« PreviousContinue »
But Life-in-Death begins her work on the ancient mariner.
The souls did from their bodies fly,-
They fled to bliss or woe!
And every soul, it passed me by,
Like the whizz of my cross-bow !
“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.”-
But the ancient mariner Fear not, fear not, thou wedding-guest!
assureth him of his bodily This body dropt not down.
life, and proceedeth to re
late 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. many men so beautiful !
He despiseth the creatures
of the calm,
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand shiny things
Lived on; and so did I.
the rotting sea,
And envieth that they
should live, and so many And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.
I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;
But, or ever a prayer had gushed,
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
But the curse liveth for him in the eye of the dead men.
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.
An orphan's curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! more terrible 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 nowhere did abide :
Softly she was going up
And a star or two beside-
Her beams bemocked the sultry main,
Like April hoar-frost spread;
And where the ship's huge shadow lay,
The charmed water burnt alway
A still and awful red.
In his loneliness and fixedness he yearneth towards the journeying moon, and the stars that still sojourn, yet still move onward; and everywhere 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.
By the light of the moon he beholdeth God's crea. tures of the great calm.
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.
Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire :
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every
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 :
kind saint took pity on me, And I blessed them unaware.
Their beauty and their happiness.
He blesseth them in his heart.
The spell begins to break.
The selfsame moment I could
pray; And from
neck so free The albatross fell off, and sank Like lead into the sea.
196.—THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, § 2.
By grace of the holy mother, the ancient mariner is refreshed with rain.
Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,
That slid into
The silly buckets on the deck,
That had so long remained,
I dreamt that they were filled with dew;
And when I awoke, it rained.
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 moved, and could not feel
I was so light-almost
I thought that I had died in sleep,
And was a blessed ghost.
And soon I heard a roaring wind :
It did not come anear ;
But with its sound it shook the sails,
That were so thin and sere.
air burst into life! And a hundred fire-flags sheen,
He heareth sounds, and seeth strange sights and commotions in the sky and the element.
To and fro they were hurried about !
And to and fro, and in and out,
The wan stars danced between.
And the coming wind did roar more loud,
And the sails did sigh like sedge;
And the rain poured down from one black cloud;
The Moon was at its edge.
The thick black cloud was cleft, and still
The Moon was at its side:
Like waters shot from some high crag,
The lightning fell with never a jag,
A river steep and wide.
The loud wind never reached the ship,
The bodies of the ships'
crew are inspired, and the Yet how the ship moved on!
ship moves on;
Beneath the lightning and the Moon
The dead men gave a groan.
They groaned, they stirred, they all up-rose,
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes ;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.
The helmsman steered, the ship moved on;
Yet never a breeze up-blew;
The mariners all 'gan work the ropes,
Where they were wont to do ;
They raised 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 pulled at one rope,
But he said nought to me.
" I fear thee, ancient mariner!”
But not by the souls of
the men, nor by demons Be calm, thou wedding-guest!
of earth or middle air, but
by a blessed troop of an'Twas not those souls that fled in pain,
gelic spirits, sent down by Which to their corses came again,
the invocation of the
guardian saint. But a troop of spirits blest:
For when it dawned—they dropped their arms,
And clustered round the mast;
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,
And from their bodies
Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
Then darted to the Sun;
Slowly the sounds came back again,
Now mixed, now one by one.
Sometimes a-dropping from the sky,
I heard the sky-lark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seemed 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 ceased; 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.
Till noon we quietly sailed on,
Yet never a breeze did breathe :
Slowly and smoothly went the ship,
Moved 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 fixed her to the ocean :
The lonesome spirit from the south pole carries on the ship as far as the line, in obedience to the angelic troop, but still requireth engeance.