A page from The Life and Works of Herman Melville


Publishing History

Timoleon, a collection of forty-two poems, was privately published by the Caxton Press in May 1891 in an edition of twenty-five copies. There was no contemporary British edition. No contemporary reviews of the book have been located.

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To have known him, to have loved him
After loneness long;
And then to be estranged in life,
And neither in the wrong;
And now for death to set his seal --
Ease me, a little ease, my song!

By wintry hills his hermit-mound
The sheeted snow-drifts drape,
And houseless there the snow-bird flits
Beneath the fir-trees' crape:
Glazed now with ice the cloistral vine
That hid the shyest grape.


"Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him."

Shall hearts that beat no base retreat
In youth's magnanimous years --
Ignoble hold it, if discreet
When interest tames to fears;
Shall spirits that worship light
Perfidious deem its sacred glow,
Recant, and trudge where wordlings go,
Conform and own them right?

Shall Time with creeping influence cold
Unnerve and cow? the heart
Pine for the heartless ones enrolled
With palterers of the mart?
Shall faith abjure her skies,
Or pale probation blench her down
To shrink from Truth so still, so lone,
Mid loud gregarious lies?

Each burning boat in Caesar's rear,
Flames -- No return through me!
So put the torch to ties though dear,
If ties but tempters be.
Nor cringe if come the night:
Walk through the cloud to meet the pall,
Though light forsake thee, never fall
From fealty to light.


Found a family, build a state,
The pledged event is still the same:
Matter in end will never abate
His ancient brutal claim.

Indolence is heaven's ally here,
And energy the child of hell:
The Good Man pouring from his pitcher clear
But brims the poisoned well.

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