Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cooking with Tender Buttons Food: Sugar. Stanzas 1-18 thru Moby Dick

THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           FOOD
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           Sugar
WORD COUNT (Total)……...-          333
STANZA(S)............................-            18
Stanzas 1-8                                      170
Stanzas 9-18                                    163
THE LEADER........................-          THE STEINY ROAD POET
About reading Tender Buttons thru Moby Dick: See introto Breakfast thru MD

“Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.” Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 1: Loomings

What did Gertrude Stein do to prepare herself for a writing career? The short answer is that she spent several months in London at the British Museum reading every novel written in English that was in that collection.

A longer answer involves her scientific background and what she said in her lectures in America. Having scientific training and experience as an undergraduate researcher at Harvard and then four years studying medicine afterwards at Johns Hopkins, Stein was not likely to build a new career without a methodology. In “What Is English Literature” from Lectures in America by Gertrude Stein, she said, “It is awfully important to know what is and what is not in your business”  (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957, p. 13).

In “Poetry and Grammar” from Lectures in America, Stein spends considerable effort saying she had not intended for Tender Buttons to be poetry but it is because she is reliant on nouns to name the thing she loves. She points to Shakespeare as having “in the forest of Arden…created a forest without mentioning the things that make a forest.” She says you sense what is there but Shakespeare “does not name its names” (p. 236). What she hoped to avoid in the language she chose was “imitation…of sounds or colors or emotions” in favor of “intellectual recreation” (p. 238).

What the Steiny Road Poet is saying is that Stein based her writing on writing already written but she did not name names. A long standing reader of Stein will sense the things that make Stein’s forest and then revel in her intellectual recreation.

In looking at “Sugar.” through Moby Dick, Steiny encountered obstacles that were actually doors to other works of literature—the Prose Edda and Uncle Tom's Cabin. The composite becomes a commentary on personal freedom relative to slavery in America, racism, homosexual discrimination, and artistic choice.


So Steiny asks where is the sugar in Moby Dick? In Chapter 94: A Squeeze of the Hand, Melville equates spermaceti oil to a sweetener. Of course, sugar is a sweetener and since Stein’s “Sugar.” has nothing to do on the surface with the white crystalline carbohydrate called sugar, a consumer of this subpoem has to look elsewhere.

No wonder that in old times this sperm was such a favourite cosmetic. Such a clearer! such a sweetener! [excerpt from Chapter 94: A Squeeze of the Hand]

A violent luck and a whole sample and even then quiet.

Steiny will back into stanza 1 based on believing strongly that Stein draws stanza 2 from Chapter 94: A Squeeze of the Hand. Therefore, she thinks stanza 1 pertains to what happened to Pip the cabin boy in Chapter 93: The Castaway when second mate Stubb took Pip out in his whaleboat to replace an injured crewmate. When a whale goes under Stubb’s boat, Pip, who is terrified, jumps out of the boat and worse gets tangled in the active harpoon line. Tashtego, the harpoonist is forced then to cut the line and lose his harpoon, which is attached to a whale. Otherwise Pip would have been strangled to death. Stubb gives Pip some “wholesome advice” which relates to Stein’s “whole sample.”

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, sample is from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French essample or “example” and example goes back to Latin exemplum “sample, imitation,” from eximere “take out.”

Here’s the passage from Chapter 93: The Castaway:

"Damn him, cut!" roared Stubb; and so the whale was lost and Pip was saved.

So soon as he recovered himself, the poor little negro was assailed by yells and execrations from the crew. Tranquilly permitting these irregular cursings to evaporate, Stubb then in a plain, business-like, but still half humorous manner, cursed Pip officially; and that done, unofficially gave him much wholesome advice. The substance was, Never jump from a boat, Pip, except—but all the rest was indefinite, as the soundest advice ever is. Now, in general, STICK TO THE BOAT, is your true motto in whaling; but cases will sometimes happen when LEAP FROM THE BOAT, is still better. Moreover, as if perceiving at last that if he should give undiluted conscientious advice to Pip, he would be leaving him too wide a margin to jump in for the future; Stubb suddenly dropped all advice, and concluded with a peremptory command, "Stick to the boat, Pip, or by the Lord, I won't pick you up if you jump; mind that. We can't afford to lose whales by the likes of you; a whale would sell for thirty times what you would, Pip, in Alabama. Bear that in mind, and don't jump any more." Hereby perhaps Stubb indirectly hinted, that though man loved his fellow, yet man is a money-making animal, which propensity too often interferes with his benevolence.

