William Chambers.

Chambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) online

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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.


The Mariner tells how
the ship sailed south-
ward with a good wind
and fair weather, till
it reached the Hoe.

The wedding - guest
heareth the bridal
music ; but the Ma-
riner continueth his

The ship driven by
a storm towards the
South Pole.

The land of ieef and of
fearful sounds, where
no living thing was to
be seen.


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.

At leng-th did cross an albatross.
Thorough the fog it came ;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
Vv^e hailed it in God's name.

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

And a good south wind sprung up behind ;

The albatross did follow.

And every day, for food or play.

Came to the mariners' hollo !

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud

It perched for vespers nine ;

Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke Avhite,

Glimmered the white moonshine.

Till a great sea-bird,
called the albatross,
came through the
snow - fog, and was
received with great
joy and hospitality.

And, lo ! the albatross
proveth a bird of good
omen, and folio weth
the ship as it return-
ed northward through
fog and fioating ice.

" God save thee, ancient Mariner, The ancient Mariner

From the fiends that plague thee thus! iiSStd o^^S

N\ hy look'st thou so ? '' With my cross-bow omen.
I shot the albatross.


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.

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 !

And I had done a hellish thing,

And it would work 'em wo ;

For all averred I had killed the bird

That made the breeze to blow.

Ah, wretch ! said they, the bii'd to slay

That made the breeze to blow !

His shipmates cry out
against the ancient
Mariner for killing
the bird of good luck.


Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,
The g-lorious sun uprist ;
Then all averred I had killed the bird
That brought the fog- and mist.
'Twas rig-ht, said they, such birds to slay-
That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free ;

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea.

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 !

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,
AVe stuck, nor breath nor motion ;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water everywhere.
And all the boards did shrink :
Water, water everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot : Alas !
That ever this should be ;
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
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.

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,
Was withered at the root :
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.


But when the fog
cleared off, they jus-
tify the same, and
thus make themselves
accomplices in the

The fair breeze con-
tinues ; the ship enters
the Pacific Ocean, and
sails northward even
till it reaches the line.

The ship hath hcca
suddenly becalmed.

And the albatross be-
gins to be avenged.

A Spirit had followed
them, one of the in-
visible inhabitants of
this planet, neither
departed souls nor
angels ; concerning
whom the learned
Jew, Josephus, and
the Platonic Constan-
tinopolitan, Michael
Psellus, may be con-
sulted. They are very
numerous, and there
is no climate or ele-
ment without one or


Ah, well-a-day ! what evil looks
Had I from old and youn^ !
Instead of the cross the albatross
About my neck was hung*.

The sliipmates, in
their sore distress,
•would fain throw the
whole guilt on the
ancient Mariner; in
sicn whereof they
hang the dead sea-biid
aiound his neck.


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

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 plung-ed, and tacked, and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked.

We could nor laugh nor wail ;

Through utter drought all dumb we stood ;

I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,

And cried, A sail ! a sail !

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

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

The western wave was all a-flame,

The day was well nigh done.

Almost upon the western wave

llested the broad bright sun ;

When that strange shape drove suddenly

Betwixt us and the sun.

The ancient Mariner
telioldeth a sign in
the element afar off.

At the ncai'cr ap-
proach, it seemeth
bini to be a ship, and
at a dear ransom he
freeth his speecli from
the bonds of tliii-st.

A fiaih of joy.

And horror follows ;
for can it be a ship
that comes onward
without wind or tide ?

It seemeth him but

the fckeletoa of a ship.


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.

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 1

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 1

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 men's blood with cold.

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.

The sun's rim dips, the stars rush out.
At one stride comes the dark ;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea
OiF shot the spectre-bark.

We listened and looked sideways up ;

Pear 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 clomb above the eastern bar

The horned moon, with one bright star At the rising of tho

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.

And its ribs are seen
as bars on the face of
the setting sun — the
spectre woman and
her death-mate, and
no other, on board the
skeleton ship.

Like vessel, like crew.

Death, and Life-in-
Death, have diced for
the ship's crew ; she,
the latter, Avinneth the
ancient Mariner.

No twilight within the
courts of the sun.

One after another,

His shipmates drop
down dead ;


The souls did from their bodies fly —
They fled to bliss or wo !
And every soul it passed me by
Like the whizz of my cross-bow !

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


" I fear thee, ancient Mariner,

I fear thy skinny hand !

And thou art long", and lank, and brown,^

As is the ribbed sea-sand !

The wedding - giiest
feareth that a spirit
is talking to him.

I fear thee and thy glittering* eye,
And thy skinny hand, so brown."
Tear not, fear not, thou wedding-guest.
This body dropped 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.

