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Full text of "Coleridge's The rime of the ancient mariner"

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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER 







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(After a painting by PHILLIPS) 



COLERIDGE'S 



THE RIME OF 
THE ANCIENT MARINER 



Edited, with Introduction and Notes 

by 

LINCOLN R. GIBBS, M.A. 



BOSTON, U.S.A. 
GINN & COMPANY, PUBLISHERS 

©be 8tl)en£ttm JJresa 

1898 






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Copyright, 1898 
By LINCOLN R. GIBBS 



A I.I. RIGHTS KF.SEKVED 



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1398, 




TWO "EIVED. 



PREFACE. 



This edition of The Ancient Mariner aims to include 
the information and critical comment necessary to an 
intelligent appreciation of the poem. As a help to that 
end, it has been thought desirable to print the original 
version (1798), since the differences between that and the 
final version afford an especially valuable opportunity for 
training in discrimination and taste. 

The interest which attaches to the personal history of 
Coleridge has, unfortunately, little in common with the 
interest which attaches to TJie Ancient Mariner. It has, 
therefore, seemed proper to include in this volume only a 
short biographical sketch. Students who may be impelled 
by a laudable curiosity to seek a more detailed knowledge 
of the poet's life are referred to the biographies by Hall 
Caine, Dr. Alois Brandl (translated into English by Lady 
Eastlake), and J. Dykes Campbell. Coleridge's own Bio- 
grapJiia Literaria, in spite of its fragmentary character, 
is essential to a knowledge of his intellectual and moral 
development. 

Methods of teaching The Ancient Mariner must differ 
widely with different teachers and pupils. All efforts, 
however, should be subordinated to the: aim of helping 
students to read with their imaginations — to see what 
Coleridge describes. In order to arouse the attention and 



IV PREFACE. 

interest necessary to attain this end, students should be 
required to do something for themselves. The editor has 
found very useful the plan of assigning to different pupils 
the task of writing short papers, the best of which may 
be read to the class, on topics drawn from the poem, such 
as the diction and imagery of The Ancient Marine?', The 
Ancient Mariner as a ballad, the changes made in the 
poem since the version of 1798, the moral teaching of 
the poem. 

The text of the first version in this volume I believe to 
be faithfully copied, with a few unimportant changes in 
punctuation and typography, from the edition of 1829; 
that of the version of 1 798 is reprinted from the appendix 
of J. Dykes Campbell's edition of the poetical works of 
Coleridge (London and New York, 1893). 

L. R. G. 

Boston, Mass., 
Jan. 5, 1898, 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

Introduction vii 

I. Sketch of the Life of Coleridge vti 

II. Origin of the Lyrical Ballads xv 

III. Critical Comments xvii 

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner i 

Version of 1829 1 

" 1798 25 

Notes 49 



INTRODUCTION. 



I. SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF COLERIDGE. 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born at Ottery St. 
Mary's, Devonshire, on the 21st of October, 1772. His 
father, John Coleridge, who combined the offices of parish 
clergyman and schoolmaster, was a man of great learning, 
amazing eccentricity, and childlike simplicity in the ways 
of the world — traits which his son Samuel Taylor inher- 
ited in full measure. It is related of John Coleridge that 
he sometimes quoted the Old Testament to his country 
congregations in the original Hebrew, in order that they 
might hear "the authentic language of the Holy Spirit." 
The boy Coleridge was unnaturally precocious, being able 
to read a chapter of the Bible at three years, entering the 
grammar school at the same age, and beginning the study 
of Latin at six. His tastes, moreover, were not those of 
a healthy boy: he played little with his brothers and loved 
to be much alone, dreaming and reading fairy stories. 

In 1 78 1 his father died, leaving a large family in narrow 
circumstances. Thereupon Coleridge became a pupil of 
Christ's Hospital, London, a charitable institution for the 
education of orphan boys. The early years of his school 
life were unhappy. The discipline was barbarous, the 
slightest offenses being punished by a flogging; the food 



vni INTRODUCTION. 

was ill prepared and insufficient ; little attention was paid 
to the health of the boys. 1 Coleridge, a warm-hearted and 
poetic lad, longed for his country home in Devonshire. In 
Frost at Midnight, he says of his schooling : 

I was reared 
In the great city, pent mid cloisters dim, 
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars. 

But Coleridge's school days, though sometimes wretched 
and lonely, were by no means idle. Indeed, his mental 
growth was too rapid to be quite healthy, and even as a 
schoolboy he developed the widely diversified tastes which 
in later life made it impossible for him to fix upon a calling 
or even to carry a literary project to completion. A visit 
to the hospitals with his brother Luke aroused his interest 
in medicine, and for a time he read voraciously whatever 
he could find on that subject, in Greek, Latin, and English. 
Before his fifteenth year he was deep in metaphysics, the 
taste which he then acquired for Neoplatonic mysticism 
persisting throughout his life and strongly influencing both 
his philosophy and his poetry. After reading Voltaire's 
Philosophical Dictionary, he professed himself an infidel, 
whereupon the head-master, the Rev. James Boyer, promptly 
resorted to the cane and gave the boy a flogging, the only 
one, says Coleridge, that he ever deserved. 

During the last two years of his stay at Christ's Hos- 
pital, Coleridge's principal taste in reading was for poetry. 
The influence of Milton's descriptive poems and of Gray 
may be traced in his early work. He also read with eager- 
ness the sonnets of Bowles (published 1789), which would 

1 See Charles Lamb's " Christ's Hospital Five-and-thirty Years After " 
(in the Essays of Elia). 



INTR OD UC TION. ix 

now be utterly neglected were it not for the part they 
played in forming the tastes of Wordsworth and Coleridge. 
Whatever their intrinsic worth may be, they are at least 
of the Romantic school, which was about to declare its 
principles and gain its victories in the work of Coleridge 
and Wordsworth. The former professed an extravagant 
admiration for them, and on leaving school made forty 
copies of them with his own hand, which he presented to 
his schoolmates as parting gifts. To the present gener- 
ation Bowles represents the weakness rather than the 
strength of the Romantic tendency, — its undisciplined 
emotion, degenerating into sentimentality; but to Coleridge 
his work was a welcome contrast to the frigid artificiality 
of the imitators of Pope and Johnson; it had the saving 
qualities of sincerity and spontaneity. 

After remaining in Christ's Hospital nine years, Cole- 
ridge became a student of Jesus College, Cambridge, 
entering the university in 1791, just as Wordsworth was 
leaving it. His career there, though auspiciously begun, 
was a disappointment to his friends and ended disastrously. 
For the first year he studied diligently, obtaining in 1792 
the Brown medal for a Greek Sapphic ode. Later he 
became a desultory student, though not an indolent one. 
His rooms were a gathering place for the most radical 
spirits in the university, who met there to discuss the 
stirring events of the French Revolution. Before leaving 
Christ's Hospital, he had celebrated in verse the destruc- 
tion of the Bastille; and perhaps the most important fact 
in his mental history from 1791 to 1794 is the quickening 
of his democratic sympathies by his reading and associa- 
tions at the university. ' Godwin's Political Justice came 



x INTROD UC TION. 

to his hands, and he became a convert to its communistic 
creed. He soon gave evidence of his democratic convic- 
tions in a ridiculous manner. 

In December, 1793, in a fit of despondency, caused by 
debt and perhaps by a disappointment in love, Coleridge 
left Cambridge and went to London to seek his fortune. 
Finding himself in the city with scarcely a penny in his 
pocket, he obeyed a sudden impulse to enlist as a dragoon. 
This he did under an assumed name — Silas Tomkyn 
Comberbach ; but after a few months of service, some 
Latin verses which he scribbled on his stall led to an 
investigation, his friends procured his discharge, and he 
was restored to the university. 

In June, 1794, Coleridge visited Oxford and made the 
acquaintance of Southey, then a student at the university. 
A few weeks after, they met again at Bristol. Southey 
was full of democratic ideas, which he dreamed of putting 
into practice by establishing a communistic settlement on 
the banks of the Susquehanna. He had no difficulty in 
arousing the ardent interest of Coleridge in this visionary 
scheme. They named the enterprise Pantisocracy. Its 
fundamental principles were the abolition of exclusive 
privileges and private property, and the universal reign of 
brotherly love. The Pantisocritans hoped that a few hours 
of daily labor would provide for their needs; the rest of 
the time they purposed to devote to conversation and 
literature. They needed money to charter a ship and 
purchase supplies; but they were penniless themselves 
and could enlist in the enterprise only those whose 
fortunes were as desperate as their own. All attempts 
to raise money failing, Southey, to Coleridge's great 



INTR OB UC TION. xi 

disgust, abandoned the project and accepted an advanta- 
geous offer to go to Lisbon with an uncle. 

Meanwhile, Coleridge had left the university without a 
degree, and had complied with one of the important regu- 
lations of the Pantisocratic community by taking a wife. 
On the 4th of October, 1795, he was married to Miss Sara 
Fricker, of Bristol. 

