Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 16 – The Ship

Chapter 16 of Herman Melville’s classic – Moby Dick. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

The Ship

Pequod, the ship Ishmael has selected
garnished in the bones of the whales she’s killed.
A skeletal tent rises from her deck.

And within, one third the Pequod’s captains,
Peleg. He questions Ishmael’s intentions
and experience, of which he has none.

And then Bildad, a captain and a quaker,
who, though he has sworn no harm to fellow man,
will gladly spill whale blood upon the sea.

The true captain remains ashore, Ahab.
Who will guide the Pequod to whaling ground.
This will be Ishmael and Queequeg’s voyage.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 15 – Chowder

Chapter 15 of Herman Melville’s classic – Moby Dick. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

Chowder

Cod or clam chowder, these were the choices
at the Try Pots, the inn recommended
by Peter Coffin at the Spouter-Inn.

So Ishmael and Queequeg ordered chowder.
First the clam, by merit of questioning
its hardiness. Finding it delicious,

they next tried the cod. Now sated and quite
chowder-headed, they retired to their

room. But before they slept, Queequeg revealed
that his idols had decreed that Ishmael
alone would choose their captain and vessel.

Queequeg would spend the next day in fasting.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 14 – Nantucket

Chapter 14 of Herman Melville’s classic – Moby Dick. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

Nantucket

At last the two arrive in Nantucket.
Nothing but sand and the whalers’ resolve.
No timber nor weeds, everything that built

this island was brought by men that hunted
whales. From the first natives who chased a child
carried away in an eagle’s talons

to the modern whalers, growing bolder,
who have declared an everlasting war
against the whale, monstrous and mountainous.

These are their oceans. They are privateers
who have conquered all seas. To live among
the waves, empire of the unfathomed deep.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 13 – Wheelbarrow

Chapter 13 of the classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville, summarized in verse. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

Wheelbarrow

The morning comes and Ishmael and Queequeg
purchase passage to Nantucket, from where
they will embark on their whale adventure.

Aboard The Moss a bumpkin finds Queequeg’s
appearance unacceptable, Queequeg
tosses him across the deck. The captain

is displeased. That same foolish vagabond
fails in his footing and falls overboard.
It is Queequeg who leaps into the sea,

swims out and down, finds the limp body, pulls
the man to safety. Few doubt that Queequeg
will bring salvation, least of all Ishmael.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 12 – Biographical

Chapter 12 of the classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville, summarized in verse. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

Biographical

His island
uncharted
does not exist
on any map
true places
never do.

Son of a chief
he sought passage
by whale ship
and whale men
to a new world
and Christiandom.

To return
to his home
with the knowledge
and religion
of the west
civilized.

But whalers
and Christians
were no better
the world, wicked
he’d rather
live his life

and die pagan
harpoon in hand.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 11 – Nightgown

Chapter 11 of the classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville, summarized in verse. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

Nightgown

Beneath the sheets of a shared bed, Queequeg
and Ishmael, now bonded in brotherhood,
share in the warmth of the other’s bodies.

With eyes closed a man can experience
who he really is. The darkness light your
inner self, while the light disguises it.

And so Ishmael awakes and takes a light
to Queequeg’s tomahawk pipe. When last night
he opposed the smoke, he now welcomes it

from a friend. Over their shared tobacco,
he encourages Queequeg to tell his
story. And so the savage tale begins.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 10 – A Bosom Friend

Chapter 10 of the classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville, summarized in verse. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

A Bosom Friend

Returning from the sermon, Ishmael finds
Queequeg sitting alone, soul unhidden.
A philosopher in savage trappings.

A
pagan
wise, serene,
comtemplative,
whom companion ship
is all he requires
whose kindness is genuine
not the hollow courtesy of
a christian seeking to serve himself
and win salvation by service
to rote of word, devotion,
not actions in kindness
nor spirit of book.
Thus, the pagan
will make a
truer
friend

And so Ishmael kneels with Queequeg, worships
his ebony idols, to do the will
of god – to do right by his fellow man.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 9 – The Sermon

Chapter 9 of the classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville, summarized in verse. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

The Sermon

And now the captain begins his sermon,
A psalm to all sailors and a warning
to those who would mark their path by moonlight.

Jonah, condemned by god, seeks passage
to the edge of the world, beyond
god’s sight, god’s will, and god’s wrath
but no such edge exists.
Wickedness abides
within. He must
be swallowed
in his
sin.
But who,
by virtue
of repentance,
is again made free.
Not by the defiance
but rather the acceptance
of his punishment, thankfulness
for god’s lesson and for god’s mercy.

The lesson belongs not just to Jonah
but to any crew that would sail with such
a sinner among them. Be vigilant.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 8 – The Pulpit

Chapter 8 of the classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville, summarized in verse. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

The Pulpit

The preacher, Father Mapple, emerges.
A whaleman grown old, now a minister
in oilskins, weighed heavy with water.

The pulpit towers over this congress.
No stairway can reach it and fit within
the church walls. Mapple climbs a ladder.

The ladder swung as if it were at sea,
for men to pull themselves from the waters
or climb from small craft into greater ships.

He climbs the pulpit as a mariner
would, hand-over-hand,but confidently,
and then raises the ladder behind him.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 7 – The Chapel

Chapter 7 of the classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville, summarized in verse. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.

The Chapel

Few are the fishermen who fail to pray
on the eve of their voyage. The chapel,
built for the whalemen, the wives, and widows,

bears marble tributes to their history.
One boy lost overboard, six towed away
by the whale they hunted, Captain Hardy

Killed by a sperm whale. Ishmael finds Queequeg.
They sit solemnly, pondering the mass.
Why, in the resurrection, can the dead

tell no tales, the immortal soul so feared?
“Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs”,
like an oyster gazing through Snell’s window.