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About this Poem 

“The Maldive Shark” was published in John Marr and Other Poems (Princeton University Press, 1922).

The Maldive Shark

About the Shark, phlegmatical one, 
Pale sot of the Maldive sea, 
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim, 
How alert in attendance be. 
From his saw-pit of mouth, from his charnel of maw 
They have nothing of harm to dread, 
But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank 
Or before his Gorgonian head: 
Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth 
In white triple tiers of glittering gates, 
And there find a haven when peril’s abroad, 
An asylum in jaws of the Fates! 
They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey, 
Yet never partake of the treat— 
Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull, 
Pale ravener of horrible meat.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Herman Melville

Herman Melville

Born in 1819 into a once-prominent New York family, Herman Melville was raised

by this poet

poem
Dip, dip, in the brine our paddles dip, 
Dip, dip, the fins of our swimming ship! 
How the waters part, 
As on we dart; 
   Our sharp prows fly, 
   And curl on high, 
As the upright fin of the rushing shark, 
Rushing fast and far on his flying mark! 
Like him we prey; 
Like him we slay; 
   Swim on the foe
poem
     “The ribs and terrors in the whale,
     Arched over me a dismal gloom,
     While all God's sun-lit waves rolled by,
     And lift me deepening down to doom.

     “I saw the opening maw of hell,
     With endless pains and sorrows there;
     Which none but they that feel can tell—
poem

A Night Piece

(July, 1863)

No sleep. The sultriness pervades the air
And binds the brain—a dense oppression, such
As tawny tigers feel in matted shades,
Vexing their blood and making apt for ravage.
Beneath the stars the roofy desert spreads
Vacant as Libya. All is hushed near by.