The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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The Mariner hath his will.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. Modern editions use a later revised version printed in 1817 that featured a gloss. Along with other poems in Lyrical Ballads, it was a signal shift to modern poetry and the beginning of British Romantic literature. Quotes on this page are from the 1817 edition.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around…
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.
With my cross-bow
I shot the Albatross.

Part I[edit]

  • It is an ancient Mariner,
    And he stoppeth one of three.
    "By thy long gray beard and glittering eye,
    Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?"
    • Stanza 1
  • 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.
    • Stanza 2
  • He holds him with his glittering eye —
    The Wedding-Guest stood still,
    And listens like a three years child:
    The Mariner hath his will.
    • Stanza 4
  • The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
    Merrily did we drop
    Below the kirk, below the hill,
    Below the light-house top.
    • Stanza 6
  • The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
    For he heard the loud bassoon.
    • Stanza 8
  • The bride hath paced into the hall,
    Red as a rose is she.
    • Stanza 9
  • And now there came both mist and snow,
    And it grew wondrous cold:
    And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
    As green as emerald.
    • Stanza 13
  • 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!
    • Stanza 15
  • 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.
    • Stanza 16
  • ( 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.
    • Stanza 19
  • "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.
    • Stanza 20

Part II[edit]

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free:
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
  • 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!
    • Stanza 3
  • The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
    The furrow followed free:
    We were the first that ever burst
    Into that silent sea.
    • Stanza 5
  • Day after day, day after day,
    We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
    As idle as a painted ship
    Upon a painted ocean.
    • Stanza
  • Water, water, every where,
    And all the boards did shrink;
    Water, water, every where,
    Nor any drop to drink.
    • Stanza 9
  • The very deep did rot: O Christ!
    That ever this should be!
    Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
    Upon the slimy sea.
    • Stanza 10
  • About, about, in reel and rout
    The death fires danced at night.
    • Stanza 11
  • Instead of the cross, the Albatross
    About my neck was hung.
    • Stanza 14

Part III[edit]

  • I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
    And cried, A sail! a sail!
    • Stanza 4
  • Without a breeze, without a tide,
    She steadies with upright keel.
    • Stanza 6
  • 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.
    • Stanza 11
  • "The game is done! I've won, I've won!"
    Quoth she, and whistles thrice.
    • Stanza 12
  • 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.
    • Stanza 13
  • We listened and looked sideways up!
    Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
    My life-blood seemed to sip!
    • Stanza 14
  • The hornèd Moon, with one bright star
    Within the nether tip.
    • Stanza 14
  • 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.
    • Stanza 15

Part IV[edit]

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.
Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.
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.
  • I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
    I fear thy skinny hand!

    And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
    As is the ribbed sea-sand.
    • Stanza 1; Coleridge states: "For these lines I am indebted to Mr. Wordsworth."
  • Alone, alone, all, all alone,
    Alone on a wide wide sea!

    And never a saint took pity on
    My soul in agony.
    • Stanza 3
  • The many men, so beautiful!
    And they all dead did lie:
    And a thousand thousand slimy things
    Lived on; and so did I.
    • Stanza 4
  • 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.
    • Stanza 9
  • The moving Moon went up the sky,
    And no where did abide:
    Softly she was going up,
    And a star or two beside.
    • Stanza 10
  • 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.
    • Stanza 12
  • 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.
    • Stanza 13
  • 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.
    • Stanza 15
  • The self-same moment I could pray;
    And from my neck so free
    The Albatross fell off, and sank
    Like lead into the sea.
    • Stanza 16

Part V[edit]

  • Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
    Beloved from pole to pole.
    • Stanza 1
  • 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.
    • Stanza 17
  • The man hath penance done,
    And penance more will do.
    • Stanza 25

Part VI[edit]

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.
  • 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.
    • Stanza 10
  • Is this the hill? is this the kirk?
    Is this mine own countree?
    • Stanza 14
  • 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.
    • Stanza 17
  • No voice; but oh! the silence sank
    Like music on my heart.
    • Stanza 22

Part VII[edit]

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,
He made and loveth all.
  • And the owlet whoops to the wolf below,
    That eats the she-wolf's young.
    • Stanza 5
  • "Ha! ha!" quoth he, "full plain I see,
    The Devil knows how to row."
    • Stanza 12
  • So lonely 't was, that God himself
    Scarce seemed there to be.
    • Stanza 19
  • Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
    To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
    He prayeth well, who loveth well
    Both man and bird and beast.
    • Stanza 22
  • He prayeth best, who loveth best
    All things both great and small;
    For the dear God who loveth us,
    He made and loveth all.
    • Stanza 23
  • 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.

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

    • Stanza 24-25

External links[edit]

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