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The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere [1798 Text] (Samuel Coleridge)

Published onFeb 05, 2024
The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere [1798 Text] (Samuel Coleridge)

The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere [1798 Text] by Samuel Coleridge


In the Autumn of 1797, Coleridge was nearby William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, in north Somerset; and, despite his wife and young child, he spent as much time as he could with the Wordsworths. Both men, still in their 20s, were published poets, though neither had achieved anything approaching commercial success and money was tight; so, when the three of them decided to go off on a walking tour across the Quantock Hills towards the sea they had to think about funds. They set out, imprudently, at half past four on a November evening, and the poets’ conversation promptly fell, as Dorothy recorded, in a letter on 20 November 1797, to ‘laying the plan of a ballad’. For ballads were fashionable and they hoped to sell their work to a magazine. Much later in life, Wordsworth would recall his own contribution to their collaborative work:

certain parts I myself suggested; for example, some crime was to be committed which would bring upon the Old Navigator, as Coleridge afterwards delighted to call him, the spectral persecution, as a consequence of that crime and his own wanderings. I had been reading in Shelvocke’s Voyages, a day or two before, that, while doubling Cape Horn, they frequently saw albatrosses in that latitude, the largest sort of sea-fowl, some extending their wings twelve or thirteen feet. ‘Suppose,’ said I, ‘you represent him as having killed one of these birds on entering the South Sea, and that the tutelary spirits of these regions take upon them to avenge the crime.’ The incident was thought fit for the purpose, and adopted accordingly. I also suggested the navigation of the ship by the dead men, but do not recollect that I had anything more to do with the scheme of the poem.1

Shelvocke’s book was entitled A Voyage Round the World, by Way of the Great South Sea. Wordsworth’s remarks are self-deprecating; but at first sight it is difficult to see what else of much consequence there is to the ‘scheme of the poem’ besides his contribution – a crime that revolves around the killing of an albatross, and the consequent persecution of a wandering life in a ship of ghoulish horrors.

Nevertheless, although they attempted to pursue the poem together, it was Wordsworth who soon felt himself out of the place in the enterprise: as he remembered, years later, ‘I had very little share in the composition of it, for I soon found that the style of Coleridge and myself would not assimilate’.2 Wordsworth withdrew, while something about the story of the poem evidently captured Coleridge, and the poem grew and grew over the next few months. When it was published in the summer of 1798 in Lyrical Ballads, which gathered poems by both writers, it was by far the longest in the book.

What was it about the tale of the poem that caught Coleridge? The answer is partly theological: at this stage of his life, Coleridge was drawn by a roughly pantheistic vision of the world completely suffused with God’s abundant goodness, and many of his most beautiful poems of this period incorporate the thought of that lovely possibility. Nature, in ‘Frost at Midnight’, for example, is described as ‘that eternal language, which thy God / Utters who from eternity doth teach / Himself in all, and all things in himself’ (ll. 60-62). But there is a problem with this otherwise intoxicating view: much of the world seems very short of lovely. On the contrary, it is full of cruelty and arbitrary violence and acts of evil; and in his private notebooks Coleridge, who often made lists of his future projects, duly reminded himself to write one day ‘The Origin of Evil, an Epic Poem’.3

That poem never happened; but (among other things) ‘The Ancient Mariner’ happened in its place. It is the story of someone who does something terrible for reasons unknown and pays for it: we never learn why the Mariner shot the bird, but his protracted suffering is described in agonising detail. Some kind of spiritual alleviation seems to come only when the Mariner has changed his attitude towards the creatures of the sea: the sea-snakes which seemed, in the aftermath of his crime, ‘slimy things’ (l. 121) become transformed at the poem’s turning-point into ‘happy living things’ (l. 274). Recognising a joy implicit within natural appearances appears to mark a saving transition from ‘spectral persecution’ to a progressive penance.

But if that moment does indeed set him on to a road to recovery, it is a long and difficult journey; and the man who delivers the poem’s clinching moral – ‘For the dear God, who loveth us, / He made and loveth all’ (ll. 649-50) – seems to reside only very imperfectly within God’s encompassing love, periodically wracked as he is with ‘anguish’ (l. 617) and doomed to an everlasting solitude of rootlessness (ll. 619). How far should we trust the Mariner? His moral seems more than a little banal. There is no doubt that he thinks of his story in terms of a crime, a punishment, and a slow redemption; but does Coleridge mean us simply to endorse his view of the matter?

