The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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We have two versions of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner published here, arguably the greatest ballad in the English language and the best poem Coleridge ever wrote: first, the original version published in 1798 in The Lyrical Ballads when the poet was only 26 years old.  This earlier version is noted for its archaic spelling and fussier 18th century punctuation. This is  followed here by the 1817 revised version, twenty years later, which is the version to be found in all anthologies of English poetry and familiar to most students of English Literature. Apart from the different spelling and punctuation, there is not much difference between the  two versions textually.       


THE ORIGINAL 1797 LYRICAL BALLADS TEXT
THE REVISED 1817 VERSION
THE RIME OF THE ANCYENT MARINERE
THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER

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.


THE  RIME  OF  THE  ANCIENT  MARINER

I.

1
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
“And I am next of kin;
“The Guests are met, the Feast is set,—
“May’st hear the merry din.—

9
But still he holds the wedding-guest—
There was a Ship, quoth he—
“Nay, if thou’st got a laughsome tale,
“Marinere! come with me.”

13
He holds him with his skinny hand,
Quoth he, there was a Ship—
“Now get thee hence, thou grey-beard Loon!
“Or my Staff shall make thee skip.”

17
He holds him with his glittering eye—
The wedding guest stood still
And listens like a three year’s child;
The Marinere hath his will.

21
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.

29
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.

33
Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon—
The wedding-guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.

37
The Bride hath pac’d into the Hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry Minstralsy.

41
The wedding-guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot chuse but hear:
And thus spake on that ancyent Man,
The bright-eyed Marinere.

45
Listen, Stranger! Storm and Wind,
A Wind and Tempest strong!
For days and weeks it play’d us freaks—
Like Chaff we drove along.

49
Listen, Stranger! Mist and Snow,
And it grew wond’rous cauld:
And Ice mast-high came floating by
As green as Emerauld.

53
And thro’ the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen;
Ne shapes of men ne beasts we ken—
The Ice was all between.

57
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—
Like noises of a swound.

61
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:
The Ice did split with a Thunder-fit;
The Helmsman steer’d us thro’.

69
And a good south wind sprung up behind,
The Albatross did follow;
And every day for food or play
Came to the Marinere’s hollo!

73
In mist or cloud on mast or shroud
It perch’d for vespers nine,
Whiles all the night thro’ fog-smoke white
Glimmer’d the white moon-shine.

77
“God save thee, ancyent Marinere!
“From the fiends that plague thee thus—
“Why look’st thou so?”—with my cross bow
I shot the Albatross.

§

PART ONE

1
It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
“By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

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.”

9
He holds him with his skinny hand,
“There was a ship,” quoth he.
“Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!”
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

13
He holds him with his glittering eye—
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years child:
The Mariner hath his will.

17
The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot chuse but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

21
The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the light-house top.

25
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.

29
Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon—
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.

33
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 cannot chuse but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

41
And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o’ertaking wings,
And chased south along.

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,
And southward aye we fled.

51
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.

59
The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

63
At length did cross an Albatross:
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name.

67
It ate the food it ne’er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

71
And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariners’ hollo!

75
In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.

79
“God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—
Why look’st thou so?”—With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.

§

II.

81
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!

89
And I had done an hellish thing
And it would work ’em woe:
For all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird
That made the Breeze to blow.

93
Ne dim ne red, like God’s own head,
The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird
That brought the fog and mist.
’Twas right, said they, such birds to slay
That bring the fog and mist.

99
The breezes blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow follow’d free:
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent Sea.

103
Down dropt the breeze, the Sails dropt down,
’Twas sad as sad could be
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the Sea.

107
All in a hot and copper sky
The bloody sun at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the moon.

111
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, ne breath ne motion,
As idle as a painted Ship
Upon a painted Ocean.

115
Water, water, every where
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Ne any drop to drink.

119
The very deeps did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy Sea.

123
About, about, in reel and rout
The Death-fires danc’d at night;
The water, like a witch’s oils,
Burnt green and blue and white.

