Quotes About Whale

Quotes tagged as "whale" (showing 1-17 of 17)
Tom Robbins
“There are people in this world who can wear whale masks and people who cannot, and the wise know to which group they belong.”
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Herman Melville
“A whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.”
Herman Melville

Herman Melville
“There she blows!-there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
tags: whale

Herman Melville
“In life, the visible surface of the Sperm Whale is not the least among the many marvels he presents. Almost invariably it is all over obliquely crossed and re-crossed with numberless straight marks in thick array, something like those in the finest Italian line engravings. But these marks do not seem to be impressed upon the isinglass substance above mentioned, but seem to be seen through it, as if they were engraved upon the body itself. Nor is this all. In some instances, to the quick, observant eye, those linear marks, as in a veritable engraving, but afford the ground for far other delineations. These are hieroglyphical; that is, if you call those mysterious cyphers on the walls of pyramids hieroglyphics, then that is the proper word to use in the present connexion. By my retentive memory of the hieroglyphics upon one Sperm Whale in particular, I was much struck with a plate representing the old Indian characters chiselled on the famous hieroglyphic palisades on the banks of the Upper Mississippi. Like those mystic rocks, too, the mystic-marked whale remains undecipherable.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Herman Melville
“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.

There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs--commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme downtown is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.

Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you see?--Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster--tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they here?

But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange! Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling in. And there they stand--miles of them--leagues. Inlanders all, they come from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues--north, east, south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those ships attract them thither?

Once more. Say you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries--stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Herman Melville
“Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale should see the world through so small an eye, and hear the thunder through an ear which is smaller than a hare's? But if his eyes were broad as the lens of Herschel's great telescope; and his ears capacious as the porches of cathedrals; would that make him any longer of sight, or sharper of hearing? Not at all.-Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it.”
Herman Melville

Annie Dillard
“What is the difference between a cathedral and a physics lab? Are not they both saying: Hello? We spy on whales and on interstellar radio objects; we starve ourselves and pray till we're blue.”
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

Eric Jay Dolin
“The heroic and often tragic stories of American whalemen were renowned. They sailed the world’s oceans and brought back tales filled with bravery, perseverance, endurance, and survival. They mutinied, murdered, rioted, deserted, drank, sang, spun yarns, scrimshawed, and recorded their musings and observations in journals and letters. They survived boredom, backbreaking work, tempestuous seas, floggings, pirates, putrid food, and unimaginable cold. Enemies preyed on them in times of war, and competitors envied them in times of peace. Many whalemen died from violent encounters with whales and from terrible miscalculations about the unforgiving nature of nature itself. And through it all, whalemen, those “iron men in wooden boats” created a legacy of dramatic, poignant, and at times horrific stories that can still stir our emotions and animate the most primal part of our imaginations. “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme,” proclaimed Herman Melville, and the epic story of whaling is one of the mightiest themes in American history.”
Eric Jay Dolin, Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

Douglas Coupland
“One of my own stray childhood fears had been to wonder what a whale might feel like had it been born and bred in captivity, then released into the wild-into its ancestral sea-its limited world instantly blowing up when cast into the unknowable depths, seeing strange fish and tasting new waters, not even having a concept of depth, not knowing the language of any whale pods it might meet. It was my fear of a world that would expand suddenly, violently, and without rules or laws: bubbles and seaweed and storms and frightening volumes of dark blue that never end”
Douglas Coupland, Girlfriend in a Coma

Herman Melville
“Can you catch the expression of the Sperm Whale's there? It is the same he died with, only some of the longer wrinkles in the forehead seem now faded away. I think his broad brow to be full of a prairie-like placidity, born of a speculative indifference as to death. But mark the other head's [Right Whale] expression. See that amazing lower lip, pressed by accident against the vessel's side, so as firmly to embrace the jaw. Does not this whole head seem to speak of an enormous practical resolution in facing death? This Right Whale I take to have been a Stoic; the Sperm Whale, a Platonian, who might have taken up Spinoza in his latter years.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Herman Melville
“Two hundred years ago an old Dutch voyager likened its shape to that of a shoemaker’s last. And in this same last or shoe, that old woman of the nursery tale with the swarming brood, might very comfortably be lodged, she and all her progeny.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Herman Melville
“one captain, seizing the line-knife from his broken prow, had dashed at the whale, as an Arkansas duelist at his foe, blindly seeking with a six-inch blade to reach the fathom-deep life of the whale. That captain was Ahab.”
Herman Melville

Kendall Kulper
“I was sixteen, still my mother’s prisoner, the night I became the whale.”
Kendall Kulper, Salt & Storm

Barry López
“Imagine a forty-five-year-old male fifty feet long, a slim, shiny black animal cutting the surface of green ocean water at twenty knots. At fifty tons it is the largest carnivore on earth. Imagine a four-hundred-pound heart the size of a chest of drawers driving five gallons of blood at a stroke through its aorta; a meal of forty salmon moving slowly down twelve-hundred feet of intestine…the sperm whale’s brain is larger than the brain of any other creature that ever lived…With skin as sensitive as the inside of your wrist.”
Barry López, Crossing Open Ground

Paul Fleischman
“It was a figure of a whale, with a white triangle that was supposed to be its spray. The spray moved up and down above the blowhole. On top of the spray sat a black-haired woman.”
Paul Fleischman, Whirligig

Paul Fleischman
“The whirligig featured a drummer, a trumpet player, a clarinetist, and a man with a trombone. It was a leap beyond the spouting whale, with more figures, a six-bladed propeller, and a much more complex system of rods and pivots that made the instruments dip and rise as if the musicians were marching.”
Paul Fleischman, Whirligig

Linda Hogan
“For every inch of skin, there is memory. Devils are so made. Saints, too, if you believe in them. His humanity has been broken as an old walking stick that once held up a crippled man named Thomas. He realizes the stick and the man are one thing and he can fall. He has violated the laws beneath the laws of men and countries, something deeper, the earth and the sea, the explosions of trees. He has to care again. He has to be water again, rock, earth with its new spring wildflowers and its beautiful, complex mosses.”
Linda Hogan

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