Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land Kindle



10 thoughts on “Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land

  1. robin friedman robin friedman says:

    Reading Clarel For Melville s BicentennialTo celebrate the 200th anniversary of Melville s birth August 1, 1819 , I decided to read his books that I hadn t read before I read his novel Pierre or the Ambiguities and then turned to the long narrative poem that Melville published in 1876 with financial assistance from a generous relative, Clarel A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land I was moved to read Clarel when I learned that the Library of America will be publishing the poem, togethe Reading Clarel For Melville s BicentennialTo celebrate the 200th anniversary of Melville s birth August 1, 1819 , I decided to read his books that I hadn t read before I read his novel Pierre or the Ambiguities and then turned to the long narrative poem that Melville published in 1876 with financial assistance from a generous relative, Clarel A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land I was moved to read Clarel when I learned that the Library of America will be publishing the poem, together with Melville s other poetry, in a volume to be released this August I didn t want to wait for the LOA volume Many years ago, I purchased Clarel from a used book store in this 1960 volume edited by the American literary and historical scholar, Walter Bezanson 1912 2011 Despite good intentions, the book had long gathered dust on my shelf It came recommended to me as a way to approach the difficulties of Melville s poem, and I was glad to have the book to hand and to turn to at last.Bezanson s book is invaluable to approach a poem which is daunting on every level It begins with a lengthy introduction which summarizes Melville s career and the writing of Clarel Bezanson offers background on the poem, its reception, and its difficult language, and its meter He offers a summary of the action of the poem in each of its four long parts together with discussions of the setting and of the many complex characters I read the Introduction before turning to Clarel and consulted it frequently during my reading Following the text of the poem, this edition includes a maps of the Palestine of Melville s day and of the route followed by the pilgrims in the poem.A lengthy additional section discusses the characters in the poem and the roles each plays Then, Bezanson offers lengthy explanatory notes which discuss many of the difficult references and passages in the poem These materials helped me immeasurably in my journey with Clarel.Clarel had its origins in a journey Melville took to the Holy Land in 1856 1857, At this time, his career as a novelist had failed with the exception of Billy Budd published after his death Melville secured a tedious day job working at the customs house in New York City and worked on his poem at night It is easy to understand the chagrin Melville s wife and family felt at his devoting his time to this markedly difficult and never to be popular poem The poem failed upon publication and failed for many years thereafter even with the strong revival of interest in Melville in the 1920s With its length and difficulty, the poem remains little read but has gathered attention from Melville s admirers and will undoubtedly receive some additional attention through the LOA volume.Melville used his journey to Palestine, the journal he kept of his trip, and his extensive reading as the basis for Clarel The title character is a young American student of theology who comes to Palestine and search of faith and also, as it develops, of love In the course of his stay, Clarel meets many other pilgrims The two primary characters are Rolfe, who seems to be modeled on Melville himself and Vine, who is usually taken for Melville s friend Hawthorne Other characters represent a variety of theological, philosophical, and political positions, from deeply believing Christians to scientific materialists heavily influenced by Darwin.The book is in four large parts each of which is subdivided into many cantos The first part describes Clarel s stay in Jerusalem where he sees many of the historic sites of the city, engages in discussions, and ultimately falls in love with a young American Jewish woman, Ruth When Ruth s father dies, Clarel sets out on a pilgrimage which lasts ten days but seems longer The second part of the book describes the long exacting journey through Palestine through the desert and to the Dead Sea The third part describes a three day stay at a Greek monastery, Mar Saba In the fourth part, the pilgrims return to Bethlehem, and Clarel ultimately travels to Jerusalem where he learns Ruth has died There is a short concluding Epilogue.The book is full of the desolation and ruin of Palestine in the mid 19th Century Readers may find this history set outclearly in other books, but Melville captures a strong sense of place and history There are moments of action in the book as Melville describes the journey of his pilgrims But most of the book is inward and most of it focuses on extensive theological, philosophical, and political discussions among the major protagonists and several minor characters Broadly the discussions center upon the existence of God, the necessity or its lack of religious faith to provide meaning to life, the relationship between faith and science, and finding a form of religion in a world in which traditional creeds seem to have lost their vitality and meaning The book shows how the characters interact and their varied impact on each other and on the young Clarel.The poem is made difficult by its sheer length, by its awkward meter, archaic language, and subject matter The book is full of allusions to the Bible, the classics, to sites in Palestine, to literature, and to political events in Melville s day These considerations and others make for a slow, difficult book which understandably was judged a failure when it appeared In its tone of earnestness and moral seriousness, Clarel has much in common with Victorian and romantic literature.On working through Clarel I found it mixed with many effective passages, both in poetry and content as well as much that is tedious The poetical meter is handledeffectively than I had anticipated, on the whole, and monotony is relieved on several occasions through songs and variations in meter and tempo The poem describes in terms I can understand the religious quest and the various options Melville saw in the religious search The material is difficult and presented in different guises and forms again and again in the poem It is still a moving picture of religious search Is is so often the case with religious search, Clarel s religious journey for faith is intertwined with questions and doubts about his sexuality and sexual responses The poem suggest a profound skepticism in understanding the mystery of life and religion while suggesting the necessity of engaging with these questions in one s life Clarel is not a work to recommend to the casual reader Still, the work was important to Melville and will help the reader with a passion for this author The poem is valuable for itself in showing a depth of engagement with questions of religion, secularism and faith I was glad to have made the effort to struggle with Clarel It is a precious gift to have this work available in the LOA as an example of the depth and difficulty of American literature and of the American experience.Robin Friedman