But the ancient Ma-
riner assureth him of
his bodily life, and
proceedeth to relate
his horrible penance.

He despiseth the crea-
tures of the calrc.

And envieth that they
should live, and so
many lie dead.

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 gushed,
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 dea,d were at my feet.

* 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. — Author.



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.

But the curse lireth
for him in the eye cf
the dead men.

An orphan's curse would drag" to hell

A spirit from on hig-h ;

But oh ! more horrible than that

Is a curse in a dead man's eye !

Seven days, seven nig-hts, I saw that curse.

And yet I could not die.

The moving moon went up the sky,
And nowhere did abide ;
Softly she was g'oing- up,
And a star or two beside.

Her beams bemocked the sultry main,

Like April hoarfrost spread ;

But where the ship's hug-e shadow laj",

The charmed water burnt alway

A still and awful red.

In his loneliness an<-l
tixedness he yearneth
towards the journey-
ing moon, and the
stars that still sojourn,
yet still move onward,
and everywhere the
hlue sky helongs to
them, and is their ap-
pointed rest, and tlieir
native country, and
their own natural
homes, which they
enter unannounced,
as lords that are cer-
tainly expected, and
yet there is a silent
joy at their arrival.

Beyond the shadow of the ship

I watched the water-snakes :

They moved in tracks of shining" white,

And when they reared, the elfish lig'ht

Fell off in hoary flakes.

By the light of the
moon he beholdeth
God's creatures of the
great calm ;

Within the shadow of the ship

I watched their rich attire ;

Blue, g"lossy green, and velvet black,

They coiled and swam ; and every track

Was a flash of orolden fire.

O happy living thing's ! 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.

Their beauty and their


He hlesseth them ia
his heart.

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


The spell begins to



sleep ! it is a gentle thing;,
Beloved from pole to pole !

To Mary Queen the praise be g-iven !
She sent the gentle sleep from heaven,
That slid into my soul.

The silly buckets on the deck, By grace of the rroiy

That had so long remained, Mariner S\efreshed

1 dreamt that they were filled with dew, -nith rain.
And when I woke it rained.

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.

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.

And soon I heard a roaring wind ; He heareth sounds,

It did not come a-near ; ^"^^^ ^^^^^ commit

But with its sound it shook the sails tlons^inThe sky'and

That were so thin and sere. the elements.

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.

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.

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.

The loud wind never reached the ship,

Yet now the ship moved on !

Beneath the lis-htnins- and the moon The bodies of the ship's

rm 11 ^ "^ crew are inspired, and

The dead men gave a groan. the ship moves on.

15 g


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

The helmsman steered, the ship moved on,

Yet never a breeze iipblew ;

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.

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

" I fear thee, ancient Mariner ! "

Be calm, thou wedding-guest,

'Twas not those souls that fled in pain, Btit not by the souls

■\■\T^ • T ± J.^ • ™ • , of the men, nor by

Which to then- corses came agam, ^^^^^^ ^^ 'ea^^h or

But a troop of spirits blest : middle air, but by a

blessed troop of an-

For when it dawned, they dropped their arms, |y ^theTnvocatiorof
And clustered round the mast ; the guardian saint.

Sweet somids rose slowly through their mouths,
And from their bodies passed.

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

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.

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.

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



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 g-o.
The sails at noon left off their tune,
And the ship stood still also.

The sun right up above the mast,
Had fixed her to the ocean ;
But in a minute she 'g-an stir
With a short uneasy motion —
Backwards and forwards half her length,
"With a short uneasy motion.

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.

The lonesome Spirit'
from the South Pole
carries on the ship as
far as the line, in obe-
dience to the angelic
troop, but still requir-
eth vengeance.

How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare ;
But ere m}'' living life returned,
I heard, and in my soul discerned
Two voices in the air.

'' 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.

The Polar Spirit's fel-
low-denions, the in-
visible inhabitants of
the element, take part
in his wrong, and two
of them relate, one to
the other, that pen-
ance long and heavy
for the ancient Ma-
riner hath been ac-
corded to the Polar
Spirit, who returneth

The spirit who bideth by himself
In the land of mist and snow,
He loved the bird that loved the man
AVho shot him with his bow."

The other was a softer voice.

As soft as honey-dew ;

Quoth he, " The man hath penance done.

And penance more will do."

First Yoice.

But tell me, tell me, speak again.
Thy soft response renewing — •
What makes that ship drive on so fast ?
What is the ocean doino- ?



Second Voice.

Still as a slave before his lord,
The ocean hath no blast ;
His great brig-ht eye most silently
Up to the moon is cast — ■

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 Yoice.

