- 'Tis the middle of night by the castle
- And the owls have awakened the crowing
- Tu--whit!-- -- Tu--whoo!
- And hark, again ! the crowing cock,
- How drowsily it crew.
- Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
- Hath a toothless mastiff bitch ;
- From her kennel beneath the rock
- She maketh answer to the clock,
- Four for the quarters, and twelve for
the hour ;
- Ever and aye, by shine and shower,
- Sixteen short howls, not over loud
- Some say, she sees my lady's shroud.
- Is the night chilly and dark ?
- The night is chilly, but not dark.
- The thin gray cloud is spread on high,
- It covers but not hides the sky.
- The moon is behind, and at the full
- And yet she looks both small and dull.
- The night is chill, the cloud is gray
- 'Tis a month before the month of May,
- And the Spring comes slowly up this
- The lovely lady, Christabel,
- Whom her father loves so well,
- What makes her in the wood so late,
- A furlong from the castle gate ?
- She had dreams all yesternight
- Of her own betrothed knight ;
- And she in the midnight wood will pray
- For the weal of her lover that's far
- She stole along, she nothing spoke,
- The sighs she heaved were soft and
- And naught was green upon the oak
- But moss and rarest mistletoe :
- She kneels beneath the huge oak tree,
- And in silence prayeth she.
- The lady sprang up suddenly,
- The lovely lady, Christabel !
- It moaned as near, as near can be,
- But what it is she cannot tell.--
- On the other side it seems to be,
- Of the huge, broad-breasted, old oak
- The night is chill ; the forest bare
- Is it the wind that moaneth bleak ?
- There is not wind enough in the air
- To move away the ringlet curl
- From the lovely lady's cheek--
- There is not wind enough to twirl
- The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
- That dances as often as dance it can,
- Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
- On the topmost twig that looks up at
- Hush, beating heart of Christabel !
- Jesu, Maria, shield her well !
- She folded her arms beneath her cloak,
- And stole to the other side of the
- What sees she there ?
- There she sees a damsel bright,
- Dressed in a silken robe of white,
- That shadowy in the moonlight shone
- The neck that made that white robe
- Her stately neck, and arms were bare
- Her blue-veined feet unsandaled were
- And wildly glittered here and there
- The gems entangled in her hair.
- I guess, 'twas frightful there to see
- A lady so richly clad as she--
- Beautiful exceedingly !
- Mary mother, save me now !
- (Said Christabel), And who art thou
- The lady strange made answer meet,
- And her voice was faint and sweet :--
- Have pity on my sore distress,
- I scarce can speak for weariness :
- Stretch forth thy hand, and have no
- Said Christabel, How camest thou here
- And the lady, whose voice was faint
- Did thus pursue her answer meet :--
- My sire is of a noble line,
- And my name is Geraldine :
- Five warriors seized me yestermorn,
- Me, even me, a maid forlorn :
- They choked my cries with force and
- And tied me on a palfrey white.
- The palfrey was as fleet as wind,
- And they rode furiously behind.
- They spurred amain, their steeds were
- And once we crossed the shade of night.
- As sure as Heaven shall rescue me,
- I have no thought what men they be
- Nor do I know how long it is
- (For I have lain entranced, I wis)
- Since one, the tallest of the five,
- Took me from the palfrey's back,
- A weary woman, scarce alive.
- Some muttered words his comrades spoke
- He placed me underneath this oak ;
- He swore they would return with haste
- Whither they went I cannot tell--
- I thought I heard, some minutes past,
- Sounds as of a castle bell.
- Stretch forth thy hand (thus ended
- And help a wretched maid to flee.
- Then Christabel stretched forth her
- And comforted fair Geraldine :
- O well, bright dame ! may you command
- The service of Sir Leoline ;
- And gladly our stout chivalry
- Will he send forth and friends withal
- To guide and guard you safe and free
- Home to your noble father's hall.
- She rose : and forth with steps they
- That strove to be, and were not, fast.
- Her gracious stars the lady blest,
- And thus spake on sweet Christabel
- All our household are at rest,
- The hall is silent as the cell ;
- Sir Leoline is weak in health,
- And may not well awakened be,
- But we will move as if in stealth,
- And I beseech your courtesy,
- This night, to share your couch with
- They crossed the moat, and Christabel
- Took the key that fitted well ;
- A little door she opened straight,
- All in the middle of the gate ;
- The gate that was ironed within and
- Where an army in battle array had marched
- The lady sank, belike through pain,
- And Christabel with might and main
- Lifted her up, a weary weight,
- Over the threshold of the gate :
- Then the lady rose again,
- And moved, as she were not in pain.