When he saw the first illustrations of the poem, by David Scott (later published in 1837), Coleridge noted the ‘enormous blunder’ the artist had made in picturing the mariner as ‘ancient’ at the time of the voyage: on the contrary, he ‘had told this story ten thousand times since the voyage’, said Coleridge, implying that part of the poem’s force lies in its exploration of how minds use narrative to try and make sense of their experiences.4 For what is there, actually, to connect the shooting of the bird to the disasters that ensue, apart from the superstitious insistence of the late-medieval Catholic speaker that it should be so? When Coleridge revised the poem for publication in 1817 he added a new marginal gloss which might promise to clear things up authoritatively: ‘The curse is finally expiated’ (l. 442), it tells us. But is this Coleridge himself in the margin, or a fictional editor, merely adding another layer of interpretation to a poem about trying to make sense of things? Perhaps, this perennially fascinating poem suggests, the ‘Origin of Evil’ resides in the mind’s needy attempts to make sense of experience that is really as arbitrary as the rolling of those dice that appears to determine the Mariner’s fate (l. 192).

The Rime of the Ancient Marinere



How a Ship having passed the Line5 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 ancyent Marinere,

    And he stoppeth one of three:

“By thy long grey beard and thy glittering eye

    “Now wherefore stoppest me?


“The Bridegroom’s doors are open’d wide

    “And I am next of kin;

“The Guests are met, the Feast is set,—

    “May’st hear the merry din.—


But still he holds the wedding-guest—

    There was a Ship, quoth he—

“Nay, if thou’st got a laughsome tale,

    “Marinere! come with me.”


He holds him with his skinny hand,

    Quoth he, there was a Ship—

“Now get thee hence, thou grey-beard Loon!

    “Or my Staff shall make thee skip.”


He holds him with his glittering eye—

    The wedding guest stood still

And listens like a three year’s child;

    The Marinere hath his will.


The wedding-guest sate on a stone,

    He cannot chuse but hear:

And thus spake on that ancyent man,

    The bright-eyed Marinere.


The Ship was cheer’d, the Harbour clear’d—

    Merrily did we drop

Below the Kirk,6 below the Hill,

    Below the Light-house 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 pac’d into the Hall,

    Red as a rose is she;

Nodding their heads before her goes

    The merry Minstralsy.


The wedding-guest he beat his breast,

    Yet he cannot chuse but hear:

And thus spake on that ancyent Man,

    The bright-eyed Marinere.


Listen, Stranger! Storm and Wind,

    A Wind and Tempest strong!

For days and weeks it play’d us freaks—

    Like Chaff we drove along.


Listen, Stranger! Mist and Snow,

    And it grew wond’rous cauld:

And Ice mast-high came floating by

    As green as Emerauld.


And thro’ the drifts the snowy clifts

    Did send a dismal sheen;

Ne shapes of men ne beasts we ken—

    The Ice was all between.


The Ice was here, the Ice was there,

    The Ice was all around:

It crack’d and growl’d, and roar’d and howl’d—

    Like noises of a swound.


At length did cross an Albatross,7

    Thorough the Fog it came;

And an it were a Christian Soul,

    We hail’d it in God’s name.


The Marineres gave it biscuit-worms,

    And round and round it flew:

The Ice did split with a Thunder-fit;

    The Helmsman steer’d us thro’.


And a good south wind sprung up behind,

    The Albatross did follow;

And every day for food or play

    Came to the Marinere’s hollo!


In mist or cloud on mast or shroud

    It perch’d for vespers nine,

Whiles all the night thro’ fog-smoke white

    Glimmer’d the white moon-shine.


“God save thee, ancyent Marinere!

    “From the fiends that plague thee thus—

“Why look’st thou so?”—with my cross bow

    I shot the Albatross.


The Sun came up upon the right,

    Out of the Sea came he;

And broad as a weft upon the left

    Went down into the Sea.


And the good south wind still blew behind,

    But no sweet Bird did follow

Ne any day for food or play

    Came to the Marinere’s hollo!


And I had done an hellish thing

    And it would work ’em woe:

For all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird

    That made the Breeze to blow.


