History of Literature


Samuel Taylor Coleridge


"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"


Illustrations by Gustave Dore



    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


    Illustrations by Gustave Doré



      Part II

      "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 or play
      Came to the mariner's hollo!



      Plate 8: I shot the Albatross

      His ship-mates cry out
      against the ancient
      mariner, for killing
      the bird of good luck.
      And I had done a hellish thing,
      And it would work ém woe:
      For all averred, I had killed the bird
      That made the breeze to blow.
      'Ah wretch!' said they, 'the bird to slay,
      That made the breeze to blow!'


      But when the fog cleared
      off, they justify the
      same, and thus make
      themselves accomplices
      in the crime.
      Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,
      The glorious Sun uprist:
      Then all averred, I had killed the bird
      That brought the fog and mist.
      'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
      That bring the fog and mist.'


      The fair breeze
      continues; the ship
      enters the Pacific
      Ocean, and sails
      northward, even till
      it reaches the Line.
      The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
      The furrow followed free;
      We were the first that ever burst
      Into that silent sea.



      Plate 9: I had done a hellish thing

      The ship hath been
      suddenly becalmed.
      Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
      'Twas sad as sad could be;
      And we did speak only to break
      The silence of the sea!


      All in a hot and 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.



      Plate 10: Water, water, every where

      And the Albatross
      begins to be avenged.
      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!
      That ever this should be!
      Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
      Upon the slimy sea.


      About, about, in reel and rout
      The death-fires danced at night;
      The water, like a witch's oils,
      Burnt green, and blue and white.



      Plate 11: The Death-Fires Danced at Night

      A Spirit had followed them;
      one of the invisible
      inhabitants of this planet,
      neither departed souls nor
      angels; concerning whom
      the learned Jew, Josephus,
      and the Platonic
      Michael Psellus, may be
      consulted. They are very
      numerous, and there is no
      climate or element without
      one or more.
      And some in dreams assuréd were
      Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
      Nine fathom deep he had followed us
      From the land of mist and snow.


      And every tongue, through utter drought,
      Was withered at the root;
      We could not speak, no more than if
      We had been choked with soot.


      The ship-mates in their
      sore distress, would fain
      throw the whole guilt on
      the ancient Mariner: in
      sign of which they hang
      the dead sea-bird round
      his neck.
      Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
      Had I from old and young!
      Instead of the cross, the Albatross
      About my neck was hung.



      Part III

      The ancient Mariner
      beholdeth a sign in the
      element afar off.
      "There passed a weary time. Each throat
      Was parched, and glazed each eye.
      A weary time! a weary time!
      How glazed each weary eye,
      When looking westward, I beheld
      A something in the sky.


      At first it seemed a little speck,
      And then it seemed a mist;
      It moved and moved, and took at last
      A certain shape, I wist.


      A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
      And still it neared and neared:
      As if it dodged a water-sprite,
      It plunged and tacked and veered.



      Plate 12: Nine fathom deep he had followed us

      At its nearer approach,
      it seemeth him to be a
      ship; and at a dear
      ransom he freeth his
      speech from the bonds
      of thirst.
      With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
      We could nor laugh nor wail;
      Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
      I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
      And cried, 'A sail! a sail!'


      A flash of joy;
      With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
      Agape they heard me call:
      Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
      And all at once their breath drew in.
      As they were drinking all.


      And horror follows. For
      can it be a ship that
      comes onward without
      wind or tide?
      'See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
      Hither to work us weal;
      Without a breeze, without a tide,
      She steadies with upright keel!'


      The western wave was all a-flame.
      The day was well nigh done!
      Almost upon the western wave
      Rested the broad bright Sun;
      When that strange shape drove suddenly
      Betwixt us and the Sun.



      Plate 13: The Death Ship Nears


      It seemeth him but the
      skeleton of a ship.
      And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
      (Heaven's Mother send us grace!)
      As if through a dungeon-grate he peered
      With broad and burning face.


      Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
      How fast she nears and nears!
      Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
      Like restless gossameres?


