Melville, Herman. "The Maldive Shark".
A shark is described in two contrary ways. On one hand, the shark is phlegmatic, lethargic, with dull eyes and brains. On the other hand, it is also ghastly, predatory, ready to devour anything.
Little pilotfish are described in the same two-fold way. First they are alert, but then they realize that they have nothing to fear. They find asylum in the "jaws of the Fates". They guide the shark to a prey but do not take part.
This is a poem of precise natural observation. The poem accepts the laws of nature, does not challenge them, but simply describes them. It shows both predatory and symbiotic behaviour.
AuthorMelville, Herman. (1819 - 1891).
Full Title"The Maldive Shark".
First PublishedIn: John Marr and Other Sailors. NY: De Vinne Press, 1888.
Melville, Herman. "The Maldive Shark". (1888). In: John Marr and Other Sailors, with Some Sea-pieces. Kent: Kent State University Press, 2006.