Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Great Endings: Moby Dick

Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.

Final lines of the epilogue to Moby Dick:
Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirgelike main. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks. On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.


Shaw Kenawe said...

Wonderful to read the last lines again.

I left off the first sentence in my post over at PE, as I thought it would be too much of a give-away. One of the most recognized opening sentences in all of literature. I watched the Gregory Peck Moby Dick the other day.

Father Mapple was played by Gregory Peck in the 1998 made for teevee movie.

Other Father Mapples:

Moby Dick" (2010) TV series Played by Donald Sutherland

"Moby Dick" (1998) TV series Played by Gregory Peck

Moby Dick (1978) Played by Jack Aranson

Didn't know another Moby Dick was made for teevee in 2010.

TaraDharma said...

ah, this one would be good to read again. My semi-annual reads include East of Eden, Cannery Row. Now, perhaps, Moby Dick. Sure to be found at the library.

Cile said...


nursemyra said...

Excellent ending

K. said...

Over the years, I've read and reread these passages and the lines leading up to them. Moby Dick contains sections that rival Shakespeare.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I agree. I've just reread Pastor Mapple's sermon. Yes. Rivals Shakespeare.

What prompted you to post this at this time, may I ask?

I posted Ishamel's opening statement because of that beautiful passage where he says--actually when I misremembered this: "Whenever it's November in my soul."

I thought of that misremembered sentence all last week.

But back to the closing epilogue:

These are so beautiful:

"I floated on a soft
and dirgelike main."


"The unharming sharks,
they glided by
as if with padlocks
on their mouths;"

"...the savage sea-hawks
with sheathed beaks..."


Who writes such beauty and such passionate prose today?

K. said...

I've been posting random great endings to novels and movies whenever the spirit moves. My son read MD when he was 15, and we were talking about it just the other day.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I have another one in mind for next week--an American novel published 100 years after Melville's MD.

I'll be curious to see if you post the ending.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the source, or the meaning, of "5000 years"?

lkpjr said...

Moby Dick (last paragraph:

"...and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago..."

I would appreciate very much any thoughts about the origin/meaning of "five thousand" (5,000) years.

K. said...

It may be a reference to the biblical flood, which is supposed to have occurred some time between 3000-2300 BC.