      And its ribs are seen as
      bars on the face of the
      setting eun. The Spectre-
      Woman and her Death-mate,
      and no other on board the
      Like vessel, like crew!
      Are those her ribs through which the Sun
      Did peer, as through a grate?
      And is that Woman all her crew?
      Is that a Death? and are there two?
      Is Death that woman's mate?


      Her lips were red, her looks were free,
      Her locks were yellow as gold:
      Her skin was as white as leprosy,
      The Night-mare Life-in-death was she,
      Who thicks man's blood with cold.



      Plate 14: The Game is Done!


      Death and Life-in-Death
      have diced for the ship's
      crew, and she (the latter)
      winneth the ancient Mariner.
      The naked hulk alongside came,
      And the twain were casting dice;
      'The game is done! I've won! I've won!'
      Quoth she, and whistles thrice.


      No twilight within the
      courts of the Sun.
      The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out;
      At one stride comes the dark;
      With far-heard whisper, oér the sea,
      Off shot the spectre-bark.


      At the rising
      of the Moon,.
      We listened and looked sideways up!
      Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
      My life-blood seemed to sip!
      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
      The hornéd Moon, with one bright star
      Within the nether tip.



      Plate 15: Each cursed me with his eye


      One after another,
      One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,
      Too quick for groan or sigh,
      Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
      And cursed me with his eye.


      His ship-mates drop
      down dead.
      Four times fifty living men,
      (And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
      With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
      They dropped down one by one.


      But Life-in-Death begins
      her work on the ancient
      The souls did from their bodies fly,--
      They fled to bliss or woe!
      And every soul, it passed me by,
      Like the whizz of my cross-bow!"



      Part IV

      The Wedding-Guest feareth
      that a Spirit is talking
      to him.
      "I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
      I fear thy skinny hand!
      And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
      As is the ribbed sea-sand.


      But the ancient Mariner
      asureth him of his bodily
      life, and proceedeth to
      relate his horrible
      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.

      Plate 16: No saint took pity

      He despiseth the
      creatures of the calm.
      The many men, so beautiful!
      And they all dead did lie:
      And a thousand thousand slimy things
      Lived on; and so did I.


      And envieth that they
      should live, and so
      many lie dead.
      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,
      A wicked whisper came, and made
      My heart as dry as dust.


      I closed my lids, and kept them close,
      And the balls like pulses beat;
      For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
      Lay dead like a load on my weary eye,
      And the dead were at my feet.



      Plate 17: I looked upon the rotting sea


      But the curse liveth for
      him in the eyes of the
      dead men.
      The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
      Nor rot nor reek did they:
      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 the curse in a dead man's eye!
      Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse--
      And yet I could not die.


      In his loneliness and
      fixedness he yearneth
      toward the journeying
      Moon, and the stars,
      that still sojourn, yet
      still move onward; and
      everywhere the blue sky
      belongs to them, and is
      their native country and
      their own natural homes,
      which they enter
      unannounced, as lords that
      are certainly expected and
      yet there is a silent joy
      at their arrival.
      The moving Moon went up the sky,
      And no where did abide:
      Softly she was going up,
      And a star or two beside.


      Her beams benocked the sultry main,
      Like April hoar-frost spread;
      But where the ship's huge shadow lay,
      The charm-ed water burnt alway
      A still and awful red.



      Plate 18: And yet I could not die


      By the light of the
      Moon he beholdeth God's
      creatures of the
      great calm.
      Beyond the shadow of the ship,
      I watched the water-snakes:
      They moved in tracks of shining white,
      And when they reared, the elfish light
      Fell off in hoary flakes.


      Within the shadow of the ship
      I watched their rich attire:
      Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
      They coiled and swam; and every track
      Was a flash of golden fire.


      Their beauth and their

      He blesseth them in
      his heart.

      O happy living things! no tongue
      Their beauty might declare:
      A spring of love gushed from my heart,
      And I blessed them unaware:
      Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
      And I blessed them unaware.


      The spell begins
      to break.
      The self-same moment I could pray;
      And from my neck so free
      The Albatross fell off, and sank
      Like lead into the sea.



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