His opinions in politics and religion, which in youth 
and early manhood were heretical, had prevented his tak- 
ing a degree at Cambridge and barred him from a career 
in the university or the church. For more than a year he 
had formed no other plan for the future than the imprac- 
ticable Pantisocracy project. This failing him, he found 
himself, in the winter of 1796, with no certain means of 
support for himself and his wife. He settled at Clevedon, 
near Bristol, and tried to gain a livelihood by publishing 
a volume of his collected poems, lecturing, and writing 
for the press. In the spring of 1796 he edited a political 
and literary journal of his own, The Watchman, which 
failed after ten numbers, for lack of subscribers. Hoping 
to get a Unitarian pulpit, he preached a few times in 
Bath, but his eccentricity in dress and in the choice of 
subjects — he appeared in the pulpit in a blue coat and 
white waistcoat, and on one occasion preached on the 
Hair-Powder Tax — prevented him from getting the desired 
appointment. These struggles, eccentricities, and failures 
are typical of his entire life. 

After nearly a year's residence at Clevedon, Coleridge 
removed to Nether Stowey, in Somersetshire. In June, 
1797, Wordsworth, with his sister Dorothy, took up his 
residence in the neighboring village of Alfoxden, princi- 



xil INTR OB UC TION. 

pally for the sake of Coleridge's society. Wordsworth's 
Descriptive Sketches (1793) had come into the hands of 
Coleridge, who saw in them the certain announcement of 
a great poetic genius. Wordsworth, on his part, had been 
attracted by Coleridge's lectures in Bristol. Only the 
opportunity for personal intercourse was needed to create 
a life-long friendship. Wordsworth shared Coleridge's 
disgust with artificiality and his desire for plain living and 
high thinking, without sharing his vague dreams of imme- 
diately founding an ideal community. The best of his 
influence on Coleridge was moral rather than literary. 
From the stronger character of Wordsworth, Coleridge 
gained confidence in his own powers, purpose, and energy. 
During the months when the two poets were neighbors — 
from June, 1797, to September, 1798 — he wrote much 
of his best poetry, — The Ancient Mariner, the first part of 
Christabel, The Dark Ladie, Fears in Solitude, France, and 
Kubla Khan. The years 1797 and 1798 are the culmina- 
tion of his career as a poet. 

In September, 1798, Coleridge again found himself in 
financial difficulties. A pension from the Wedgwood 
brothers, makers of the famous pottery, enabled him to 
spend a year of study in Germany. Henceforth he was 
no longer primarily a poet, but a critic, theologian and 
philosopher. From this time forward, therefore, the events 
of his personal history and even the growth of his mind 
and character are comparatively uninteresting to students 
of his poetry, and we may pass rapidly over them. 

In 1799, upon his return to England, he began his work 
as a pioneer in introducing German thought into England, 
by translating Schiller's Wallenstein. After a period of 



IX TROD UC TION. xiil 

successful service on a London newspaper, he was offered 
a lucrative position as editor, which he declined, fearing 
that the routine duties would interfere with " the lazy 
reading of old folios." In 1803 the consequences of 
inherited weakness and of indiscreet exposure during his 
school clays appeared in the form of a painful rheumatic 
affection. For relief he had recourse to a nostrum which 
contained laudanum, and in this way began a slavery to 
the opium habit, which lasted till 18 16. In 1804 he went 
to Malta in search of health, acting as secretary to the 
governor, but returned to England in 1806. This period 
of his life (1803-18 16) is the melancholy record of bondage 
'to the opium habit, separation from his family, and genius 
wasted and misapplied. He supported himself by hack 
work for the newspapers, by lecturing on Shakespeare, 
Milton and the fine arts, by compiling text-books, and by 
writing sermons for indolent clergymen. In 1809 he made 
a second unsuccessful venture in journalism, The Friend. 
In 1 8 16 Coleridge became an inmate of the house of 
Dr. Gillman, of Highgate, London, under whose care he 
gained the mastery over the opium habit. Here he con- 
tinued to reside till his death in 1834. During this period 
he wielded an influence which had previously been denied 
him. He was visited by many of the noblest and most 
promising young men in England — Edward Irving, Julius 
Hare, A. H. Hallam, John Sterling, J. H. Green, and 
Frederic Denison Maurice, who listened to him as to a 
spiritual father. Both by his conversation with this group 
and by his Aids to Reflection (1825) he profoundly influ- 
enced the religious thought of England in the direction 
of a liberal, practical, and spiritual Christianity. 



xiv INTRODUCTION. 

About 1830 his health began to fail, and on the 25th 
of July, 1834, he died. 

Coleridge's contributions to English literature, in spite 
of their miscellaneous character, are not without a certain 
unity of aim. His work in criticism, almost as important 
as his work in creative writing, is an exposition of the 
principles underlying the Romantic movement, of which he 
was the great critical mind. His lectures on Shakespeare 
— though often more enthusiastic than discriminating — 
had their share in promoting the revival of interest in 
Shakespeare which marked the early years of the century. 
His criticism of Wordsworth was influential in breaking 
down the prejudice against which Wordsworth was com- 
pelled to struggle and in hastening his tardy recognition. 
As a critic, as well as a poet, theologian, and philosopher, 
Coleridge's position in the history of English literature is 
that of protest against the barren formalism of the 18th 
century. If it were necessary to characterize him in a 
single phrase, he should be called the supreme asserter of 
the rights of the imagination. 

The following are the dates of publication of Coleridge's 
more important works: 



The Watchman, 


1796. 


Ode to the Departing Year, 


1796. 


The Ancient Mariner, 


1798. 


Wallenstein (translation), 


1800. 


Remorse, 


1813. 


Christabel, 


1816. 


Biographia Literaria, 


1817. 


Sibylline Leaves, 


1817. 


Zapolya, 


1817. 



INTRODUCTION. xv 

Aids to Reflection, 1825. 

Table-Talk, 1835. 

Confessions of an Enquiring Spirit, 1840. 
Notes upon Shakespeare, 1849. 

II. ORIGIN OF THE LYRICAL BALLADS. 

The Ancient Mariner was first published in the Lyrical 
Ballads (1798), the origin of which Wordsworth has 
described in the Fenwick note to We Arc Seven: 

In the autumn of the year 1798, he [Coleridge], my sister, 
and myself, started from Alfoxden pretty late in the afternoon, 
with a view to visit Lenton and the Valley of Stones near it; 
and, as our united funds were very small, we agreed to defray 
the expense of the tour by writing a poem, to be sent to the 
new monthly magazine, set up by Phillips, the bookseller, and 
edited by Dr. Aiken. Accordingly, we set off and proceeded 
along the Quantock Hills towards Watchet, and in the course 
of this walk was planned the poem of The Ancient Marine?-, 
founded on a dream, as Mr. Coleridge said, of his friend, Mr. 
Cruikshank. Much the greatest part of the story was Mr. Cole- 
ridge's invention; but certain parts I myself suggested: for 
example, some crime was to be committed which should 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 
Shelvock's Voyages a day or two before, that while doubling 
Cape Horn they frequently saw albatrosses in that latitude, the 
largest of sea fowl, some extending their wings twelve or fifteen 
feet. " Suppose," said I, M you represent him as having killed 
one of these birds on entering the South Sea, and that the 
tutelary spirits of those 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 



xvi INTRODUCTION. 

by the dead men, but do not recollect that I had anything more 
to do with the scheme of the poem. The gloss with which it was 
subsequently accompanied was not thought of by either of us 
at the time; at least, not a hint of it was given to me, and I have 
no doubt it was a gratuitous afterthought. We began the com- 
position together on that, to me, memorable evening. I furnished 
two or three lines at the beginning of the poem, in particular: 

And listened like a three years' child ; 
The mariner had his will. 

These trifling contributions, all but one (which Mr. C. has with 
unnecessary scrupulosity recorded), slipped out of his mind as 
they well might. As we endeavored to proceed conjointly (I 
speak of the same evening), our respective manners proved so 
widely different that it would have been quite presumptuous in 
me to do anything but separate from an undertaking upon which 
I could only have been a clog. . . . 77ie Ancient Mariner grew 
and grew, till it became too important for our first object, which 
was limited to our expectation of five pounds, and we began to 
talk of a volume, which was to consist, as Mr. Coleridge has 
told the world, of poems chiefly on supernatural subjects taken 
from common life, but looked at, as much as might be, through 
an imaginative medium. 

Of the objects of this volume, Coleridge has given a full 
account in Biographia Literaria: 

During the first year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were 
neighbors our conversation turned frequently on the two cardi- 
nal points of poetry, — the power of exciting the sympathy of 
the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and 
the power of giving the interest of novelty, by the modifying 
colors of the imagination. The sudden charm which accidents 
of light and shade, which moonlight or sunset, diffused over a 
known and familiar landscape, appeared to represent the prac- 



INTR OD UC TION. X vil 

ticability of combining both. These are the poetry of nature. 
The thought suggested itself (to which of us I do not recollect) 
that a series of poems might be composed, of two sorts. In the 
one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, super- 
natural; and the interest aimed at was to consist in the interest- 
ing of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as 
would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them 
real. . . . For the second class, subjects were to be chosen 
from ordinary life; the characters and incidents were to be such 
as will be found in every village and its vicinity where there is 
a meditative and feeling mind to seek after them, or to notice 
them when they present themselves. 

In this idea originated the plan of the Lyrical Ballads, in 
which it was agreed that my endeavors should be directed to 
persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet 
so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and 
a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of 
imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment 
which constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth, on the other 
hand, was to propose to himself, as his object, to give the 
charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling 
analogous to the supernatural by awakening the mind's atten- 
tion from the lethargy of custom and directing it to the loveli- 
ness and wonders of the world before us ; an inexhaustible 
treasure, but for which, in consequence of the film of familiarity 
and selfish solicitude, we have eyes which see not, ears that 
hear not, and hearts which neither feel nor understand. 

