Monday, November 12, 2007

Favourites from Moby Dick

I mentioned in the previous post that I wanted to share some quotes. These are they which I spoke of:

"Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, aat some time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and make him the own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story or Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. it is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all" Chapter 1

"Men may seem detestable as joint stock-companies and nations; knaves, fools, and murderers there may be; men may have mean and meagre faces; but man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature, that over an ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes.That immaculate manliness we feel within ourselves, so far within us, that it remains intact though all the outer character seem gone; bleeds with keenest anguish at the undraped spectacle of a valor-ruined man. Nor can piety itself, at such a shameful sight, completely stifle her upbraidings against the permitting stars. But this august dignity I treat of, is not the dignity of kings and robes, but that abounding dignity which has no robed investiture. Thou shall see it shining in the arm that wields a pick or drives a spike" Chapter 6

"I leave a white and turbid wake; pale waters, paler cheeks, where'er I sail. The envious billows sidelong swell to whelm my track; let them; but first I pass." Chapter 37

"Swerve me? ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves! man has ye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents' beds, unerringly I rush! Naught's an obsticale, naught's an angle to the iron way!" Chapter 37

There is a bit where the mate Stubb is urging forward his whale boat crew. This is excellent but lengthy. It's in Chapter 48. Also, Chapter 54: The Town-Ho's Story is amazing. But writing down an entire chapter would be silly.

"For I believe that much of a man's character will be found betokened in his backbone. I would rather feel your spine than your skull, whoever you are. A think joist of a spine never yet upheld a full and noble soul. I rejoice in my spine, as in the firm audacious staff of that flag which I fling half out to the world." Chapter 80

"There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea (the Pacific) whose gently awful stirrings seemt o speak of some hidden soul beneath; like those fabled undulations of the Ephesian sod over the buried Evangelist St. John. And meet it is, that over these sea-pastures, wide-rolling watery prairies and Potters' Fields of all four continents, the waves shoudl rise and fall, and ebb and flow unceasingly; for here millions of mixed shades and shadows, drowned dreams, somnambulisms, reveries; all that we call lives and souls, lie dreaming, dreaming, still; tossing like slumberers in their beds; the ever-rolling waves but made so by their restlessness." Chapter 111

"Emblazonings, as of crowned Babylonian kings and queens, reigned over everything. The sea was as a crucible of molten gold, that bubblingly leaps with light and heat." Chapter 124

And when sees the sun in his wake he exclaims, "Ha, ha, my ship! thou mightest well be taken now for the sea-chariot of the sun. Ho, ho! all ye nations before my prow, I bring the sun to ye! Yoke on the further billows; hallo! a tandem, I drive the sea!" Chapter 124

"'tis a noble and heroic thing, the wind, who ever conquered it? In every fight it has the last and bitterest blow. Run tilting at it, and your but run through it. Ha! a coward wind that strikes stark naked men, but will not stand to receive a single blow." Chapter 135

Of course there are those classics like "Call me Ishmael," "Vengeance on a dumb brute, and "The sea is my Harvard and Yale" but most everyone has heard of those.

Anyhow, there are many more but those are a handful of my favourites!


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