One could say that Stubb made an example of Pip by staying true to his word—if Pip jumped out the boat again, then Pip would get left behind. The etymology of sample points to example and take out which fits what happened with Pip. The other thing about this passage is that Stubb’s threat to Pip alludes to the slave market of Alabama where Pip’s monetary value would only be one thirtieth of the value of a whale.

Water is squeezing, water is almost squeezing on lard. Water, water is a mountain and it is selected and it is so practical that there is no use in money. A mind under is exact and so it is necessary to have a mouth and eye glasses.

Given the word squeeze, what comes to mind is Chapter 94: A Squeeze of the Hand. Here Ishmael is squeezing fatty lumps of sperm whale blubber (lard) to make it liquid. All the stress of Ahab’s quest to find the white whale vanishes into a crazy bliss that cannot be sustained by the intellect or imagination in the face of everyday callings. For now, I will table associations for mouth and eye glasses.

As I sat there at my ease, cross-legged on the deck; after the bitter exertion at the windlass; under a blue tranquil sky; the ship under indolent sail, and gliding so serenely along; as I bathed my hands among those soft, gentle globules of infiltrated tissues, woven almost within the hour; as they richly broke to my fingers, and discharged all their opulence, like fully ripe grapes their wine; as I snuffed up that uncontaminated aroma,—literally and truly, like the smell of spring violets; I declare to you, that for the time I lived as in a musky meadow; I forgot all about our horrible oath; in that inexpressible sperm, I washed my hands and my heart of it; I almost began to credit the old Paracelsan superstition that sperm is of rare virtue in allaying the heat of anger; while bathing in that bath, I felt divinely free from all ill-will, or petulance, or malice, of any sort whatsoever.

Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,—Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.

Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever! For now, since by many prolonged, repeated experiences, I have perceived that in all cases man must eventually lower, or at least shift, his conceit of attainable felicity; not placing it anywhere in the intellect or the fancy; but in the wife, the heart, the bed, the table, the saddle, the fireside, the country; now that I have perceived all this, I am ready to squeeze case eternally. In thoughts of the visions of the night, I saw long rows of angels in paradise, each with his hands in a jar of spermaceti. [excerpt from Chapter 94: A Squeeze of the Hand]

A question of sudden rises and more time than awfulness is so easy and shady. There is precisely that noise.

A couple of things come to mind relative to stanza 3.  A question of sudden rises might point to whales suddenly surfacing and being under a whale boat as was the case in Chapter 93: The Castaway when Pip, startled by such action of the whale, jumped out of the boat twice. In the last chapter: The Chase—The Third Day, the crew of the Pequod see Fedullah’s body lashed to Moby Dick’s back. Melville often describes Fedullah as a shady character. Ahab drops his harpoon and cries out, reflecting on Fedullah’s prophesy about two hearses.

A peck a small piece not privately overseen, not at all not a slice, not at all crestfallen and open, not at all mounting and chaining and evenly surpassing, all the bidding comes to tea.

Melville uses birds both metaphorically and actually. Therefore, peck brings to mind avian instances such as the comment that passes between Stubb and Flask about Ahab in Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck:

But on the occasion in question, those dents looked deeper, even as
his nervous step that morning left a deeper mark. And, so full of his
thought was Ahab, that at every uniform turn that he made, now at the
main-mast and now at the binnacle, you could almost see that thought
turn in him as he turned, and pace in him as he paced; so completely
possessing him, indeed, that it all but seemed the inward mould of every
outer movement.

"D'ye mark him, Flask?" whispered Stubb; "the chick that's in him pecks
the shell. 'Twill soon be out."

In Chapter 134: The Chase—Second Day, Ahab is overheard muttering to himself about the loss of Fedullah, whom he refers to as the Parsee, and what Fedullah’s death means. Ahab says it is a puzzle that like a hawk’s beak pecks at his brain. This passage also seems to be operative for Stein’s stanza 9.

