The fulcrum of America is the Plains, half sea half land, a high sun as metal and obdurate as the iron horizon, and a man's job to square the circle.
Some men ride on such space, others have to fasten themselves like a tent stake to survive.
As I see it Poe dug in and Melville mounted. They are the alternatives.
In Moby-Dick, when Ishmael has said all he can say about Ahab, he admits that the larger, darker, deeper part of man is obscure. He suggests the same holds true for any man and insists it is necessary to go down to a place far beneath a man's upper earth in order to uncover the unknown part.
There, he says, a man will find that his root of grandeur, his whole awful essence sits in bearded state
an antique buried beneath antiquities and throned
Melville became Christ's victim, and it was death, and lack of love, that let him be it.
Death bothered him. That bare-headed life under the grass, his own, worried him, in Dickinson's words, like a wasp. He looked for solace to the Resurrection. He got nothing in return. For the loss of mortality he got nothing in return.