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."

"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."

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

"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.

No comments: