The Best Herman Melville quotes

Herman Melville quotes thumbnail

August 1819, Herman Melville was born. His father was a prosperous businessman and his mother had died during childbirth. This left him with an absent father figure and he spent much of his childhood feeling lonely.
He became obsessed with reading books from the library at Harvard University while still in high school. He then went on to study classics at college before dropping out due to financial reasons.
In 1850, he published ‘Omoo’ which is considered one of the first novels written by an American author that portrayed Polynesian life in detail. The book made it onto bestseller list for four months straight. Melville’s next two years were filled with depression as well as heavy drinking due

Here are the best words from Herman Melville.

We are glad to present you the best Nature, Soul, Love, Time, Poverty, Life, Heart, Truth quotes from Herman Melville, and much more.


About Herman Melville

birth of the author

August 1, 1819

death of the author

September 28, 1891

occupation of the author

Short Story Writer, Teacher, Sailor, Lecturer, Poet, Customs Inspector And More.

genre of the author

Travelogue, Captivity Narrative, Nautical Fiction, Gothic Romanticism, Allegory, Tall Tale

movement of the author

Literary Movement:


All truth is profound. — Herman Melville

The terrors of truth and dart of death To faith alike are vain. — Herman Melville

Truth is in things, and not in words. — Herman Melville

You must have plenty of sea–room to tell the truth in. — Herman Melville

all truth is profound Herman Melville quote

Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its jagged edges. — Herman Melville

It is not for man to follow the trail of truth too far, since by so doing he entirely loses the directing compass of his mind. — Herman Melville

In truth, a mature man who uses hair oil, unless medicinally, that man has probably got a quoggy spot in him somewhere. — Herman Melville

Mystery is in the morning, and mystery in the night, and the beauty of mystery is everywhere; but still the plain truth remains, that mouth and purse must be filled. — Herman Melville

What plays the mischief with the truth is that men will insist upon the universal application of a temporary feeling or opinion. — Herman Melville

the terrors of truth and dart of death to faith alike are vain Herman Melville quote


The easiest way of life is the best. — Herman Melville

There never was a great man yet who spent all his life inland. — Herman Melville

Many sensible things banished from high life find an asylum among the mob. — Herman Melville

We die of too much life. — Herman Melville

In their precise tracings–out and subtle causations, the strongest and fieriest emotions of life defy all analytical insight. — Herman Melville

the easiest way of life is the best Herman Melville quote

I am a man who, from his youth upwards, has been filled with a profound conviction that the easiest way of life is the best. — Herman Melville

The sweetest joys of life grow in the very jaws of its perils. — Herman Melville

There is a savor of life and immortality in substantial fare. Like balloons, we are nothing till filled. — Herman Melville

What was Herman Melville’s family like?

Herman Melville’s family was descended from Scottish and Dutch settlers of New York and had taken leading roles in the American Revolution and in the early affairs of the United States.

One grandfather was a member of the Boston Tea Party, and the other was known for defending Fort Stanwix, New York, against the British. .

None but a good man is really a living man, and the more good any man does, the more he really lives. All the rest is death, or belongs to it. — Herman Melville

The most mighty of nature’s laws is this, that out of Death she brings Life. — Herman Melville

there never was a great man yet who spent all his life inland Herman Melville quote

There is no life in thee, now, except that rocking life imparted by a gently rolling ship; by her, borrowed from the sea; by the sea, from the inscrutable tides of God. — Herman Melville

Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like death. — Herman Melville

The sailor is frankness, the landsman is finesse. Life is not a game with the sailor, demanding the long head — Herman Melville

There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes his whole universe for a vast practical joke. — Herman Melville

O Death, the Consecrator! Nothing so sanctifies a name As to be written––Dead. Nothing so wins a life from blame, So covers it from wrath and shame, As doth the burial–bed. — Herman Melville

many sensible things banished from high life find an asylum among the mob Herman Melville quote

It is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realise the silent, subtle, ever–present perils of life. — Herman Melville

We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results. — Herman Melville

