Melville Meets Hawthorne


It is attractive to speculate that when, shortly after Hawthorne’s death, Melville wrote the poem believed to refer to his friend, his thoughts went back to the silent passage by the rock cairn on Monument Mountain a lifetime earlier. Summer had now turned to winter, the thundershower and sun to drifting snow, the mood of expectation for what would be to regret for what had not been and now could never be:

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! But 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.