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Selections from Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War

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By: (1819-1891)

Selections from Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War by Herman Melville is a powerful collection of poems that capture the brutality and complexity of the American Civil War. Melville's writing is vivid and evocative, bringing to life the harsh realities faced by soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

One of the most striking aspects of Melville's work is his ability to convey the emotional toll of war on individuals. The poems in this collection explore themes of honor, sacrifice, and loss, painting a stark picture of the human cost of battle. Melville's use of language is masterful, with each word carefully chosen to evoke a raw and unfiltered sense of suffering.

In addition to its emotional depth, Selections from Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War also offers a unique perspective on the Civil War. Melville's poems illuminate lesser-known aspects of the conflict, shedding light on the experiences of African American soldiers, civilians caught in the crossfire, and the aftermath of warfare. Through his work, Melville challenges readers to confront the harsh truths of history and to reconsider their understanding of this pivotal moment in American history.

Overall, Selections from Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War is a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant collection that captures the human experience of war with honesty and compassion. Melville's poems are a testament to the enduring impact of conflict, and a reminder of the importance of empathy and understanding in times of strife.

Book Description:
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)

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