A man can be honest in any sort of skin. — Herman Melville


If not against us, nature is not for us. — Herman Melville

Nature is nobody’s ally. — Herman Melville

if not against us nature is not for us Herman Melville quote

Is there some principal of nature which states that we never know the quality of what we have until it is gone? — Herman Melville

While nature thus very early and very abundantly feeds us, she is very late in tutoring us as to the proper methodization of our diet. — Herman Melville

Nature has not implanted any power in man that was not meant to be exercised at times, though too often our powers have been abused. — Herman Melville

Praise when merited is not a boon: yet to a generous nature, is it pleasant to utter it. — Herman Melville

So long as a man–of–war exists, it must ever remain a picture of much that is tyrannical and repelling in human nature. — Herman Melville

nature is nobody s ally Herman Melville quote

Poor fish of Rodondo! in your victimized confidence, you are of the number of those who inconsiderately trust, while they do not understand, human nature. — Herman Melville

In armies, navies, cities, or families, in nature herself, nothing more relaxes good order than misery. — Herman Melville

The grand points in human nature are the same to–day they were a thousand years ago. The only variability in them is in expression, not in feature. — Herman Melville


The eyes are the gateway to the soul. — Herman Melville

You cannot hide the soul. — Herman Melville

the eyes are the gateway to the soul Herman Melville quote

Our souls belong to our bodies, not our bodies to our souls. — Herman Melville

We may have civilized bodies and yet barbarous souls. — Herman Melville

Prayer draws us near to our own souls. — Herman Melville

There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath… — Herman Melville

The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. — Herman Melville

you cannot hide the soul Herman Melville quote

Much of a man’s character will be found betokened in his backbone. I would rather feel your spine than your skull, whoever you are. A thin joist of a spine never yet upheld a full and noble soul. — Herman Melville

O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies; not the smallest atom stirs or lives on matter, but has its cunning duplicate in mind. — Herman Melville

Hope is the struggle of the soul, breaking loose from what is perishable, and attesting her eternity. — Herman Melville

Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it. — Herman Melville

For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life. — Herman Melville

our souls belong to our bodies not our bodies to our souls Herman Melville quote

Appalling is the soul of a man! Better might one be pushed off into the material spaces beyond the uttermost orbit of our sun, than once feel himself fairly afloat in himself. — Herman Melville

An utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward. — Herman Melville

What is Herman Melville famous for?

Herman Melville was briefly famous in his lifetime as the writer of adventure novels such as Typee and Omoo.

Beginning in the early 20th century, Melville’s works, including Moby Dick, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” and Billy Budd, rose in critical esteem, and he was eventually considered to be one of the great American writers


What are the comprehensible terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of God! — Herman Melville


Immortality is but ubiquity in time. — Herman Melville

Youth is the time when hearts are large. — Herman Melville

immortality is but ubiquity in time Herman Melville quote

Great towers take time to construct. — Herman Melville

Redundant Thematics

In Herman Melville Statements


Time is made up of various ages; and each thinks its own a novelty. — Herman Melville

This divineness had that in it which, though commanding worship, at the same time enforced a certain nameless terror. — Herman Melville

Our institutions have a potent digestion, and may in time convert and assimilate to good all elements thrown in, however originally alien. — Herman Melville

We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people–the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world. — Herman Melville

youth is the time when hearts are large Herman Melville quote

Are not half our lives spent in reproaches for foregone actions, of the true nature and consequences of which we were wholly ignorant at the time? — Herman Melville

Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee, as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. — Herman Melville

In time of peril, like the needle to the loadstone, obedience, irrespective of rank, generally flies to him who is best fitted to command. — Herman Melville

Youth is the time when hearts are large, And stirring wars Appeal to the spirit which appeals in turn To the blade it draws. — Herman Melville

And yet self–knowledge is thought by some not so easy. Who knows, my dear sir, but for a time you may have taken yourself for somebody else? Stranger things have happened. — Herman Melville

great towers take time to construct Herman Melville quote

Until we understand that our grief outweighs a thousand joys, we will never understand what Christianity is all about. — Herman Melville

One of the coolest and wisest hours a man has, is just after he awakes in the morning. — Herman Melville


When a companion’s heart of itself overflows, the best one can do is to do nothing. — Herman Melville

To the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. — Herman Melville

What were Herman Melville’s jobs?