Ne dim ne red, like God’s own head,

    The glorious Sun uprist:

Then all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird

    That brought the fog and mist.

’Twas right, said they, such birds to slay

    That bring the fog and mist.


The breezes blew, the white foam flew,

    The furrow follow’d 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, ne breath ne motion,

As idle as a painted Ship

    Upon a painted Ocean.


Water, water, every where

    And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

    Ne any drop to drink.


The very deeps 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 danc’d 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 follow’d us

    From the Land of Mist and Snow.


And every tongue thro’ utter drouth

    Was wither’d at the root;

We could not speak no more than if

    We had been choked with soot.


Ah wel-a-day! what evil looks

    Had I from old and young;

Instead of the Cross the Albatross

    About my neck was hung.


I saw a something in the Sky

    No bigger than my fist;

At first it seem’d a little speck

    And then it seem’d a mist:

It mov’d and mov’d, and took at last

    A certain shape, I wist.


A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!

    And still it ner’d and ner’d;

And, an it dodg’d a water-sprite,

    It plung’d and tack’d and veer’d.


With throat unslack’d, with black lips bak’d

    Ne could we laugh, ne wail:

Then while thro’ drouth all dumb they stood

I bit my arm and suck’d the blood

    And cry’d, A sail! a sail!


With throat unslack’d, with black lips bak’d

    Agape they hear’d me call:

Gramercy! they for joy did grin

And all at once their breath drew in

    As they were drinking all.


She doth not tack from side to side—

    Hither to work us weal

Withouten wind, withouten tide

    She steddies with upright keel.


The western wave was all a flame,

    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 strait the Sun was fleck’d with bars

    (Heaven’s mother send us grace)

As if thro’ a dungeon grate he peer’d

    With broad and burning face.


Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)

    How fast she neres and neres!

Are those her Sails that glance in the Sun

    Like restless gossameres?


Are these her naked ribs, which fleck’d

    The sun that did behind them peer?

And are these two all, all the crew,

    That woman and her fleshless Pheere?


His bones were black with many a crack,

    All black and bare, I ween;

Jet-black and bare, save where with rust

Of mouldy damps and charnel crust

    They’re patch’d with purple and green.


Her lips are red, her looks are free,

    Her locks are yellow as gold:

Her skin is as white as leprosy,

And she is far liker Death than he;

    Her flesh makes the still air cold.


The naked Hulk alongside came

    And the Twain were playing dice;

“The Game is done! I’ve won, I’ve won!”

    Quoth she, and whistled thrice.


A gust of wind sterte up behind

    And whistled thro’ his bones;

Thro’ the holes of his eyes and the hole of his mouth

    Half-whistles and half-groans.


With never a whisper in the Sea

    Off darts the Spectre-ship;

While clombe above the Eastern bar

The horned Moon, with one bright Star

    Almost atween the tips.


One after one by the horned Moon

    (Listen, O Stranger! to me)

Each turn’d his face with a ghastly pang

    And curs’d me with his ee.


Four times fifty living men,

    With never a sigh or groan,

With heavy thump, a lifeless lump

    They dropp’d down one by one.


Their souls did from their bodies fly,—

    They fled to bliss or woe;

And every soul it pass’d me by,

    Like the whiz of my Cross-bow.


“I fear thee, ancyent Marinere!

    “I fear thy skinny hand;

“And thou art long and lank and brown

    “As is the ribb’d Sea-sand.


“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.


Alone, alone, all all alone

    Alone on the wide wide Sea;

And Christ would take no pity on

    My soul in agony.


The many men so beautiful,

    And they all dead did lie!

And a million million slimy things

    Liv’d on—and so did I.


I look’d upon the rotting Sea,

    And drew my eyes away;

I look’d upon the eldritch deck,

    And there the dead men lay.


I look’d to Heaven, and try’d to pray;

    But or ever a prayer had gusht,

A wicked whisper came and made

    My heart as dry as dust.


    Till 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,

    Ne rot, ne reek did they;

The look with which they look’d on me,

    Had never pass’d away.


An orphan’s curse would drag to Hell

    A spirit from on high:

But O! 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—


Her beams bemock’d the sultry main

    Like morning frosts yspread;

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 watch’d the water-snakes:

They mov’d in tracks of shining white;

And when they rear’d, the elfish light

    Fell off in hoary flakes.