III. CRITICAL COMMENTS. 

Whether or not a born "maker," he [Coleridge] was 
certainly a born theorist; and we believe not only that 
under all his most important achievements there was a 
basis of intellectual theory, but that the theory, so far 



XVlll - INTRODUCTION. 

from being an alien and disturbing presence, did duty as 
the unifying principle which coordinated the whole. We 
think we can see such a theory underlying The Ancient 
Mariner, and securing the almost unqualified success of 
that poem ; and we further think we can see it departed 
from in one isolated instance, with temporary artistic 
disaster as the result. 

Any one examining the poem with a critical eye for its 
machinery and groundwork will have noticed that Coleridge 
is careful not to introduce any element of the marvellous 
or supernatural until he has transported the reader beyond 
the pale of definite geographical knowledge, and thus left 
behind him all those conditions of the known and the 
familiar, all those associations with recorded fact and 
experience, which would have created an inimical atmos- 
phere. Indeed, there is perhaps something rather inartistic 
in his undignified haste to convey us to the aesthetically 
necessary region. In some half-dozen stanzas, beginning 
with " The ship was cleared," we find ourselves crossing 
the line and driven far towards the Southern Pole. 
Beyond a few broad indications thus vouchsafed, Coleridge 
very astutely takes pains to avoid anything like geography. 
We reach that silent sea into which we are the first that 
ever burst, and that is sufficient for imaginative ends. It 
is enough that the world, as known to actual navigators, 
is left behind, and a world which the poet is free to colo- 
nize with the wildest children of his dreaming brain, has 
been entered. Forthwith, to all intents and purposes, we 
may say, in the words of Goethe as rendered by Shelley: 

ff The bounds of true and false are passed; — 
Lead on, thou wandering gleam." 



INTRODUCTION. xix 

Thenceforth we cease to have any direct relations with the 
verifiable. Natural law is suspended; standards of proba- 
bility have ceased to exist. Marvel after marvel is accepted 
by us, as by the Wedding-Guest, with the unquestioning 
faith of "a three years' child." We become insensibly 
acclimatized to this dreamland. Nor is it the chaotic, 
anarchic, incoherent world of arabesque romance, where 
the real and unreal by turns arbitrarily interrupt and sup- 
plant each other, and are never reconciled at heart. On 
the contrary, here is no inconsistency, for with the consti- 
tution of this dream-realm nothing except the natural and 
the probable would be inconsistent. Here is no danger 
of the intellect or the reason pronouncing an adverse 
judgment, for the venue has been changed to a court where 
the jurisdiction of fancy is supreme. Thus far then, the 
Logic of the Incredible is perfect, and the result, from the 
view point of art, magnificent. But at last we quit this 
consistently, unimpeachably, most satisfactorily impossible 
world ; we are restored to the world of common experience ; 
and when so restoring us, the poet makes his first and only 
mistake. For the concluding miracle, or rather brace of 
miracles — the apparition of the angelic forms standing 
over the corpses of the crew, and the sudden preternatural 
sinking of the ship — take place just when we have 
returned to the province of the natural and regular, to the 
sphere of the actual and the known; just when, floating 
into harbor, we sight the well-remembered kirk on the 
rock, and the steady weathercock which the moonlight 
steeps in silentness. A dissonant note is struck at once. 
We have left a world where prodigies were normal, and 
have returned to one where they are monstrous. But 



xx INTRODUCTION. 

prodigies still pursue us with unseasonable pertinacity, 
and our feeling is somewhat akin to that of the Ancient 
Mariner himself, whose prayer is that he may either " be 
awake " or may " sleep alway." We would fain either 
surrender unconditionally to reality, or remain free, as 
naturalized citizens of a self-governing dreamland. 

William Watson, Excursions in Criticism, pp. 98-101. 

And this poem is beyond question one of the supreme 
triumphs of poetry. Witness the men who brought bat- 
teries to bear on it right and left. Literally: for one critic 
said that the "moral sentiment " had impaired the imagi- 
native excellence; another, that it failed and fell through 
for want of a moral foothold upon facts. Remembering 
these things, I am reluctant to proceed; but desirous to 
praise, as I best may. Though I doubt if it be worth 
while, seeing how The Ancient Mariner, praised or dis- 
praised, lives and is like to live for the delight equally of 
young boys and old men; and seeing also that the last 
critic cited was no less a man than Hazlitt. It is fortu- 
nate, among many misfortunes, that for Coleridge no 
warning word was needed against the shriek of the press 
gang from this side or that. He stooped once or twice to 
spurn them; but he knew that he stooped. His intense 
and overwrought abstraction from things of the day or 
hour did him no ill service here. 

The Ancient Mariner has doubtless more of breadth and 
space, more of material force and motion, than anything 
else of the poet's. And the tenderness of sentiment which 
touches with significant color the pure white imagination 
is here no longer morbid or languid, as in the earlier 



INTR OB UC TION. XXI 

poems of feeling and emotion. It is soft and piteous 
enough, but womanly rather than effeminate; and thus 
serves indeed to set off the strange splendors and bound- 
less beauties of the story. For the execution, I presume 
no human eye is too dull to see how perfect it is, and how 
high in kind of perfection. Here is not the speckless 
and elaborate finish which shows everywhere the fresh 
rasp of file or chisel on its smooth and spruce excellence; 
this is faultless after the fashion of a flower or a tree. 
Thus it has- grown: not thus has it been carved. 

Swinburne, Essays and Studies pp. 263, 264. 



It is enough for us here that he [Coleridge] has written 
some of the most poetical poetry in the language, and one 
poem, TJie Ancient' Mariner, not only unparalleled, but 
unapproached in its kind, and that kind of the rarest. It 
is marvellous in the mastery over that delightfully fortui- 
tous inconsequence that is the adamantine logic of dream- 
land. Coleridge has taken the old ballad measure and 
given to it by indefinable charm wholly his own all 
the sweetness, all the melody and compass of a symphony. 
And how picturesque it is in the proper sense of the word. 
I know nothing like it. There is not a description in it. 
It is all picture. Descriptive poets generally confuse us 
with multiplicity of detail; we cannot see their forest for 
trees; but Coleridge never errs in this way. With instinc- 
tive tact he touches the right chord of association, and is 
satisfied, as we also are. I should find it hard to explain 
the singular charm of his diction, there is so much nicety 
of art and purpose in it, whether for music or for mean- 



xxil INTROD UC TION. 

ing. Nor does it need any explanation, for we all feel it. 
The words seem common words enough, but in the order 
of them, in the choice, variety, and position of the vowel 
sounds they become magical. The most decrepit vocable 
in the language throws away its crutches to dance and sing 
at his piping. I cannot think it a personal peculiarity, but 
a matter of universal experience, that more bits of Cole- 
ridge have embedded themselves in my memory than of 
any other poet who delighted my youth — unless I should 
except the sonnets of Shakespeare. This argues perfect- 
ness of expression. 

Lowell, Democracy and Other Addresses, pp. 98, 99. 

Christabel, though not printed till 1816, was written 
mainly in the year 1797: The Rhyme of the Ancient Mari- 
ner was printed as a contribution to the Lyrical Ballads in 
1798; and these two poems belong to the great year of 
Coleridge's poetic production, his twenty-fifth year. In 
poetic quality, above all in that most poetic of all qualities, 
a keen sense of, and delight in beauty, the infection of 
which lays hold upon the reader, they are quite out of 
proportion to all his other compositions. The form in both 
is that of the ballad, with some of its terminology, and 
some also of its quaint conceits. They connect themselves 
with that revival of ballad literature, of which Percy's 
Relics, and, in another way, Macpherson's Ossian are 
monuments, and which afterwards so powerfully affected 
Scott — 

" Young-eyed poesy 
All deftly masked as hoar antiquity." 