  2. Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    An epic poem of ideas So hard to follow that you do really feel like you re going on a difficult journey, like the characters But as you keep going the ideas getandinteresting, the people getandengaging, and you want to seeandof the little wonderful and terrible moments that happen along the way.


  3. Illiterate Illiterate says:

    Bleak poetry and thought The heart longs for faith the head rejects The search for faith leads to loss of joy on earth.


  4. Nathan Eilers Nathan Eilers says:

    Oh, Melville, this is quite an arduous poem you ve written here Sure, there are excellent passages about faith, doubt, and the problem of evil, but the poesy isn t much sometimes it s outright bad and the story doesn t exist Basically, Melville invents a bunch of characters who embody different ideas and has them talk to each other A lot.Don t read this unless you re a Melville scholar.


  5. Ben Ben says:

    Europe was in a decade dim Upon the future s trembling rimThe comet hovered His a leagueOf frank debate and close intrigue Plot, proselyte, appeal, denounce Conspirator, pamphleteer, at once,And prophet Wear and tear and jarHe met with coffee and cigar These kept awake the man and moodAnd dream That uncreated GoodHe sought, whose absence is the causeOf creeds and Atheists, mobs and laws.Precocities of heart outranThe immaturities of brain Along with each superior mindThe vain, foolhard, wo Europe was in a decade dim Upon the future s trembling rimThe comet hovered His a leagueOf frank debate and close intrigue Plot, proselyte, appeal, denounce Conspirator, pamphleteer, at once,And prophet Wear and tear and jarHe met with coffee and cigar These kept awake the man and moodAnd dream That uncreated GoodHe sought, whose absence is the causeOf creeds and Atheists, mobs and laws.Precocities of heart outranThe immaturities of brain Along with each superior mindThe vain, foolhard, worthless, blind,With Judases, are nothing loathTo clasp pledged hands and take the oathOf aim, the which, if just, demandsStrong hearts, brows deep, and priestly hands.Experience with her sharper touchStung Mortmain Why, if men prove such,Dote I love theory overmuch Yea, also, whither will advanceThe Revolution sprung in FranceSo many years ago where end That current takes me Whither tend Come, thou who makest such hot hasteTo forge the future weigh the past Such frame he knew And timed eventCogent a further question lent Wouldst meddle with the state Well, mountThy guns how many men dost count Besides, there sthan here belongs Be many questionable wrongs By yetquestionable war,Prophet of peace, thou wouldst thou bar The world s not new, nor new thy plea.Tho even shouldst thou triumph, see,Prose overtakes the victor s songs Victorious right may need redress No failure like a harsh success.Yea, ponder well the historic page Of all who, fired with noble rage,Have warred for right without reprieve,How many spanned the wings immenseOf Satan s muster, or could cheatHis cunning tactics of retreatAnd ambuscade Oh, now dispense The world is portioned out, believe The good have but a patch at best,The wise their corner for the rest Malice divides with ignorance.And what is stable find one boonThat is not lackey to the moonOf fate The flood ebbs out the ebbFloods back the incessant shuttle shiftsAnd flies, and wears and tears the web.Turn, turn thee to the proof that sifts What if the kings in Forty eightFled like the gods even as the godsShall do, return they made and sateAnd fortified their strong abodes And, to confirm them there in state,Contrived new slogans, apt to please Pan and the tribal unities.Behind all this still works some powerUnknowable, thou lt yet adore That steers the world, not man States drive The crazy rafts with billows strive Go, go absolve thee Join that bandThat wash them with the desert sandFor lack of water In the dustOf wisdom sit thee down, and rust


