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The King of the Southern Sea
Joseph Edwards Carpenter


Whale Song

Oh! the whale is free of the boundless sea;
   He lives for a thousand years;
He sinks to rest in the billow's breast,
   Nor the roughest tempest fears.
The howling blast, as it hurries past,
   Is music to lull him to sleep;
And he scatters the spray in his boisterous play,
   As he dashes—the king of the deep.
      Oh! the rare old whale, 'mid storm and gale,
         In his ocean home will be,
      A giant in might, where might is right,
         And king of the boundless sea!

A wondrous tale could the rare old whale
   Of the mighty deep disclose,
Of the skeleton forms of bygone storms,
   And of treasures that no one knows.
He has seen the crew, whom the tempest blew,
   Drop down from the slippery deck,
Shaking the tide from his glassy side,
   And sporting with ocean and wreck.
      Then the rare old whale, 'mid storm and gale
         In his ocean home shall be,
      A giant in might, where might is right,
         And king of the boundless sea.

Then, the whale shall be still dear to me,
   When the midnight lamp burns dim;
For the student's book, and his favourite nook,
   Are illumed by the aid of him;
From none of his tribe could we e'er imbibe
   So useful, so bless'd a thing.
Then, we'll on land go hand in hand,
   To hail him the Ocean King.
      Oh! the rare old whale, 'mid storm and gale,
         In his home will ever be,
      A giant in might, where might is right,
         And king of the boundless sea!


This poem is in the public domain.

Joseph Edwards Carpenter (1813 – 1885) was a British poet, playwright, and composer. He wrote nearly 3000 songs in the course of his life, including hymns, lullabies, popular tunes, and musicals. Joseph was a member of The Punch Club, a group of esteemed gentlemen (including Charles Dickens, Napoleon the Third,  and Joseph Ashby-Sterry) who gathered on a regular basis to drink (from a bowl of steaming punch) and dine, sing songs, share poems and stories, and exchange creative ideas.


Post New Comment:
Agree with Daryl and Larry. At the poet's time, people may also not have been aware, or not wanted to be aware, of the terrible cruelty of the least this so-well-written poem expresses gratitude...
Posted 05/24/2022 07:14 PM
great piece! I can see why Melville used part of it
Posted 05/24/2022 06:00 PM
A giant in might, where might is right Very energetic poem with its rhythm and rhyme.
Posted 05/24/2022 10:57 AM
Good one!!
Posted 05/24/2022 10:12 AM
Darrell Arnold:
The power of the whale is reflected in the power of this magnificently composed piece. I can only imagine what it must have been like to sit in the presence of the learnd Punch clubbers and listen to Mr. Carpenter recite this poem. I think the men of those times had little knowledge of how fragile the existence of those whales was. I'm sure they felt the resources of the ocean were so bountiful that mankind's harvest of such was of little consequence. I am grateful that we are now aware and that many are dedicating their lives to restoring and protecting whales and their pelagic home. Awareness is everything. Jayne's offering helps keep us inspired to do the right thing for our fellow inhabitants of this incredible planet.
Posted 05/24/2022 09:19 AM
I'm riding on the back of the whale, feeling his sway, surge and plunge. This guy is/was a gifted artisan.
Posted 05/24/2022 08:41 AM
Larry Schug:
Wow! I am floored by this work on many levels. Meant to be read aloud, poetically, with its rhyme and meter, the words sing and if you are not inspired by the beauty and majesty of whales themselves to save them, you must be lacking heart. Knowing what we know of the whale's plight, we see it beginning in the harvest of whales to power lamps, under which light this poem may have been written. There is so much here to think about in 2022 that was relevant in the 1800's. I very much enjoyed this selection, Jayne. Thank you.
Posted 05/24/2022 07:33 AM

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