Saturday, 2 July 2011

Selected Lines from The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere

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

The very deeps did rot: O Christ!
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 danc'd 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 follow'd us
From the Land of Mist and Snow.

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.

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

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.

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 plunged and tacked and veer'd.

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

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.

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?

His bones were black with many a crack,
All black and bare, I ween;
Jet-black and bare, save where the rust
Of mouldy damps and charnel crust
They're patch'd with purple and green.

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.

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

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.

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.

The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere in Seven Parts was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and published by Jospeh Cottle in Lyrical Ballads - a collaborative work with William Wordsworth - in 1798.

The above lines were selected to highlight the reckless manner in which we are abusing and polluting the sea and sky and to show that the day will come when we, mankind, will have to pay dearly for our folly.

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