INTR OD UC TION. xxill 

The Ancient Mariner ... is a " romantic " poem, im- 
pressing us by bold invention, and appealing to that taste 
for the supernatural, that longing for le frisson, a shudder, 
to which the "romantic" school in Germany, and its 
derivations in England and France directly ministered. In 
Coleridge, personally, this taste had been encouraged by 
his odd and out-of-the-way reading in the old-fashioned 
literature of the marvellous — books like'Purch.a.s' sPt/grims, 
early voyages like Hakluyt's, old naturalists and visionary 
moralists, like Thomas Burnet, from whom he quotes the 
motto of The Ancient Mariner, "Facile credo, plures esse 
naturas invisibilcs quam visibiles in rerutn universitate" 
etc. Fancies of the strange things which may very well 
happen, even in broad daylight, to men shut up alone in 
ships far off on the sea, seem to have occurred to the 
human mind in all ages with a peculiar readiness, and 
often have about them, from the story of the stealing 
of Dionysus downwards, the fascination of a certain 
dreamy grace, which distinguishes them from other kinds 
of marvellous inventions. This sort of fascination The 
Ancient Mariner brings to its highest degree: it is the 
delicacy, the dreamy grace, in his presentation of the 
marvellous, which makes Coleridge's work so remarkable. 
The too palpable intruders from a spiritual world in 
almost all ghost literature, in Scott and Shakespeare 
even, have a kind of crudity or coarseness. Coleridge's 
power is in the very fineness with which, as by some really 
ghostly finger, he brings home to our inmost sense his 
inventions, daring as they are — the skeleton ship, the 
polar spirit, the inspiriting of the dead corpses of the 
ship's crew. The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner has 



XXIV INTRODUCTION. 

the plausibility, the perfect adaptation to reason and the 
general aspect of life, which belongs to the marvellous, 
when actually presented as part of a credible experience in 
our dreams. (Doubtless, the mere experience of the opium- 
eater, the habit he must almost necessarily fall into of 
noting the more elusive phenomena of dreams, had some- 
thing to do with that \ in its essence, however, it is con- 
nected with a more purely intellectual circumstance in the 
development of Coleridge's poetic gift. Some one once 
asked William Blake, to whom Coleridge has many resem- 
blances, when either is at his best (that whole episode of 
the re-inspiriting of the ship's crew in The Ancient Mariner 
being comparable to Blake's well-known design of the 
" Morning Stars singing together"), whether he had ever 
seen a ghost, and was surprised when the famous seer, who 
ought, one might think, to have seen so many, answered 
frankly, rr Only once ! " His ff spirits," at once more 
delicate, and so much more real than any ghost — the 
burden, as they were the privilege, of his temperament — 
like it, were an integral element in his everyday life. 
And the difference of mood expressed in that question 
and its answer, is indicative of a change of temper in regard 
to the supernatural which has passed over the whole 
modern mind, and of which the true measure is the 
influence of the writings of Swedenborg. What that 
change is we may see if we compare the vision by which 
Swedenborg was " called," as he thought, to his work, 
with the ghost which called Hamlet, or the spells of 
Marlowe's Faust with those of Goethe's. The modern 
mind, so minutely self-scrutinizing, if it is to be affected 
at all by a sense of the supernatural, needs to be more 



INTR 01) UC TION. xx v 

finely touched than was possible in the older, romantic 
presentment of it. The spectral object, so crude, so 
impossible, has become plausible, as 

" The blot upon the brain 
That will show itself without ;" 

and is understood to be but a condition of one's own mind, 
for which, according to the skepticism, latent at least, in 
so much of our modern philosophy, the so-called real 
things themselves are but spectra after all. 

It is this finer, more delicately marvellous supernatural- 
ism, fruit of his more delicate psychology, that Coleridge 
infuses into romantic adventure, itself also then a new or 
revived thing in English literature; and with a fineness of 
weird effect in The Ancient Mariner, unknown in those 
older, more simple, romantic legends and ballads. It is 
a flower of mediaeval or later German romance, growing 
up in the peculiarly compounded atmosphere of modern 
psychological speculation, and putting forth in it wholly 
new qualities. The quaint prose commentary, which runs 
side by side with the verse of The A?icient Mariner, 
illustrates this — a composition of quite a different shade 
of beauty and merit from that of the verse which it accom- 
panies, connecting this, the chief poem of Coleridge, with 
his philosophy, and emphasizing therein that psychological 
interest of which I have spoken, its curious soul-lore. 

Completeness, the perfectly rounded wholeness and 
unity of the impression it leaves on the mind of a reader 
who fairly gives himself to it — that, too, is one of the 
characteristics of a really excellent work, in the poetic as 
in every other kind of art ; and by this completeness, The 
Ancic7it Mariner certainly gains upon Christabel — a com- 



xxvi INTRODUCTION. 

pleteness, entire as that of Wordsworth's LeecJi-gatherer, or 
Keats's Saint Agnes Eve, each typical in its way of such 
wholeness or entirety of effect on a careful reader. It is 
Coleridge's one great complete work, the one really finished 
thing, in a life of many beginnings. CJiristabel remained 
a fragment. In The Ancient Mariner this unity is secured 
in part by the skill with which the incidents of the 
marriage-feast are made to break in dreamily from time to 
time upon the main story. And then, how pleasantly, how 
reassuringly, the whole nightmare story itself is made to 
end, among the clear fresh sounds and lights of the bay, 
where it began, with 

" The moonlight steeped in silentness, 
The steady weathercock." 

Walter Pater, Appreciations, pp. 96-101. 



Facile credo, plures esse Naturas invisibiles quam visibiles in rerum 
universitate. Sed horum omnium familiam quis nobis enarrabit, et 
gradus et cognationes et discrimina et singulorum munera ? Quid 
agunt? quae loca habitant? Harum rerum notitiam semper ambivit 
ingenium humanum, numquam attigit. Juvat, interea, non diffiteor, 
quandoque in animo, tamquam in tabula, majoris et melioris mundi 
imaginem contemplari : ne mens assuefacta hodiernae vitas minutiis 
se contrahat nimis, et tota s'ubsidat in pusillas cogitationes. Sed 
veritati interea invigilandum est, modusque servandus, ut certa ab 
incertis, diem a nocte, distinguamus. 

T. Burnet, Archaol. Phil., p. 68. 



THE RIME OF 
THE ANCIENT MARINER. 

IN SEVEN FARTS. 



detaineth one. 



Part I. 
It is an ancient Mariner, ^ ^ ncient t 

' Manner meet- 

And he stoppeth one of three. fitS£j£- 

"By thy long gray beard and glittering eye, feasted n£ 
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me ? 

5 "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, 
10 "There was a ship," quoth he. 

"Hold off ! unhand me, graybeard loon !" 
Eftsoons his hand dropt he. 

He holds him with his glittering eye - 
The wedding-guest stood still, 
15 And listens like a three years' child : 
The Mariner hath his will. 
(1) 



The wedding- 
guest is spell- 
bound by the 
eye of the old 
seafaring man, 
and constrain- 
ed to hear his 
tale. 



COLERIDGE. 



The Mariner 
tells how the 
ship sailed 
southward 
with a good 
wind and fair 
weather, till it 
reached the 
line. 



The wedding-guest sat on a stone : 
He can not choose but hear ; 
And thus spake on that ancient man, 
20 The bright-eyed Mariner. 

The ship was cheered, the harbor cleared, 
Merrily did we drop 
Below the kirk, below the hill, 
24 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, 
30 Till over the mast at noon — 

The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast, 
For he heard the loud bassoon. 



The wedding- 
guest heareth 
the bridal 
music; but the 
Mariner con- 
tinueth his 
tale. 



The ship 
drawn by a 
storm toward 
the south 
pole. 



The bride hath paced into the hall, 
Red as a rose is she ; 
Nodding their heads before her goes 
The merry minstrelsy. 

37 The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast, 
Yet he can not choose but hear ; 
And thus spake on that ancient man, 

4° 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. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 

45 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, 

50 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. 



55 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 



The ice was here, the ice was there, 
60 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 ; 
65 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 ; 
70 The helmsman steered us through ! 



Till a great 
seabird called 
the Albatross 
came through 
the snow-fog, 
and was re- 
ceived with 
great joy and 
hospital ity. 



COLERIDGE. 



And lo ! the 
Albatross 
proveth a bird 
of good omen, 
and followeth 
the ship as it 
returned 
northward 
through fog 
and floating 
ice. 



The ancient 
Mariner 
inhospitably 
killeth the 
pious bird of 
good omen. 



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, 
76 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 
82 I shot the Albatross. 



Part II. 

The Sun now rose upon the right : 
Out of the sea came he, 
85 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 
9° Came to the mariners' hollo ! 



His ship- 
mates cry out 
against the 
ancient Mari- 
ner, for killing 
the bird of 
good luck. 



And I had done an hellish thing, 
And it would work 'em woe : 
For all averred, I had killed the bird 
That made the breeze to blow. 
95 Ah wretch ! said they, the bird to slay, 
That made the breeze to blow ! 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 



But when the 
fog cleared 
off, they jus- 
tify the same, 
and thus make 
themselves 
accomplices 
in the crime. 



Nor dim nor red, like God's own head, 
The glorious Sun uprist : 
Then all averred, I had killed the bird 
ioo That brought the fog and mist. 

'T was right, said they, such birds to slay, 
That bring the fog and mist. 

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The. fair breeze 

' ' continues ; the 

The furrow followed free ; SSfcoSST, 

105 We were the first that ever burst 5Jard"?enun- 

Into that silent sea. the Line. 



Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down, T e h e e slv 



'T was sad as sad could be ; 
And we did speak only to break 
no The silence of the sea! 



en suddenly 
becalmed. 



All in a hot and copper sky, 
The bloody Sun, at noon, 
Right up above the mast did stand, 
No bigger than the Moon. 

115 Day after clay, day after day, 

We stuck, nor breath nor motion ; 
As idle as a painted ship 
Upon a painted ocean. 

Water, water, everywhere, 
1 20 And all the boards did shrink ; 
Water, water, everywhere, 
Nor any drop to drink. 

The very deep did rot : O Christ ! 
That ever this should be ! 



And the Al- 
batross begins 
to be avenged. 



COLERIDGE. 

125 Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs 
Upon the slimy sea. 

About, about, in reel and rout 
The death-fires danced at night ; 
The water, like a witch's oils, 
13° 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. 



A spirit had 
followed 
them ; one of 
the invisible 
inhabitants of 
this planet, 
neither de- 
parted souls 
nor 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. 



135 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. 



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. 



The ancient 
Mariner be- 
holdeth a 
sign in the 
element afar 
off. 



