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"The Isle of Man"

So where fair Thames, and crooked Isis* sonne
Payes tribute to his King, the mantling stream
Encounter’d by the tides (now rushing on
With equall force) of’s way doth doubtfull seem;
     At length the full-grown sea, and waters King
     Chide the bold waves with hollow murmuring:
Back flie the streams to shroud them in their mother spring.**


The whale seemed pretty doubtful of its way while in that very neighborhood.

* The Isis is what the Thames is called upstream.
** From Phineas Fletcher. The Purple Island or the Isle of Man. Cambridge 1633. Canto 1. Verse 23. There's a 1971 facsimile (Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Ltd; New York: Da Capo Press, 1971), but you will likely find this website containing the whole of the text more convenient if you'd like to look at Fletcher's wacky psychomachia and allegory of the human body any further. This excerpt doesn't begin to do justice with this poem's wackiness.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
a_d_medievalist
Jan. 21st, 2006 02:17 am (UTC)
proof that even some whales are too proud to stop and ask for directions ...
moon_custafer
Jan. 21st, 2006 04:59 am (UTC)
The whale looks like some sort of Elizabethan pageant boat.
violetsaunders
Jan. 22nd, 2006 12:17 pm (UTC)
Whale or Wail?
Great entry - and I love the way the poem begins when you look it up. Sorry the whale died in the end.

I was impressed how the whale became the top news story of the day - around the world I am told.

Maybe it worked as a metaphor for our contemporary 'lostness' in metropolitan modern life - along with buying stuff from Lush and farmers markets. I get the impression there are large numbers of people running as hard as possible away from the present, but always staying in the values of the present. Cf the very different fate of the last whale stranded in the Thames (as described by John Evelyn).
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )