Janet Egan: A Poem for the Moby Dick Marathon in New Bedford, Mass.

Nancy and I have been attending the Moby Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum since 1997, the beginning of a New Bedford tradition. We’ve only missed two over the 25 years since then. I wrote this a few years ago right after the reading of the final chase scene, inspired by the image of Ahab attached to the whale and by a news story I’d heard about a whale in Alaska that still had a 19th century harpoon attached—and it said “Made in New Bedford” on it. [The reading tomorrow, Jan. 9,  is virtual. Click here for info.]—JE




By Janet Egan


Somewhere in the

Southern Ocean

The white whale sounds

Deeper and deeper still

Trying to dislodge the harpoon

Stamped “Made in

New Bedford”

Its line still attached

Holds fast one Ahab of Nantucket.


Ahab is forever Ahab

Forever dead

Preserved in sea salt.

The whale drags this burden

Across the seven seas

Century after century

The price of immortality

3 Responses to Janet Egan: A Poem for the Moby Dick Marathon in New Bedford, Mass.

  1. Chris O says:

    Great poem! “The whale drags this burden / Across seven seas”
    This has long been on my bucket lists. Look forward to checking out the virtual.
    This summer I read in a marathon Emily Dickinson event. All of her poems were read aloud.

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