Thursday, July 09, 2009

167 years from this day!

Yes, dear reader, as Herman Melville lived, 167 years from this date he jumped ship and began an exotic adventure that jump started one of America’s great and tragic literary careers. There’s nothing particularly significant about 167, unless you’re predisposed to celebrate prime numbers. I just ran across the date the other day and it stuck to me since I've been reading Hershel Parker’s Herman Melville, A Biography: Volume 2, 1851-1891, an account so exhaustive it has kept my lips moving for several months – and prodded me into a renewed interest in poetry. I’ve spent so much time reading about Mr. Melville and, in the interim, his own work, and in so doing become so attached to him that I’m sure I’ll get emotional when he passes, especially knowing that he departed the world not knowing that his work would ever be celebrated.

But his first two books, Typee: A Peep At Polynesian Life and Omoo: A Narrative of the South Seas, were very popular in their day, so today’s anniversary is a joyous occasion, marking the time when a new mode of travel adventure was created and made Mr. Melville one of the first sex symbols of America with expertly crafted narratives of jumping ship, bathing with young Fayaway, partaking of calabashes of poee-poee, stirring up mutinies, combing the beaches of Tahiti, bowling in the Sandwich Islands before such alleys were known in the States, and serving aboard a United States Man-of-War.

So celebrate: prepare a vessel of bo-a-sho, crack open a young coconut and enjoy a chaw of arva root. Let Herman Melville know you care.

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