Ah ! well-a-day ! what evil looks 
Had I from old and young ! 
Instead of the cross, the Albatross 
About my neck was hung. 

Part III. 

There passed a weary time. Each throat 
Was parched, and glazed each eye. 
145 A weary time ! a weary time ! 
How glazed each weary eye, 
When looking westward, I beheld 
A something in the sky. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 

At first it seemed a little speck, 
15° 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 : 
155 As if it dodged a water-sprite, 

It plunged and tacked and veered. 



With throats unslaked, with black lips baked, ^ a n c e h ^f t r 

seemeth him 
to be a ship ; 

Through utter drought all dumb we stood ! ransom a he ear 

freeth his 
speech from 
the bonds of 
thirst. 



We could not laugh nor wail ; 



160 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 : 
Gramercy ! they for joy did grin, 
165 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, 
170 She steadies 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 ; 
175 When that strange shape drove suddenly 
Betwixt us and the Sun. 



A flash of joy : 



And horror 
follows. For 
can it be a 
ship that 
comes onward 
without wind 
or tide ? 



COLERIDGE. 



It seemeth 
him but the 
skeleton of a 
ship. 



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, 
184 Like restless gossameres? 



And its ribs 
are seen as 
bars on the 
face of the set- 
ting Sun. 
The spectre- 
woman and 
her death- 
mate, and no 
other on board 
the skeleton- 
ship. 



Like vessel, 
like crew ! 



Are those her ribs through which the Sun 
Did peer, as through a grate? 
And is that Woman all her crew? 
Is that a Death? and are there two? 
Is Death that woman's mate? 

19° Her lips were red, her looks were free, 
Her locks were yellow as gold : 
Her skin was as white as leprosy, 
The Night-mare Life-in-Death was she, 

194 Who thicks man's blood with cold. 



Death and 
Life-in-Death 
have diced for 
the ship's 
crew, and she 
(the latter) 
winneth the 
ancient 
Mariner. 



No twilight 
within the 
courts of the 
Sun. 



The naked hulk alongside came, 
And the twain were casting dice ; 
"The game is done ! I 've, I 've won !" 
Quoth she, and whistles thrice. 

The Sun's rim dips ; the stars rush out 
:oo At one stride comes the dark ; 

With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea, 
Off shot the spectre-bark. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 



We listened and looked sideways up ! 
Fear at my heart, as at a cup, 
205 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. 



210 



At the rising 
of the Moon, 



One after one, by the star-dogged Moon, 
Too quick for groan or sigh, 
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang, 
215 And cursed me with his eye. ' 



One after 
another, 



Four times fifty living men, 
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan) 
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump, 
They dropped down one by one. 



His shipmates 
drop down 
dead ; 



220 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 ! 



Rut Life-in- 
Death begins 
her work on 
the ancient 
Mariner. 



Part IV. 



" I fear thee, ancient Mariner ! 
225 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 



10 



COLERIDGE. 



But the ancient 
Mariner assur- 
eth him of his 
bodily life, and 
proceedeth to 
relate his hor- 
rible penance. 



He despiseth 
the creatures 
of the calm. 



" I fear thee and thy glittering eye, 
229 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 a wide wide sea ! 
And never a saint took pity on 
235 My soul in agony. 

The many men, so beautiful ! 
And they all dead did lie : 
And a thousand thousand slimy things 
239 Lived on ; and so did I. 



And envieth 
that they 
should live, 
and so many 
lie dead. 



I looked upon the rotting sea, 
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 ; 
245 But or ever a prayer had gusht, 
A wicked whisper came, and made 
My heart as dry as dust. 



But the curse 
liveth for him 
in the eye of 
the dead men. 



I closed my lids, and kept them close, 
And the balls like pulses beat; [the sky 
250 For the sky and the sea, and the sea and 
Lay like a load on my weary eye, 
And the dead were at my feet. 

The cold sweat melted from their limbs, 
Nor rot nor reek did they : 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 11 

255 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 horrible than that 
260 Is a 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, in Ms laneii- 

o r J > ness and fixed- 

And nowhere did abide: STtoSJS™" 

265 Softly she was going up, Mo^SEf 

A n ,i-i stars that still 

And a star or two beside — sojourn, yet 

still move on- 
ward; 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. 

Her beams bemocked the sultry main, 
Like April hoar-frost spread; 
But where the ship's huge shadow lay, 
270 The charmed water burnt alway 
A still and awful red. 



By the light of 
the Moon he 
beholdeth 
God's crea- 



Beyond the shadow of the ship, 
I watched the water-snakes: 
They moved in tracks of shining white, great cai m e 

275 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, 
280 They coiled and swam; and every track 
Was a flash of golden fire. 



12 COLERIDGE. 

"Sa^Sp- ° ha PPy livin S thin S s ! no tongue 

piness - Their beauty might declare: 

284 A spring of love gushed from my heart, 
Hebiesseth ^nd j blessed them unaware: 

them in his 

heart - Sure my kind saint took pity on me, 

And I blessed them unaware. 

T ins to break ^he se lf same moment I could pray; 

And from my neck so free 
290 The Albatross fell off and sank 
Like lead into the sea. 



Part V. 

Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing, 
Beloved from pole to pole ! 
To Mary Queen the praise be given ! 
295 She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven, 
That slid into my soul. 

Sif Mother 1 * Tne sill y buckets on the deck, 

SESSaC That had so long remained, 

freshed with j dreamt fa^ t]lQy WQre fiUed ^^ dew . 

3 00 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. 

3°5 I moved, and could not feel my limbs: 
I was so light — almost 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 



U 



310 



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. 



The upper air burst into life ! 
And a hundred fire-flags sheen, 
315 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 ; 
320 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, 



325 



The lightning fell with never a jag, 



He heareth 
strange sounds 
and seeth 
strange sights 
and commo- 
tions in the sky 
and the ele- 
ment. 



A river steep and wide. 

The loud wind never reached the ship, 
Yet now the ship moved on ! 
Beneath the lightning and the moon 
330 The dead men gave a groan. 

They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose, 
Nor spoke, nor moved their eyes ; 
It had been strange, even in a dream, 
To have seen those dead men rise. 



The bodies of 
the ship's crew 
are inspired, 
and the ship 
moves on : 



14 COLERIDGE. 

335 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 — 
340 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, 
344 But he said nought to me. 

s P o U uis n of ?he the " 1 fear tnee > ancient Mariner! " 

iE£°of by Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest! 

mTddel^but 'T was not those souls that fled in pain, 

by a blessed iit-i • 1 t i_i_ • 

troop of an- Which to their corses came again, 

gelic spirits, . . 

sent down by the But a trOOp 01 Spirits blest I 

invocation of the 

guardian saint. 

35° For when it dawned — they dropped their 
arms, 
And clustered round the mast ; 
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their 

mouths, 
And from their bodies passed. 

Around, around, flew each sweet sound, 
355 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 ; 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 



15 



360 Sometimes all little birds that are, 

How they seemed to fill the sea and air 
With their sweet jargoning ! 

And now 't was like all instruments, 
Now like a lonely flute ; 
365 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 
37o 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 : 
375 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 
3 8 ° 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 : 
3 8 5 But in a minute she 'gan stir, 
With a short uneasy motion — 
Backwards and forwards half her length 
With a short uneasy motion. 



The lonesome 
spirit from the 
south pole car- 
ries on the ship 
as far as the 
line, in obedi- 
ence to the an- 
gelic troop, 
but still requir- 
eth vengeance. 



16 



COLERIDGE. 



The Polar 
Spirit's fellow- 
demons, the 
invisible in- 
habitants of 
the element, 
take part in his 
wrong ; and 
two of them 
relate, one to 
the other, that 
penance long 
and heavy for 
the ancient 
Mariner hath 
been accorded 
to the Polar 
Spirit, who 
returneth 
southward. 



Then like a pawing horse let go, 
39° She made a sudden bound : 

It flung the blood into my head, 
And I fell down in a swound. 

How long in that same fit I lay, 
I have not to declare ; 
But ere my living life returned, 
I heard and in my soul discerned 
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 laid full low 
The harmless Albatross. 

402 " The spirit who bideth by himself 
In the land of mist and snow, 
He loved the bird that loved the man 

405 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." 



Part VI. 

First Voice. 



410 " But tell me, tell me ! speak again, 
Thy soft response renewing — 
What makes that ship drive on so fast? 
What is the Ocean doing?" 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 



17 



Second Voice. 



" Still as a slave before his lord, 
4 1 5 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. 
420 See, brother, see ! how graciously 
She looketh down on him." 

First Voice. 

" But why drives on that ship so fast, 
Without or wave or wind ?" 

Second Voice. 

" The air is cut away before, 
4 2 5 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 Mariner 
hath been cast 
into a trance ; 
for the angelic 
power causeth 
the vessel to 
drive north- 
ward faster 
than human 
life could 
endure. 



43° I woke, and we were sailing on 
As in a gentle weather : 



The supernat- 
ural motion is 
retarded ; the 
Mariner 

'T was night, calm night, the Moon was high ; hX^enarJS? 
The dead men stood together. 

All stood together on the deck, 
435 For a charnel-dungeon fitter : 
All fixed on me their stony eyes, 
That in the Moon did glitter. 



IS COLERIDGE. 

