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Reading <em>Moby-Dick</em> at 30,000 Feet

Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000 Feet


by Tony Hoagland

Reading <em>Moby-Dick</em> at 30,000 Feet Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

The poem is broken into three-line stanzas, except for the final one, which has four. Otherwise it's pretty freewheeling. All the lines hang around the same length, but there still doesn't seem to...


We picture our speaker as anywhere between the ages of 35 and 60. He's not really young or really old (which fits into that in-between places feeling he has in the poem). Sitting next to him on the...


This poem is packed with settings. We'll start with the first one: an airplane above Kansas, en route from Seattle to New York. We're sitting in one of those seats that's cushioned and still someho...

Sound Check

The language in this poem is conversational and imaginative. One of the most noticeable things is how flexible it is, how it can shift from one scene to another seamlessly. Take a look at the diffe...

What's Up With the Title?

Reading a book might not sound like an exciting topic for a poem at first, but reading that same book at 30,000 feet? Everything gets more interesting at 30,000 feet, right? And reading Moby-Dick u...

Calling Card

Poems in general tend to pull in a lot of different threads. They might mention a couple things that seem pretty unrelated; then, as the poem rumble along, you realize that everything starts to fit...


Our speaker jumps around a lot, but he keeps things pretty conversational and direct, so you shouldn't find this trek too trying.


Tony Hoagland won the Poetry Foundation's 2005 Mark Twain Award in recognition of his contribution to humor in American poetry. Humor and poetry? Now that's a winning combo. (Source.) In his book D...

Steaminess Rating

Okay, so our speaker definitely scopes out a stewardess—and he's not checking out her pretty face. But it's not exactly something to hide from the kiddos, so we're calling this one a G.


Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (Title, 25-30, 40-52)

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