≡ Menu

The Lee Shore

When on that shivering winter’s night, the Pequod thrust her vindictive bows into the cold malicious waves, who should I see standing at her helm but Bulkington!

I looked with sympathetic awe and fearfulness upon the man, who in mid-winter just landed from a four years’ dangerous voyage, could so unrestingly push off again for still another tempestuous term. The land seemed scorching to his feet.

It fared with him as with the storm-tossed ship, that miserably drives along the leeward land. The port would fain give succor; the port is pitiful; in the port is safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm blankets, friends, all that’s kind to our mortalities.

But in that gale, the port, the land, is that ship’s direst jeopardy; she must fly all hospitality; one touch of land, though it but graze the keel, would make her shudder through and through. With all her might she crowds all sail off shore; in so doing, fights ‘gainst the very winds that fain would blow her homeward; seeks all the lashed sea’s landlessness again; for refuge’s sake forlornly rushing into peril; her only friend her bitterest foe!

Know ye now, Bulkington? Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?

But as in landlessness alone resides highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God- so better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety! For worm-like, then, oh! who would craven crawl to land!

Terrors of the terrible! is all this agony so vain? Take heart, take heart, O Bulkington! Bear thee grimly, demigod! Up from the spray of thy ocean-perishing- straight up, leaps thy apotheosis!

Moby Dick | Herman Melville

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Julie January 7, 2020, 12:44 PM

    A few years back, thanks to these occasional excerpts, I finally read Moby Dick, a book my entire Honors English class refused to read while I was in High School. Mainly because the teacher was a lunatic, but I digress.

    Reading with a few more years and miles under my belt, I found it marvelous. Thanks for posting this, Gerard. You never know what previously endarkened mind you might be illuminating.

  • ghostsniper January 7, 2020, 2:34 PM

    Never read the book but I should. Saw the movie when I was a kid, scared the fuk out of me. Peck was beating some poor swabs ass on the deck and talking long shit to everybody else. It was ghastly, and shamelessly memorable.