- So free from danger, free from fear,
- They crossed the court : right glad
- And Christabel devoutly cried
- To the Lady by her side,
- Praise we the Virgin all divine
- Who hath rescued thee from thy distress
- Alas, alas ! said Geraldine,
- I cannot speak for weariness.
- So free from danger, free from fear,
- They crossed the court : right glad
- Outside her kennel, the mastiff old
- Lay fast asleep, in moonshine cold.
- The mastiff old did not awake,
- Yet she an angry moan did make !
- And what can ail the mastiff bitch
- Never till now she uttered yell
- Beneath the eye of Christabel.
- Perhaps it is the owlet's scritch :
- For what can aid the mastiff bitch
- They passed the hall, that echoes still,
- Pass as lightly as you will !
- The brands were flat, the brands were
- Amid their own white ashes lying ;
- But when the lady passed, there came
- A tongue of light, a fit of flame ;
- And Christabel saw the lady's eye,
- And nothing else saw she thereby,
- Save the boss of the shield of Sir
- Which hung in a murky old niche in
- O softly tread, said Christabel,
- My father seldom sleepeth well.
- Sweet Christabel her feet doth bare,
- And jealous of the listening air
- They steal their way from stair to
- Now in glimmer, and now in gloom,
- And now they pass the Baron's room,
- As still as death, with stifled breath
- And now have reached her chamber door
- And now doth Geraldine press down
- The rushes of the chamber floor.
- The moon shines dim in the open air,
- And not a moonbeam enters here.
- But they without its light can see
- The chamber carved so curiously,
- Carved with figures strange and sweet,
- All made out of the carver's brain,
- For a lady's chamber meet :
- The lamp with twofold silver chain
- Is fastened to an angel's feet.
- The silver lamp burns dead and dim
- But Christabel the lamp will trim.
- She trimmed the lamp, and made it bright,
- And left it swinging to and fro,
- While Geraldine, in wretched plight,
- Sank down upon the floor below.
- O weary lady, Geraldine,
- I pray you, drink this cordial wine
- It is a wine of virtuous powers ;
- My mother made it of wild flowers.
- And will your mother pity me,
- Who am a maiden most forlorn ?
- Christabel answered--Woe is me !
- She died the hour that I was born.
- I have heard the gray-haired friar
- How on her death-bed she did say,
- That she should hear the castle-bell
- Strike twelve upon my wedding-day.
- O mother dear ! that thou wert here
- I would, said Geraldine, she were !
- But soon with altered voice, said she--
- `Off, wandering mother ! Peak and pine
- I have power to bid thee flee.'
- Alas ! what ails poor Geraldine ?
- Why stares she with unsettled eye ?
- Can she the bodiless dead espy ?
- And why with hollow voice cries she,
- `Off, woman, off ! this hour is mine--
- Though thou her guardian spirit be,
- Off, woman. off ! 'tis given to me.'
- Then Christabel knelt by the lady's
- And raised to heaven her eyes so blue--
- Alas ! said she, this ghastly ride--
- Dear lady ! it hath wildered you !
- The lady wiped her moist cold brow,
- And faintly said, `'Tis over now !'
- Again the wild-flower wine she drank
- Her fair large eyes 'gan glitter bright,
- And from the floor whereon she sank,
- The lofty lady stood upright :
- She was most beautiful to see,
- Like a lady of a far countre.
- And thus the lofty lady spake--
- `All they who live in the upper sky,
- Do love you, holy Christabel !
- And you love them, and for their sake
- And for the good which me befel,
- Even I in my degree will try,
- Fair maiden, to requite you well.
- But now unrobe yourself ; for I
- Must pray, ere yet in bed I lie.'
- Quoth Christabel, So let it be !
- And as the lady bade, did she.
- Her gentle limbs did she undress
- And lay down in her loveliness.
- But through her brain of weal and woe
- So many thoughts moved to and fro,
- That vain it were her lids to close
- So half-way from the bed she rose
- And on her elbow did recline
- To look at the lady Geraldine.
- Beneath the lamp the lady bowed,
- And slowly rolled her eyes around ;
- Then drawing in her breath aloud,
- Like one that shuddered, she unbound
- The cincture from beneath her breast
- Her silken robe, and inner vest,
- Dropt to her feet, and full in view,
- Behold ! her bosom, and half her side--
- A sight to dream of, not to tell !