"And as mechanical," muttered Ahab. Then as the men went forward, he
muttered on: "The things called omens! And yesterday I talked the same to Starbuck there, concerning my broken boat. Oh! how valiantly I seek to drive out of others' hearts what's clinched so fast in mine!—The Parsee—the Parsee!—gone, gone? and he was to go before:--but still was to be seen again ere I could perish—How's that?—There's a riddle now might baffle all the lawyers backed by the ghosts of the whole line of judges:—like a hawk's beak it pecks my brain. I'LL, I'LL solve it, though!"

These two passages seem to set up the use of the word peck in Chapter 135: The Chase—Third Day. Melville uses the word peck twice in this chapter. The first reference pertains to a hawk visiting the Pequod to peck and tear away the red flag flying on the mainmast. Flags often carried the crest of owners and so we could view this theft as a crest falling incident.

“…drive off that hawk! see! he pecks—he tears the vane"—pointing to the red flag flying at the main-truck—"Ha! he soars away with it!—Where's the old man now? see'st thou that sight, oh Ahab!—shudder, shudder!"

The second use of peck depicts Tashtego nailing up a new flag to the mast but his effort is hampered by the marauding hawk that ends up getting nailed to the mast. As Melville describes what happens to the bird, it seems the bird becomes part of “the flag of Ahab” as if he is a living crest.

But as the last whelmings intermixingly poured themselves over the
sunken head of the Indian at the mainmast, leaving a few inches of the
erect spar yet visible, together with long streaming yards of the flag,
which calmly undulated, with ironical coincidings, over the destroying
billows they almost touched;—at that instant, a red arm and a hammer
hovered backwardly uplifted in the open air, in the act of nailing
the flag faster and yet faster to the subsiding spar. A sky-hawk that
tauntingly had followed the main-truck downwards from its natural home
among the stars, pecking at the flag, and incommoding Tashtego there;
this bird now chanced to intercept its broad fluttering wing between the
hammer and the wood; and simultaneously feeling that etherial thrill,
the submerged savage beneath, in his death-gasp, kept his hammer frozen
there; and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his
imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the
flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink
to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and
helmeted herself with it.

An interpretation of not at all mounting and chaining and evenly surpassing, all the bidding comes to tea could point to the activities of catching a whale which when done well come to a T, perfection. Or at least the bidding or order/commands of Captain Ahab from his perspective would be rated that way.

A separation is not tightly in worsted and sauce, it is so kept well and sectionally.

Stanza 5 could be referencing Chapter 83: Jonah Historically Regarded. This chapter deals with the story of Jonah and the whale. The following paragraph from that chapter uses the word worsted (meaning gotten the advantage over, to defeat or beat) and discusses a real life possibility that Jonah’s whale was a ship called The Whale.

One old Sag-Harbor whaleman's chief reason for questioning the Hebrew story was this:—He had one of those quaint old-fashioned Bibles, embellished with curious, unscientific plates; one of which represented Jonah's whale with two spouts in his head—a peculiarity only true with respect to a species of the Leviathan (the Right Whale, and the varieties of that order), concerning which the fishermen have this saying, "A penny roll would choke him"; his swallow is so very small. But, to this, Bishop Jebb's anticipative answer is ready. It is not necessary, hints the Bishop, that we consider Jonah as tombed in the whale's belly, but as temporarily lodged in some part of his mouth. And this seems reasonable enough in the good Bishop. 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.

Another reason which Sag-Harbor (he went by that name) urged for his want of faith in this matter of the prophet, was something obscurely in reference to his incarcerated body and the whale's gastric juices. But this objection likewise falls to the ground, because a German exegetist supposes that Jonah must have taken refuge in the floating body of a DEAD whale--even as the French soldiers in the Russian campaign turned their dead horses into tents, and crawled into them. Besides, it has been divined by other continental commentators, that when Jonah was thrown overboard from the Joppa ship, he straightway effected his escape to another vessel near by, some vessel with a whale for a figure-head; and, I would add, possibly called "The Whale," as some craft are nowadays christened the "Shark," the "Gull," the "Eagle." Nor have there been wanting learned exegetists who have opined that the whale mentioned in the book of Jonah merely meant a life-preserver—an inflated bag of wind—which the endangered prophet swam to, and so was saved from a watery doom. Poor Sag-Harbor, therefore, seems worsted all round. But he had still another reason for his want of faith. It was this, if I remember right: Jonah was swallowed by the whale in the Mediterranean Sea, and after three days he was vomited up somewhere within three days' journey of Nineveh, a city on the Tigris, very much more than three days' journey across from the nearest point of the Mediterranean coast. How is that?