Within the shadow of the ship

    I watch’d their rich attire:

Blue, glossy green, and velvet black

They coil’d 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 gusht from my heart,

    And I bless’d them unaware!

Sure my kind saint took pity on me,

    And I bless’d them unaware.


The self-same moment I could pray;

    And from my neck so free

    Like lead into the sea.


O sleep, it is a gentle thing

    Belov’d from pole to pole!

To Mary-queen the praise be yeven

She sent the gentle sleep from heaven

    That slid into my soul.


The silly buckets on the deck

    That had so long remain’d,

I dreamt that they were fill’d with dew

    And when I awoke it rain’d.


My lips were wet, my throat was cold,

    My garments all were dank;

Sure I had drunken in my dreams

    And still my body drank.


I mov’d and could not feel my limbs,

    I was so light, almost

I thought that I had died in sleep,

    And was a blessed Ghost.


The roaring wind! it roar’d far off,

    It did not come anear;

But with its sound it shook the sails

    That were so thin and sere.


The upper air bursts into life,

    And a hundred fire-flags sheen

To and fro they are hurried about;

And to and fro, and in and out

    The stars dance on between.


The coming wind doth roar more loud;

    The sails do sigh, like sedge:

The rain pours down from one black cloud

    And the Moon is at its edge.


Hark! hark! the thick black cloud is cleft,

    And the Moon is at its side:

Like waters shot from some high crag,

The lightning falls with never a jag

    A river steep and wide.


    And dropp’d down, like a stone!

Beneath the lightning and the moon

    The dead men gave a groan.


They groan’d, they stirr’d, they all uprose,

    Ne spake, ne mov’d their eyes:

    To have seen those dead men rise.


The helmsman steerd, the ship mov’d on;

    Yet never a breeze up-blew;

The Marineres all ’gan work the ropes,

    Where they were wont to do:

They rais’d their limbs like lifeless tools—

    We were a ghastly crew.


The body of my brother’s son

    Stood by me knee to knee:

The body and I pull’d at one rope,

    But he said nought to me—

And I quak’d to think of my own voice

    How frightful it would be!


The day-light dawn’d—they dropp’d their arms,

    And cluster’d round the mast:

Sweet sounds rose slowly thro’ their mouths

    And from their bodies pass’d.


Around, around, flew each sweet sound,

    Then darted to the sun:

Slowly the sounds came back again

    Now mix’d, now one by one.


Sometimes a dropping from the sky

    I heard the Lavrock sing;

Sometimes all little birds that are

How they seem’d to fill the sea and air

    With their sweet jargoning,


And now ’twas like all instruments,

    Now like a lonely flute;

And now it is an angel’s song

    That makes the heavens be mute.


It ceas’d: yet still the sails made on

    A pleasant noise till noon,

A noise like of a hidden brook

    In the leafy month of June,

That to the sleeping woods all night

    Singeth a quiet tune.


Listen, O listen, thou Wedding-guest!

    “Marinere! thou hast thy will:

“For that, which comes out of thine eye, doth make

    “My body and soul to be still.”


Never sadder tale was told

    To a man of woman born:

Sadder and wiser thou wedding-guest!

    Thou’lt rise to morrow morn.


Never sadder tale was heard

    By a man of woman born:

The Marineres all return’d to work

    As silent as beforne.


The Marineres all ’gan pull the ropes,

    But look at me they n’old:

Thought I, I am as thin as air—

    They cannot me behold.


Till noon we silently sail’d on

    Yet never a breeze did breathe:

Slowly and smoothly went the ship

    Mov’d onward from beneath.


Under the keel nine fathom deep

    From the land of mist and snow

The spirit slid: and it was He

    That made the Ship to go.

The sails at noon left off their tune

    And the Ship stood still also.


The sun right up above the mast

    Had fix’d her to the ocean:

But in a minute she ’gan stir

    With a short uneasy motion—

Backwards and forwards half her length

    With a short uneasy motion.


Then, like a pawing horse let go,

    She made a sudden bound:

It flung the blood into my head,

    And I fell into a swound.