  6. Matthias Overos Matthias Overos says:

    An incredible read It makes complete sense that Melville s epic poem about religion, science, faith, doubt, sexuality, and death, isn t widely read It lacks the humor and charm of Moby Dick, the strangeness and sublime nature of Pierre or Bartleby, and lacks any redemptive narrative like Billy Budd But, for all its pessimism, difficulty, and terse eight syllable line structure, there is a marvel of a mind at work here Only Melville, standing out against the traditions and accepted forms and An incredible read It makes complete sense that Melville s epic poem about religion, science, faith, doubt, sexuality, and death, isn t widely read It lacks the humor and charm of Moby Dick, the strangeness and sublime nature of Pierre or Bartleby, and lacks any redemptive narrative like Billy Budd But, for all its pessimism, difficulty, and terse eight syllable line structure, there is a marvel of a mind at work here Only Melville, standing out against the traditions and accepted forms and content of writing during the 19th century, could have produced such an obsessive and striking work In terms of artistic merit and its readership, this poem is profoundly neglected I hope time will be kind to this poem, andpeople will come to see it in the ranks of Paradise Lost or The Divine Comedy


  7. Eric Marcy Eric Marcy says:

    Some books are absolute beasts to get through, but incredibly worth it once the journey is over Clarel is wonderful because the intense spiritual wrestling it prompts continues long after the powerful final lines echo away.Clarel is a painfully unwieldy long form epic poem, the longest ever written by an American, if I m not mistaken 18,000 lines and as its motley cast of characters wander over and across the holy land, and the conflicts between religion s and science at the passing of the Some books are absolute beasts to get through, but incredibly worth it once the journey is over Clarel is wonderful because the intense spiritual wrestling it prompts continues long after the powerful final lines echo away.Clarel is a painfully unwieldy long form epic poem, the longest ever written by an American, if I m not mistaken 18,000 lines and as its motley cast of characters wander over and across the holy land, and the conflicts between religion s and science at the passing of the world from Christendom and Kings to Revolution, democracy, and Darwin, the reader will find themselves pulled in a multitude of different directions, from intense faith to intense doubt and everywhere in between It is both intensely cerebral and intensely visceral, enacting the constant journeying of human doubt in both belief and skepticism in the literal wandering of the pilgrims The cast of characters is varied and defies standard tropes my favorite thread is the friendship rooted in argument that forms between the Protestant American skeptic Rolfe and the Lutheran Derwent.Melville s poetry is difficult to wrestle with, forcing the reader to engage in the same retracing in the act of reading that the characters are doing both physically and spiritually, but the insights and,importantly, the necessary enacting of intellectual journeying the text requires of its reader makes it an immensely rewarding read, up there with Moby Dick and Billy Budd as the famed American author s greatest and most ambitious of texts


