28+ quotes from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale by Herman Melville

Quotes from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale

Herman Melville ·  379 pages

Rating: (418.3K votes)


“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“I try all things, I achieve what I can.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Ignorance is the parent of fear.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“for there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men ”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.

Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“...and Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“...to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. ”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Think not, is my eleventh commandment; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to look as if he had a great secret in him.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“A noble craft, but somehow a most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“See how elastic our prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“To enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me, and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-labourers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally, as much as to say,—Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill humour or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Cannibals? Who is not a cannibal? I tell you it will be more tolerable for the Fejee that salted down a lean missionary in his cellar against a coming famine; it will be more tolerable for that provident Fejee, I say, in the day of judgement, than for thee, civilized and enlightened gourmand, who nailest geese to the ground and feastest on their bloated livers in thy pate de fois gras.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure..... Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle , and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Top-heavy was the ship as a dinnerless student with all Aristotle in his head.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee, as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


“For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught—nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!”
― Herman Melville, quote from Moby Dick: or, the White Whale


About the author

Herman Melville
Born place: in New York City, New York, The United States
Born date August 1, 1819
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