Herman Melville was one of the greatest American writers and poets of the American Renaissance period. Best known for his sea-adventure novels, Melville is the author of Moby-Dick.

As a young boy, Melville studied classic literature and began writing poems, essays, and short stories. After finishing his studies, he worked as a teacher and as a clerk to make ends meet, but both jobs were unfulfilling. He signed on as a cabin boy and started to work as a crew member on a merchant ship – and the adventure began!

On his second sea voyage, after arriving at the Marquesas Islands of Polynesia, Melville and one of his crewmates deserted the whaling ship and were captured by local cannibals. Yes, this is a true life adventure, not just a bedtime story. Melville managed to escape the tribe after four months on board another whaling ship.

The same crew that saved him put him in jail after Melville rebelled against his superiors. He made it back home after more than three years at sea.

Clearly, Melville’s adventures shaped much of his future career as a novelist and writer. While most of his writings weren’t a commercial success back then, today, Moby-Dick is considered a work of sheer genius.

Here are 20 beautiful Herman Melville quotes on human existence.

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.

I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.

I try all things, I achieve what I can.

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

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.

A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.

For there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.

A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things. 

Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity.

Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.

Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it, and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic. 

In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers.

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

Truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. 

I have no objection to any person’s religion, be it what it may, so long as that person does not kill or insult any other person, because that other person don’t believe it also. 

Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its jagged edges.

Not one man in five cycles, who is wise, will expect appreciative recognition from his fellows…

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.

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

Wonderfullest things are ever the unmentionable; deep memories yield no epitaphs