The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Thrill to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's chilling tale of betrayal, redemption and the albatross, illustrated with Gustave Doré's astonishing engravings.

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PART I

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

 

 

 

 

 


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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 


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

 

 


The ship driven by a storm toward
the south pole.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The land of ice, and of fearful
sounds where no living thing was
to be seen.

 

 


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

 

 

And lo! the Albatross proveth a
bird of good omen, and followeth
the ship as it returned northward
through fog and floating ice.

 

 

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

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?...

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 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.

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

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

 

'And now the storm-blastcame, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o'ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

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.

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 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,
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 a good south wind sprung 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 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.

 
   

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

 

His shipmates cry out against the
ancient Mariner, for killing the
bird of good luck.

 

But when the fog cleared off, they
justify the same, and thus make
themselves accomplices in the
crime.


The fair breeze continues; the
ship enters the Pacific Ocean, and
sails northward, even till it reaches
the Line.

The ship hath been suddenly be-
calmed.

 

 

 

 

 


And the Albatross begins to be
avenged.

 

 

 

 

 

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 Constantinopolitan,
Michael Psellus, may be consulted.
They are very numerous, and
there is no climate or element
one or more.

The shipmates, in their sore dis-
tress, would fain throw the whole
guilt on the ancient Mariner: in
sign whereof they hang the dead
sea-bird round his neck.

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 mariners' hollo!

 

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work'em 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!

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 blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

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.

 

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
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.

 

And some in dreams assured 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.

 

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

 
   

 

 

 

 

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