The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

A statue of 'The Ancient Mariner' with the albatross around his neck.
A statue of ‘The Ancient Mariner’ with the albatross around his neck.

 

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

PART I

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-BLAST came, 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,

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 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

 

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.

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.

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