Monday, 5 September 2011

Moby Oh Moby

I haven't written much about other poetry for a while here because I have been reading Moby Dick, which is rich in its own very idiosyncractic and long-winded poetry. I'm still not finished (like Ahab), and while it is a tremendously slow read, it is very very enjoyable.

If, at times, overwhelming. Like sperm whales themselves.

Favourite bits so far:

a line of rope has "sundry mystifications too tedious to detail"

sailors suffer from " the spell of sleep induced by such a vast sea"

on philosophy:
"Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale should see the world through so small an eye, and hear the thunder through an ear which is smaller than a hare's? But if his eyes were broad as the lens of Herschel's great telescope; and his ear capacious as the porches of cathedrals; would that make him any longer of sight, or shaper of hearing? Not at all. Why then do you try to enlarge your mind? Subtilise it."

aesthetics:
"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."

biology:
"But I cannot completely make out his back parts; and hint what he will about his face, I say again he has no face."

mortality:
"The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul."


And a most astonishing fact about sperm whales, that Melville has yet to mention (but I do have another 70 pages to go): They can dive for an hour and half, during which their heart beats 1 or 2 times a minute.

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