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Poetry #43
(published June 7, 2001)
The Maldive Shark
by Herman Melville

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 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 his 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.

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