lament of a shipwrecked man

Leviathan, O beast of sea,

“To the last, I grapple with thee;”

For decades long, you’ve haunted me.

“From hell’s heart, I stab at thee.”

This fiend was never mine to hunt,

But for my sake, I bore the brunt;

For honor, praise, and vengeance sweet,

I stove the deck beneath my feet.

Down, deeper down, and deeper still,

I chase the face of man’s free will;

Lo! Fast away, there swims my prey,

The battle’s lost another day.

The surface shimmers o’er my head,

“Too far to reach,” I think with dread;

And soon I see (with failing breath)

For vict’ry’s sake I must seek death.

I’m just a man: I’m doomed to fail,

Alas, I could not kill my whale;

I don’t advance, I don’t retreat,

I close my eyes, accept defeat.

A shipwrecked man will often find

That all his life, his eyes were blind,

That to his hunt he was enslaved,

That he must drown so he’ll be saved.

So take me down and bury me,

Come sink me deep into the sea,

Where eyes of men have never seen,

And only there to be made clean.

Now listen, child, to this tale:

I found life when I lost my whale;

Though wild and fierce the waves may be,

In them a man will find he’s free.


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