The Maldive Shark

Original Text: 
Collected Poems of Herman Melville, ed. Howard P. Vincent (Chicago: Packard, 1947): 200. PS 2382 V5 Robarts Library
3The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim,
4How alert in attendance be.
6They have nothing of harm to dread,
7But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank
9Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth
10In white triple tiers of glittering gates,
11And there find a haven when peril's abroad,
12An asylum in jaws of the Fates!
13They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey,
14Yet never partake of the treat --
15Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull,
16Pale ravener of horrible meat.


1] phlegmatical: cold, sluggish. Back to Line
2] Maldive sea: the Indian Ocean around the Maldive islands. Back to Line
5] saw-pit: so-called from the shovel-nose. maw: stomach. Back to Line
8] Gorgonian: like the Gorgons, monstrous women with snakes for hair who turned anyone looking on them into stone. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: