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Though Melville’s professional writing career had ended, he remained dedicated to his writing. He spent years on what Milder called “his autumnal masterpiece” Clarel: A Poem and a Pilgrimage, an 18,000-line epic poem inspired by his 1856 trip to the Holy Land. It is among the longest single poems in American literature. The title character is a young American student of divinity who travels to Jerusalem to renew his faith. One of the central characters, Rolfe, is similar to Melville in his younger days, a seeker and adventurer, while the reclusive Vine is loosely based on Hawthorne, who had died twelve years before. Publication of 350 copies was funded with a bequest from his uncle in 1876, but sales failed miserably and the unsold copies were burned when Melville was unable to buy them at cost. Critic Lewis Mumford found an unread copy in the New York Public Library in 1925 “with its pages uncut”.