Stories

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Part I

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 Ancient Mariner came back to his own Country.

An ancient Mariner meeteth three Gallants bidden to a wedding-feast, and detaineth one.

It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.

"By thy long beard and glitterimg eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Bridegrooms 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.

The Weddimg-Guest is spellbound by the eye of the old seafarimg man, and constrained to hear his tale.

He holds him with his glitterimg eye---
The Weddimg-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child:
The Mariner hath his will.

The Weddimg-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 harbor cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

The Mariner tells how the ship sailed southward with a good wind and fair weather, till it reached the Line.

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.

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon--
The Weddimg-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.

The Weddimg-Guest heareth the bridal music; but the Mariner continueth his tale.

The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she:
Noddimg their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.

The Weddimg-Guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear:
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

The ship driven by a storm toward the South Pole.

And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his overtakimg wimgs,
And chased us south along.

With slopimg masts and dippimg 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.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floatimg by,
As green as emerald.

The land of ice, and of fearful sounds where no livimg thimg was to be seen.

And through the drifts the snowy cliffts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken - --
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!

Till a great sea bird, called the Albatross, came through the snow-fog, and was received with great joy and hospitality.

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.

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 lo! The Albatross proveth a bird of good omen, and followeth the ship as it returned northward throughfog and floatimg ice.

And a good south wind sprang up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner's hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine:
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moonshine.

The ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good omen.

"God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plagues thee thus
Why look'st thou so? - With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS."

The Year of 54<< backRine II


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