127
And some in dreams assured were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so:
Nine fathom deep he had follow’d us
From the Land of Mist and Snow.

131
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.

134
Ah wel-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young;
Instead of the Cross the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

§

PART TWO

83
The Sun now rose upon the right:
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.

87
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!

91
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.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay
That made the breeze to blow!

97
Nor dim nor red, like God’s own head,
The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
’Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.

103
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free:
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

107
Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
’Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!

111
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 day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

119
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

123
The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.

127
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.

131
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.

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.

139
Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

§

III.

138
I saw a something in the Sky
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.

144
A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it ner’d and ner’d;
And, an it dodg’d a water-sprite,
It plung’d and tack’d and veer’d.

148
With throat unslack’d, with black lips bak’d
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!

153
With throat unslack’d, with black lips bak’d
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.

158
She doth not tack from side to side—
Hither to work us weal
Withouten wind, withouten tide
She steddies with upright keel.

162
The western wave was all a flame,
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.

168
And strait the Sun was fleck’d with bars
(Heaven’s mother send us grace)
As if thro’ a dungeon grate he peer’d
With broad and burning face.

172
Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she neres and neres!
Are those her Sails that glance in the Sun
Like restless gossameres?

176
Are these her naked ribs, which fleck’d
The sun that did behind them peer?
And are these two all, all the crew,
That woman and her fleshless Pheere?

180
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
They’re patch’d with purple and green.

185
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;
Her flesh makes the still air cold.

190
The naked Hulk alongside came
And the Twain were playing dice;
“The Game is done! I’ve won, I’ve won!”
Quoth she, and whistled thrice.

194
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.

198
With never a whisper in the Sea
Off darts the Spectre-ship;
While clombe above the Eastern bar
The horned Moon, with one bright Star
Almost atween the tips.

203
One after one by the horned Moon
(Listen, O Stranger! to me)
Each turn’d his face with a ghastly pang
And curs’d me with his ee.

207
Four times fifty living men,
With never a sigh or groan,
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump
They dropp’d down one by one.

211
Their souls did from their bodies fly,—
They fled to bliss or woe;
And every soul it pass’d me by,
Like the whiz of my Cross-bow.

§

PART THREE

143
There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

149
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.

153
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.

157
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!

162
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.

167
See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

171
The western wave was all a-flame
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.

177
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.

181
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!

185
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?

190
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,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.

195
The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
“The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!”
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

199
The Sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o’er the sea.
Off shot the spectre-bark.

203
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 gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clombe above the eastern bar
The horned Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

212
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.

216
Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.

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!
IV.

214
“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.

218
“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.

222
Alone, alone, all all alone
Alone on the wide wide Sea;
And Christ would take no pity on
My soul in agony.

226
The many men so beautiful,
And they all dead did lie!
And a million million slimy things
Liv’d on—and so did I.

230
I look’d upon the rotting Sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I look’d upon the eldritch deck,
And there the dead men lay.

234
I look’d to Heaven, and try’d to pray;
But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came and made
My heart as dry as dust.

238
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.

243
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.

247
An orphan’s curse would drag to Hell
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.

253
The moving Moon went up the sky
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up
And a star or two beside—

257
Her beams bemock’d the sultry main
Like morning frosts yspread;
But where the ship’s huge shadow lay,
The charmed water burnt alway
A still and awful red.

262
Beyond the shadow of the ship
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.

267
Within the shadow of the ship
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.

272
O happy living things! no tongue
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.

278
The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

§

PART FOUR

224
“I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand.

228
“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.

232
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

236
The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.

240
I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.

244
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.

248
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.

253
The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
Nor rot nor reek did they:
The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed away.

257
An orphan’s curse would drag to Hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! more horrible than that
Is a curse in a dead man’s eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.

263
The moving Moon went up the sky,
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside.

267
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.

272
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.

277
Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

282
O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
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.

288
The self same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

§

V.

