Samuel Taylor Coleridge

1772 - 1834

 

The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

Part I. (It is an ancient Mariner...)

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

ARGUMENT

How a Ship having passed the Line was driven by storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole; and how from thence she made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country.

It is an 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?
An ancient Mariner meeteth three Gallants bidden to a wedding-feast, and detaineth one.
The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din.
He holds him with his skinny hand,
There was a ship, quoth he.
Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.
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 is spell-bound by the eye of the old seafaring man, and constrained to hear his tale.
The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.
The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.
The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.
The Mariner tells how the ship sailed southward with a good wind and fair weather, till it reached the line.
Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon --

The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.
The bride had paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.
The Wedding-Guest heareth the bridal music; but the Mariner continueth his tale.
The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.
Gustav Dore Illustration: He cannot choose but hear...
"And now the Storm-blast came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o'ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.
The ship driven by a storm toward the south pole.
With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
The southward aye we fled.
Gustav Dore Illustration: The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast...
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 through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken --
The ice was all between.
The land of ice, and of fearful sounds where no living thing was to be seen.
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!
At length did cross an Albatross,
Through the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.
Till a great sea-bird, called the Albatross, came through the snow-fog, and was received with great joy and hospitality.
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!
And lo! the Albatross proveth a bird of good omen, and followeth the ship as it returned northward through fog and floating ice.
Gustav Dore Illustration: The albatross did follow...
In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
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! --
Why look'st thou so?
-- With my cross-bow
I shot the Albatross.
The ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good omen.
Illustration: I shot the albatross.

1798

Source:

The Golden Book Of Coleridge
Copyright 1914
London: J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.
New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.
 
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