The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Part the Fourth

by SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (1772-1834)

Read by David Barnes for Librivox
The Mariner gazes on the serpents in the ocean Posters

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

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

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

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:
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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

[On September 21 1786] “Coleridge and Wordsworth visited the poet Klopstock, and had the memorable interview that is reproduced from Wordsworth’s notes in Satyrane’s third letter. Both poets were disappointed when they perceived Klopstock’s ignorance of early German literature, and his uncompromising attitude toward Schiller and other romantic writers. Coleridge told Klopstock that he intended to write a history of German poetry and would gladly translate some of the latter’s odes as specimens. Klopstock begged him to do so, in order to atone for the miserable translations that had appeared; but like many other plans of Coleridge’s, it was never executed.” from “The German Influence on Samuel Taylor Coleridge” by John Louis Haney, Pub. by Univ. of Pa, 1902. Read or download on Google Books
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