« PreviousContinue »
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,
And 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 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 lo! the albatross proveth a bird of good omen, and followeth the ship as it returned northward through fog and floating ice.
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 moonshine.
“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.
His shipmates cry out against the ancient mariner, for killing the bird of good luck.
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 mariner's 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.
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.
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 becalmed;
And the albatross begins to be avenged.
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: 0 Christ!
That ever this should be !
Yea, shiny things did crawl with legs
Upon the shiny 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.
A spirit had followed them; one of the invisible inhabitants of this planet, neither departed souls or 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 without one or more. The ship-mates, in their sore distress, would fain throw the whole guilt on the ancient mariner: in sign whereof they hang the dead sea-bird round his neck.
There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.
The ancient mariner beholdeth a sign in the element afar off.
At its nearer approach, it seemeth him to be a ship; and at a dear ransom he freeth his speech from the bonds of thirst.
At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist;
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape I wist.
A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared;
As if it dodged a water sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.
With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could nor laugh nor wail ;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood !
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail !
With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call :
Grammercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.
See! see! (I cried,) she tacks no more !
Hither to work us weal ;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!
The western wave was all aflame.
The day was well-nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.
And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven's Mother send us grace !)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered
With broad and burning face.
Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud,)
How fast she nears and nears !
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
Like restless gossamers ?,
And horror follows. For can it be a ship that comes onward without wind or tide ?
It seemeth him but the skeleton of a ship.
Are those her ribs through which the Sun And its ribs are seen as
bars on the face of the Did peer, as through a grate?
setting sun. And is that woman all her crew?
The spectre woman and
her death-mate, and no Is that a Death ? and are there two ?
other, on board the skeleIs Death that woman's mate?
Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy, i
Like vessel, like crew!
The night-mare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.
The naked hulk alongside came,
Death and Life-in-death
have diced for the ships' And the twain were casting dice;
crew, and she (the latter) " The game is done! I've won, I 've won!"
winneth the ancient ma
riner. Quoth she, and whistles thrice. The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out; .
No twilight within the
courts of the Sun.
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.
We listened and looked sideways up!
At the rising of the Moon,
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip-
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The horned Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.
One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,
One after another,
'Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.
Four times fifty living men,
His ship-mates drop down
dead; (And I heard nor sigh nor groan,) With heavy thump, a lifeless lump, They dropped down one by one.