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THE ANCIENT MARINER.

395

a

At first it seemed a little speck,
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 :
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged, and tacked, and veered.
With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could not laugh nor wail ;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood;
I bit
my arm,

I sucked the blood,
And cried, A. sail! a sail !

At its near er approach, it see meth him to be a thip, and at a dear ran. som he freeth his speech from the bonds of thirst.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call;
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.

A flash of joy.

See! see! I cried, she tacks no more !
Hither, to work us weal,
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

And horror follows ; fce can it be a ship that comes on ward without wind or tide ?

The western wave was all a-flame,
The day was wellnigh done ;
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright sun ;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the sun.

And straight the sun was flecked with b: rs, (Heaven's mother send us grace !)

It seemeth him but the skeleton of a ship

396

THE ANCIENT MARINER.

As if through a dungeon-grate he peer:a
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
Like restless gossameres ?

seen as

And its nto Are those her ribs through which the sun
bara of the Did peer, as through a grate ?
setting sun. And is that woman all her crew ?
woman and Is that a Death ? and are there two ?
mate, and. Is Death that woman's mate?

The spectre

on bond the skeleton ship.

crew

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Like vessel, Her locks were yellow as gold ;

Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.

Life-in.

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

diced for the

and she (the

neth ancient mariner.

No twilight

curts of

The sun's rim dips ; the stars rush out ; within the At one stride comes the dark ;

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

te sun.

of the incon,

Althe rising We listened and looked sideways up!

Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip !
The stars were dim, and thick the night
The steersman's face by his lamp gleaned white;

397

THE ANCIENT MARINER.

One after another,

From the sails the dew did drip;
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornèd moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.
One after one, by the star-dogged moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face, with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.
Four times fifty living men
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan),
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.
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 crossbow !

His shipmales drop down dead;

But Life-in. Death be. gins her work on the ancient mariner.

PART IV.

The wedding-guest feareth that a spirit is talking to

" I FEAR thee, ancient mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand !
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand !
66 I fear thee and thy glittering eye,
And thy skinny hand,

so brown.

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him.

* For the last two lines of this stanza, I am indebted to Mr. Wordsworth. It was on a delightful walk from Nether Stowey to Dulverton, with him

and his sister, in the autumn of 1797, that this poem was planned, and in part composed.

398

THE ANCIENT MARINER.

. cient .

bin of his bodily life,

and pro

ceedeth to relate his horrible penance.

But the main Fear not, fear not, thou wedding-guest !
beroep hedh This body dropt not down.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide, wide sea !
And never a saint took pity on

My soul in agony.
He despis. The many men, so beautiful !
ciedlu.es of And they all dead did lie !

And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on: and so did I.

eth the

the calm ;

that

live, and so many lie dead.

And envi- I looked upon the rotting sea,
they should And drew my eyes away ;

I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.
I looked to heaven and tried to pray ;
But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came and made
My heart as dry as dust.
I closed my lids, and kept them close,
And the balls like pulses beat;
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky,
Lay like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.

Biit the curge liveth

the eye of the dead wen.

The cold sweat melted from their limbs, for him in Nor rot nor reek did they ;

The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed arvay.
An orphan's curse would drag to hell
A spirt from on high ;

THE ANCIENT MARINER.

399

But, O, more horrible than that
Is the curse in a dead man's eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet

I could not die.

The moving moon went up the sky,

In his lone

liness and And nowhere did abide ;

fixedness,

he yearneth Softly she was going up,

towards the

Journeying And a star or two beside.

moon, and the stars

that still 60journ yet still move onward, and everywhere the blue sky belongs to them, and is their ap: pointed rest, and their native country, and their own natural homes, which they enter unan. nounced, as lords that are certainly expected, and yet there is a silent jog at their arrival.

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

Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes;
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.

By the light of the moon he behold. eth God's creatures of the great calm.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire ;
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
T'hey coiled and swam,

track Was a flash of golden fire.

and every

Their beau. ty and their bappiness.

O happy living things' no tongue
Their beauty might darlare :
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware :
Sure, my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.

He blesseth them in his beart.

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