Dedication to a mountain

by chuckofish

I was reminded recently that Herman Melville dedicated Pierre: or, The Ambiguities to a particular mountain, which I saw every day when I was a student at Williams College. I climbed Mt. Greylock one Saturday with members of the Mountain Club and enjoyed the view which encompasses five states.


It was always in the background of all our shenanigans.

mt greylock

Kite flying in the spring of 1977 with Spud and Emmett

I miss those mountains, and I suppose those big-hearted football players.

Anyway, here is Melville’s most gracious dedication:

To Greylock’s Most Excellent Majesty

In old times authors were proud of the privilege of dedicating their works to Majesty. A right noble custom, which we of Berkshire must revive. For whether we will or no, Majesty is all around us here in Berkshire, sitting as in a grand Congress of Vienna of majestical hill-tops, and eternally challenging homage.

But since the majestic mountain, Greylock–my own more immediate sovereign lord and king–hath now, for innumerable ages, been the one grand dedicatee of the earliest rays of all the Berkshire mornings, I know not how his Imperial Purple Majesty (royal born: Porphyrogenitus) will receive the dedication of my own poor solitary ray.

Nevertheless, forasmuch as I, dwelling with my loyal neighbours, the Maples and the Beeches, in the amphitheatre over which his central majesty presides, have received his most bounteous and unstinted fertilisations, it is but meet, that I here devoutly kneel, and render up my gratitude, whether, thereto, The Most Excellent Purple Majesty of Greylock benignantly incline his hoary crown or no.

Don’t you just love old Herman? I mean really.