Captain Ahab — Rockwell Kent


Captain Ahab, 1930 by Rockwell Kent (1882-1971)

What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm? But if the great sun move not of himself; but is as an errand-boy in heaven; nor one single star can revolve, but by some invisible power; how then can this one small heart beat; this one small brain think thoughts; unless God does that beating, does that thinking, does that living, and not I. By heaven, man, we are turned round and round in this world, like yonder windlass, and Fate is the handspike.

From Chapter 132 of Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick.

The Beggars — Lucas van Leyden


The Beggars, 1520 by Lucas van Leyden (c. 1494–1533)

“To the Garden of the World” — Walt Whitman


From the Heritage Press edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, illustrated by Rockwell Kent, 1936.

The Cost of Careless Looking — Theodoor Galle


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Engraving from Verdicus Christianus (A True Christian), for the chapter Adspectus Incauti Dispendium (The Cost of Careless Looking), 1601, by Theodoor Galle (1671-1733)

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Illustrated by Rockwell Kent (Book acquired, 3 Feb. 2018)


I couldn’t pass up on this illustrated Heritage Press copy of Leaves of Grass. I’m not sure of the exact date of publication, but this nice long post on the book suggests it was likely published in 1950 and designed in the mid-thirties.


My daughter and I were browsing the poetry section of our favorite used bookshop—quite randomly actually—and she pulled this volume of Leaves of Grass downward like a lever, pretending it might open a secret passage. It didn’t open a secret passage, but when she pushed it back again, I saw Kent’s name on the spine. I love Kent’s work, and I’m a huge Whitman fan, and my copy of Leaves of Grass is literally falling apart. Plus only $10 and I had plenty of store credit…so…


I’ll share some of the illustrations and verses over the next few months—a nice excuse to go through Leaves of Grass again.


Crossbowman Assisted by a Milkmaid — Jacques de Gheyn II


Curse in a Dead Man’s Eye — Patten Wilson (Illustration to Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)


Engraving of Clara the Rhino and a Human Skeleton from Bernhard Siegried Albinus’ Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani


(Via, more).

Surreal Albin Brunovsky Engraving


Love and Death — Francisco Goya

Night’s Plutonian Shore — Gustave Dore Illustrates Edgar Allan Poe’s Poem “The Raven”

Gustave Dore’s marvelous illustration’s for Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven”


Poe Illustration (“Murders in the Rue Morgue”) — Fritz Eichenberg


“Who’ll Dig His Grave? / I, Said the Owl”

From Death and Burial of Poor Cock Robin by H.L. Stephens, 1865.

St. Michael Fighting the Dragon — Albrecht Dürer

Tab. CXI (Strange Babies) — Albertus Seba

Herman Melville (Portrait) — Barry Moser