White, an erasure poem (Chapter 42 Moby Dick)

What the white was, at times, he was to me, as yet remains unsaid.
Aside from those more obvious considerations,
Which occasionally awaken alarm, there was a thought,
Or a horror concerning him, which at times by its intensity so mystical that I despair.
It was the whiteness that appalled me.
I hope to explain myself, whiteness refiningly enhances beauty, as if
Imparting some special virtue of its own, as in marbles, japonicas, and
Pearls; and though various nations have in some way recognised a certain
Royal preeminence in this hue; unfurling the same snow-white bearing the figure of a
Snow-white charger; though this pre-eminence in it applies to the human race itself,
Giving the white man mastership.
Drawn by milk-white steeds; spotlessness and power;
Incarnate in a snow-white bull; and though to the noble
Iroquois, the midwinter sacrifice of the sacred White Dog was by far the
Holiest festival of their theology, the
Vision sitteth there white like wool; thought of
Whiteness, when divorced from more kindly associations, and
Coupled with any object terrible in itself, to heighten that terror to the furthest bounds. Witness the white bear of the poles, and the white shark of the tropics;
What but their smooth, flaky whiteness makes them the
Transcendent horrors they are?
That ghastly whiteness imparts an abhorrent mildness,
Loathsome gloating of their aspect.
The fierce-fanged tiger in his heraldic coat
Staggers courage as the white-shrouded bear or shark.
Elusive whiteness coupled with objects terrible heighten that terror to the furthest bounds.
Witness the white and the white; what but their smooth, flaky
Whiteness makes them the transcendent horrors they are?
That ghastly whiteness it is which imparts such an abhorrent mildness,
More loathsome than terrific, to the dumb gloating of their aspect.
Urged him who would fain go still deeper into this matter, that it is not the
Whiteness, separately regarded, which heightens the intolerable
Hideousness of that brute;
That heightened hideousness only rises from the circumstance,
The irresponsible ferociousness of the creature stands
Invested in celestial innocence and love;
Brings together two opposite emotions in our minds,
Frightens us with so unnatural a contrast.
If not for the whiteness, you would not have that intensified terror.


About m.a. wood

writer, thinker, musician, teacher
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5 Responses to White, an erasure poem (Chapter 42 Moby Dick)

  1. amabear says:

    yes equating paleness with goodness is a huge factor in the corruption of our world and human family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kirizar says:

    All I could think while reading this was, “If you substituted the ‘Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’ for the ‘white whale’ this would be a totally hilarious spoof of the literary giant.”

    Liked by 1 person

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