Thursday, August 1, 2019

Poem For A Thursday: Herman Melville

Humpty sitting with some poetry in the afternoon sun

The Maldive Shark

About the Shark, phlegmatical one,
Pale sot of the Maldive sea,
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim,
How alert in attendance be.
From his saw-pit of mouth, from his charnel of maw
They have nothing of harm to dread,
But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank
Or before his Gorgonian head;
Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth
In white triple tiers of glittering gates,
And there find a haven when peril's abroad,
An asylum in jaws of the Fates!
They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey,
Yet never partake of the treat--
Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull,
Pale ravener of horrible meat.

-Herman Melville

I was browsing through my old paperback of American Verse (ed. Oscar Williams) for something to use for today because it's Herman Melville's 200th birthday and found this. Which amused me. It's also the beginning of the Moby Dick readalong organized by Brona, so you can think of this as a signup post, for that too.

Honestly I try not to think of politics all the time--I don't think it's healthy--but how brilliant was it of Herman Melville to write an allegory of the current White House so many years in advance? I mean, I ask you? Was the man a genius or what?

Jennifer is featuring a wonderful John Donne love poem this week.


  1. Ha!
    Love the phrase "phlegmatical one,
    Pale sot of the Maldive sea"
    Sounds like a Shakespearean insult!

    I've got a linky on my post so you can share this with evryone if you like :-)

    1. I figure it's good to know Melville can be funny! And I think we'll be hearing some Shakespearean language in MD.

  2. And we are off! I like the poem and the lovely photo.

    1. To the South Seas! In boats! Should be a fun journey.

  3. I didn't know Melville wrote any poetry. What a great poem! :)

    1. Quite a lot, I think. But I haven't read any of it to speak of, probably just the two pages in that anthology.