Friday, July 10, 2009

Ahab turned.

"Starbuck!"

"Sir."

"Oh, Starbuck! It is a mild, mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky. On such a day - very much such a sweetness as this - I struck my first whale - a boy-harpooneer of eighteen! Forty- forty - forty year ago! - ago! Forty year of continual whaling! forty year of privation, and peril, and storm-time! forty years on the pitiless sea! for forty years has Ahab forsaken the peaceful land, for forty years to make was on the horrors of the deep! Aye and yes, Starbuck, out of those forty years I have not spent three ashore. When I think of this life I have led; the desolation of solitude it has been; the masoned, wall-town of a Captain's exclusiveness, which admits but small entrance to any sympathy from the green country without - oh, weariness! heaviness! Guinea-coast slavery of solitary command! - when I think of all this; only half-suspected, no so keenly known to me before - and how for forty year I have fed upon dry salted fare - fit emblem of the dry nourishment of my soul! - when the porrest landsman has had fresh fruit to his daily hand, and broken the world's fresh bread to my mouldy crusts - away, whole oceans away, from that young girl-wife I wedded past fifty, and sailed for Cape Horn the next day, leaving buy one dent in my marriage pillow - wife? wife? - rather a widow with her husband alive! Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Starbuck; and then, the madness, the frenzy, the boiling blood and the smoking brow, with which, for a thousand lowerings old Ahab has furiously, foamingly chased his prey - more a demon than a man! - aye, aye! what a forty years' fool - fool - old fool, has old Ahab been! Why this strife of the chase? why weary, and palsy the arm at the oar, and the iron, and the lance? how the richer or better is Ahab now? Behold. Oh, Starbuck! is it not hard, that with this weary load I bear, one poor leg should have been snatched from under me? Here, bruch this old hair aside; it blinds me, that I seem to weep. Locks so grey did never grow but from out some ashes! But do I look very old, so very, very old, Starbuck? I feel deadly faint, bowed, and humped, as though I were Adam, starggering beneath the piled centuries since Paradise. God! God! God! - crack my heart! - stave my brain! - mockery - mockery! bitter, biting mockery of grey hairs, have I lived enough joy to wear ye; and seem and feel thus intolerably old? Close! stand close to me Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into the sea or sky; bettern than to gaze upon God. By the green land; by the bright hearth-stone! this is the magic glass, man; I see my wife and my child in thine eye. No, no; stay on board, on board! - lower not when I do; when branded Ahab gives chase to Moby-Dick. That hazard shall not be thine. No, no! not with the far away home I see in that eye!"


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