“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead. In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man As modest stillness and humility: But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of the tiger;” – William Shakespeare, from Henry V, spoken by King Henry
Well my friends, we’ve gotten to just page 130 and finished chapter 35 in The White Whale, better known as Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Yes I’m still reading, if not slowly, thru the book and up to about the 100 page mark hadn’t yet seen or met the main character, Captain Ahab himself yet.
But that did change and now we are well met indeed. Having gone thru the introductories of his appearance, his whale bone leg that “stands in” for the one lost to the other opponent in this classic tale of Seaborn Warfare, The Great Fish himself, Moby Dick, we now turn to the ship board story of the Captain and his crew as he rallies them to the hunt. But not just any hunt. Not just any whale. His hunt, his whale… his battle, his War.
Reading the passage where he gathers the crew aft and makes sure everyone knows just which whale he’s talking about and what’s at stake and why… I can’t help hearing in my head King Theoden as he rallies the troops at the Keep or Aragorn before the Black Gate in the Lord of the Rings.
I’d always thought Ahab was portrayed as a bit off, a bit crazed and insane in the story. Others describe him as the villain of the novel. But as I read, at least the first few introductory chapters and pages where he appears, I don’t get that yet. I may later on but for now I get a thoughtful, and pensive man who cares deeply about his ship, his crew and yes… the job or Battle at hand. But we’ll see as I get further into the story which Ahab persists
(((Retract that: currently on pg 173 and the battle has been enjoined, the enemy well met. Ahab is a blooming lunatic!!!)))
But for now, same as he calls echoing the great Kings and Generals before war… I continue. “Once more unto the breach”.