282
O sleep, it is a gentle thing
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.

287
The silly buckets on the deck
That had so long remain’d,
I dreamt that they were fill’d with dew
And when I awoke it rain’d.

291
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.

295
I mov’d and could not feel my limbs,
I was so light, almost
I thought that I had died in sleep,
And was a blessed Ghost.

300
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.

304
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.

309
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.

313
Hark! hark! the thick black cloud is cleft,
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.

318
The strong wind reach’d the ship: it roar’d
And dropp’d down, like a stone!
Beneath the lightning and the moon
The dead men gave a groan.

322
They groan’d, they stirr’d, they all uprose,
Ne spake, ne mov’d their eyes:
It had been strange, even in a dream
To have seen those dead men rise.

326
The helmsman steerd, the ship mov’d on;
Yet never a breeze up-blew;
The Marineres all ’gan work the ropes,
Where they were wont to do:
They rais’d their limbs like lifeless tools—
We were a ghastly crew.

332
The body of my brother’s son
Stood by me knee to knee:
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
How frightful it would be!

338
The day-light dawn’d—they dropp’d their arms,
And cluster’d round the mast:
Sweet sounds rose slowly thro’ their mouths
And from their bodies pass’d.

242
Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
Then darted to the sun:
Slowly the sounds came back again
Now mix’d, now one by one.

346
Sometimes a dropping from the sky
I heard the Lavrock sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are
How they seem’d to fill the sea and air
With their sweet jargoning,

351
And now ’twas like all instruments,
Now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel’s song
That makes the heavens be mute.

355
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,
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.

371
Listen, O listen, thou Wedding-guest!
“Marinere! thou hast thy will:
“For that, which comes out of thine eye, doth make
“My body and soul to be still.”

375
Never sadder tale was told
To a man of woman born:
Sadder and wiser thou wedding-guest!
Thou’lt rise to morrow morn.

379
Never sadder tale was heard
By a man of woman born:
The Marineres all return’d to work
As silent as beforne.

383
The Marineres all ’gan pull the ropes,
But look at me they n’old:
Thought I, I am as thin as air—
They cannot me behold.

387
Till noon we silently sail’d on
Yet never a breeze did breathe:
Slowly and smoothly went the ship
Mov’d onward from beneath.

391
Under the keel nine fathom deep
From the land of mist and snow
The spirit slid: and it was He
That made the Ship to go.
The sails at noon left off their tune
And the Ship stood still also.

397
The sun right up above the mast
Had fix’d her to the ocean:
But in a minute she ’gan stir
With a short uneasy motion—
Backwards and forwards half her length
With a short uneasy motion.

403
Then, like a pawing horse let go,
She made a sudden bound:
It flung the blood into my head,
And I fell into a swound.

407
How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare;
But ere my living life return’d,
I heard and in my soul discern’d
Two voices in the air,

412
“Is it he?” quoth one, “Is this the man?
“By him who died on cross,
“With his cruel bow he lay’d full low
“The harmless Albatross.

416
“The spirit who ’bideth by himself
“In the land of mist and snow,
“He lov’d the bird that lov’d the man
“Who shot him with his bow.”

420
The other was a softer voice,
As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he the man hath penance done,
And penance more will do.

§

PART FIVE

292
Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,
That slid into my soul.

297
The silly buckets on the deck,
That had so long remained,
I dreamt that they were filled with dew;
And when I awoke, it rained.

301
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.

305
I moved, and could not feel my limbs:
I was so light—almost
I thought that I had died in sleep,
And was a blessed ghost.

309
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.

313
The upper air burst into life!
And a hundred fire-flags sheen,
To and fro they were hurried about!
And to and fro, and in and out,
The wan stars danced between.

318
And the coming wind did roar more loud,
And the sails did sigh like sedge;
And the rain poured down from one black cloud;
The Moon was at its edge.

322
The thick black cloud was cleft, and still
The Moon was at its side:
Like waters shot from some high crag,
The lightning fell with never a jag,
A river steep and wide.

