The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?
The Bridegroom's door are opened wide,
And I am next of kin° ; Nearest relation
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din° .' Cheerful noise
He holds him with his skinny hand,
'There was a ship,' quoth° he. Said
'Hold off! Unhand me, grey-beard loon° !' Lazy fellow
Eftsoons° his hand dropped he. Soon after
He holds him with his glittering eye-
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child:
The Mariner hath his will.
The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
The cannot choose but hear° ; Is forced to listen
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright- eyed Mariner.
The mariner tells the wedding-guest how his ship left England, got caught in a terrible storm and was rapidly driven south.
And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.
And trough the drifts° the snowy clifts° Snow-stroms rocks
Did send a dismal sheen° : Gloomy brightness
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken° - Saw
The ice was all between.
The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound° !, Faint, swoon
At length did cross a n Albatross,
Thorough° the fog it came; Through
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed° it in God's name. Greeted
It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!
And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner's hollo° ! Call
In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud° , Ropes
It perched° for vespers nine° Sat . nine nights
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white
Glimmered the white moon-shine.'
'God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends° , that plague thee thus!- Devils
Why look'st thou so?' - 'With my cross-bow
I shot the Albatross.'
The sun now rose upon the right:
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.
And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food of play
Came to the Mariners' hollo!
And I had done a hellish thing
And it would work 'em woe° : Bring them trouble
For all averred° , I had killed the bird Declared
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch° ! Said they, the bird to slay
That made the breeze to blow!
Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,
The glorious Sun uprist: The all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
'T was right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
'T was sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!
All in a hot copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink: Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
The very deep° did rot: O Christ! The sea itself
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.
About, about, in reel and rout° Spinning wildly
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue and white.
And some in dreams assured were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us (1,82 m)
From the land of mist and snow.
And every tongue, through utter drought° , Dryness
Was withered° at the root; Dried out, shrunk
We could not speak, no more than in
We had been choked with soot.
Ah! well-a-day° ! What evil looks Alas
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
Part III tells how the Mariner and his companions see a ghost-ship that appears to move without wind or sails. On board are only two people: Death, and a beautiful woman called Life-in-Death. The two are casting dice to decide upon the fate of the ship, and life-in-Death wins the Mariner, while Death gets the rest of the crew.
We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip° ! Drink up
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip-
Till clomb° above the eastern bar° Climbed horizon
The horned° moon, with one bright star Formed like a horn
Within the nether tip.
One after on, by the star-dodded° moon, Follwed by stars
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang, Terrible pain
And cursed me with his eye.
Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump° , Dead body
They dropped down one by one.
Their souls did from their bodies fly, -
The fled to bliss or woe° Heaven or hell
And every soul, it passed me by,
Like the whizz of my cross-bow! The sound
I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank° , and brown, Thin
As is the ribbed sea-sand.
I fear thee and thy glittering eye,
And thy skinny hand, so brown' -
Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!
This body dropt not down.
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide, wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony° Great pain
The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.
I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.
I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;
But or° ever a prayer had gusht, Before risen
A wicked whisper came, and made Evil
My heart as dry as dust.
I closed my lids, and kept the close, Eyelids
And the balls like pulses beat;
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
Lay like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.
The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
Nor rot nor reek° did they: Smell
The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed away.
An orphan's curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! More horrible than that
Is th curse in a dead man's eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.
The moving Moon went up the sky,
And no where did abide° : Stay
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside-
Her beams bemocked° the sultry main° , hot sea
Like April hoar-frost° spread;
But where the ship's huge shadow lay,
The charmedwater burnt alway
A still and awful red.
Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes:
The moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light Rose
Fell off in hoary flakes.
Within the shadow of the ship,
I watched their rich attire° : Appearance
Blue glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track Curled round
Was a flash of golden fire.
O happy living things! No tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed the unaware;
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed the unaware.
The self-same° moment I could pray; That very
And from my neck so free
The albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.
The albatross falling into the sea is a sign that the Mariner's great sin of killing the harmless albatross has been forgiven, but he must still do penance for his crime and the poem proceeds to describe it at length. At last, in a Most miraculous way, he gets back to England, the dead men rising and performing their tasks aboard the ship at night, and dropping down again at dawn. Off the English coast the ship, with its ghastly crew, disappears into the water. The Mariner is saved by a hermit in a small boat. He begs the holy man to shrive him. The hermit invites him to tell his story.
Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched At once body twisted
With a woeful agony, Terrible pain
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.
Since ten, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns:
And still my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.
I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.
Heat loud uproar burst from that door! Noise
The Wedding-Guests are there:
But in the garden-bower the bride
And bride-maids singing are:
And hark° the little vesper bell, Listen to
Which biddeth me to prayer!
O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
Alone on a wide wide sea:
So lonely 'twas, that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be.
O sweeter far to me,
To walk together to the kirk° Church
With a goodly company!
To walk together to the kirk,
And all together pray,
While all to his great Father bends° , Kneels
Old men, and babes, and loving friends
And youths and maidens gay!
Farewell, farewell! But this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
The mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard whit age is hoar° , Grey
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.
He went like one that hath been stunned
And is of sense forlorn° : Has lost his mind
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn° . Next morning
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)