Put it in the stew, put it to shame. A little slight shadow and a solid fine furnace.

The teasing is tender and trying and thoughtful.

Stanzas 6 and 7 seem to point to the first whale killed by the crew of the Pequod. The whaling team was Tashtego and Stubb. Once the whale is moored with chains to the Pequod, Stubb orders a midnight dinner of whale steak from the Black cook Fleece, but he tells the old man the steak is overcooked and that cook has beaten it too much so the steak is also too tender. Then he teases Fleece, who has been summoned from sleep, to tell the sharks to quit feasting on the dead whale.

"Cook," said Stubb, rapidly lifting a rather reddish morsel to his mouth, "don't you think this steak is rather overdone? You've been beating this steak too much, cook; it's too tender. Don't I always say that to be good, a whale-steak must be tough? There are those sharks now over the side, don't you see they prefer it tough and rare? What a shindy they are kicking up! Cook, go and talk to 'em; tell 'em they are welcome to help themselves civilly, and in moderation, but they must keep quiet. Blast me, if I can hear my own voice. Away, cook, and deliver my message. Here, take this lantern," snatching one from his sideboard; "now then, go and preach to 'em!" [Chapter 64: Stubb’s Supper]

The line which sets sprinkling to be a remedy is beside the best cold.

The rope line which attaches to a harpoon gets burning hot after the harpoon is thrown. In Chapter 61: Stubb Kills a Whale, Stubb accidentally drops his hand-cloths and then calls out for the line to be wet (sprinkled with sea water) in order to cool it down.

"Ka-la! Koo-loo!" howled Queequeg, as if smacking his lips over a mouthful of Grenadier's steak. And thus with oars and yells the keels cut the sea. Meanwhile, Stubb retaining his place in the van, still encouraged his men to the onset, all the while puffing the smoke from his mouth. Like desperadoes they tugged and they strained, till the welcome cry was heard—"Stand up, Tashtego!—give it to him!" The harpoon was hurled. "Stern all!" The oarsmen backed water; the same moment something went hot and hissing along every one of their wrists. It was the magical line. An instant before, Stubb had swiftly caught two additional turns with it round the loggerhead, whence, by reason of its increased rapid circlings, a hempen blue smoke now jetted up and mingled with the steady fumes from his pipe. As the line passed round and round the loggerhead; so also, just before reaching that point, it blisteringly passed through and through both of Stubb's hands, from which the hand-cloths, or squares of quilted canvas sometimes worn at these times, had accidentally dropped. It was like holding an enemy's sharp two-edged sword by the blade, and that enemy all the time striving to wrest it out of your clutch.

"Wet the line! wet the line!" cried Stubb to the tub oarsman (him seated by the tub) who, snatching off his hat, dashed sea-water into it.* More turns were taken, so that the line began holding its place. The boat now flew through the boiling water like a shark all fins. Stubb and Tashtego here changed places—stem for stern—a staggering business truly in that rocking commotion.

*Partly to show the indispensableness of this act, it may here be stated, that, in the old Dutch fishery, a mop was used to dash the running line with water; in many other ships, a wooden piggin, or bailer, is set apart for that purpose. Your hat, however, is the most convenient.

A puzzle, a monster puzzle, a heavy choking, a neglected Tuesday.

Melville uses the word monster frequently to refer to Moby Dick and Ahab is heard muttering about the puzzle the monster has created relative to the loss of Ahab’s special mate Fedullah in Chapter 134: The Chase—Second Day and what Fedullah’s death means. Ahab says it is a puzzle that like a hawk’s beak that pecks at his brain. This passage also seems to be operative for Stein’s stanza 9 (the scene is mentioned in the discussion of stanza 4 of “Sugar.”). However, the word Tuesday, and a neglected Tuesday at that, remains a mystery until Steiny investigated the etymology of Tuesday.

Origin of Tuesday:
From the text of the Prose Edda comes the story of a Norse God named Tyr (Tiw) who was one-handed because someone needed to put a magic leash on a huge wolf named Fenris (Fenrir) who was prophesized to kill the top Norse god Odin. In order to leash the wolf, someone had to put his hand in the wolf’s mouth. The hand in the mouth was a sign of a pledge to the wolf that the wolf would at some time in the future be released from the leash. However, when Tyr put his hand in Fenris’s mouth, the pledge of release was not enacted and so Fenris bit off Tyr’s hand. Stein may have picked Tuesday to evoke the one-handed Norse god as a comparison to the one-legged Captain Ahab. Also the monster puzzle might be referring, in this case, to Fenris as opposed to the white whale Moby Dick.