But why drives on that ship so fast,
Without or wave or wind 1

Second Voice.

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

The Mariner hath
been cast into a trance,
for the angelic power
causetli the vessel to
drive northward faster
than human life can

more high,



Fly, brother, fly !

Or we shall be belated ;

For slow and slow that ship will go,

When the Mariner's trance is abated.

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.

All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon litter ;
All fixed on me their stony eyes.
That in the moon did glitter.

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.

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 — ■

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.


The supernatural mo-
tion is retarded ; the
Mariner awakes, and
his penance begins

The curse is finally
expiated ;


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

It raised my hair, it fanned my cheek
Like a meadow-g"ale of spring' — •
It mingled strang-ely with my fears,
Yet it felt like a welcoming.

Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship —
Yet she sailed softly too ;
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze —
On me alone it blew.

Oh, dream of joy ! is this indeed
The lighthouse top I see ?
Is this the hill ? is this the kirk ?
Is this mine own countree ?

We drifted o'er the harbour-bar,
And I with sobs did pray- —

let me be awake, my God,
Or let me sleep alway !

The harbour-bay was clear as glass.
So smoothly it was strewn ;
And on the bay the inoonlig'ht lay,
And the shadow of the moon.

The rock shone brig'ht, the kirk no less,
That stands above the rock ;
The moonlight steeped in silentness.
The steady weathercock.

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

A little distance from the prow
Those crimson shadows were ;

1 turned my eyes upon the deck —
Alas ! what saw I there ?

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

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

An<i the ancient Ma.-
riner beholdeth his.
native country.

The angelic spirits
leave the dead bodies.

And appear in their
o\vn forms of light.



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

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.

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.

I saw a third — I heard his voice ;

It is the hermit g-ood ;

He sing-eth loud his g'odly hymns

That he makes in the wood ;

He'll shrieve my soul, he'll wash away

The albatross's blood.


This hermit good lives in that wood The hermit of the

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.

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.

The skiif-boat neared : I heard them talk —
'^ Why, this is strang-e, I trow !
Where are those lig-hts so many and fair
That signal made but now V

" Strange, by my faith," the hermit said — Approachcth the siiip

" And they answered not our cheer ! ^^^^ ^v-ouder.

The planks look warped ; and see these sails

How thin they are and sere !

I never saw aug'ht like to them.

Unless perchance it were

Brown skeletons of leaves that lag

My forest-brook along :

AVhen the ivy-tod is heavy with snow,

And the owlet whoops to the wolf below

That eats the she-wolf's young."



^' Dear Lord ! it hath a fiendish look —
(The pilot made reply)
I am a-feared." '• Push on, push on ! "
Said the hermit cheerily.

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.

Under the water it rumbled on,

Still louder and more dread :

It reached the ship, it split the bay ; The eMp suddenij

The ship went down like lead. ^^^"^•

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 T^^ ancient isiariner

„,. 1 . ,, .1 ! 1 , IS saved m the pilots

>V ithm the pilot s boat. boat.

Upon the whirl, vrhere sunk the ship,
The boat spun round and round ;
And all was still, save that the hill
Was telling of the sound.

I moved my lips — the pilot shrieked.
And fell down in a tit ;
The holy hermit raised his eyes.
And prayed where he did sit.

I took the oars : the pilot's boy,

Who now doth crazy g-o,

Laus'hed loud and Ions:, and all the while

His eyes went to and Iro :

" Ha ! ha ! " quoth he, " full plain I see

The devil knows how to row ! "

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.

" O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man ! " The ancient Mariner

The hermit crossed his brow : " earnestly intreatetb

ica ■ 1 ?7 .-u 1 CiT ^!^J U.-U ^^'^^ hermit to shrieve

" bay quick,'' quoth he, 1 bid thee say him, and the penance

What manner of man art thou ? " of life fails on him :

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched

With a woful agony,

Which forced me to begin my tale ;

And then it left me free.



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

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.

What loud uproar bursts from that door !
The wedding-guests are there :
But in the garden bower the bride
And bridemaids singing are :
And hark ! the little vesper bell,
Which biddeth me to prayer.

O weddin2:-e:uest ! this soul hath been
Alone on a wide, wide sea ;
So lonely 'twas, that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be.

O sweeter than the marriage feast,
'Tis sweeter far to me
To walk together to the kirk
With a goodly company !

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.

Farewell, farewell ! but this I tell
To thee, thou wedding-guest :
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 that loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar.
Is gone ; and now the wedding-guest
Turns from the bridegroom's door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 57 of 59)