- O shield her ! shield sweet Christabel
- Yet Geraldine nor speaks nor stirs
- Ah ! what a stricken look was hers
- Deep from within she seems half-way
- To lift some weight with sick assay,
- And eyes the maid and seeks delay ;
- Then suddenly as one defied
- Collects herself in scorn and pride,
- And lay down by the Maiden's side !--
- And in her arms the maid she took,
- Ah wel-a-day !
- And with low voice and doleful look
- These words did say :
- `In the touch of this bosom there worketh
- Which is lord of thy utterance, Christabel
- Thou knowest to-night, and wilt know
- This mark of my shame, this seal of
my sorrow ;
- But vainly thou warrest,
- For this is alone in
- Thy power to declare,
- That in the dim forest
- Thou heard'st a low moaning,
- And found'st a bright lady, surpassingly
- And didst bring her home with thee
in love and in
- To shield her and shelter her from
the damp air.'
- THE CONCLUSION TO PART I
- It was a lovely sight to see
- The lady Christabel, when she
- Was praying at the old oak tree.
- Amid the jaggd shadows
- Of mossy leafless boughs,
- Kneeling in the moonlight,
- To make her gentle vows ;
- Her slender palms together prest,
- Heaving sometimes on her breast ;
- Her face resigned to bliss or bale--
- Her face, oh call it fair not pale,
- And both blue eyes more bright than
- Each about to have a tear.
- With open eyes (ah, woe is me !)
- Asleep, and dreaming fearfully,
- Fearfully dreaming, yet, I wis,
- Dreaming that alone, which is--
- O sorrow and shame ! Can this be she,
- The lady, who knelt at the old oak
- And lo ! the worker of these harms,
- That holds the maiden in her arms,
- Seems to slumber still and mild,
- As a mother with her child.
- A star hath set, a star hath risen,
- O Geraldine ! since arms of thine
- Have been the lovely lady's prison.
- O Geraldine ! one hour was thine--
- Thou'st had thy will ! By tairn and
- The night-birds all that hour were
- But now they are jubilant anew,
- From cliff and tower, tu--whoo ! tu--whoo
- Tu--whoo ! tu--whoo ! from wood and
- And see ! the lady Christabel
- Gathers herself from out her trance
- Her limbs relax, her countenance
- Grows sad and soft ; the smooth thin
- Close o'er her eyes ; and tears she
- Large tears that leave the lashes bright
- And oft the while she seems to smile
- As infants at a sudden light !
- Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep,
- Like a youthful hermitess,
- Beauteous in a wilderness,
- Who, praying always, prays in sleep.
- And, if she move unquietly,
- Perchance, 'tis but the blood so free
- Comes back and tingles in her feet.
- No doubt, she hath a vision sweet.
- What if her guardian spirit 'twere,
- What if she knew her mother near ?
- But this she knows, in joys and woes,
- That saints will aid if men will call
- For the blue sky bends over all !
- PART II
- Each matin bell, the Baron saith,
- Knells us back to a world of death.
- These words Sir Leoline first said,
- When he rose and found his lady dead
- These words Sir Leoline will say
- Many a morn to his dying day !
- And hence the custom and law began
- That still at dawn the sacristan,
- Who duly pulls the heavy bell,
- Five and forty beads must tell
- Between each stroke--a warning knell,
- Which not a soul can choose but hear
- From Bratha Head to Wyndermere.
- Saith Bracy the bard, So let it knell
- And let the drowsy sacristan
- Still count as slowly as he can !
- There is no lack of such, I ween,
- As well fill up the space between.
- In Langdale Pike and Witch's Lair,
- And Dungeon-ghyll so foully rent,
- With ropes of rock and bells of air
- Three sinful sextons' ghosts are pent,
- Who all give back, one after t'other,
- The death-note to their living brother
- And oft too, by the knell offended,
- Just as their one ! two ! three ! is
- The devil mocks the doleful tale
- With a merry peal from Borrowdale.
- The air is still ! through mist and
- That merry peal comes ringing loud
- And Geraldine shakes off her dread,
- And rises lightly from the bed ;
- Puts on her silken vestments white,
- And tricks her hair in lovely plight,
- And nothing doubting of her spell
- Awakens the lady Christabel.
- `Sleep you, sweet lady Christabel ?
- I trust that you have rested well.'
- And Christabel awoke and spied
- The same who lay down by her side--
- O rather say, the same whom she
- Raised up beneath the old oak tree
- Nay, fairer yet ! and yet more fair
- For she belike hath drunken deep
- Of all the blessedness of sleep !
- And while she spake, her looks, her
- Such gentle thankfulness declare,
- That (so it seemed) her girded vests
- Grew tight beneath her heaving breasts.
