The House-top

Herman Melville

 
     A Night Piece. (July, 1863.)
No sleep. The sultriness pervades the air
And binds the brain—a dense oppression, such
As tawny tigers feel in matted shades,
Vexing their blood and making apt for ravage.
Beneath the stars the roofy desert spreads
Vacant as Libya. All is hushed near by.
Yet fitfully from far breaks a mixed surf
Of muffled sound, the Atheist roar of riot.
Yonder, where parching Sirius set in drought,
Balefully glares red Arson—there—and there.
The Town is taken by its rats—ship-rats.
And rats of the wharves. All civil charms
And priestly spells which late held hearts in awe—
Fear-bound, subjected to a better sway
Than sway of self; these like a dream dissolve,
And man rebounds whole Šons back in nature.
Hail to the low dull rumble, dull and dead,
And ponderous drag that shakes the wall.
Wise Draco comes, deep in the midnight roll
Of black artillery; he comes, though late;
In code corroborating Calvin's creed
And cynic tyrannies of honest kings;
He comes, nor parlies; and the Town redeemed,
Give thanks devout; nor, being thankful, heeds
The grimy slur on the Republic's faith implied,
Which holds that Man is naturally good,
And—more—is Nature's Roman, never to be scourged.
 

Poems by This Author

America by Herman Melville
Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand
Gettysburg by Herman Melville
O Pride of the days in prime of the months
Shiloh: A Requiem by Herman Melville
Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
Song of the Paddlers [excerpt] by Herman Melville
Dip, dip, in the brine our paddles dip
The Maldive Shark by Herman Melville
About the Shark, phlegmatical one


Further Reading

Poems about America
1492
by Emma Lazarus
A House Divided
by Kyle Dargan
Abraham Lincoln
by Abraham Lincoln
América
by Richard Blanco
America
by Claude McKay
America
by Walt Whitman
America
by Robert Creeley
America
by Herman Melville
America [Try saying wren]
by Joseph Lease
Black Laws
by Roger Reeves
C'est La Guerre
by Danniel Schoonebeek
Gate A-4
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Handshake Histories
by Jeff Hoffman
I am the People, the Mob
by Carl Sandburg
Imagine
by Kamilah Aisha Moon
Last Century
by Wyatt Prunty
Like Any Good American
by Brynn Saito
Passing Through Albuquerque
by John Balaban
Psalm
by Vanessa Place
The Blank of America
by Terese Svoboda