How long in that same fit I lay,

    I have not to declare;

But ere my living life return’d,

I heard and in my soul discern’d

    Two voices in the air,


“Is it he?” quoth one, “Is this the man?

    “By him who died on cross,

“With his cruel bow he lay’d full low

    “The harmless Albatross.


“The spirit who ’bideth by himself

    “In the land of mist and snow,

“He lov’d the bird that lov’d the man

    “Who shot him with his bow.”


The other was a softer voice,

    As soft as honey-dew:

Quoth he the man hath penance done,

    And penance more will do.


        FIRST VOICE.

“But tell me, tell me! speak again,

    “Thy soft response renewing—

“What makes that ship drive on so fast?

    “What is the Ocean doing?”



“Still as a Slave before his Lord,

    “The Ocean hath no blast:

“His great bright eye most silently

    “Up to the moon is cast—


“If he may know which way to go,

    “For she guides him smooth or grim.

“See, brother, see! how graciously

    “She looketh down on him.”


        FIRST VOICE.

“But why drives on that ship so fast

    “Withouten wave or wind?”


“The air is cut away before,

    “And closes from behind.


“Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high,

    “Or we shall be belated:

“For slow and slow that ship will go,

    “When the Marinere’s trance is abated.”


I woke, and we were sailing on

    As in a gentle weather:

’Twas night, calm night, the moon was high;

    The dead men stood together.


All stood together on the deck,

    For a charnel-dungeon fitter:

All fix’d on me their stony eyes

    That in the moon did glitter.


The pang, the curse, with which they died,

    Had never pass’d away:

I could not draw my een from theirs

    Ne turn them up to pray.


And in its time the spell was snapt,

    And I could move my een:

I look’d far-forth, but little saw

    Of what might else be seen.


Like one, that on a lonely road

    Doth walk in fear and dread,

And having once turn’d round, walks on

    And turns no more his head:

Because he knows, a frightful fiend

    Doth close behind him tread.


But soon there breath’d a wind on me,

    Ne sound ne motion made:

Its path was not upon the sea

    In ripple or in shade.


It rais’d my hair, it fann’d my cheek,

    Like a meadow-gale of spring—

It mingled strangely with my fears,

    Yet it felt like a welcoming.


Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,

    Yet she sail’d softly too:

Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze—

    On me alone it blew.


O dream of joy! is this indeed

    The light-house top I see?

Is this the Hill? Is this the Kirk?

    Is this mine own countrée?


We drifted o’er the Harbour-bar,

    And I with sobs did pray—

“O let me be awake, my God!

    “Or let me sleep alway!”


The harbour-bay was clear as glass,

    So smoothly it was strewn!

And on the bay the moon light lay,

    And the shadow of the moon.


The moonlight bay was white all o’er,

    Till rising from the same,

Full many shapes, that shadows were,

    Like as of torches came.


A little distance from the prow

    Those dark-red shadows were;

But soon I saw that my own flesh

    Was red as in a glare.


I turn’d my head in fear and dread,

    And by the holy rood,8

The bodies had advanc’d, and now

    Before the mast they stood.


They lifted up their stiff right arms,

    They held them strait and tight;

And each right-arm burnt like a torch,

    A torch that’s borne upright.

Their stony eye-balls glitter’d on

    In the red and smoky light.


I pray’d and turn’d my head away

    Forth looking as before.

There was no breeze upon the bay,

    No wave against the shore.


The rock shone bright, the kirk no less

    That stands above the rock:

The moonlight steep’d in silentness

    The steady weathercock.


And the bay was white with silent light,

    Till rising from the same

Full many shapes, that shadows were,

    In crimson colours came.


A little distance from the prow

    Those crimson shadows were:

I turn’d my eyes upon the deck—

    O Christ! what saw I there?


Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat;

    And by the Holy rood

A man all light, a seraph-man,

    On every corse there stood.


This seraph-band, each wav’d his hand:

    It was a heavenly sight:

They stood as signals to the land,

    Each one a lovely light:


This seraph-band, each wav’d his hand,

    No voice did they impart—

No voice; but O! the silence sank,

    Like music on my heart.


Eftsones9 I heard the dash of oars,

    I heard the pilot’s cheer:

My head was turn’d perforce away

    And I saw a boat appear.


Then vanish’d all the lovely lights;

    The bodies rose anew:

With silent pace, each to his place,

    Came back the ghastly crew.

