He set up a little piece of poetry, which he made, himself, out of his own head -- three verses -- kind of sweet and saddish
-- the name of it was, "Yes, crush, cold world, this breaking heart" -- and he left that all set up and ready to print in the paper, and didn't charge nothing for it.
If Melville is working with the power and efficacy of the spirit, he may wish for his reader to recognize Merrymusk's "base coat" as a metaphor for his physical body; his "coat" is only that which clothes his "brave spirit." Even as the narrator first meets Merrymusk, he notes the wood-sawyer's "latently joyous eye" in his "long saddish
face" and explains that this observation offers "the strangest contrast" (56).