Whale on the beach, you dinosaur,
what brought you smoothing into this dead harbor?
If you’d stayed inside you could have grown
as big as the Empire State. Still you are not a fish,
perhaps you like the land, you’d had enough of
holding your breath under water. What is it we want
of you? To take our warm blood into the great sea
and prove we are not the sufferers of god?
We are sick of babies crying and the birds flapping
loose in the air. We want the double to be big,
and ominous and we want to remember when you were
money in Massachusetts and yet were wild and rude
—Anne Sexton, Whale
The colt stood against the horse with its head down and the horse was watching, out there past men’s knowing, where the stars are drowning and whales ferry their vast souls through the black and seamless sea.
—Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
So it was that my most impressionable years of boyhood were spent gazing at not a whale but a whale’s penis.
—Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase
It is said that someone once asked Tennyson for his opinion on Walt Whitman. He said: ”I do not have an opinion. I know Whitman exists, just as I know there is a whale in the sea. That is not an opinion.” However, by saying ”a whale”, there seemed to be in Tennyson’s phrase the memory of something vast, barbarous and threatening, which is quite an opinion in itself.
—Jorge Luis Borges
He said, ‘You cannot live in the ocean’
And she said to him
‘You never can live in the sky’
But the ocean is filled with tears
And the sea turns into a mirror
There’s a whale in the moon when it’s clear
And a bird on the tide
—Tom Waits, Fish & Bird
For when this moment is attained we who imagined that we were sitting in the belly of the whale and doomed to nothingness suddenly discover that the whale was a projection of our own insufficiency. The whale remains, but the whale becomes the whole wide world, with stars and seasons, with banquets and festivals, with everything that is wonderful to see and touch, and being that it is no longer a whale but something nameless because something that is inside as well as outside us.
The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite,
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone
—T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Its skin is rugged and grey; seamen who see it believe it is an island. They tie their ships to this false land and disembark without fearing any danger. They camp, they make a fire, and they sleep, exhausted. The traitor then submerges into the ocean; it seeks its deepness and lets the ship and the men drown in this courthouse of death.
—Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Imaginary Beings
Here now, with neither kin nor quest,
I am so full of sea
That whales may make of me a nest
And go to sleep in me.
—Malcolm Lowry, Alcoholic
Perhaps it is not useless to point out that in ancient books, a search was always fortunate; the Argonauts reached the Fleece and Galahad the Holy Grail. Nowadays, however, we find a mysterious joy in the concept of something that, once found, produces horrible consequences. K., the land surveyor, will never reach the castle, and the white whale is the doom of the one who finds it in the end.
—Adolfo Bioy Casares, Los Orilleros
(((((((((((((Jonah in the belly of the beast)))))))))))))
—Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
Being a somewhat dark person myself, I fell in love with the idea that the mysterious thing you look for your whole life will eventually eat you alive.