Desperately Seeking Poem (Non-Ceph but Aquatic)

nanoteuthis

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I'm posting this here because it doesn't involve buying, selling, or trading, though whoever can find this for me will earn my undying gratitude. :notworth:

When I was a kid (back in the Pre-Cambrian era), my family owned a children's multivolume encyclopedia called THE BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE published by Grolier. It contained many fascinating articles and stories for kids, as well as some of the finest poems by the great poets of the English language.

Among the above was a wonderful story-poem by William Rose Benét, called simply WHALE. (The Benét brothers, William Rose and Stephen Vincent, were both prolific and distinguished writers of the early 20th century.) This poem, written in several quatrains, is a joyous depiction of a whale's canticle to God, ending with the great mammal returning to God on Judgment Day with all the other creatures of the deep in tow.

Long ago I memorized the first two verses, which went:

  • Rain, with a silver flail;
    Sun, with a golden ball;
    Ocean, wherein the Whale
    Swims, minnow-small.

    I heard the Whale rejoice,
    And cynic sharks attend:
    He cried, in [or with] a purple voice,
    "The Lord is my friend!"

Of course, my set of THE BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE is long gone, but when something reminded me of the poem, I did netsearches for it on both AltaVista and Google -- figuring that you can find just about anything online. Well, I was wrong. There were several references to the first verse as a "famous quotation" about the sea, but neither the second nor any of the subsequent verses were anywhere to be found on the net.

I realize it isn't ceph-related, but I figured that the TONMO community -- with its high percentage of literate and ocean-loving members -- might be a good place to inquire about the entire poem. If any of you owns an anthology of sea poems, animal poems, devotional poems, story poems, 20th century American poems, or (even better) poems by William Rose Benét, please see if you can find the text of the entire poem WHALE, and either post it here or send it to me via the TONMO Private Message system.

I cannot promise you anything in return but a big cyber-hug, and the experience of reading this delightful poem in its entirety. Gentlepersons, to your libraries!

Many, many, many thanks in advance,
Tani, Mellow Fellow
Dept. of Biped Arts and Letters
Bikini Bottom 'Tooniversity
 

Architeuthoceras

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Taningia,

I have a set of the multivolume encyclopedia called THE BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE published by Grolier. I will look for your poem, but you will have to wait until I get home. I hope that page isn't worn away, I spent many a day thumbing through those pages (back in the Ordovician).
 

nanoteuthis

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Architeuthoceras said:
Taningia,

I have a set of the multivolume encyclopedia called THE BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE published by Grolier. I will look for your poem, but you will have to wait until I get home. I hope that page isn't worn away, I spent many a day thumbing through those pages (back in the Ordovician).
Kevin, you are the greatest! I can't believe anyone still has copies of TBOK. Even as an adult, I often used to re-read the literary treasures found among those volumes. Unfortunately, I had to sell them years ago as part of my mother's estate -- the buyers wanted the entire contents of the apartment for a flat fee. I (foolishly) thought I wouldn't be referring to it anymore, and I figured it would be far too obsolete to be of any use to my son. (In the same transaction, I also gave up three of my old Madame Alexander dolls, which I later found out were collectibles worth several hundred $ apiece -- live and learn!)

Take all the time you need to find the poem when you get home -- I imagine that the minute you get your hands on THE BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE, you will want to spend many days just browsing through the pages and savoring their contents. (I know that's what I would do.)

Please accept half of those cyber-hugs in advance -- the rest will be forthcoming upon receipt of the poem! :D

Your appreciative benthic buddy,
Taningia
 

Architeuthoceras

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Tani,

I can't find that poem anywhere. A small part about W. R. Benet says "Whale" is his most popular poem, and in your BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE, but, it is not listed in the gerneral index, or the poetry index. I looked through all the other 19 volumes, found a poem called "Chambered Nautilus" by O W Holmes, "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville, and a story of a sperm whale and her calf that get into a fight with devilfish with tentacles as big as flagpoles called "Jackal of the Deep" by Paul Annixter. I will look further, but I dont think it's in there. The copyright on my set is 1962, maybe it came in a later or previous edition?
 

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Architeuthoceras said:
...and a story of a sperm whale and her calf that get into a fight with devilfish with tentacles as big as flagpoles called "Jackal of the Deep" by Paul Annixter.
Kevin,

Sweet merciful crap, man. Don't just gloss over the story about the monstrous devilfish with tentacles big as flagpoles!

Your sketch of the action recalls an apocryphal story about a physeter calf drowned by a giant squid (while mama stands by helplessly). Perhaps the "witnesses" to the event had that Encyclopedia volume on hand?

I'd not heard of the Annixter story, before. Thanks for digging it up. In what year was it written?

Clem

ps: Taningia, I'm sniffing around for Benet's "Whale." Some cetacean enthusiast out there must have it on their home-page.
 

nanoteuthis

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Clem said:
ps: Taningia, I'm sniffing around for Benet's "Whale." Some cetacean enthusiast out there must have it on their home-page.
Hey there, Clem.... you're the greatest as well! I'd nearly given up after even the meta-search Google failed to turn up anything. But as you suggest, not every netizen has necessarily registered his/her homepage with a search engine.

Sometimes in cases like these, the "detective work" involved is almost as much fun as finally finding the poem. I remember the NY TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT used to get lots of letters beginning something like, "HP in Paramus, NJ wants to know the origin of the following line: 'There once was a hermit named Dave....'," etc. (Well, actually, that was from a satire on the NY TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT, but you get the general idea :) )

I participated (successfully) in a similar search last year, when Steve-O' kept mentioning a 1960s minor rock hit called ELOISE of which he was trying to get a recording. As it turned out, someone in the UK just happened to be selling a mint copy of the ELOISE CD on eBay around the same time, so the CD ended up making the trip from the UK to New Xena Land by way of Noo Yawk. In fact, later today I just might browse eBay and Half.com to see if anyone has posted an auction for a "Complete Poetic Works of the Benét Brothers" or the like.

If more than one TONMOer finds the poem for me, no problem -- I've eight arms and more than enough cyber-hugs to go around!

:squid:
T'ann I'nja
 

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nanoteuthis

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tonmo said:
That's all I get -- first verse.
Yep, that's pretty much all I've gotten too. And the poem is a fairly long one. It's hard to believe that a work whose first verse is so allegedly famous, is so inaccessible in its entirety. Thanks for trying, anyway. Who knows, maybe at this moment somebody with a huge poetry library is saying, "Hey, maybe just for fun I'll post WHALE to the net."

On the other hand, one of the URLs above did provide this gem:

  • "Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen."

    -- Steven Wright
I've no idea who Steven Wright is, but I'll betcha Stephen Hillenburg cites him as one of his major influences....

Waiting for someone to yell, "Thar she blows!",
Tani
 

tonmo

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Oh, you would like Steven Wright, and you might recognize him if you saw him. He's a comedian that basically says very silly things in dry monotone. He was also the DJ's voice in Reservoir Dogs, of all things.

Here are some of his quotes:

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.

I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.

If you had a million Shakespeares, could they write like a monkey?

I saw a bank that said "24 Hour Banking", but I don't have that much time.

There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

These and more at:

http://www.weather.net/zarg/ZarPages/stevenWright.html
 

Clem

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TaningiaDanae said:
I've no idea who Steven Wright is....
What the...that's just...you've gotta be...

Mr. Wright also has some funny things to say about hitch-hikers:

I like to pick up hitch-hikers. I'll be silent for a few miles, then I'll turn to them and say: "So, how far do you think you're going?"

:goofysca:
 

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