Chapter 26 and 27 of Herman Melville’s classic – Moby Dick. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments. Visit this page for the complete collection to date: Finding Melville’s Whale.
Knights and Squires
A fearless man is far more dangerous,
and the first mate, Starbuck, will take no man
into his boat that does not fear the whale.
For his harpooner, he choses Queequeg.
The knight, Starbuck, with Queequeg’s spear.
To be so comfortable with destruction
that danger is met with indifference
is to be the second mate, careless Stubb.
For his harpooner, tawny Tashtego.
Sir Stubb with Tashtego’s arrows.
Last is a man fashioned of wrought iron,
hunting for fun, no reverence for whales.
Flask, third among the crew, built to endure.
For his harpooner, the giant Daggoo.
The empty Flask with Daggoo’s arms.
These were the knights, the whaling men,
and their squires, their harpooners.
Each stands alone on their island,
Together on the Pequod’s deck.
Chapter 24 of Herman Melville’s classic – Moby Dick. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments. Visit this page for the complete collection to date: Finding Melville’s Whale.
Poetry is ill suited for whaling.
Society burns on the blood of whales
yet spurns the butchers. We are all butchers.
Look across the pages of history,
rejoice! The glory of harpoon and man,
in chasing the whale we swallowed the world
as Jonah, by that first leviathan.
The wealth of nations from that royal fish.
Legacy of kings and kindred nobles.
For the whale itself is the dignity
of the southern sky, Cetus. Let no man
have honor lest he kneel before Queequeg.
Chapter 18 of Herman Melville’s classic – Moby Dick. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.
And so Ishmael and Queequeg board their ship
and meet their three-fold captain, but one third
of their holy host is missing, the ghost.
The captains demand a statement of faith.
Ishmael steps forward to testify that
Queequeg is of the brotherhood of man.
On the Pequod’s deck, Peleg examines
Queequeg, challenges the harpooner’s arm.
Leaping into a whaleboat, Queequeg hurls
his massive harpoon and strikes a tar spot
across the deck. Peleg needs nothing more.
So, in the register, he makes his mark.
Chapter 17 of Herman Melville’s classic – Moby Dick. Read along with us and discuss this chapter or the book as a whole in the comments.
No peace for pagans nor god-fearing men,
they are all broken. So, without judgement,
He leaves Queequeg to his tribal sabbath.
At the end of the day, Ishmael returns
to find the door locked and the room silent.
For all his banging, nothing stirs within.
Ishmael grabs the ax from the wall, charges
and is stopped by the landlady who will
have none wreck her inn for any reason.
She gets a key. Inside, Queequeg is still,
silently praying to his idols, gods
as much as Ishmael’s. He rises and eats.
The Essex being struck by a sperm whale
Nested within the story of Ishmael, Queequeg, Herman Melville, and Moby Dick are four Coffins. The first two are within the story itself – Peter Coffin, the innkeeper who unites Ishmael with Queequeg, and Queequeg’s Coffin, built on premonition of death, that carries Ishmael to safety after the Pequod is destroyed. These two coffins bookend the epic voyage of the Pequod and it’s crew, but their occurrence parallels two other Coffins, and the fate of the whaleship Essex.
Thanks to everyone who’s followed along with us on our journey through the maritime classic – Moby Dick. I hope the pace is not too slow or too fast for anyone.
For those just joining us, we’re reading through Moby Dick a few chapters a week. You can follow along with your own copy or use the excellent Power Moby Dick website, complete will full text and annotations. Updates are posted every Tuesday and Thursday, with occasional Sundays. Each update includes a short summary (in verse) of the chapter. Reproduced below are the entries from chapters 1 through 16:
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.
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.
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.
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.