Herman Melville’s final book: “Weeds and Wildings”
Herman Melville’s final book, finished just before he died in 1891, was “Weeds and Wildings, chiefly; With a Rose or Two,” a collection of his poetry and his final short story. For the first time the book is available in an edition published by Melville Press, an imprint of Micro Publishing Media, edited by J. Peter Bergman of the Berkshire County Historical Society. The Historical Society’s headquarters is Melville’s former home, Arrowhead, in Pittsfield, MA. Arrowhead was the place where Melville wrote “Moby-Dick” and three more novels, a group of seventeen shorter pieces and where his major foray into poetry began in 1859.
The poems in this book are principally reminiscences of his time at Arrowhead and his youth in the Dutch family environment in Albany, Troy, Gansevoort, NY and the more British based Melville’s of Pittsfield, MA. He casts his poetic eye back to special Christmas celebrations, to the flowers and the beasts of the country environment he loved. His story, with apologies to his mentor Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle’s Lilac” sings of his longing for a return to Pittsfield and Arrowhead much as the poetry does.
With a cover utilizing a brilliant art work by French artist Claire Illouz that sings of both country and city with the wildflowers Melville sings back to life with his words, the book is a unique and loving expression of his unreasonable devotion to his wife Lizzie of 44 years after a long and uncomfortable marriage. His final gift to her before his death, the illustrations include portraits of both of them and fine reproductions of his work pages and a special analysis by the editor of the work and what it took to create it.
The book is $15.99 and available at Arrowhead (check our hours), through our online shop, or through MicroPublishingMedia.