The wind, that shade nor motion made,

    On me alone it blew.


The pilot, and the pilot’s boy

    I heard them coming fast:

Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy,

    The dead men could not blast.


I saw a third—I heard his voice:

    It is the Hermit good!

He singeth loud his godly hymns

    That he makes in the wood.

He’ll shrieve my soul, he’ll wash away

    The Albatross’s blood.


This Hermit good lives in that wood

    Which slopes down to the Sea.

How loudly his sweet voice he rears!

He loves to talk with Marineres

    That come from a far Contrée.


He kneels at morn and noon and eve—

    He hath a cushion plump:

It is the moss, that wholly hides

    The rotted old Oak-stump.


The Skiff-boat ne’rd: I heard them talk,

    “Why, this is strange, I trow!

“Where are those lights so many and fair

    “That signal made but now?


“Strange, by my faith!” the Hermit said—

    “And they answer’d not our cheer.

“The planks look warp’d, and see those sails

    “How thin they are and sere!

“I never saw aught like to them

    “Unless perchance it were


“The skeletons of leaves that lag

    “My forest brook along:

“When the Ivy-tod is heavy with snow,

“And the Owlet whoops to the wolf below

    “That eats the she-wolf’s young.


“Dear Lord! it has a fiendish look”—

    (The Pilot made reply)

“I am a-fear’d.—“Push on, push on!”

    Said the Hermit cheerily.


The Boat came closer to the Ship,

    But I ne spake ne stirr’d!

The Boat came close beneath the Ship,

    And strait a sound was heard!


Under the water it rumbled on,

    Still louder and more dread:

It reach’d the Ship, it split the bay;

    The Ship went down like lead.


Stunn’d by that loud and dreadful sound,

    Which sky and ocean smote:

Like one that hath been seven days drown’d

    My body lay afloat:

But, swift as dreams, myself I found

    Within the Pilot’s boat.


Upon the whirl, where sank the Ship,

    The boat spun round and round:

And all was still, save that the hill

    Was telling of the sound.


I mov’d my lips: the Pilot shriek’d

    And fell down in a fit.

The Holy Hermit rais’d his eyes

    And pray’d where he did sit.


I took the oars: the Pilot’s boy,

    Who now doth crazy go,

Laugh’d loud and long, and all the while

    His eyes went to and fro,

“Ha! ha!” quoth he—“full plain I see,

    “The devil knows how to row.”


And now all in mine own Countrée

    I stood on the firm land!

The Hermit stepp’d forth from the boat,

    And scarcely he could stand.


“O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy Man!”

    The Hermit cross’d his brow—

“Say quick,” quoth he, “I bid thee say

    “What manner man art thou?”


Forthwith this frame of mine was wrench’d

    With a woeful agony,

Which forc’d me to begin my tale

    And then it left me free.


Since then at an uncertain hour,

    Now oftimes and now fewer,

That anguish comes and makes me tell

    My ghastly aventure.


I pass, like night, from land to land;

    I have strange power of speech;

The moment that his face I see

    I know the man that must hear me;

    To him my tale I teach.


What loud uproar bursts from that door!

    The Wedding-guests are there;

But in the Garden-bower the Bride

    And Bride-maids singing are:

And hark the little Vesper-bell

    Which biddeth me to prayer.


O Wedding-guest! this soul hath been

    Alone on a wide wide sea:

So lonely ’twas, that God himself

    Scarce seemed there to be.


O sweeter than the Marriage-feast,

    ’Tis sweeter far to me

To walk together to the Kirk

    With a goodly company.


To walk together to the Kirk

    And all together pray,

While each to his great father bends,

Old men, and babes, and loving friends,

    And Youths, and Maidens gay.


Farewell, farewell! but this I tell

    To thee, thou wedding-guest!

He prayeth well who loveth well

    Both man and bird and beast.


He prayeth best who loveth best,

    All things both great and small:

For the dear God, who loveth us,

    He made and loveth all.


The Marinere, whose eye is bright,

    Whose beard with age is hoar,

Is gone; and now the wedding-guest

    Turn’d from the bridegroom’s door.


He went, like one that hath been stunn’d

    And is of sense forlorn:

A sadder and a wiser man

    He rose the morrow morn.

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