As a Flower Succeeds to Foliage

Rockwell Kent, "Untitled (Open Book)"

“…as a flower succeeds to foliage.”*

(Melville “Lord, when shall we be done changing?” Hawthorne)

Meeting Melville
I liked him so much I
made him an
bringing out the glory of his subject
(he surrounds himself with)
true Promethean fire
is in him.

Who can he be
his name
altogether hidden

in depths that compel
a man to swim for
(his) life.

It is good to have beguiled
(to have) bewitched such a man

from Arrowhead
I have only to glance
(my eye aside)
at Graylock
to attain a fine
snow-covered prospect
(yet within)
how snug and comfortable
he makes himself and his friends
(as at home in him with him)

(“We want a kitchen-clock.
There are wooden ones…
excellent time-keepers. If
such are to be found in _________,
I wish you would buy us one.”)

Written beauty
pardonable in being
unintentional. The greatest
merit of style
, of course,
to make

into thought.
I wish
…New York
and I…
of making

One gets (new)
tastes in travelling,
cigars on the (Concord),
your chibouque
the Nile.

“What a book Melville has written!”


*George William Curtis (q. in Milder, Exiled Royalties)


Quarried (and extrapolated for present purposes) out of Volume XVI of The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Letters, 1843-1853. From the following particular letters which mention Melville I have drafted the above. Hawthorne’s letters to Melville “do not survive” (Milder).

Hawthorne letter to Horatio Bridge (August 7, 1850)
Hawthorne letter to Bridge (August 18, 1850)
Sophia Hawthorne to Duyckinck (August 29, 1850)
Hawthorne to Duyckinck (August 29, 1850)
Hawthorne to Duyckinck (March 14, 1851)
Hawthorne to Melville (March 27, 1851)
Hawthorne to Duyckinck (April 27, 1851)
Hawthorne to G. W. Curtis (April 29, 1851)
Hawthorne to Duyckinck (December 1, 1851)


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