The pang, the curse, with which they died, 
Had never passed away : 
440 I could not draw my eyes from theirs, 
Nor turn them up to pray. 

finSrTx 6 i- And now this spell was snapt : once more 

ated - I viewed the ocean green, 

And looked far forth, yet little saw 
445 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 ; 
45° 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, 
455 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. 

460 Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship, 
Yet she sailed softly too : 
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze — 
On me alone it blew. 

dent^iarili'er Oh' dream of joy ! is this indeed 

EI^EI. The light-house top I see ? 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 19 

Is this the hill ? is this the kirk ? 
Is this mine own countree ? 

We drifted o'er the harbor-bar, 
And I with sobs did pray — 
47o O let me be awake, my God ! 
Or let me sleep alway. 

The harbor-bay was clear as glass, 
So smoothly it was strewn ! 
And on the bay the moonlight lay, 
475 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. 

480 And the bay was white with silent light, 
Till rising from the same, 

Full many shapes, that shadows were, ^Mtfilave 

In crimson colors came. bodies^ 

A little distance from the prow * n <j a PP ear 

i in their own 

485 Those crimson shadows were: forms of light. 

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 ! 
59° A man all light, a seraph-man, 
On every corse there stood. 



20 COLERIDGE. 

This seraph-band, each waved his hand : 
It was a heavenly sight ! 
They stood as signals to the land, 
495 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. 

5°° 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, 
5°5 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 ! 
5 T o He singeth loud his godly hymns 
That he makes in the wood. 
He '11 shrieve my soul, he '11 wash away 
The Albatross's blood. 

Part VII. 

S^WcSJ" 4 ° f This Hermit good lives in that wood 

5 T 5 Which slopes down to the sea. 

How loudly his sweet voice he rears ! 
He loves to talk with marineres 
That come from a far countree. 



the ship with 
wonder. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 21 

He kneels at morn, and noon and eve — 
520 He hath a cushion plump : 

It is the moss that wholly hides 
The rotted old oak-stump. 

The skiff-boat neared : I heard them talk, 
" Why, this is strange, I trow ! 
5 2 5 Where are those lights so many and fair, 
That signal made but now?" 

w Strange, by my faith !" the Hermit said — J e P™ :h w f t J 
"And they answered not our cheer ! 
The planks looked warped ! and see those sails, 
53° How thin they are and sere ! 
I never saw aught like to them, 
Unless perchance it were 

Brown skeletons of leaves that lag 
My forest-brook along ; 
535 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 hath 'a fiendish look — 
(The Pilot made reply) 
540 I am a-f eared " — " Push on, push on !" 
Said the Hermit cheerily. 

The boat came closer to the ship, 
But I nor spake nor stirred ; 
The boat came close beneath the ship, 
545 And straight a sound was heard. 



22 



COLERIDGE. 



The ship sud- 
denly sinketh. 



The ancient 
Mariner is 
saved in the 
Pilot's boat. 



Under the water it rumbled on, 
Still louder and more dread : 
It reached the ship, it split the bay ; 
The ship went down like lead. 

Stunned by the loud and dreadful sound, 
Which sky and ocean smote, 
Like one that hath been seven days drowned 
My body lay afloat ; 
But swift as dreams, myself I found 
555 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. 

560 I moved my lips — the Pilot shrieked 
And fell down in a fit ; 
The holy Hermit raised his eyes, 
And prayed where he did sit. 

I took the oars : the Pilot's boy, 
565 Who now doth crazy go, 

Laughed 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." 



57o And now, all in my own countree, 
I stood on the firm land ! 
The Hermit stepped forth from the boat, 
And scarcely he could stand. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 



23 



" O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man !" 
575 The Hermit crossed his brow. 

"Say quick," quoth he, "I bid thee say — 
What manner of man art thou ?" 

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched 
With a woeful agony, 
580 Which forced me to begin my tale ; 
And then it left me free. 



The ancient 
Mariner 
earnestly en- 
treateth the 
Hermit to 
shrieve him ; 
and the pen- 
ance of life 
falls on him. 



Since then, at an uncertain hour, 
That agony returns : 
And till my ghastly tale is told, 
5$5 This heart within me burns. 



And ever and 
anon through- 
out his future 
life an agony 
constraineth 
him to travel 
from land to 
land, 



I pass, like night, from land to land ; 
I have strange power of speech ; 
That moment that his face I see, 
I know the man that must hear me : 
59° 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 : 
595 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 't was, that God himself 
600 Scarce seemed there to be. 



24 



COLERIDGE. 



And to teach, 
by his own 
example, love 
and reverence 
to all things 
that (iod made 
and loveth. 



O sweeter than the marriage-feast, 
'T is sweeter far to me, 
To walk together to the kirk 
With a goodly company ! — 

605 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 
615 All things both great and small ; 
For the dear God who loveth us, 
He made and loveth all. 

The Mariner, whose eye is bright, 
Whose beard with age is hoar, 
620 Is gone : and now the Wedding-Guest 
Turned from the bridegroom's door. 

He went like one that hath been stunned, 
And is of sense forlorn : 
A sadder and a wiser man, 
625 He rose the morrow morn. 



THE RIME OF 
THE ANCYENT MARINERE. 



IN SEVEN PARTS. 



{Version of ijg8. ) 



ARGUMENT. 

How a Ship having passed the Line 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. 

I 

It is an ancyent Marinere, 

And he stoppeth one of three : 
' By thy long grey beard and thy glittering eye 

' Now wherefore stoppest me ? 

5 'The Bridegroom's doors are open'd wide, 

f And I am next of kin ; 
1 The Guests ^re met, the Feast is set, — 
1 May'st hear the merry din. 

But still he holds the wedding-guest — 
*o There was a Ship, quoth he — 

' Nay, if thou 'st got a laughsome tale, 
e Marinere ! come with me.' 



(25) 



He holds him with his skinny hand, 
Quoth he, there was a Ship — 



26 COLERIDGE. 

15 ' 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 ; 
20 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. 

25 The Ship was cheer'd, the Harbour clear'd — 

Merrily did we drop 
Below the Kirk, below the Hill, 
Below the Light-house top. 

The Sun came up upon the left, 
30 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 — 
35 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 
40 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. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 27 

45 Listen, Stranger ! Storm and Wind, 1 

A Wind and Tempest strong ! 
For days and weeks it play'd us freaks — 
Like Chaff we drove along. 

Listen, Stranger ! Mist and Snow, 
50 And it grew wond'rous cauld : 

And Ice mast-high came floating by 
As green as Emerauld. 

And through the drifts the snowy clifts 
Did send a dismal sheen ; 
55 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 — 
60 Like noises of a swound. 2 

At length did cross an Albatross, 

Thorough the Fog it came ; 
And an it were a Christian soul, 

We hail'd it in God's name. 

65 The Marineres gave it biscuit-worms, 

And round and round it flew : 

1 The foot-notes show the changes made in the edition of 1800. 

11. 45-50. But now the Northwind came more fierce, 
There came a Tempest strong! 
And Southward still for days and weeks 
Like chaff we drove along. 

And now there came both Mist and Snow 
And it grew wondrous cold ; 

2 1. 60. A wild and ceaseless sound. 

(The text of 1798 was afterwards restored.) 



28 COLERIDGE. 

The Ice did split with a Thunder-fit, 
The Helmsman steer'd us thro'. 

And a good south-wind sprung up behind, 
70 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, 
75 Whiles all the night thro' fog-smoke white, 

Glimmer'd the white moon-shine. 

' God save thee, ancyent Marinere ! 

1 From the fiends that plague thee thus — 
' Why look'st thou so ? ' — with my cross bow 
80 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. 

85 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 
9° And it would work 'em woe : 

For all averr'd I had kill'd the Bird 
That made the Breeze to blow. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 29 

Ne dim ne red, like God's own head, 

The glorious Sun uprist ; 
95 Then all averr'd I had kilPd the Bird 

That brought the fog and mist. 
'T was right, said they, such birds to slay 

That bring the fog and mist. 

The breezes blew, the white foam flew, 
ioo The furrow follow'd free : 

We were the first that ever burst 
Into that silent Sea. 

Down dropt the breeze, the Sails dropt down, 
'T was sad as sad could be 
105 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 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. 

"5 Water, water, every where, 

And all the boards did shrink ; 
Water, water, everywhere, 
Ne any drop to drink. 

The very deeps did rot : O Christ ! 
120 That ever this should be ! 

Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs 
Upon the slimy Sea. 



30 COLERIDGE. 

About, about, in reel and rout, 
The Death-fires danc'd at night ; 
125 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 
13° 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. 

J 35 Ah! wel-a-day! what evil looks 

Had I from old and young ; 
Instead of the Cross the Albatross 
About my neck was hung. 



in 

I saw a something in the Sky, 1 
Mo 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. 

J 45 A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist ! 

And still it ner'd and ner'd ; 

1 11. 139, 140. So past a weary time; each throat 
Was parch'd and glaz'd each eye, 
When, looking westward, I beheld 
A something in the sky. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 31 

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 
15° 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, 
155 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 — 
160 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 ! 
165 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 
17° (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 ! 
175 Are those her Sails that glance in the Sun 

Like restless gossameres ? 



32 COLERIDGE. 

Are those her naked ribs, which fleck'd 
The sun that did behind them peer ? 
And are those two all, all the crew, 
180 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 
185 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 ; 
19° Her flesh makes the still air cold. 

