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Boat poems-- kind of

I would argue that this is a poem. The words are chosen with great attention to how they sound and feel. There is no sloppy language here. Moby Dick is huge, and he could not get away with it now. It needs to be tightened, no doubt. but the first paragraph is just about perfect. You feel that you can trust Melville and Ishmael. You want to go where they will take you.

And don't we all have times of drizzly November? I do for sure. And I have desperatly wished to knock peoples hats off! Am I the only one who finds Melville funny?

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.



Here is a second one. You may know it already. It is a song, actually. And it reminds me of New York, and sunlight on buildings, and ships in the distance, and somehow of all the bravery it takes to go in life from one place to another. And it reminds me of Archie and Horatio. Eveything reminds me of them. But I think Mellville and his Ishmael would have nodded at this with understanding too.

American Tune
Lyrics:

Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
Oh, but it’s all right, it’s all right
For lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
We’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune
Oh, it’s all right, it’s all right
It’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

© 1973 Words and Music by Paul Simon

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
mylodon
May. 26th, 2015 09:45 am (UTC)
Oh, I love that song. I shall be singing it all day, now!
provencepuss
May. 26th, 2015 11:22 am (UTC)
I've got it stuck in my brain too :D
ba1126
May. 26th, 2015 04:15 pm (UTC)
I love Paul Simon, but I'm not familiar with this one! I just love his images. Thanks for sharing this!
wordsofastory
May. 26th, 2015 05:28 pm (UTC)
Ah, I love that opening passage too. It's so wonderful.
maggie_conagher
May. 28th, 2015 06:57 am (UTC)
This was a delicious and satisfying post. Thank you.
kittycallum
May. 28th, 2015 03:05 pm (UTC)
You are definitely not the only one to see the humour in that book! I've been reading it with my sister, and we've ended up in peals of laughter on many occasions. (Anything Stubb says, for example.) That first paragraph is so wonderful and real -- I never quite know what to think, it's just as though I've read my own thoughts on that drizzly novembrous mood.

I'll have to listen to that song when I have a chance.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )