Coleridge's Poems

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Part II

The Sun now rose upon the right:

Out of the sea came he,

Still hid in mist, and on the left 85

Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,

But no sweet bird did follow,

Nor any day for food or play

Came to the mariners' hollo! 90

[Sidenote: His shipmates cry out against the ancient Mariner, for killing the bird of good luck.]

And I had done a hellish thing,

And it would work 'em woe:

For all averred, I had killed the bird

That made the breeze to blow.

Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay, 95

That made the breeze to blow!

[Sidenote: But when the fog cleared off, they justify 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

That brought the fog and mist. 100

'T was right, said they, such birds to slay,

That bring the fog and mist.

[Sidenote: The fair breeze continues; the ship enters the Pacific Ocean, and sails northward, even till it reaches the Line.]

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free;

We were the first that ever burst 105

Into that silent sea.

[Sidenote: The ship hath been suddenly becalmed.]

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,

'T was sad as sad could be;

And we did speak only to break

The silence of the sea! 110

All in a hot and copper sky,

The bloody Sun, at noon,

Right up above the mast did stand,

No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day, 115

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

[Sidenote: And the Albatross begins to be avenged.]

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink; 120

Water, water, every where

Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!

That ever this should be!

Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs 125

Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout

The death-fires danced at night;

The water, like a witch's oils,

Burnt green, and blue and white. 130

[Sidenote: A Spirit had followed them: one of the invisible inhabitants of this planet, neither departed 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.]

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.

And every tongue, through utter drought, 135

Was withered at the root;

We could not speak, no more than if

We had been choked with soot.

[Sidenote: The shipmates, 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.]

Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks

Had I from old and young! 140

Instead of the cross, the Albatross

About my neck was hung.