The Legend of the White Whale: Part One

Original artwork by Dread Lévi Studios (Twitter: @EdRohkovaWelch)

Eons ago, long before tides moved and moons shadowed everyone with their gloom,
She Who Invites stirred the primeval ocean and birthed four sons. Free on the high seas
they were bejewelled islands, a jaded necklace glimmering on the world’s breast.
Floating far away from desert sands and dry land, caught like gulls in the westerly wind.

She Who Invites was proud of her Creation; But good things come to pass.
The sons withered, flaking away like driftwood scrags; festering flesh left to the depths. 
Did fish nibble on their magic dribble? Turned to foam? Buried by shifty layers of silt?      
No mortal man truly knows. 
Curiosity plagued the minds of men, and along craggy shores 

were dotted rumours. Like a fever dream caused by a tumour, villages saw things—       
Rising from crashing waves, rode nasty storms, edging closer and closer.

The Legend of the White Whale–wow, what a poem to write! There is so much going on in the finished version that it embodies a lumbering, legendary whale; too large to put into one post, to say the very least!

This Epic is ‘from the archives’, a category that includes any ‘hidden gems’ that have been written and promptly forgotten about. Some have been languishing in my computer files for quite a while, so they might be…as less refined…as some of my much recent works. However, with a bit of spit and polish, most of these ‘from the archive’ poems can be brought back up to good form.

Anyway, back to the Epic! So, backstory: The poem was written at the start of my second-year studies, where I was frequently exposed to mythology, folklore, and legends. For those who know me well, I was totally in my element. My tutor also motivated us (the students) to re-write old literature, so that’s what I did to these fairy-tales!

The narrative of the poem is quite simple: It’s Moby Dick, but re-set in Medieval Japan, pitting a vengeful heroine against the mythical Bake-kujira–the ghost whale. The mythos surrounding the ghost whale is quite interesting, so if you want to know more about this Spirit I’ve attached a link to its (disappointingly short) Wikipedia article.

I’ve tried my hardest to respect the original mythos surrounding both Moby Dick and Bake-kujira, while constructing something new. If you notice any references or Easter Eggs, let me know below!

The next part of this Epic will be published next Tuesday at 8am!

© Thomas Gallimore Barker, 2021


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