope linked with man’s foulest crime.
Nature’s dark side is heeded now—
(Ah! optimist-cheer disheartened flown)—
A child may read the moody brow
Of yon black mountain lone.
With shouts the torrents down the gorges go,
And storms are formed behind the storm we feel:
The hemlock shakes in the rafter, the oak in the driving keel.

Poem first published in 1860.

About the Author:

Herman Melville was born in New York City in 1819. He is the author of eleven novels: Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846), Omoo: A narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847), Mardi: And a Voyage Thither (1849), Redburn: His First Voyage (1849), White-Jacket: or, the World in a Man-of-War (1850), Moby-Dick (1851), Pierre: or, The Ambiguities (1852) Isle of Cross, Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (1855), The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade (1857), Billy Budd, Sailor: An Inside Narrative (1924). Melville died in New York City in 1891 and his remains are interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.