I saw a ship of material build
(Her standards set, her brave apparel on)
Directed as by madness mere
Against a solid iceberg steer,
Nor budge it, though the infactuate ship went down.
The impact made huge ice-cubes fall
Sullen in tons that crashed the deck;
But that one avalanche was all—
No other movement save the foundering wreck.
Along the spurs of ridges pale,
Not any slenderest shaft and frail,
A prism over glass-green gorges lone,
Toppled; or lace or traceries fine,
Nor pendant drops in grot or mine
Were jarred, when the stunned ship went down.
Nor sole the gulls in cloud that wheeled
Circling one snow-flanked peak afar,
But nearer fowl the floes that skimmed
And crystal beaches, felt no jar.
No thrill transmitted stirred the lock
Of jack-straw neddle-ice at base;
Towers indermined by waves—the block
Atilt impending—kept their place.
Seals, dozing sleek on sliddery ledges
Slipt never, when by loftier edges
Through the inertia overthrown,
The impetuous ship in bafflement went down.
Hard Berg (methought), so cold, so vast,
With mortal damps self-overcast;
Exhaling still thy dankish breath—
Adrift dissolving, bound for death;
Though lumpish thou, a lumbering one—
A lumbering lubbard loitering slow,
Impingers rue thee ad go slow
Sounding thy precipice below,
Nor stir the slimy slug that sprawls
Along thy dead indifference of walls.
Let America first praise mediocrity even, in her children, before she praises… the best excellence in the children of any other land.
Silence is the only Voice of our God.
A true military officer is in one particular like a true monk. Not with more self-abnegation will the latter keep his vows of monastic obedience than the former his vows of allegiance to martial duty.
He says NO! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes.
So, cutting the lashing of the waterproof match keg, after many failures Starbuck contrived to ignite the lamp in the lantern; then stretching it on a waif pole, handed it to Queequeg as the standard-bearer of this forlorn hope. There, then, he sat, holding up that imbecile candle in the heart of that almighty forlornness. There, then, he sat, the sign and symbol of a man without faith, hopelessly holding up hope in the midst of despair.
A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.
It is not down in any map, true places never are.
If some books are deemed most baneful and their sale forbid, how, then, with deadlier facts, not dreams of doting men? Those whom books will hurt will not be proof against events. Events, not books, should be forbid.
‘I will have no man in my boat,’ said Starbuck, ‘who is not afraid of a whale.’ By this, he seemed to mean not only that the most reliable and useful courage was that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered peril, but that an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward.
The Past is the textbook of tyrants; the Future the Bible of the Free. Those who are solely governed by the Past stand like Lot’s wife, crystallized in the act of looking backward, and forever incapable of looking before.
Look you, Doubloon, your zodiac here is the life of man in one round chapter. To begin: there’s Aries, or the Ram—lecherous dog, he begets us; then, Taurus, or the Bull—he bumps us the first thing; then Gemini, or the Twins—that is, Virtue and Vice; we try to reach Virtue, when lo! comes Cancer the Crab, and drags us back; and here, going from Virtue, Leo, a roaring Lion, lies in the path—he gives a few fierce bites and surly dabs with his paw; we escape, and hail Virgo, the virgin! that’s our first love; we marry and think to be happy for aye, when pop comes Libra, or the Scales—happiness weighed and found wanting; and while we are very sad about that, Lord! how we suddenly jump, as Scorpio, or the Scorpion, stings us in rear; we are curing the wound, when come the arrows all round; Sagittarius, or the Archer, is amusing himself. As we pluck out the shafts, stand aside! here’s the battering-ram, Capricornus, or the Goat; full tilt, he comes rushing, and headlong we are tossed; when Aquarius, or the Waterbearer, pours out his whole deluge and drowns us; and, to wind up, with Pisces, or the Fishes, we sleep.
In glades they meet skull after skull
Where pine cones lay-the rusted gun,
Green shoes full of bones, the mouldering coat
And cuddled up skeleton;
And scores of such. Some start as in dreams,
And comrades lost bemoan;
By the edge of those wilds Stonewall had charged-
But the year and the Man were gone.
Why, ever since Adam, who has got to the meaning of this great allegory—the world? Then we pygmies must be content to have out paper allegories but ill comprehended.
Topics: Philosophers, Philosophy
Meditation and water are wedded for ever.
We may have civilized bodies and yet barbarous souls. We are blind to the real sights of this world; deaf to its voice; and dead to its death. And not till we know, that one grief outweighs ten thousand joys will we become what Christianity is striving to make us.
People think that if a man has undergone any hardship, he should have a reward; but for my part, if I have done the hardest possible day’s work, and then come to sit down in a corner and eat my supper comfortably—why, then I don’t think I deserve any reward for my hard day’s work—for am I not now at peace? Is not my supper good?
Topics: Eating, Results
The lightning flashes through my skull; mine eyeballs ache and ache; my whole beaten brain seems as beheaded, and rolling on some stunning ground.
There is something wrong about the man who wants help. There is somewhere a deep defect, a want, in brief, a need, a crying need, somewhere about that man.
Topics: Assistance, Help, Aid
Prayer draws us near to our own souls.
I feel that the Godhead is broken up like the bread at the Supper, and that we are the pieces. Hence this infinite fraternity of feeling.
How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cozy, loving pair.
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.
When I think of this life I have led; the desolation of solitude it has been; the masoned, walled-town of a Captain’s exclusiveness, which admits but small entrance to any sympathy from the green country without—oh, weariness! heaviness! Guinea-coast slavery of solitary command!
Topics: Leadership, Leaders
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Langston Hughes American Poet, Writer
- Joyce Carol Oates American Novelist
- Ken Kesey American Novelist
- David Foster Wallace American Novelist, Essayist
- William S. Burroughs American Novelist
- Reynolds Price American Novelist
- Barbara Kingsolver American Novelist, Essayist
- Ray Bradbury American Science-Fiction Writer
- Kurt Vonnegut American Novelist
- Robert A. Heinlein American Science Fiction Writer