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 V

    "Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
    Beloved from pole to pole!
    To Mary Queen the praise be given!
    She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,
    That slid into my soul.


    By grace of the holy
    Mother, the ancient
    Mariner is refreshed
    with rain.
    The silly buckets on the deck,
    That had so long remained,
    I dreamt that they were filled with dew;
    And when I awoke, it rained.


    My lips were wet, my throat was cold,
    My garments all were dank;
    Sure I had drunken in my dreams,
    And still my body drank.


    I moved, and could not feel my limbs:
    I was so light--almost
    I thought that I had died in sleep,
    And was a blessed ghost.



    Plate 19: The moving Moon went up to the Sky


    He heareth sounds and
    seeth strange sights and
    commotions in the sky
    and in the element.
    And soon I heard a roaring wind:
    It did not come anear;
    But with its sound it shook the sails,
    That were so thin and sere.


    The upper air burst into life!
    And a hundred fire-flags sheen,
    To and fro they were hurried about!
    And to and fro, and in and out,
    The wan stars danced between.


    And the coming wind did roar more loud,
    And the sails did sigh like sedge,
    And the rain poured down from one black cloud;
    The Moon was at its edge.


    The thick black cloud was cleft, and still
    The Moon was at its side:
    Like waters shot from some high crag,
    The lightning fell with never a jag,
    A river steep and wide.


    The loud wind never reached the ship,
    Yet now the ship moved on!
    Beneath the lightning and the Moon
    The dead men gave a groan.



    Plate 20: I watched the water-snakes

    The bodies of the ship's
    crew are inspired, and
    the ship moves on.
    They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose,
    Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
    It had been strange, even in a dream,
    To have seen those dead men rise.


    The helmsman steered, the ship moved on;
    Yet never a breeze up-blew;
    The mariners all 'gan work the ropes,
    Where they were wont to do;
    They raised their limbs like lifeless tools--
    We were a ghastly crew.


    The body of my brother's son
    Stood by me, knee to knee:
    The body and I pulled at one rope,
    But he said nought to me.



    Plate 21: The rain poured down from one black cloud


    But not by the souls of
    the men, nor by daemons
    of earth or middle air,
    but by a blessed troupe
    of angelic spirits,
    sent down by the
    invocation of the
    guardian saint.
    "I fear thee, ancient Mariner!"
    "Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest!
    'Twas not those souls that fled in pain,
    Which to their corses came again,
    But a troop of spirits blest:


    For when it dawned--they dropped their arms,
    And clustered round the mast;
    Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,
    And from their bodies passed.


    Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
    Then darted to the Sun;
    Slowly the sounds came back again,
    Now mixed, now one by one.


    Sometimes a-dropping from the sky
    I heard the sky-lark sing;
    Sometimes all little birds that are,
    How they seemed to fill the sea and air
    With their sweet jargoning!


    And now 'twas like all instruments,
    Now like a lonely flute;
    And now it is an angel's song,
    That makes the heavens be mute.


    It ceased; yet still the sails made on
    A pleasant noise till noon,
    A noise like of a hidden brook
    In the leafy month of June,
    That to the sleeping woods all night
    Singeth a quiet tune.


    Till noon we quietly sailed on,
    Yet never a breeze did breathe:
    Slowly and smoothly went the ship,
    Moved onward from beneath.



    Plate 22: They all uprose
    The lonesome Spirit
    from the south pole
    carries on the ship as
    far as the Line, in
    obedience to the angelic
    toop, but still
    requireth vengance.
    Under the keel nine fathom deep,
    From the land of mist and snow,
    The spirit slid: and it was he
    That made the ship to go.
    The sails at noon left off their tune,
    And the ship stood still also.


    The Sun, right up above the mast,
    Had fixed her to the ocean:
    But in a minute she 'gan stir,
    With a short uneasy motion--
    Backwards and forwards half her length
    With a short uneasy motion.


    Then like a pawing horse let go,
    She made a sudden bound:
    It flung the blood into my head,
    And I fell down in a swound.



    Plate 23: The sails made on a pleasant noise


    The Polar Spirit's fellow
    daemons, the invisible
    inhabitants of the element,
    take part in his wrong,
    and two of them relate,
    one to the other, that
    penance long and heavy
    hath been accorded to
    the Polar Spirit, who
    returneth southward.
    How long in that same fit I lay,
    I have not to declare;
    But ere my living life returned,
    I heard and in my soul discerned
    Two voices in the air.


