Saturday, January 21, 2012



"Moby Dick"

Donald Sutherland

Land of Remakes


Herman Melville

Father Mapple, the famous preacher, was once a sailor and a harpooner, but had dedicated his life to the ministry for several years. Father Mapple enjoys a wide reputation for sincerity and sanctity, so Ishmael cannot suspect him of any mere stage tricks. On the front of the pulpit is the likeness of a ship's bluff bows and the Holy Bible rested on a projecting piece of scroll work, fashioned after a ship's fiddle-headed beak. Ishmael wonders what the meaning could be, for the pulpit is the earth's foremost part; all the rest comes from in its rear, and the pulpit leads the world. According to Ishmael, "the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete, and the pulpit is its prow."

From the source:
Father Mapple rose, and in a mild voice of unassuming authority ordered the scattered people to condense. ‘Starboard gangway, there! side away to larboard — larboard gangway to starboard! Midships! midships!’

There was a low rumbling of heavy sea-boots among the benches, and a still slighter shuffling of women’s shoes, and all was quiet again, and every eye on the preacher.

He paused a little; then kneeling in the pulpit’s bows, folded his large brown hands across his chest, uplifted his closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout that he seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of the sea.

This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea in a fog — in such tones he commenced reading the following hymn; but changing his manner towards the concluding stanzas, burst forth with a pealing exultation and joy –

‘The ribs and terrors in the whale,

Arched over me a dismal gloom,
While all God’s sun-lit waves rolled by,
And lift me deepening down to doom.
‘I saw the opening maw of hell,
With endless pains and sorrows there;
Which none but they that feel can tell —
Oh, I was plunging to despair.
‘In black distress, I called my God,
When I could scarce believe him mine,
He bowed his ear to my complaints —
No more the whale did me confine.
With speed he flew to my relief,
As on a radiant dolphin borne;
Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone
The face of my Deliverer God.
‘My song for ever shall record
That terrible, that joyful hour;
I give the glory to my God,
His all the mercy and the power.’

Nearly all joined in singing this hymn, which swelled high above the howling of the storm.


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