- `Sure I have sinned !' said Christabel,
- `Now heaven be praised if all be well
- And in low faltering tones, yet sweet,
- Did she the lofty lady greet
- With such perplexity of mind
- As dreams too lively leave behind.
- So quickly she rose, and quickly arrayed
- Her maiden limbs, and having prayed
- That He, who on the cross did groan,
- Might wash away her sins unknown,
- She forthwith led fair Geraldine
- To meet her sire, Sir Leoline.
- The lovely maid and the lady tall
- Are pacing both into the hall,
- And pacing on through page and groom,
- Enter the Baron's presence-room.
- The Baron rose, and while he prest
- His gentle daughter to his breast,
- With cheerful wonder in his eyes
- The lady Geraldine espies,
- And gave such welcome to the same,
- As might beseem so bright a dame !
- But when he heard the lady's tale,
- And when she told her father's name,
- Why waxed Sir Leoline so pale,
- Murmuring o'er the name again,
- Lord Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine ?
- Alas ! they had been friends in youth
- But whispering tongues can poison truth
- And constancy lives in realms above
- And life is thorny ; and youth is vain
- And to be wroth with one we love,
- Doth work like madness in the brain.
- And thus it chanced, as I divine,
- With Roland and Sir Leoline.
- Each spake words of high disdain
- And insult to his heart's best brother
- They parted--ne'er to meet again !
- But never either found another
- To free the hollow heart from paining--
- They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
- Like cliffs which had been rent asunder
- A dreary sea now flows between ;--
- But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
- Shall wholly do away, I ween,
- The marks of that which once hath been.
- Sir Leoline, a moment's space,
- Stood gazing on the damsel's face :
- And the youthful Lord of Tryermaine
- Came back upon his heart again.
- O then the Baron forgot his age,
- His noble heart swelled high with rage
- He swore by the wounds in Jesu's side,
- He would proclaim it far and wide
- With trump and solemn heraldry,
- That they, who thus had wronged the
- Were base as spotted infamy !
- `And if they dare deny the same,
- My herald shall appoint a week,
- And let the recreant traitors seek
- My tourney court--that there and then
- I may dislodge their reptile souls
- From the bodies and forms of men !'
- He spake : his eye in lightning rolls
- For the lady was ruthlessly seized
; and he kenned
- In the beautiful lady the child of
his friend !
- And now the tears were on his face,
- And fondly in his arms he took
- Fair Geraldine, who met the embrace,
- Prolonging it with joyous look.
- Which when she viewed, a vision fell
- Upon the soul of Christabel,
- The vision of fear, the touch and pain
- She shrunk and shuddered, and saw again--
- (Ah, woe is me ! Was it for thee,
- Thou gentle maid ! such sights to see
- Again she saw that bosom old,
- Again she felt that bosom cold,
- And drew in her breath with a hissing
- Whereat the Knight turned wildly round,
- And nothing saw, but his own sweet
- With eyes upraised, as one that prayed.
- The touch, the sight, had passed away,
- And in its stead that vision blest,
- Which comforted her after-rest.
- While in the lady's arms she lay,
- Had put a rapture in her breast,
- And on her lips and o'er her eyes
- Spread smiles like light !
- With new surprise,
- `What ails then my belovd child ?'
- The Baron said--His daughter mild
- Made answer, `All will yet be well
- I ween, she had no power to tell
- Aught else : so mighty was the spell.
- Yet he, who saw this Geraldine,
- Had deemed her sure a thing divine
- Such sorrow with such grace she blended,
- As if she feared she had offended
- Sweet Christabel, that gentle maid
- And with such lowly tones she prayed,
- She might be sent without delay
- Home to her father's mansion.
- `Nay ! Nay, by my soul !' said Leoline.
- `Ho ! Bracy the bard, the charge be
- Go thou, with music sweet and loud,
- And take two steeds with trappings
- And take the youth whom thou lov'st
- To bear thy harp, and learn thy song,
- And clothe you both in solemn vest,
- And over the mountains haste along,
- Lest wandering folk, that are abroad,
- Detain you on the valley road.
- `And when he has crossed the Irthing
- My merry bard ! he hastes, he hastes
- Up Knorren Moor, through Halegarth
- And reaches soon that castle good
- Which stands and threatens Scotland's
- `Bard Bracy ! bard Bracy ! your horses
- Ye must ride up the hall, your music
- More loud than your horses' echoing
- And loud and loud to Lord Roland call,
- Thy daughter is safe in Langdale hall
- Thy beautiful daughter is safe and
- Sir Leoline greets thee thus through
- He bids thee come without delay
- With all thy numerous array
- And take thy lovely daughter home :
- And he will meet thee on the way
- With all his numerous array
- White with their panting palfreys'
- And, by mine honour ! I will say,
- That I repent me of the day
- When I spake words of fierce disdain
- To Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine !--
- --For since that evil hour hath flown,
- Many a summer's sun hath shone ;
- Yet ne'er found I a friend again
- Like Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine.'