327
The loud wind never reached the ship,
Yet now the ship moved on!
Beneath the lightning and the Moon
The dead men gave a groan.

331
They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose,
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.

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—
We were a ghastly crew.

341
The body of my brother’s son,
Stood by me, knee to knee:
The body and I pulled at one rope,
But he said nought to me.

345
“I fear thee, ancient Mariner!”
Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest!
’Twas not those souls that fled in pain,
Which to their corses came again,
But a troop of spirits blest:

350
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.

354
Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
Then darted to the Sun;
Slowly the sounds came back again,
Now mixed, now one by one.

365
Sometimes a-dropping from the sky
I heard the sky-lark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seemed to fill the sea and air
With their sweet jargoning!

363
And now ’twas like all instruments,
Now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel’s song,
That makes the Heavens be mute.

367
It ceased; yet still the sails made on
A pleasant noise till noon,
A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June,
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.

373
Till noon we quietly sailed on,
Yet never a breeze did breathe:
Slowly and smoothly went the ship,
Moved onward from beneath.

377
Under the keel nine fathom deep,
From the land of mist and snow,
The spirit slid: and it was he
That made the ship to go.
The sails at noon left off their tune,
And the ship stood still also.

383
The Sun, right up above the mast,
Had fixed her to the ocean:
But in a minute she ’gan stir,
With a short uneasy motion—
Backwards and forwards half her length
With a short uneasy motion.

389
Then like a pawing horse let go,
She made a sudden bound:
It flung the blood into my head,
And I fell down in a swound.

393
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.

398
“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
Who shot him with his bow.”

406
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.
424
“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.
428
“Still as a Slave before his Lord,
“The Ocean hath no blast:
“His great bright eye most silently
“Up to the moon is cast—

432
“If he may know which way to go,
“For she guides him smooth or grim.
“See, brother, see! how graciously
“She looketh down on him.”

FIRST VOICE.
436
“But why drives on that ship so fast
“Withouten wave or wind?”
SECOND VOICE.
“The air is cut away before,
“And closes from behind.

440
“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.”

444
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.

448
All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
All fix’d on me their stony eyes
That in the moon did glitter.

452
The pang, the curse, with which they died,
Had never pass’d away:
I could not draw my een from theirs
Ne turn them up to pray.

456
And in its time the spell was snapt,
And I could move my een:
I look’d far-forth, but little saw
Of what might else be seen.

460
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:
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

466
But soon there breath’d a wind on me,
Ne sound ne motion made:
Its path was not upon the sea
In ripple or in shade.

470
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.

474
Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
Yet she sail’d softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze—
On me alone it blew.

478
O dream of joy! is this indeed
The light-house top I see?
Is this the Hill? Is this the Kirk?
Is this mine own countrée?

482
We drifted o’er the Harbour-bar,
And I with sobs did pray—
“O let me be awake, my God!
“Or let me sleep alway!”

486
The harbour-bay was clear as glass,
So smoothly it was strewn!
And on the bay the moon light lay,
And the shadow of the moon.

490
The moonlight bay was white all o’er,
Till rising from the same,
Full many shapes, that shadows were,
Like as of torches came.

494
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.

498
I turn’d my head in fear and dread,
And by the holy rood,
The bodies had advanc’d, and now
Before the mast they stood.

502
They lifted up their stiff right arms,
They held them strait and tight;
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.

508
I pray’d and turn’d my head away
Forth looking as before.
There was no breeze upon the bay,
No wave against the shore.

512
The rock shone bright, the kirk no less
That stands above the rock:
The moonlight steep’d in silentness
The steady weathercock.

516
And the bay was white with silent light,
Till rising from the same
Full many shapes, that shadows were,
In crimson colours came.

520
A little distance from the prow
Those crimson shadows were:
I turn’d my eyes upon the deck—
O Christ! what saw I there?

524
Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat;
And by the Holy rood
A man all light, a seraph-man,
On every corse there stood.

