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Herman Melville

Always the sea of his elders ringed him,
The Saxons, who gave it the name
Whale-road, in which unite
Both enormous things, the whale
And the seas it largely plows.
Always his was the sea. When his eyes
Saw the open sea's great waters
Already he was possessed and taken with
That other sea, which is Scripture,
Or the layout of archetypes.
As a man, he gave himself to planetary oceans
And exhausting days under sail
And knew the harpoon ruddy
With Leviathan and the rayed sand
And the smell of night and dawn
And horizons where hazard waits
And the happiness of being valiant
And at last the pleasure of spying Ithaca.
Subduer of the sea, he bestrode earth
Which is the root of mountains
And where he charts a vague course,
Quiet in time, a sleeping compass.
In the inherited shade of orchards
Melville crosses New England evenings
But the sea abides in him. It is the opprobrium
Of the mutilated captain of the Pequod,
The indecipherable sea and storms
And the abomination of whiteness.
The great book. The azure Proteus.