The naked Hulk alongside came 

And the Twain were playing dice ; 
1 The Game is done ! I 've won, I 've won ! ' 

Quoth she, and whistled thrice. 

J 95 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 
200 Off darts the Spectre-ship ; 

While clombe above the Eastern bar 
The horned Moon, with one bright Star 
Almost atween the tips. 

1 11. 177-180. Are those her Ribs, thro' which the Sun 
Did peer, as thro' a grate ? 
And are those two all, all her crew, 
That Woman, and her Mate ? 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 33 

One after one by the horned Moon 
205 (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, 
210 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, 
21 5 Like the whiz of my Cross-bow. 



IV 

' 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. 

220 ' 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, 
22 5 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 ! 
2 3° And a million million slimy things 

Liv'd on — and so did I. 



34 COLERIDGE. 

I look'd upon the rotting Sea, 

And drew my eyes away ; 
I look'd upon the eldritch deck, 
235 And there the dead men lay. 

I look'd to Heav'n, and try'd to pray ; 

But or ever a prayer had gusht, 
A wicked whisper came and made 

My heart as dry as dust. 

240 I # clos'd my lids and kept them close, 

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. 

245 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 
250 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. 

255 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 
260 Like morning frosts yspread ; 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 35 

But where the ship's huge shadow lay, 
The charmed water burnt alway 
A still and awful red. 

Beyond the shadow of the ship 
265 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 
270 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 
275 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. 

280 The self-same moment I could pray ; 

And from my neck so free 
The Albatross fell off, and sank 
Like lead into the sea. 



O sleep, it is a gentle thing, 
285 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. 



36 COLERIDGE. 

The silly buckets on the deck 
2 9° 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 ; 
2 95 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, 
3°° 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. 

3°5 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. 

3 IQ 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, 
3 I 5 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. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 37 

The strong wind reach'd the ship : it roar'd 
3 2 ° 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 : 
3 2 5 It had been strange, even in a dream 

To have seen those dead men rise. 

The helmsman steer'd, the ship mov'd on ; 

Yet never a breeze up-blew ; 
The Marineres all 'gan work the ropes, 
33° 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 : 
335 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 1 

How frightful it would be ! 

The day-light dawn'd — they dropp'd their arms, 
34o 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 : 
345 Slowly the sounds came back again 

Now mix'd, now one by one. 

1 11- 337, 33 8 omitted. 



38 COLERIDGE. 

Sometimes a dropping from the sky, 
I heard the Lavrock sing ; 

Sometimes all little birds that are 
35° How they seem'd to fill the sea and air 

With their sweet jargoning. 

And now 't was like all instruments, 
Now like a lonely flute ; 



And now it is an angel's so 



;-> v 



»ng 



355 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, 
360 That to the sleeping woods all night 

Singeth a quiet tune. 

Listen, O listen, thou Wedding-guest ! l 

' Marinere ! thou hast thy will : 
' For that, which comes out of thine eye, doth make 
3 6 5 ' 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 'It rise to-morrow morn. 

370 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, 
375 But look at me they n'old : 

1 11. 362-377. These four stanzas omitted. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 39 

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 : 
380 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 
385 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 : 
39° 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, 
395 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 ; 
400 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 ? 
1 By him who died on cross, 



40 COLERIDGE. 

4°5 * With his cruel bow he lay'd full low 

1 The harmless Albatross. 

1 The spirit who 'bideth by himself 

' In the land of mist and snow, 
' He lov'd the bird that lov'd the man 
410 ' 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. 

VI 

First Voice. 

4 T 5 ' 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. 

1 Still as a Slave before his Lord, 
4 2 ° ' 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, 
1 For she guides him smooth or grim. 
425 ' See, brother, see ! how graciously 

1 She looketh down on him.' 

First Voice. 

1 But why drives on that ship so fast 

* Withouten wave or wind ? ' 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 41 

Second Voice. 

1 The air is cut away before, 
43° ' 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.' 

435 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, 

440 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 : 
445 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 
45° 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 : 
455 Because he knows, a frightful fiend 

Doth close behind him tread. 



42 COLERIDGE. 

But soon there breath'd a wind on me, 

Ne sound ne motion made : 
Its path was not upon the sea, 
460 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. 

465 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 
47° 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 — 
475 ' 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, 
4 § o And the shadow of the moon. 

The moonlight bay was white all o'er, 1 
Till rising from the same, 

Full many shapes, that shadows were, 
Like as of torches came. 

1 11. 481-502. These five stanzas omitted. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 43 

485 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, 
490 And by the holy rood, 

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 ; 
495 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 
500 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 : 
505 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, 
510 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 ? 



44 COLERIDGE. 

5 J 5 Each corse lay fiat, 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 
5 2 ° 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 — 
5 2 5 No voice ; but O ! the silence sank, 

Like music on my heart. 

Eftsones I heard the dash of oars, 

I heard the pilot's cheer : 
My head was turn'd perforce away, 
53° 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. 
535 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, 
54o 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. 
545 He '11 shrieve my soul, he '11 wash away 

The Albatross's blood. 

1 11. 531-536. This stanza omitted. 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 45 



VI] 



This Hermit good lives in that wood 

Which slopes down to the Sea. 
How loudly his sweet voice he rears ! 
550 He loves to talk with Marineres 

That come from a far Countree. 

He kneels at morn and noon and eve — 

He hath a cushion plump : 
It is the moss, that wholly hides 
555 The rotted old Oak-stump. 

The skiff-boat ne'rd : I heard them talk, 
1 Why, this is strange, I trow ! 

' Where are those lights so many and fair 
' That signal made but now ? ' 

560 ' Strange, by my faith ! ' the Hermit said — 

' And they answer'd not our cheer. 
' The planks look warp'd, and see those sails 

1 How thin they are and sere ! 
1 1 never saw aught like to them 
5 6 5 ' Unless perchance it were 

1 The skeletons of leaves that lag 

' My forest-brook along : 
' When the Ivy-tod is heavy with snow, 
1 And the Owlet whoops to the wolf below 
57o ' That eats the she-wolf's young.' 

' Dear Lord ! it has a fiendish look — 

(The Pilot made reply) 
' I am afear'd ' — ' Push on, push on ! ' 

Said the Hermit cheerily. 



46 COLERIDGE. 

575 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, 
5 8 ° Still louder and more dread : 

It reached 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 : 
5 8 5 Like one that had 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, 
59° 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, 
595 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 
6oo His eyes went to and fro. 

' Ha ! ha ! ' quoth he — ' full plain I see, 

1 The devil knows how to row.' 

And now all in mine own Countree 
I stood on the firm land ! 



THE ANCIENT MARINER. 47 

605 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 
610 ' 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. 

615 Since then at an uncertain hour, 1 

Now oftimes and now fewer, 
That anguish comes and makes me tell 
My ghastly aventure. 

I pass, like night, from land to land ; 
620 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 ! 
625 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. 

1 11. 615-618. Since then at an uncertain hour 
That agony returns ; 
And till my ghastly tale is told 
This heart within me burns. 



48 COLERIDGE. 

630 O Wedding-guest ! this soul hath been 

Alone on a wide wide sea : 
So lonely 't was, that God himself 
Scarce seemed there to be. 

O sweeter than the Marriage-feast, 
635 'T is sweeter far to me 

To walk together to the Kirk 
With a goodly company. 

To walk together to the Kirk 

And all together pray, 
640 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 ! 
645 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, 
650 He made and loveth all. 

The Marin ere, whose eye is bright, 
Whose beard with age is hoar, 

Is gone ; and now the wedding-guest 
Turn'd from the bridegroom's door. 

655 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. 



NOTES. 



Rime. The derivation (Anglo-Saxon, rim ; Middle English, rime) 
shows this spelling to be correct rather than the ordinary form, rhyme, 
which is the result of a confusion beginning about 1550 between rime and 
rhythm . 

The gloss did not appear in the earliest editions ; it was added in Sibyl- 
line Leaves ( 1 S v i 7 ) . 

1 1. It is an ancient Mariner. A common form of introduction in the 
ballads. 

1 3. "By thy long gray beard." Brandl regards this Turkish oath as 
an indication of the " eclectic tendency " of the Romantic school ! 

1 8. What is the subject of maysthear? 

1 12. Eftsoons, at once. (Anglo-Saxon, aeft and sona.) 

1-2 13-19. Notice the mixed tenses. Cf. 11. 57-58, 363-65. Is this the 
result of carelessness ? 

1 15-16. These lines are Wordsworth's. 

2 18. He can not choose but hear. " Doubtless this is a feature taken 
from life, for such a fascination did Coleridge himself exercise over his 
hearers." (Brandl.) 

2 20. What is gained by putting the story into the mouth of the Ancient 
Mariner himself ? Is there any advantage in his having the impatient 
wedding-guest as a listener? See Introduction, p. xxvi. 

2 23. kirk, a Northern form of church. Explain the presence of dialect 
words and archaisms in the poem. 

2 21-24. What is the point of view — that of the Ancient Mariner on 
board the ship or that of an observer on shore ? 

2 34. Red as a rose. A very common comparison in the ballads. 

2 36. minstrelsy, musicians. 

3 47. still, constantly. 