Later when the prophesy of Fenris killing Odin is coming true, the following happens. Fenris swallows Odin but Vidar, the Silent, “sets his foot upon the monster’s lower jaw” and grabs the upper jaw tearing the monster apart. While Odin is not saved, the story has comparison with Jonah and the whale in that Odin and Jonah were both commanded by a higher force to do greater good deeds and they both get swallowed by monsters. This might be Stein’s reference to heavy choking.

Also Steiny thinks it appropriate to mention that Melville pays heed to things Norse in Chapter 30: The Pipe when he compares Captain Ahab’s ivory stool to the “thrones of the sea-loving Danish kings fabricated, saith [Norse] tradition, of the tusks of the narwhale.”

Wet crossing and a likeness, any likeness, a likeness has blisters, it has that and teeth, it has the staggering blindly and a little green, any little green is ordinary.

The same passage quoted in stanza 8 from Moby Dick, Chapter 61: Stubb Kills a Whale has some of the same words used in this stanza (10). Here are some of the lines:

 As the line passed round and round the loggerhead; so also, just before reaching that point, it blisteringly passed through and through both of Stubb's hands, from which the hand-cloths, or squares of quilted canvas sometimes worn at these times, had accidentally dropped. It was like holding an enemy's sharp two-edged sword by the blade, and that enemy all the time striving to wrest it out of your clutch.

"Wet the line! wet the line!" cried Stubb to the tub oarsman (him seated by the tub) who, snatching off his hat, dashed sea-water into it.* More turns were taken, so that the line began holding its place. The boat now flew through the boiling water like a shark all fins. Stubb and Tashtego here changed places—stem for stern—a staggering business truly in that rocking commotion.

As Stubb kills the whale with his lance, the great animal thrashes around in his death “flurry.”

And now it is struck; for, starting from his trance into that unspeakable thing called his "flurry," the monster horribly wallowed in his blood, overwrapped himself in impenetrable, mad, boiling spray, so that the imperilled craft, instantly dropping astern, had much ado blindly to struggle out from that phrensied twilight into the clear air of the day.

Steiny conjectures that Gertrude Stein found the killing of this whale hard to take because she identified with this animal who is a mammal like human beings. Therefore, she repeats likeness three times. Mention of green is likely to be a reference to Ishmael, a green hand, who narrates this chapter.

One, two and one, two, nine, second and five and that.

Mathematics is a recurring theme throughout Moby Dick. In Chapter 96: The Try-Works, Steiny was particularly struck that Ishmael finds the try-pots, the vats where whale blubber is boiled into oil, a place for “profound mathematical meditation.

The try-works are planted between the foremast and mainmast, the most roomy part of the deck. The timbers beneath are of a peculiar strength, fitted to sustain the weight of an almost solid mass of brick and mortar, some ten feet by eight square, and five in height. The foundation does not penetrate the deck, but the masonry is firmly secured to the surface by ponderous knees of iron bracing it on all sides, and screwing it down to the timbers. On the flanks it is cased with wood, and at top completely covered by a large, sloping, battened hatchway. Removing this hatch we expose the great try-pots, two in number, and each of several barrels' capacity. When not in use, they are kept remarkably clean. Sometimes they are polished with soapstone and sand, till they shine within like silver punch-bowls. During the night-watches some cynical old sailors will crawl into them and coil themselves away there for a nap. While employed in polishing them—one man in each pot, side by side—many confidential communications are carried on, over the iron lips. It is a place also for profound mathematical meditation. It was in the left hand try-pot of the Pequod, with the soapstone diligently circling round me, that I was first indirectly struck by the remarkable fact, that in geometry all bodies gliding along the cycloid, my soapstone for example, will descend from any point in precisely the same time.

While there are a lot of numbers in Chapter 96 in common with Stein’s stanza 11, including that the pots were fired up around nine o’clock, Steiny continues to be mystified about what Stein intends this stanza to do.

It was about nine o'clock at night that the Pequod's try-works were first started on this present voyage. It belonged to Stubb to oversee the business.

