Posted by: Devin | September 18, 2012

Moby Dick Quotes #2

“Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and mose feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form.”

“All truth is profound.”


“It cannot well be doubted, that the one visible quality in the aspect of the dead which most appalls the gazer, is the marble pallor lingering there; as if indeed that pallor were as much like the badge of consternation in the other world, as of mortal trepidation here.”

“…at times, by some infernal trick of legerdemain in the powers of frost and air, he, shivering and half shipwrecked, instead of rainbows speaking hope and solace to his misery, views what seems a boundless churchyard grinning upon him with its lean ice monuments and splintered crosses.”


“He sleeps with clenched hands; and wakes with his own bloody nails in his palms.”

“God help thee, old man, thy thoughts have created a creature in thee; and he whose intense thinking this makes him a Prometheus; a vulture feeds upon that heart forever; that vulture the very creature he creates.”


“Verily there is nothing new under the sun.”


“In pursuit of those far mysteries we dream of, or in tormented chase of that demon phantom that, some time or other, swims before all human hearts; while chasing such over this round globe, they either lead us on in barren mazes or midway leave us whelmed.”


“However recklessly the whale may sometimes serve us, he can never be truly said to handle us without mittens.”


“Yea, foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet subsided; two-thirds of the fair world it yet covers.”

“As this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”


“Out of the trunk the branches grow; out of them, the twigs. So, in productive subjects, grow the chapters.”


“Oh, man! Admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the Equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole.”


“What is it that makes the front of a man–what, indeed, but his eyes?”


“Dissect him how I may, then, I but go skin deep; I know him not, and never will. But if I know not even the tail of this whale, how understand his head? Much more, how comprehend his face, when face he has none?”


“There is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.”


“Man’s insanity is heaven’s sense.”


“Look not too long in the face of the fire, O man! Never dream with thy hand on the helm!”

“Even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.”


“If we bend down our eyes, the dark vale shows her mouldy soil; but if we lift them, the bright sun meets our glance half-way, to cheer.”


“If you can get nothing better out of the world, get a good dinner out of it, at least.”


“The weaver-god, he weaves; and by that weaving is he deafened, that he hears no mortal voice; and by that humming, we, too, who look on the loom are deafened; and only when we escape it shall we hear the thousand voices that speak through it. For even so it is in all material factories. The spoken words that are inaudible among the flying spindles; those same words are plainly heard without the walls, bursting from the opened casements. Thereby have villainies been detected. Ah, mortal! Then, be heedful; for so, in all this din of the great world’s loom, they subtlest thinkings may be overhead afar.”


“Take mankind in mass, and for the most part, they seem a mob of unnecessary duplicates.”


“Thrusted light is worse than presented pistols.”

“Bone is rather dusty, sir.”
“Take the hint, then; and when thou art dead, never bury thyself under living people’s noses.”


“The only real owner of anything is its commander.”


“Top-heavy was the ship as a dinnerless student with all Aristotle in his head.”

“The drawing near of Death, which alike levels all, alike impresses all with a last revelation.”

“Of all mortals, some dying men are the most tyrannical; and certainly, since they will shortly trouble us so little for evermore, the poor fellows ought to be indulged.”


“…here, millions of mixed shades and shadows, drowned dreams, somnambulisms, reveries; all that we call lives and souls, lie dreaming, dreaming, still; tossing like slumberers in their beds; the ever-rolling waves but made so by their restlessness.”


“The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser.”


“…Ahab leaned over the side, and watched how his shadow in the water sank and sank to his gaze, the more and the more that he strove to pierce the profundity.”

“If the great sun move not of himself; but as an errand-boy in heaven; nor one single star cam revolve, but by some invisible power; how then can this one small heart beat; this one small brain think thoughts; unless God does that beating, does that thinking, does that living, and not I.”


“They were one man, not thirty.”

“In Jesus’ name, no more of this, that’s worse than devil’s madness.”

“What more wouldst thou have? Shall we keep chasing this murderous fish till he swamps the last man? Shall we be dragged by him to the bottom of the sea?”

“…be the front of thy face to me as the palm of this hand–a lipless, unfeatured blank.” (Ahab to Starbuck)

“Ere I break, ye’ll hear me crack; and till ye heat that, know that Ahab’s hawser tows his purpose yet.”

“For ere they drown, drowning things will twice rise to the surface; then rise again, to sink for evermore.”


“All the things that most exasperate and outrage mortal man, all these things are bodiless, but only bodiless as obkects, not as agents.”

“It’s a brave man that weeps.”

“…went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her…”


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