As a young man, Herman Melville worked as a schoolteacher. He then worked on the sea, first as a cabin boy and later as a harpooner on a whaling ship.
For a time Melville made a living by writ ing popular novels, but he spent his last decades in obscurity working as a customs inspector.

In our own hearts, we mold the whole world’s hereafters; and in our own hearts we fashion our own gods. — Herman Melville

when a companion s heart of itself overflows the best one can do is to do nothing Herman Melville quote

Truth is ever incoherent, and when the big hearts strike together, the concussion is a little stunning. — Herman Melville

Nothing can lift the heart of man like manhood in a fellow man. — Herman Melville

Towards thee I roll, thou all–destroying but unconquering whale… from hell’s heart I stab at thee. — Herman Melville

He who is ready to despair in solitary peril, plucks up a heart in the presence of another. In a plurality of comrades is much countenance and consolation. — Herman Melville

How feeble is all language to describe the horrors we inflict upon these wretches, whom we mason up in the cells of our prisons, and condemn to perpetual solitude in the very heart of our population. — Herman Melville

nothing can lift the heart of man like manhood in a fellow man Herman Melville quote

The American, who up to the present day, has evinced, in Literature, the largest brain with the largest heart, that man is Nathaniel Hawthorne. — Herman Melville

The only ugliness is that of the heart, seen through the face. And though beauty be obvious, the only loveliness is invisible. — Herman Melville

Thinking is, or ought to be, a coolness and a calmness; and our poor hearts throb, and our poor brains beat too much for that. — Herman Melville

Thou saw’st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. — Herman Melville

Courage is the most common and vulgar of the virtues. — Herman Melville

Madman! Look through my eyes if thou hast none of thine own. — Herman Melville

Let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God. — Herman Melville


The poor man wants many things; the covetous man, all. — Herman Melville

Poor people make a very poor business of it when they try to seem rich. — Herman Melville

Are there no Moravians in the Moon, that not a missionary has yet visited this poor pagan planet of ours, to civilise civilisation and christianise Christendom? — Herman Melville

the poor man wants many things the covetous man all Herman Melville quote

Of all the preposterous assumptions Of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most Of the criticisms made on the habits Of the poor by the well–housed, well–warmed, and well–fed. — Herman Melville

If you are poor, avoid wine as a costly luxury; if you are rich, shun it as a fatal indulgence. Stick to plain water. — Herman Melville

Some dying men are the most tyrannical; and certainly, since they will shortly trouble us so little for evermore, the poor fellows ought to be indulged. — Herman Melville


See how elastic our prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them. — Herman Melville

Friendship at first sight, like love at first sight, is said to be the only truth. — Herman Melville

see how elastic our prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them Herman Melville quote

The march of conquest through wild provinces, may be the march of Mind; but not the march of Love. — Herman Melville

What is an atheist, but one who does not, or will not, see in the universe a ruling principle of love; and what a misanthrope, but one who does not, or will not, see in man a ruling principle of kindness? — Herman Melville

Contempt is as frequently produced at first sight as love. — Herman Melville

People seem to have a great love for names. For to know a great many names seems to look like knowing a good many things. — Herman Melville

I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas. — Herman Melville

friendship at first sight like love at first sight is said to be the only truth Herman Melville quote

And the visible world seems formed in love, the invisible spheres were formed in fright. — Herman Melville

Let us only hate hatred; and once give love a play, we will fall in love with a unicorn. — Herman Melville

I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. — Herman Melville

As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. — Herman Melville

In metropolitan cases, the love of the most single–eyed lover, almost invariably, is nothing more than the ultimate settling of innumerable wandering glances upon some one specific object. — Herman Melville

contempt is as frequently produced at first sight as love Herman Melville quote

Love is both Creator’s and Saviour’s gospel to mankind; a volume bound in rose–leaves, clasped with violets, and by the beaks of humming–birds printed with peach–juice on the leaves of lilies. — Herman Melville

I cherish the greatest respect towards everybody’s religious obligations, no matter how comical. — Herman Melville


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