My sites: Noah's Ark | Angels | Jonah and the Whale | Queen of Sheba | my other sites | email this page


Poetry | Other


Poem: "Prophet" by Carl Dennis, on what real prophecy is like, and what happens when real prophets take off for Tarshish:

"The sea storm that harried Jonah won't harry you.
No big fish will be waiting to swallow you whole
And keep you down in the dark till your mood
Shifts from fear to thankfulness and you want to serve.
No. You'll land safe at Tarshish and learn the language
And get a job in a countinghouse by the harbor
And raise a family you can be proud of
In a neighborhood not too rowdy for comfort"

PDF: Aldous Huxley, "Jonah" (Christmas 1917). Book of poetry, scanned in full. The eponymous poem (page 2) I give in full below. Quite a few sermons give the second stanza; it's not hard to see why they avoid the first!


A cream of phospherescent light
Floats on the wash that to and fro
Slides round his feet-enough to show
Many a pendulous stalactite
Of naked mucus, whorls and wreaths
And huge festoons of mottled tripes,
With smaller palpitating pipes
Through which some yeasty liquor seethes.

Seated upon the convex mound
Of one vast kidney, Jonah prays
And sings his canticles and hymns,
Making the hollow vault resound
God's goodness and mysterious ways,
Till the great fish spouts music as he swims."

Our Joy in a Created Good by John and (?) Charles Wesley, 1868. Short poem inspired by Jonah's feelings for the gourd.

"Our joy in a created good / How soon it fades away, ... / Joy by its violent excess / To certain ruin tends / And all our rapturous happiness / In hasty sorrow ends."
I can't help feeling this is a strange reading, a shoe-horning of biblical sentiment into a conventional topos, the impermanence of joy. All that's missing are some concluding lines about how, since life is nothing but passing joy, the comely maiden should get over herself and hop into bed with the poet.

Poem (title?) by Edward Taylor (1642-1729).

Jonah 4 by Thomas Washbourne (1654). Ungainly verse.

Samuel Wesley (1715), concludes on Jonah and Heracles:

"Three dismal Days and Nights his living Tomb.
   Vain Grecian Poets hence, of after-date,
By Tyrian Hercules the Fact relate,
And steal their Hero's Fame from Jonah 's wond'rous Fate."


Melville, Moby Dick (chapter 83), "Jonah Historically Regarded." Ah, discursive, witty Melville:

"For truly, the Right Whale's mouth would accommodate a couple of whist-tables, and comfortably seat all the players.Possibly, too, Jonah might have ensconced himself in a hollow tooth; but, on second thoughts, the Right Whale is toothless. "

George Orwell, "Inside the Whale," , part three of three of his review of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. Orwell explains the title in Miller's passivity:

"For the fact is that being inside a whale is a very comfortable, cosy, homelike thought. The historical Jonah, if he can be so called, was glad enough to escape, but in imagination, in day-dream, countless people have envied him. It is, of course, quite obvious why. The whale's belly is simply a womb big enough for an adult. There you are, in the dark, cushioned space that exactly fits you, with yards of blubber between yourself and reality, able to keep up an attitude of the completest indifference, no matter what happens."

1878 Minstrel song, "De Gospel Raft" (discussed here).

LibraryThing: Catalog your books online.

If you enjoy this site you may like this other site by me:

Mermaids on the Web. Similar site, with over 1,320 pictures .

Angels on the Web. Images and other web resources on angels in Western culture, religion and art.

Griffins in Art and on the Web. Like this site, but Griffins.