by Herman Melville (1819 - 1891)

In the prison pen
Language: English 
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
     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 —
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
     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 meagerness.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2014-07-12
Line count: 20
Word count: 121