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

Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000 Feet


by Tony Hoagland

Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000 Feet Death Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Line)

Quote #1

wanting to kill it,
wanting to see great clouds of blood erupt
to prove that they exist. (28-30)

Our first encounter with death in this poem is this rather graphic description of the men wanting to see whale blood spurt up after (we assume) hitting the creature with a harpoon. And when the poem suggests that the men want to see this "to prove that they exist" it tells us pretty quickly that this whole life and death business can be kind of complicated. The two seem tangled up in each other, where the death of one thing invigorates the life of others. Or perhaps it's a matter of having death right in front of you, and the way that makes you aware of being alive.

Quote #2

Imagine being born and growing up, rushing through the world for sixty years at unimaginable speeds. (31-33)

Time flies. And why does it matter if you're rushing through life? Well, at some point you run out of it. If you had to choose between rushing through sixty years and not rushing, which would you choose? Probably not rushing, right? The way our speaker phrases it, he makes the hubbub pretty unappealing. It sounds like we miss out on a lot.

Quote #3

Imagine a century like a room so large,
a corridor so long
you could travel for a lifetime

and never find the door, (34-37)

To make things even worse, now our speaker suggests that we might go through our whole lives without even finding a door: a way out, a way to another kind of life.

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