    'Is it he?' quoth one, 'Is this the man?
    By him who died on cross,
    With his cruel bow he laid full low
    The harmless Albatross.


    The spirit who bideth by himself
    In the land of mist and snow,
    He loved the bird that loved the man
    Who shot him with his bow.'


    The other was a softer voice,
    As soft as honey-dew:
    Quoth he, 'The man hath penance done,
    And penance more will do.'


    Part VI

       First Voice


    "'But tell me, tell me! speak again,
    Thy soft response renewing--
    What makes that ship drive on so fast?
    What is the ocean doing?'


       Second Voice


    'Still as a slave before his lord,
    The ocean hath no blast;
    His great bright eye most silently
    Up to the Moon is cast--
    If he may know which way to go;
    For she guides him smooth or grim.
    See, brother, see! how graciously
    She looketh down on him.'


       First Voice



    Plate 24: I fell down in a swound

    The Mariner hath been
    cast into a trance; for
    the angelic power causeth
    the vessel to drive
    northward faster than
    human life could endure.
    'But why drives on that ship so fast,
    Without or wave or wind?'


       Second Voice


    'The air is cut away before,
    And closes from behind.


    Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high!
    Or we shall be belated:
    For slow and slow that ship will go,
    When the Mariner's trance is abated.'



    Plate 25: Two voices in the air


    The supernatural motion
    is retarded; the Mariner
    awakes, and his penance
    begins anew.
    I woke, and we were sailing on
    As in a gentle weather:
    'Twas night, calm night, the moon was high;
    The dead men stood together.


    All stood together on the deck,
    For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
    All fixed on me their stony eyes,
    That in the Moon did glitter.


    The pang, the curse, with which they died,
    Had never passed away:
    I could not draw my eyes from theirs,
    Nor turn them up to pray.



    Plate 26: Without wave or wind


    The curse is finally
    And now this spell was snapt: once more
    I viewed the ocean green,
    And looked far forth, yet little saw
    Of what had else been seen--


    Like one, that on a lonesome road
    Doth walk in fear and dread,
    And having once turned round walks on,
    And turns no more his head;
    Because he knows, a frightful fiend
    Doth close behind him tread.


    But soon there breathed a wind on me,
    Nor sound nor motion made:
    Its path was not upon the sea,
    In ripple or in shade.


    It raised my hair, it fanned my cheek
    Like a meadow-gale of spring--
    It mingled strangely with my fears,
    Yet it felt like a welcoming.


    Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
    Yet she sailed softly too:
    Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze--
    On me alone it blew.



    Plate 27: The shadow of the moon

    And the ancient Mariner
    beholdeth his native
    Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed
    The light-house top I see?
    Is this the hill? is this the kirk?
    Is this mine own countree?


    We drifted o'er the harbour-bar,
    And I with sobs did pray--
    O let me be awake, my God!
    Or let me sleep alway.


    The harbour-bay was clear as glass,
    So smoothly it was strewn!
    And on the bay the moonlight lay,
    And the shadow of the Moon.


    The rock shone bright, the kirk no less,
    That stands above the rock:
    The moonlight steeped in silentness
    The steady weathercock.


    And the bay was white with silent light,
    Till rising from the same,
    THe moonlight steeped in silentness
    The steady weathercock.



    Plate 28: In crimson colors came
    The angelic spirits
    leave the dead bodies,
    A little distance from the prow
    Those crimson shadows were:
    I turned my eyes upon the deck--
    Oh, Christ! what saw I there!


    And appear in their
    own forms of light.
    Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat,
    And, by the holy rood!
    A man all light, a seraph-man,
    On every corse there stood.


    This seraph-band, each waved his hand:
    It was a heavenly sight!
    They stood as signals to the land,
    Each one a lovely light;


    This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
    No voice did they impart--
    No voice; but oh! the silence sank
    Like music on my heart.

    Plate 29: A heavenly sight


    But soon I heard the dash of oars,
    I heard the Pilot's cheer;
    My head was turned perforce away
    And I saw a boat appear.


    The Pilot and the Pilot's boy,
    I heard them coming fast:
    Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy
    The dead men could not blast.


    I saw a third--I heard his voice:
    It is the Hermit good!
    He singeth loud his godly hymns
    That he makes in the wood.
    He'll shrieve my soul, he'll wash away
    The Albatross's blood.


    Plate 30: The skiff-boat nears



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