2 - Misgivings
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 crimeMelville’s “foulest crime” echoes “indignant sentiments” by popular hymnist and poet William Cowper, identifying slavery “As human nature’s broadest, foulest blot.” Cowper’s sentiments were anthologized in Lindsay Murray’s English Reader, one of Melville’s school books. In Mardi (1849), Melville calls slavery “a sin it is, no less; —a blot, foul as the crater-pool of hell” (534). See John Bryant, Herman Melville: A Half Known Life 1.105-106..
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.