I love similes as much as a mere mortal loves a far-off, unattainable goddess! Mostly because they come to me with about as much ease as swimming comes to a rock.
Even the above similes were as difficult for me to construct as bread rising without yeast.
But similes come as easily and fluently to Herman Melville as they did to Homer. Homer is to the simile as Edison is to the lightbulb, mother is to necessity, and Johnny is to the appleseed – and Herman Melville has taken that genius and made it look easy. Check out these similes that rock as vibrantly as Elvis in his golden years, and they are all crammed into a single chapter as happily as sardines nested together in a can!
“The next moment, relieved in great part from the downward strain at the bows, the boats gave a sudden bounce upwards, as a small icefield will, when a dense herd of white bears are scared from it into the sea.”
“Yet so vast is the quantity of blood in him, and so distant and numerous its interior fountains, that he will keep thus bleeding for a considerable period; even as in a drought a river will flow, whose source is in the well-springs of far-off and undiscernible hills.”
“As strange misgrown masses gather in the knot-holes of the noblest oaks when prostrate, so from the points which the whale’s eyes had once occupied, now protruded blind bulbs, horribly pitiable to see.”
“…lay like a log, and died.”
“As when by unseen hands the water is gradually drawn off from some mighty fountain, and with half-stifled melancholy gurglings the spray-column lowers and lowers to the ground – so the last long dying spout of the whale.”