Abstract

This essay considers Melville’s attitude towards race and the post-Civil War Reconstruction of the American South through three of his poems from Battle-Pieces: “The Swamp Angel,” “‘Formerly a Slave,’” and “Lee in the Capitol.” The references to race and slavery in these poems, particularly the figure of the “Moorish maid” in “Lee in the Capitol,” considered alongside the reflections in Melville’s prose “Supplement, provide important evidence that his attitude toward Reconstruction and the Civil War was not merely shaped by a desire for reconciliation after a bloody war, as is sometimes asserted, but also by an understanding of the need for justice for those who had been enslaved.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1750-1849
Print ISSN
1525-6995
Pages
pp. 63-78
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-21
Open Access
No
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