Selections from Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War


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Published in 1866, Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War is a collection of poems about the Civil War by Herman Melville. Many of the poems are inspired by second- and third-hand accounts from print news sources (especially the Rebellion Record) and from family and friends. A handful of trips Melville took before, during, and after the war provide additional angles of vision into the battles, the personalities, and the moods of war. In an opening note, Melville describes his project not so much as a systematic chronicle (though many of the individual poems refer to specific events) but as a kind of memory piece of national experience. The “aspects” to which he refers in the title are as diverse as “the moods of involuntary meditation—moods variable, and at times widely at variance.” Much of the verse is stylistically conventional (more so than modern readers perhaps expect from the author of Moby-Dick), but the shifting subjectivities and unresolved traumas that unfold in the collection merit repeated contemplation. Melville’s Battle-Pieces do not offer a neatly versified narrative of the Civil War but rather kaleidescopic glimpses of shifting emotions and ambivalent reflections of post-war America.(Professor Meredith Neuman) (2 hr 24 min)

Chapters

01 - The Portent (1859) 0:58 Read by Clark University
02 - Misgivings 1:14 Read by Clark University
03 - The Conflict of Convictions 4:40 Read by Clark University
04 - Apathy and Enthusiasm 2:27 Read by Clark University
05 - The March into Virginia 1:59 Read by Clark University
06 - Lyon 2:56 Read by Clark University
07 - Ball's Bluff 1:21 Read by Clark University
08 - Dupont's Round Fight 0:53 Read by Clark University
09 - The Stone Fleet 2:16 Read by Clark University
10 - Donelson 19:01 Read by Clark University
11 - The Cumberland 2:20 Read by Clark University
12 - In the Turret 2:34 Read by Clark University
13 - The Temeraire 2:45 Read by Clark University
14 - The Utilitarian View of the Monitor's Fight 2:04 Read by Clark University
15 - Shiloh 1:32 Read by Clark University
16 - The Battle for the Mississippi 2:42 Read by Clark University
17 - Malvern Hill 1:53 Read by Clark University
18 - The Victor of Antietam 2:55 Read by Clark University
19 - Battle of Stone River 2:43 Read by Clark University
20 - Running the Batteries 4:20 Read by Clark University
21 - Stonewall Jackson 1:11 Read by Clark University
22 - Stonewall Jackson (ascribed to a Virginian) 2:51 Read by Clark University
23 - Gettysburg 1:54 Read by Clark University
24 - The House-top 2:42 Read by Clark University
25 - Look-out Mountain 1:15 Read by Clark University
26 - Chattanooga 3:40 Read by Clark University
27 - The Armies of the Wilderness 9:33 Read by Clark University
28 - On the Photograph of a Corps Commander 1:25 Read by Clark University
29 - The Swamp Angel 2:36 Read by Clark University
30 - The Battle for the Bay 6:58 Read by Clark University
31 - Sheridan at Cedar Creek 2:17 Read by Clark University
32 - In the Prison Pen 1:23 Read by Clark University
33 - The College Colonel 1:44 Read by Clark University
34 - The Eagle of the Blue 1:24 Read by Clark University
35 - A Dirge for McPherson 1:35 Read by Clark University
36 - At the Cannon's Mouth 2:22 Read by Clark University
37 - The March to the Sea 3:48 Read by Clark University
38 - The Frenzy in the Wake 1:41 Read by Clark University
39 - The Fall of Richmond 1:20 Read by Clark University
40 - The Surrender at Appomattox 1:11 Read by Clark University
41 - A Canticle 2:59 Read by Clark University
42 - The Martyr 1:36 Read by Clark University
43 - 'The Coming Storm' 1:01 Read by Clark University
44 - Rebel Color-bearers at Shiloh 2:28 Read by Clark University
45 - The Muster 1:32 Read by Clark University
46 - Aurora Borealis 1:23 Read by Clark University
47 - The released Rebel Prisoner 2:44 Read by Clark University
48 - A Grave near Petersburg, Virginia 1:12 Read by Clark University
49 - 'Formerly a Slave' 1:12 Read by Clark University
50 - The Apparition 1:16 Read by Clark University
51 - Magnanimity Baffled 1:11 Read by Clark University
52 - On the Slain Collegians 2:44 Read by Clark University
53 - America 2:42 Read by Clark University
54 - An Epitaph 0:58 Read by Clark University
55 - The Mound by the Lake 1:04 Read by Clark University
56 - Commemorative of a Naval Victory 1:57 Read by Clark University