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The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

Part IV.

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand.
The Wedding-Guest feareth that a Spirit is talking to him;
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.
But the ancient Mariner assureth him of his bodily life, and proceedeth to relate his horrible penance.
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.
The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.
He despiseth the creatures of the calm.
I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.
And envieth that they should live, and so many lie dead.
Gustav Dore Illustration: The rotting sea.
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 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:
The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed away.
But the curse liveth for him in the eye of the dead men.
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.
The moving Moon went up the sky,
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside --
In his loneliness and fixedness he yearneth towards the journeying Moon, and the stars that still sojourn, yet still move onward; and every where the blue sky belongs to them, and is their appointed rest, and 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.
Her beams bemocked the sultry main,
Like April hoar-frost spread;
But where the ship's huge shadow lay,
The charmed water burnt alway
A still and awful red.
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.
By the light of the Moon he beholdeth God's creatures of the great calm.
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.
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.
Their beauty and their happiness.

He blesseth them in his heart.
The selfsame moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.
The spell begins to break.

Source:

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