528
This seraph-band, each wav’d his hand:
It was a heavenly sight:
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light:

532
This seraph-band, each wav’d his hand,
No voice did they impart—
No voice; but O! the silence sank,
Like music on my heart.

536
Eftsones I heard the dash of oars,
I heard the pilot’s cheer:
My head was turn’d perforce away
And I saw a boat appear.

540
Then vanish’d all the lovely lights;
The bodies rose anew:
With silent pace, each to his place,
Came back the ghastly crew.
The wind, that shade nor motion made,
On me alone it blew.

546
The pilot, and the pilot’s boy
I heard them coming fast:
Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy,
The dead men could not blast.

550
I saw a third—I heard his voice:
It is the Hermit good!
He singeth loud his godly hymns
That he makes in the wood.
He’ll shrieve my soul, he’ll wash away
The Albatross’s blood.

§

PART SIX

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?

SECOND VOICE.

414
Still as a slave before his lord,
The OCEAN hath no blast;
His great bright eye most silently
Up to the Moon is cast—

418
If he may know which way to go;
For she guides him smooth or grim
See, brother, see! how graciously
She looketh down on him.

FIRST VOICE.

422
But why drives on that ship so fast,
Without or wave or wind?

SECOND VOICE.

The air is cut away before,
And closes from behind.

426
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.

430
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.

434
All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
All fixed on me their stony eyes,
That in the Moon did glitter.

438
The pang, the curse, with which they died,
Had never passed away:
I could not draw my eyes from theirs,
Nor turn them up to pray.

442
And now this spell was snapt: once more
I viewed the ocean green.
And looked far forth, yet little saw
Of what had else been seen—

446
Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

452
But soon there breathed a wind on me,
Nor sound nor motion made:
Its path was not upon the sea,
In ripple or in shade.

456
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.

464
Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed
The light-house top I see?
Is this the hill? is this the kirk?
Is this mine own countree!

468
We drifted o’er the harbour-bar,
And I with sobs did pray—
O let me be awake, my God!
Or let me sleep alway.

472
The harbour-bay was clear as glass,
So smoothly it was strewn!
And on the bay the moonlight lay,
And the shadow of the moon.

476
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,
In crimson colours came.

484
A little distance from the prow
Those crimson shadows were:
I turned my eyes upon the deck—
Oh, Christ! what saw I there!

488
Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat,
And, by the holy rood!
A man all light, a seraph-man,
On every corse there stood.

492
This seraph band, each waved his hand:
It was a heavenly sight!
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light:

496
This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
No voice did they impart—
No voice; but oh! the silence sank
Like music on my heart.

500
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.

504
The Pilot, and the Pilot’s boy,
I heard them coming fast:
Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy
The dead men could not blast.

508
I saw a third—I heard his voice:
It is the Hermit good!
He singeth loud his godly hymns
That he makes in the wood.
He’ll shrieve my soul, he’ll wash away
The Albatross’s blood.
VII.

556
This Hermit good lives in that wood
Which slopes down to the Sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears!
He loves to talk with Marineres
That come from a far Contrée.

561
He kneels at morn and noon and eve—
He hath a cushion plump:
It is the moss, that wholly hides
The rotted old Oak-stump.

565
The Skiff-boat ne’rd: I heard them talk,
“Why, this is strange, I trow!
“Where are those lights so many and fair
“That signal made but now?

569
“Strange, by my faith!” the Hermit said—
“And they answer’d not our cheer.
“The planks look warp’d, and see those sails
“How thin they are and sere!
“I never saw aught like to them
“Unless perchance it were

575
“The skeletons of leaves that lag
“My forest brook along:
“When the Ivy-tod is heavy with snow,
“And the Owlet whoops to the wolf below
“That eats the she-wolf’s young.

580
“Dear Lord! it has a fiendish look”—
(The Pilot made reply)
“I am a-fear’d.—”Push on, push on!”
Said the Hermit cheerily.

584
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!

588
Under the water it rumbled on,
Still louder and more dread:
It reach’d the Ship, it split the bay;
The Ship went down like lead.

