Chapter 111: The Pacific

As the Pequod rounds the Bashee isles, Ishmael gets his first long-desired glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. To Ishmael, the Pacific exists as the heart-center of all the rest of the world, geographically and spiritually. He refers to the Atlantic and Indian oceans as mere arms of the Pacific, and notices that the Pacific ties the ancient civilizations of Asia with burgeoning American civilizations. The Pacific also symbolizes a spiritual¬† heart-center for Ishmael. He refers to the ocean as “Potters’ Fields of all four continents” and says of its undulations that “drowned dreams, somnambulisms, reveries; all that we call lives and souls, lie dreaming, dreaming, still; tossing like slumberers in their beds.” For Ishmael, the Pacific exists as a physical manifestation of the collective subconscious.

It comes as no surprise, then, in this most tempting of books to over-analyze, that Moby Dick himself resides in these waters, and that upon entering the Pacific, Ahab’s purpose “intensified itself.” Of course, Ishmael’s naive, joyful, and ponderous fulfillment of a childhood dream also provides a perfect foil for Ahab’s rash and jaded acceleration toward fulfilling the dreams of his old age, and perhaps Ishmael’s poetics merely found the raw and vicious potters’ fields of the Pacific an apt grounds for these opposite ends of the human experience to contrast.

Chapter 111: The Pacific

A dream rolling over me,
Rolling on, the sea
Rolling over me.

A dream rolling on,
The sea touching all —
Receive of the harmony.

Out over the ocean,
I feel every notion
Of peace, and of suffering.

In every great undulation,
Every soul, every patient
Belief, every broken sleep.

A dream rolling over me,
Rolling on, the sea
Rolling over me.

A dream rolling on,
The sea touching all —
Receive of the harmony.

Just as the sea touches rivers
In the valleys, as they quiver
From hearts to humanity,

Each of us touched and delivered
By the shadows and glimmers
Of all time, of all human beings.

A dream rolling over me,
Rolling on, the sea
Rolling over me.

A dream rolling on,
The sea touching all —
Receive of the harmony.

(c) and (p) 2009 Patrick Shea
Words and music written by Patrick Shea July 29, 2009
All parts performed, arranged, and recorded by Patrick Shea June 12, 2010

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