2-3 21-50. Do you agree with William Watson (see Introduction, 
p. xviii) that Coleridge shows " undignified haste to convey us to the 
aesthetically necessary region ?" 

3 55. clifts, cliffs. 

3 56. sheen, brightness. In 1. 314 the word is used as an adjective. 

3 57. ken, descry. 



50 NOTES. 

3 61. Notice the harmony between sound and sense. 

3 62. swound, swoon. 

3 64. Thorough, through. An archaism. 

4 76. vespers, evenings. 

4 82. " The details were gathered from Shelvocke's Voyage round the 
World. He [Wordsworth] there read of a captain, by name Simon Hatley, 
a discontented, cruel, splenetic man. . . . The same, on a fearfully cold and 
stormy passage, far south of the Terra del Fuego, saw a black albatross, 
the only living thing in the wide waste of waters, who soared round and 
round the vessel for many days. The captain accordingly imagined in his 
superstitious way that the dark, disconsolate-looking bird had something 
to do with the bad weather, and in one of his gloomy fits shot the albatross, 
'not doubting' (perhaps) ' that we should have a fair wind after it.' The 
guardian spirits of Nature, of whom Coleridge often sang in Stowey, 
revenged the murder ; and the ship's company agreed to put the mark of 
Cain on the criminal, by hanging the body of the albatross about his 
neck." (Brandl.) 

4 92. 'em. Not colloquial, but archaic. (A.-S., him, dat. pi. of he, heo, 
hit; M. E., hem) 

5 97. like God's own head. Care should be taken in reading to con- 
nect this phrase with the latter part of the sentence. 

5 98. uprist, arose. In Chaucer this word is usually either a substantive 
or a contracted form of the third sing. pres. ind. (upriseth) ; but in a few 
cases it is used, as Coleridge uses it here, as a third sing. pret. ind. 

5 103-104. Alliteration. 

5 104. The furrow followed free. In the edition of 1817 Coleridge 

changed this line to 

The furrow streamed off free. 

His reason for doing so was that actual observation on board ship had 
taught him that the image described in the text is the one seen by a specta- 
tor from the shore or from another vessel, and that from the ship itself the 
wake appears like a brook flowing off from the stern. But in the later edi- 
tions he restored the present reading. Which of the readings is preferable ? 

5 117-118. Cf. Hamlet, II. ii. 502, wdien Pyrrhus' sword 

seemed i' the air to stick : 
So as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood, 
And like a neutral to his will and matter 
Did nothing. (Hales.) 

6 128. death-fires, luminous appearances supposed to be seen over 
dead bodies. Cf. Coleridge's Ode to the Departing Year, 



NOTES. 51 

Mighty armies of the dead 

Dance, like death-fires, round her tomb. 

6 138. Notice the force of this homely comparison. 

6 141. Five of the seven parts of the poem end with a reference to the 
Mariner's crime. Is this by accident or design ? See 82, note. 

7 152. I wist. This expression was probably conceived by Coleridge, 
and the ballad writers whom he imitated, to mean " I think " or " I guess." 
It is properly an adverb meaning "certainly." (A.-S., gewis ; M. E., r-w/s, 
i-wis.) The two syllables being printed separately, the word was mistaken 
for a verb with subject pronoun. 

7 149-161. " He [Coleridge] was accustomed to wander of evenings on 
the shore to the north of Stowey, and watch a vessel emerging to sight on 
the open sea — first a little spot between himself and the setting sun ; then 
a dark little cloud ; then a shadowy form, mast and yards, black as iron 
cross-bars; while the solitary character of the coast helped to heighten the 
ghostly impression." (Brandl.) 

7 164. Gramercy ! An exclamation of gratitude or surprise (Fr., grand 
tnerc'i). 

grin. "I took the thought of 'grinning for joy' . . . from poor 
Burnett's remark to me, when we had climbed to the top of Plinlimmon, 
and were nearly dead with thirst. We could not speak from the constric- 
tion, till we found a little puddle under a stone. He said to me, — ' You 
grinned like an idiot ! ' He had done the same." (Coleridge's Table-Talk, 
May 31, 1S30.) 

8 177-187. The skeleton ship was suggested to Coleridge by the dream 
of his friend Cruikshank. 

S 184. gossameres, filmy cobwebs woven by small spiders. 

8 197. ff I 've, I 've won ! " Many editions, including Mr. Campbell's, 
read / \>e won, I 've won ; but the reading in the text is that of the edition 
of 1S29, the latest that was printed under Coleridge's personal supervision. 

8 198. thrice, a mystical number, much used in charms. Cf. Milton's 

Com us, 11. 914-15, 

Thrice upon thy finger's tip, 
Thrice upon thy rubied lip. 

9 209. clomb, climbed. An archaism. 

9 210-11. Is this imagination or observation? Are stars ever visible so 
near the moon ? 

9 226-27. " For the last two lines of this stanza I am endebted to Mr. 
Wordsworth. It was on a delightful walk from Nether Stowey to Dul- 
verton, with him and his sister, in the autumn of 1797, that this poem was 
planned and in part composed." (Coleridge's note.) 



52 NOTES. 

11 263-66. Notice the contrast between the beauty of this stanza and 
the horrors of the narrative. 

11 270. charmed, under a spell. (Lat. carmen, a song, an incantation.) 

11 273. water-snakes. " In these monsters he [Coleridge] seems to 
have taken particular interest, and to have consulted various zoological 
works ; for the note-book of this date contains long paragraphs upon the 
alligators, boas, and crocodiles of antediluvian times." (Brandl.) 

12 282-91. Dowden comments: "That one self-centred in crude egoism 
should be purified and converted through a new sympathy with suffering 
and sorrow is a common piece of morality ; this purification through sym- 
pathy with joy is a piece of finer and higher doctrine." {New Studies in 
Literature, p. 341.) 

12 29-2-93. Cf. The Pains of Sleep, 

Sleep, the wide blessing. 
12 295-96. Cf. Browning, Christmas Eve, 

Have I been sure, this Christmas Eve, 
God's own hand did the rainbow weave, 
Whereby the truth from heaven slid 
Into my soid? 

12 297. silly, useless. 

13 314. sheen, bright. The use of this word as an adjective is archaic. 
15 362. jargoning. fargonner is the usual word in Old French for the 

singing of birds. 

14-15 354-72. Memorize. 

15 385-88. Notice the skilful adaptation of the metre to the motion 
described. 

16 404-5. " The consciousness of a central spirit of love and redemp- 
tion is the religion of Coleridge's most vital poem, the ' Ancient Mariner.' " 
(Vida D. Scudder, The Life of the Spirit in the Modern English Poets, 
p. 312.) 

16 407. honey-dew, a sweet substance found in minute drops on the 
leaves of plants and trees. Cf. Kubla Khan, 

Weave a circle round him thrice, 
And close your eyes witli holy dread, 
For he on honey-dew hath fed, 
And drunk the milk of Paradise. 

17 435. charnel-dungeon, a vault for the deposit of dead bodies. 

18 452 ff. " As the voyage approaches its conclusion, ordinary instru- 
mentalities appear once more. There is first the rising of the soft familiar 



NOTES. 53 

wind, ' like a meadow gale in spring,' then the blessed vision of the light- 
house top, the hill, the kirk, all those well-known realities which gradually 
relieve the absorbed excitement of the listener, and favour his slow return 
to ordinary daylight." (Mrs. Oliphant.) 

IS 460-63. Alliteration. 

19 467. countree, an archaic form of country, very common in the 
ballads. 

19 489. rood, cross. 

20 492-95. Alliteration. 

20 512. shrieve, hear confession and pronounce absolution. 

21 521-22. Cf. Christabel, 

And naught was green upon the oak, 
But moss and rarest mistletoe. 

21 524. trow, think, believe. 

21 535. ivy-tod, ivy-bush, a dialect word. 

22 549. See Introduction, p. xix. 

— » 22 560-69. Traill comments : " With what consummate art are we left 
to imagine the physical traces which the Mariner's long agony had left 
behind it, by a method far more terrible than any direct description — the 
effect, namely, which the sight of him produces upon others." {Coleridge, 
p. 52.) 

24 610-17. " Mrs. Barbauld once told me that she admired ' the Ancient 
Mariner ' very much, but that there were two faults in it, — it was improba- 
ble, and had no moral. As for the probability, I owned that that might 
admit some question; but as to the want of a moral, I told her that in my 
own judgment the poem had too much; and that the only or chief fault, 
if I might say so, was the obtrusion of the moral sentiment so openly on 
the reader as a principle or cause of action in a work of such pure imagi- 
nation." (Coleridge's Table-Talk, May 31, 1S30.) 

Mrs. Oliphant does not agree with Coleridge: "And then comes the 
ineffable half-childish, half-divine simplicity of those soft moralisings at 
the end, so strangely different from the tenor of the tale, so wonderfully 
perfecting its visionary strain. After all, the poet seems to say, after this 
weird excursion into the very deepest, awful heart of the seas and mys- 
teries, here is your child's moral, a tender little half-trivial sentiment, yet 
profound as the blue depth of heaven. . . . This unexpected gentle conclu- 
sion brings our feet back to the common soil with a bewildered sweetness 
of relief and soft quiet after the prodigious strain of mental excitement 
which is like nothing else we can remember in poetry." {Literary Histcny 
of England, XVIIIth and XTXth Centuries, vol. I, p. 249.) 



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