A blaze, a search in between, a cow, only any wet place, only this tune.

What comes immediately to mind for stanza 12 is Chapter 87: The Grand Armada where Melville gives the reader a view of the sperm whale’s breeding grounds. Ahab’s plan was to pass through the islands of Southeast Asia without stopping because pirates abound and the Pequod has all the supplies it needs. The area features a relentless sun which accounts for Stein’s use of the word blaze but Melville is also comparing Ahab’s passion (or obsession) as a fiery ring in the way a god might broadcast a blaze of fire.

When the Pequod nears Java, the crew spots huge numbers of sperm whales, which excites the crew, but then Tashtego calls out, “rig whips and buckets to wet the sails;—Malays, sir, and after us!” The Pequod outruns the pirates and then the men take to their whaleboats, chasing the sea monsters for several hours until finally the whales break rank and become panicked. Queequeg attaches to a whale, but it breaks free. Eventually Starbuck’s boat is surrounded by whales and it during this encirclement that they see cows.

Yes, we were now in that enchanted calm which they say lurks at the heart of every commotion. And still in the distracted distance we beheld the tumults of the outer concentric circles, and saw successive pods of whales, eight or ten in each, swiftly going round and round, like multiplied spans of horses in a ring; and so closely shoulder to shoulder, that a Titanic circus-rider might easily have over-arched the middle ones, and so have gone round on their backs. Owing to the density of the crowd of reposing whales, more immediately surrounding the embayed axis of the herd, no possible chance of escape was at present afforded us. We must watch for a breach in the living wall that hemmed us in; the wall that had only admitted us in order to shut us up. Keeping at the centre of the lake, we were occasionally visited by small tame cows and calves; the women and children of this routed host.

The etymology of the word search includes the variant of Old French cerchier, from Latin circāre, to go around, from Latin circus, circle. This covers Stein’s phrase a search in between. In searching for an etymology of tune, one is directed to tone which has a root from Greek tonos meaning string, a stretching. Two things come to mind, one related to the harpoon line and the other, Queequeg’s sighting of a whale mother giving birth, showing the umbilical chord still attached to her calf.

"Look-e here," said Queequeg, pointing down.

As when the stricken whale, that from the tub has reeled out hundreds of fathoms of rope; as, after deep sounding, he floats up again, and shows the slackened curling line buoyantly rising and spiralling towards the air; so now, Starbuck saw long coils of the umbilical cord of Madame Leviathan, by which the young cub seemed still tethered to its dam. Not seldom in the rapid vicissitudes of the chase, this natural line, with the maternal end loose, becomes entangled with the hempen one, so that the cub is thereby trapped.
Cut a gas jet uglier and then pierce pierce in between the next and negligence. Choose the rate to pay and pet pet very much. A collection of all around, a signal poison, a lack of languor and more hurts at ease.

With words like jet (what the blow hole of a whale produces—a jet of water), pierce, rate to pay, hurts, stanza 13 could be pointing to Chapter 72: The Monkey-Rope. The chapter deals with the cutting of strips of blubber from the dead whale. It’s a dangerous job. Ishmael describes how he is teamed with Queequeg with a single rope attached to belts around their waists. Queequeg is on the whale which revolves like a treadmill. Half the time he is in the water but Ishmael who is up above him on deck is holding him, as if he were a performing pet monkey on a rope.

Now what Stanza 13 deals with is when Queequeg comes back on deck completely spent and is offered a small cup of tepid water with ginger root in it instead of a high-quality alcoholic drink. Second mate Stubb accuses the steward (cook) of trying to poison Queequeg and collect the insurance.

But courage! there is good cheer in store for you, Queequeg. For now, as with blue lips and blood-shot eyes the exhausted savage at last climbs up the chains and stands all dripping and involuntarily trembling over the side; the steward advances, and with a benevolent, consolatory glance hands him—what? Some hot Cognac? No! hands him, ye gods! hands him a cup of tepid ginger and water!

"There is some sneaking Temperance Society movement about this business," he suddenly added, now approaching Starbuck, who had just come from forward. "Will you look at that kannakin, sir; smell of it, if you please." Then watching the mate's countenance, he added, "The steward, Mr. Starbuck, had the face to offer that calomel and jalap to Queequeg, there, this instant off the whale. Is the steward an apothecary, sir? and may I ask whether this is the sort of bitters by which he blows back the life into a half-drowned man?"

