Brushes went up her spine, jellied heart from a beating rush. What hope did she have, against a creature lighter than sand? Still she threw iron bolts, which flew mighty high! One. Two. Three. All passed through the skeleton-whale. Twelve. Eighteen. Nineteen spears tipped with steel didn’t leave a mark! Now, dear children, it was the whale’s turn. It flipped the boat in a single masterstroke. Both go under, riding waves of fear. Quivering Wreck Chizue screamed, wanting her mortal folly dead, dead, dead! Few scholars say what she saw that day. Strangled by the briny sea, her sight creased from fading dread; She could only see sockets blaring malevolent red. Her lashing tongue tried the task of recalling her lover. But she was held fast, like the seaweed between its bony fangs. So, you know the true tale of the White Whale! But before you go, next time you play by the docks Watch the sea rocks, beware the ghost-whale!
Here we are, at the end of 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 notice any references or Easter Eggs, let me know below!
P.S: I hope you’ve enjoyed the poem as-well; at the end of August, I’ll be publishing all of the separate parts together, just in case you’ve missed one!
© Thomas Gallimore Barker, 2021