Jul 26 2007
“The hull deliberately recovering from the periodic roll to leeward was just regaining an even keel, when the last signal, a preconcerted dumb one, was given. At the same moment it chanced that the vapory fleece hanging low in the East, was shot thro’ with a soft glory as of the fleece of the Lamb of God seen in mystical vision, and simultaneously therewith, watched by the wedged mass of upturned faces, Billy ascended; and, ascending, took the full rose of the dawn.”
Melville is my favorite tragic author (from a personal basis) — Billy Budd — arguably his most accessible work, wasn’t published until well after his death when it was discovered in some papers and brought to the public in the mid-1920s. As a stylist, he could turn a beautiful phrase, and I am especially hit with the force of repetition in emphasizing the tragic execution of the hero with “Billy ascended; and ascending, took the full rose of the dawn.”
Verbal pearls like this put me in awe of great writers.