For carolers in December, there’s nothing like a Christmas song,
and for dancing in June, there’s no greater boon than the Cabo Verde Kola San Jon,
If rainbows and gold are your wish to find, you’ll search out a Leprechaun,
and who at New England Thanksgiving doesn’t crave a pie of pecan?
‘Ship love in threes in Greek tragedies? go read Agamemnon,
While those gazing at skies for alien lives seek unexplained phenomenon.
But for folks like me, what’s primary is the earliest part of January
at the Whaling Museum in the Whaling City,
There is but one paragon, our annual rite and sine qua non,
(all other pastimes mere hangers-on.)
From Ishmael on cobblestones to the Rachel in the sea,
From extract to epilogue (and beloved Chapter 40 knee),
We come from around the world, and wear flannel, woolens and Prada,
We speak English, e portugûes! and eat chowdah and massa sovada!
We stay awake through day and night, from dark ’til dawn becomes the light,
Following a madman with one boot driving the world’s greatest ocean pursuit.
Ahab and Starbuck the rest of them know, but we prefer Stub and Tashtego,
“Lee ward” and “harpooner” they aver without fear, we know better “loo ward” and “harpoony-ear,”
But you need not a glossary nor onomasticon, to get rightly drunk on Melville’s lexicon,
at our frost winter revivals, the non-stop reading of our bibles
from noddle end to the tail … I spy the spout of the whale!
Climb the pulpit and put your glasses on,
It’s time for the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon!
Miguel Moniz is an anthropologist at the Center for Research in Anthropology (ISCTE/Instituto Universitário de Lisboa) and a longtime Melville aficionado.
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