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Melville, Herman. "John Marr and Other Sailors".


The speaker addresses the sailors whose fellow he used to be a long time ago, but the sailors remain silent. He recalls the times when they were "taking things as they fated merely". The memories are still fresh to him. The faces of the sailors appear before his eyes and enfold him in a dream. He recalls the close fellowship on the board and observes that it is not less important to him now.

The dear faces of his friends float around him. They are barbarians with tattooing and ear-rings, rough, of simple nature, but they serve the world. He recalls the habits of the life on a ship. There is a hint on some military activity (summoning trumps and booming guns). But it does not break the spell which charms their sleep.

The speaker wishes to see and hear their chorus once again.



The first person speaker recalls his dead fellow sailors, wishing to turn back time to serve with them again. It is likely that he speaker himself is close to death now. He might be on his deathbed, recalling and summarizing his life.

It is a poem of a sailor paying tribute to the sailor life.


  • Author

    Melville, Herman. (1819 - 1891).
  • Full Title

    "John Marr and Other Sailors".
  • First Published

    In: John Marr and Other Sailors. NY: De Vinne Press, 1888.
  • Form


Works Cited

Melville, Herman. "John Marr and Other Sailors". (1888). In: John Marr and Other Sailors, with Some Sea-pieces. Kent: Kent State University Press, 2006.


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