592
Stunn’d by that loud and dreadful sound,
Which sky and ocean smote:
Like one that hath been seven days drown’d
My body lay afloat:
But, swift as dreams, myself I found
Within the Pilot’s boat.

598
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.

602
I mov’d my lips: the Pilot shriek’d
And fell down in a fit.
The Holy Hermit rais’d his eyes
And pray’d where he did sit.

606
I took the oars: the Pilot’s boy,
Who now doth crazy go,
Laugh’d 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.”

612
And now all in mine own Countrée
I stood on the firm land!
The Hermit stepp’d forth from the boat,
And scarcely he could stand.

616
“O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy Man!”
The Hermit cross’d his brow—
“Say quick,” quoth he, “I bid thee say
“What manner man art thou?”

620
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.

624
Since then at an uncertain hour,
Now oftimes and now fewer,
That anguish comes and makes me tell
My ghastly aventure.

628
I pass, like night, from land to land;
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.

633
What loud uproar bursts from that door!
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.

639
O Wedding-guest! this soul hath been
Alone on a wide wide sea:
So lonely ’twas, that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be.

643
O sweeter than the Marriage-feast,
’Tis sweeter far to me
To walk together to the Kirk
With a goodly company.

647
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.

652
Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou wedding-guest!
He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

656
He prayeth best who loveth best,
All things both great and small:
For the dear God, who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

660
The Marinere, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone; and now the wedding-guest
Turn’d from the bridegroom’s door.

664
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.

§

PART SEVEN

514
This Hermit good lives in that wood
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.

519
He kneels at morn and noon and eve—
He hath a cushion plump:
It is the moss that wholly hides
The rotted old oak-stump.

523
The skiff-boat neared: I heard them talk,
“Why this is strange, I trow!
Where are those lights so many and fair,
That signal made but now?”

527
“Strange, by my faith!” the Hermit said—
“And they answered not our cheer!
The planks looked warped! and see those sails,
How thin they are and sere!
I never saw aught like to them,
Unless perchance it were

533
“Brown skeletons of leaves that lag
My forest-brook along;
When the ivy-tod is heavy with snow,
And the owlet whoops to the wolf below,
That eats the she-wolf’s young.”

538
“Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look—
(The Pilot made reply)
I am a-feared”—”Push on, push on!”
Said the Hermit cheerily.

542
The boat came closer to the ship,
But I nor spake nor stirred;
The boat came close beneath the ship,
And straight a sound was heard.

546
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.

550
Stunned by that 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
Within the Pilot’s boat.

556
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.

564
I took the oars: the Pilot’s boy,
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.”

570
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.

574
“O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!”
The Hermit crossed his brow.
“Say quick,” quoth he, “I bid thee say—
What manner of man art thou?”

578
Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
With a woeful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.

582
Since then, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns;
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.

586
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:
To him my tale I teach.

591
What loud uproar bursts from that door!
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!

597
O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
Alone on a wide wide sea:
So lonely ’twas, that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be.

601
O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
’Tis 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!

610
Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

614
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all.

618
The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom’s door.

622
He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.

3 thoughts to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge”

  1. It’s a great pleasure to read this again. It’s most interesting to make the acquaintance of the original version. I’m glad Coleridge revised it, though; on the whole, the 1817 version seems better. Perhaps it’s just that it’s more familiar. At all events, thanks for giving it to us.

    1. Hi Trad! It’s a pleasure to read your comments here.

      Yes, I agree with out that the 1817 version of the poem is an improvement on the earlier version. And yet it’s a curious fact that repeated revisions of a poem do not necessarily lead to progressively better versions. The poet can sometimes revise a poem to death.

      Fitzgerald’s “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” is a good example. The earliest version, published in 1859, was the best. This remains the most popular version. Subsequent versions were disappointing; less inspired.

      I don’t think one can compare the “polishing” of poems to the polishing of diamonds, which seem to need polishing to achieve perfection. It is said that Shakespeare never polished his poems at all; his first version, I believe, was also his final version.

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