"I trust not," said Starbuck, "it is poor stuff enough."

"Aye, aye, steward," cried Stubb, "we'll teach you to drug a harpooneer; none of your apothecary's medicine here; you want to poison us, do ye? You have got out insurances on our lives and want to murder us all, and pocket the proceeds, do ye?"

"It was not me," cried Dough-Boy, "it was Aunt Charity that brought the ginger on board; and bade me never give the harpooneers any spirits, but only this ginger-jub—so she called it."

While ginger can be a purgative, it is not poisonous like calomel which is mercury chloride. Also ginger is supposed to settle the stomach but what Stubb is railing about concerns what “real” men got to revive them and that is high-quality liquor like cognac.

A white bird, a colored mine, a mixed orange, a dog.                

Stanza 14 reads like a painted still life and since Melville talks at length about paintings in Moby Dick, Steiny looked for signs of white birds and dogs but found nothing of interest. Yes, there are white birds like the albatross in Moby Dick but not in combination with a mine or dog, let alone a mixed orange which presumably could be sunset. She searched Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” —nothing there except the albatross. She searched the Prose Edda, thinking there would be something about gold mines worked by the Nibelungen dwarves but also came up short.

Taking a final run at this stanza, Steiny sees this stanza has racial shading with the words white, colored, and mixed. Stein might be pointing to the growing of sugar cane which used slave labor and which Stein has pointed to in other subpoems of Tender Buttons. The most famous book about American slavery is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852. A search of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel turns up all the words used in Stein’s stanza 14. The white bird could be a white woman named Mrs. Bird who helps Eliza get through the free state of Ohio as Eliza makes her way to Canada. Runaway slaves were usually hunted with dogs. Oranges, the fruit, are mentioned many times in the book though Steiny is not entirely sure why it would be a mixed orange without making an extensive study of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Mine is mentioned in Stowe’s introduction as she acknowledges humanitarian work done by Lord Shaftesbury in England on behalf of oppressed women and children he helped liberate from “mines and collieries.”

Cuddling comes in continuing a change.

What comes to mind about stanza 15, especially in light of the racial implications of stanza 14, is Chapter 4: The Counterpane where Ishmael awakes to find Queequeg’s arm thrown over him. Ishmael progressively changes his attitude toward Queequeg along racial, gender, and religious beliefs such that by Chapter 10: A Bosom Friend, he says that he and Queequeg are “a cosy, loving pair.”

A piece of separate outstanding rushing is so blind with open delicacy.

In tandem with stanza 15, Steiny believes that Chapter 13: Wheelbarrow, which continues the story of Ishmael becoming fast friends with Queequeg is what Stein is pointing our attention to. In this chapter, Queequeg is insulted by a white country bumpkin whom Queequeg manhandles to get his attention. This incident occurs on the packet schooner that Ishmael and Queequeg board to get to Nantucket where they will get a job on a whaler. The captain of the packet schooner scolds Queequeg for trying to kill the bumpkin and then all hell breaks lose on the schooner as the boom knocks the bumpkin off the boat into the sea. Queequeg saves the man.

"Capting! Capting!" yelled the bumpkin, running towards that officer;
"Capting, Capting, here's the devil."

"Hallo, _you_ sir," cried the Captain, a gaunt rib of the sea, stalking
up to Queequeg, "what in thunder do you mean by that? Don't you know you
might have killed that chap?"

"What him say?" said Queequeg, as he mildly turned to me.

"He say," said I, "that you came near kill-e that man there," pointing
to the still shivering greenhorn.

"Kill-e," cried Queequeg, twisting his tattooed face into an unearthly
expression of disdain, "ah! him bevy small-e fish-e; Queequeg no kill-e
so small-e fish-e; Queequeg kill-e big whale!"

"Look you," roared the Captain, "I'll kill-e YOU, you cannibal, if you
try any more of your tricks aboard here; so mind your eye."

