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The Rime of the

Ancient Mariner


Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(1772 - 1834)

Part VI



The Rime of the Ancient Mariner




part vi


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 ?"




Second Voice



" 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


The Mariner hath been cast into a trance ; for the angelic power causeth the vessel to drive northward faster than human life could endure.



" But why drives on that ship so fast,

Without or wave or wind ?"




Second Voice


" 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 Mariner's trance is abated."



The supernatural motion is retarded ; the Mariner awakes, and his penance begins anew.

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 fixed on me their stony eyes,

That in the Moon did glitter.



The pang, the curse, with which they died,

Had never passed away :

I could not draw my eyes from theirs,

Nor turn them up to pray.


The curse is finally expiated,

And now this spell was snapt : once more

I viewed the ocean green,

And looked far forth, yet little saw

Of what had else been seen



Like one, that on a lonesome road

Doth walk in fear and dread,

And having once turned round, walks on,

And turns no more his head ;

Because he knows, a frightful fiend

Doth close behind him tread.



But soon there breathed a wind on me,

Nor sound nor motion made :

Its path was not upon the sea,

In ripple or in shade.



It raised my hair, it fanned 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 sailed softly too :

Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze

On me alone it blew.


And the ancient Mariner beholdeth his native country.

Oh ! dream of joy ! is this indeed

The light-house top I see ?

Is this the hill ? is this the kirk ?

Is this mine own countree ?



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 moonlight lay,

And the shadow of the Moon.



The rock shone bright, the kirk no less,

That stands above the rock :

The moonlight steeped in silentness

The steady weathercock.


The angelic spirits leave the dead bodies,

And the bay was white with silent light,

Till rising from the same,

Full many shapes, that shadows were,

In crimson colours came.


And appear in their own forms of light.

A little distance from the prow

Those crimson shadows were :

I turned my eyes upon the deck

Oh, 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 waved his hand :

It was a heavenly sight !

They stood as signals to the land,

Each one a lovely light ;



This seraph-band, each waved his hand :

No voice did they impart

No voice ; but oh ! the silence sank

Like music on my heart.



But soon I heard the dash of oars,

I heard the Pilot's cheer ;

My head was turned perforce away,

And I saw a boat appear.



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.




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