  8. Andrew Andrew says:

    After three years of intermittent reading, I ve finally finished the complete poetry and prose of Mr Herman Melville Forget anything you ve heard about Mardi, Moby Dick, Pierre, or Confidence Man being impenetrable and unreadable The only truly unreadable one is this grotesque, never ending bog of misery Even the two 5 star reviews currently on this page concede that Clarel is tedious and painfully unwieldy Out of almost 500 pages, there are about 10 pages worth of actual brilliancy By After three years of intermittent reading, I ve finally finished the complete poetry and prose of Mr Herman Melville Forget anything you ve heard about Mardi, Moby Dick, Pierre, or Confidence Man being impenetrable and unreadable The only truly unreadable one is this grotesque, never ending bog of misery Even the two 5 star reviews currently on this page concede that Clarel is tedious and painfully unwieldy Out of almost 500 pages, there are about 10 pages worth of actual brilliancy By far the worst ratio in the entire Melville canon The title character spends the whole poem questioning his Christian faith, and in the end, after several other characters have died, he s right back where he started, not only emotionally, but even literally What a waste.Nathaniel Hawthorne once famously wrote that Melville can neither believe, nor be comfortable in his unbelief In Clarel, Melville took an excruciating 18,000 lines to say what Hawthorne managed to pithily summarize in only nine words excluding the posthumously published poetry Maybe some night when I m really bored


  9. Paola Paola says:

    INDICEPrefazioneCLARELI JERUSALEM GERUSALEMMEI The Hostel I L 0stello II Abdon II Abdon XXV Huts XXV Tuguri XXXII Of Rama XXXII Rama XXXIV They Tarry XXXIV Indugiano XXXv11 A Sketch XXXVII BozzettoII THE WILDERNESS LA DESOLAZIONEXVI Night in Jericho XVI Notte a Gerico XVIII The Syrian Monk XVIII Il monaco siriano XXXV Prelusive XXXV Preludendo XXXVI Sodom XXXVI Sodoma XXXVIII The Fog XXXVIII La nebbiaIV BETHLEHEM BETLEMMEX A Monument X Un monumento XX Derwent and Unga INDICEPrefazioneCLARELI JERUSALEM GERUSALEMMEI The Hostel I L 0stello II Abdon II Abdon XXV Huts XXV Tuguri XXXII Of Rama XXXII Rama XXXIV They Tarry XXXIV Indugiano XXXv11 A Sketch XXXVII BozzettoII THE WILDERNESS LA DESOLAZIONEXVI Night in Jericho XVI Notte a Gerico XVIII The Syrian Monk XVIII Il monaco siriano XXXV Prelusive XXXV Preludendo XXXVI Sodom XXXVI Sodoma XXXVIII The Fog XXXVIII La nebbiaIV BETHLEHEM BETLEMMEX A Monument X Un monumento XX Derwent and Ungar XX Derwent e Ungar XXI Ungar and Rolfe XXI Ungar e Rolfe


  10. Adam Gardner Adam Gardner says:

    Probably not worth the 500 plus pages of tetrameter but bold and intellectually severe at times.


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Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land [PDF] ✓ Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land Author Herman Melville – Buyprobolan50.co.uk Melville s long poem Clarel A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land was the last full length book he published Until the mid twentieth century even the most partisan of Melville s advocates hesitated Melville s long poem Clarel A Poem and eBook ✓ Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Landwas the last full length book he published Until the mid twentieth century even the most partisan of Melville s advocates hesitated to endure a four part poem ofcantos and almost , lines about a naive American named Clarel, on pilgrimage through the Palestinian ruins with a provocative cluster of companions But modern critics have Clarel: A ePUB ´ found Clarel a much better poem than was ever realized Robert Penn Warren called it a precursor of The Waste Land It abounds with revelations of Melville s inner life Most strikingly, it is argued that the character Vine is a portrait of Melville s friend Nathaniel Hawthorne Clarel is one of the most complex theological explorations of faith and doubt in all of American literature, and this A Poem and eBook ↠ edition brings Melville s poem to new life.