Call me Smokebeard

(with apologies to Melville)

I recently picked up Moby Dick again and was immediately struck by the opening lines. With some modifications, here they are:


Call me Smokebeard. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me in town, I thought I would hike about a little and see the green part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. 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 on trail as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the wild. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the wilderness with me.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Gretchen says:

    Well said! (Thanks to Melville). I concur.

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