Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 6 – The Street

Chapter 6 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 Street

Walking the streets of New Bedford, Ishmael
stumbles among the vast sea of seamen,
harpooners traveling across the world

to hunt the giant, legend of the deep.
And joined in this hunt are men of the wood,
hardened from felling trees. And the bumpkins,

unsuited to the waves, their trip will be short.
Many die at sea, some are killed by it,
still fewer are made rich by the waters.

Upon this gold their town was built, oil.
light of New Bedford and heart of whaling.
What good is gold that burns and seeps away.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 5 – Breakfast

Chapter 5 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.

Breakfast

In good spirits Ishmael seeks his breakfast.
The bar room filled with whalers, tired from
their night ashore, cheerful and bountiful.

Shore-leave echoes in the whalers faces.
Each man bore the mark of their miseries.
The youth, burned red, smelling of wet lashings,

could be no more than three days from the sea.
While older men are bleached by weeks away.
But Queequeg’s face was a map of the world,

Mountains lined his brow, parallel ridges
latitudes of life. He sat down, ate, then
lit his tomahawk pipe, and smoked, calmly.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 4 – The Counterpain

Chapter 4 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 Counterpain

He awoke to find the great harpooner’s
arm draped over him. The patchwork tattoos
became his comfort. Not wanting to rouse

the sleeping Queequeq, Ishmael remained still.
As a child, his mother would punish him
by forcing him to bed while still daylight.

With no such embargo, he nudged the man
awake. The cannibal rose and began
to dress, as if unaccustomed to clothes

and unused to strange customs, manners which
seem sensible to us. He soaps his face,
and smooths his beard with a harpoon’s steel edge.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 3 – The Spouter-Inn

Chapter 3 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 Spouter-Inn

The tavern heaves as if it were a sloop
battered by too many waves, too much drink,
as three years afloat celebrates the shore.

But revelry is for those coming in,
not those going out. Ishmael wants only
a bed. None can be had but one, to share

with the harpooner, a man peddling
in shrunken heads by lamplight and darkness.
Hesitantly, he enters the room, lies

until there stands Queequeg, wrapped in tattoos,
ax in hand, startled but sober. Ishmael,
and the harpooner, will share fouler sheets.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 2 – The Carpet Bag

Chapter 2 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 Carpet Bag

South he journeys, to the island from which
the new world whaling ships unfurled their sails
and raised anchor, but the ferry has left.

Instead he seeks lodging in this Carthage,
where the taverns howl with joy. But he seeks
quieter, cheaper defense from the cold.

The wind, when it howls, is comfort or curse.
From a warm bed, comfort. From the street, curse.
The wind that howls within cannot be stilled

by a well-built wall. Those that endure it
must always endure. But perhaps some calm
can be procured within the Spouter-Inn.

Finding Melville’s Whale: Chapter 1 – Loomings

Chapter 1 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.

Loomings

To rise and fall, as the sea does, the will
of a man who chooses death by water.
This is the only story left to tell.

Journeys always begin where the shore ends.
All footsteps flow forwards towards the sea
but this journey’s end is the ocean’s will.

No passenger may be carried along
on their own journey, nor may the glory
of command distract from the reverence

of toil, of drudgery, of service
to the ship, to the sea, and to the voice,
our narrator, who calls himself Ishmael.

Finding Melville’s Whale

It’s hard to believe that 365 Days of Darwin is three quarters over. For nine months, Charlie and Charlie 2.0 have joined us on our adventures around the world.

I love the challenge of coming up with something new and interesting every day. Hosting a regularly scheduled event keeps me focused on the blog. 365 Days of Darwin is challenging, rewarding, and gives our readers something new to look forward to every time they visit.

But everything ends, eventually, and 365 Days of Darwin is entering it’s final 3 months. It’s time to begin something new and different.

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