Moby Dick, Chapter 1, Loomings: “Circumambulate the city [“the Manhattoes,” or New York City–ed.] of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon…What do you see?–Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries.”
“Also from Chapter 1: But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive.”
“Some years ago–never mind how long precisely–having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”
“…almost all men in their degree, sometime or other, cherish very nearly the feelings towards the ocean with me.”
Melville’s magic, and the Pacific’s, still has a hold upon the imaginations of “mortal men.” So much so that despite the dangerously frigid waters, diminishing light, and perpetual threat of undertow, these two had to go out for one last ride upon the waves.
Vonn Scott Bair