But it so happened just then, that it was high time for the Captain to
mind his own eye. The prodigious strain upon the main-sail had parted
the weather-sheet, and the tremendous boom was now flying from side to
side, completely sweeping the entire after part of the deck. The poor
fellow whom Queequeg had handled so roughly, was swept overboard; all
hands were in a panic; and to attempt snatching at the boom to stay it,
seemed madness. It flew from right to left, and back again, almost
in one ticking of a watch, and every instant seemed on the point of
snapping into splinters. Nothing was done, and nothing seemed capable of
being done; those on deck rushed towards the bows, and stood eyeing the
boom as if it were the lower jaw of an exasperated whale. In the
midst of this consternation, Queequeg dropped deftly to his knees, and
crawling under the path of the boom, whipped hold of a rope, secured one
end to the bulwarks, and then flinging the other like a lasso, caught it
round the boom as it swept over his head, and at the next jerk, the spar
was that way trapped, and all was safe. The schooner was run into the
wind, and while the hands were clearing away the stern boat, Queequeg,
stripped to the waist, darted from the side with a long living arc of
a leap. For three minutes or more he was seen swimming like a dog,
throwing his long arms straight out before him, and by turns revealing
his brawny shoulders through the freezing foam.

One might say the captain turned a blind eye to the oafish bumpkin and then got the man got just reward by being swept into the sea. The delicacy is that the man insulted saves the insulter.

A canoe is orderly. A period is solemn. A cow is accepted.

While canoes are mentioned in various chapters of Moby Dick, Chapter 110: Queequeg in His Coffin is what Steiny thinks matches the intention of stanza 17. In Chapter 110, Queequeg gets a fever, loses weight and calls forth a favor of having a coffin made for him. His orderly departure from living must be in a coffin canoe similar to what his culture would do for the deceased and much like what the whalemen of Nantucket did. The period of Queequeg’s illness was taken quite seriously because it seems to be indicating the end of him as the punctuation mark called period marks the end of a sentence. While Queequeg lies in his coffin to test it out, Pip, the cabin boy, visits. Pip, ever since the incident of being left in the sea after he jumped out of the whaleboat headed by Stubb, is crazy. Pip says he has come with his tambourine to “beat ye your dying march.” Ishmael narrates:

So, to my fond faith, poor Pip, in this strange sweetness of his lunacy, brings heavenly vouchers of all our heavenly homes. Where learned he that, but there?—Hark! he speaks again: but more wildly now."

"Form two and two! Let's make a General of him! Ho, where's his harpoon? Lay it across here.—Rig-a-dig, dig, dig! huzza! Oh for a game cock now to sit upon his head and crow! Queequeg dies game!—mind ye that; Queequeg dies game!—take ye good heed of that; Queequeg dies game! I say; game, game, game! but base little Pip, he died a coward; died all a'shiver;—out upon Pip! Hark ye; if ye find Pip, tell all the Antilles he's a runaway; a coward, a coward, a coward! Tell them he jumped from a whale-boat! I'd never beat my tambourine over base Pip, and hail him General, if he were once more dying here. No, no! shame upon all cowards—shame upon them! Let 'em go drown like Pip, that jumped from a whale-boat. Shame! shame!"

During all this, Queequeg lay with closed eyes, as if in a dream. Pip was led away, and the sick man was replaced in his hammock.

Ishmael calls Pip’s performance a “strange sweetness of his lunacy,” which lines up with Stein’s Sugar subpoem and his insistent repetition of the word coward might be what Stein refers to as cow in the sentence A cow is accepted. The etymology of the word coward gives us from Latin cauda: perhaps suggestive of a frightened animal with its tail between its legs. And by now the crew of the ship has pretty much accepted Pip’s condition so that eventually Captain Ahab takes the boy into his cabin to be under his protection.

A nice old chain is widening, it is absent, it is laid by.

Chains figure into Moby Dick, the Prose Edda, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin and in each story, an oppressed one is liberated. In the case of Moby Dick and the Prose Edda, two monsters are liberated from their restraints either by not being killed in the case of the White Whale or by escaping a magic, extra-strong chain in the case of Prose Edda wolf Fenris. In the case of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, escaped slaves are liberated from their chains. The numbers in stanza 11 might refer to the chemistry of sugar which involves short chain soluble carbohydrates, something that was superficially discussed by the Buttons Collective. How to interpret Stein’s numbers remains a question to Steiny who has little experience with chemistry. Still, the association to chain remains a strong possibility.

Steiny stands back and gasps at what she has seen in Gertrude Stein’s story of “Sugar.” and how surprisingly well a look at “Sugar.” through Moby Dick has played out.

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