- The lady fell, and clasped his knees,
- Her face upraised, her eyes o'erflowing
- And Bracy replied, with faltering voice,
- His gracious hail on all bestowing
- `Thy words, thou sire of Christabel,
- Are sweeter than my harp can tell ;
- Yet might I gain a boon of thee,
- This day my journey should not be,
- So strange a dream hath come to me,
- That I had vowed with music loud
- To clear yon wood from thing unblest,
- Warned by a vision in my rest !
- For in my sleep I saw that dove,
- That gentle bird, whom thou dost love,
- And call'st by thy own daughter's name--
- Sir Leoline ! I saw the same
- Fluttering, and uttering fearful moan,
- Among the green herbs in the forest
- Which when I saw and when I heard,
- I wonder'd what might ail the bird
- For nothing near it could I see,
- Save the grass and herbs underneath
the old tree.
- `And in my dream methought I went
- To search out what might there be found
- And what the sweet bird's trouble meant,
- That thus lay fluttering on the ground.
- I went and peered, and could descry
- No cause for her distressful cry ;
- But yet for her dear lady's sake
- I stooped, methought, the dove to take,
- When lo ! I saw a bright green snake
- Coiled around its wings and neck.
- Green as the herbs on which it couched,
- Close by the dove's its head it crouched
- And with the dove it heaves and stirs,
- Swelling its neck as she swelled hers
- I woke ; it was the midnight hour,
- The clock was echoing in the tower
- But though my slumber was gone by,
- This dream it would not pass away--
- It seems to live upon my eye !
- And thence I vowed this self-same day,
- With music strong and saintly song
- To wander through the forest bare,
- Lest aught unholy loiter there.'
- Thus Bracy said : the Baron, the while,
- Half-listening heard him with a smile
- Then turned to Lady Geraldine,
- His eyes made up of wonder and love
- And said in courtly accents fine,
- `Sweet maid, Lord Roland's beauteous
- With arms more strong than harp or
- Thy sire and I will crush the snake
- He kissed her forehead as he spake,
- And Geraldine in maiden wise,
- Casting down her large bright eyes,
- With blushing cheek and courtesy fine
- She turned her from Sir Leoline ;
- Softly gathering up her train,
- That o'er her right arm fell again
- And folded her arms across her chest,
- And couched her head upon her breast,
- And looked askance at Christabel--
- Jesu, Maria, shield her well !
- A snake's small eye blinks dull and
- And the lady's eyes they shrunk in
- Each shrunk up to a serpent's eye,
- And with somewhat of malice, and more
- At Christabel she looked askance !--
- One moment--and the sight was fled
- But Christabel in dizzy trance
- Stumbling on the unsteady ground
- Shuddered aloud, with a hissing sound
- And Geraldine again turned round,
- And like a thing, that sought relief,
- Full of wonder and full of grief,
- She rolled her large bright eyes divine
- Wildly on Sir Leoline.
- The maid, alas ! her thoughts are gone,
- She nothing sees--no sight but one
- The maid, devoid of guile and sin,
- I know not how, in fearful wise,
- So deeply had she drunken in
- That look, those shrunken serpent eyes,
- That all her features were resigned
- To this sole image in her mind :
- And passively did imitate
- That look of dull and treacherous hate
- And thus she stood, in dizzy trance,
- Still picturing that look askance
- With forced unconscious sympathy
- Full before her father's view-- --
- As far as such a look could be
- In eyes so innocent and blue !
- And when the trance was o'er, the maid
- Paused awhile, and inly prayed :
- Then falling at the Baron's feet,
- `By my mother's soul do I entreat
- That thou this woman send away !'
- She said : and more she could not say
- For what she knew she could not tell,
- O'er-mastered by the mighty spell.
- Why is thy cheek so wan and wild,
- Sir Leoline ? Thy only child
- Lies at thy feet, thy joy, thy pride,
- So fair, so innocent, so mild ;
- The same, for whom thy lady died !
- O by the pangs of her dear mother
- Think thou no evil of thy child !
- For her, and thee, and for no other,
- She prayed the moment ere she died
- Prayed that the babe for whom she died,
- Might prove her dear lord's joy and
- That prayer her deadly pangs beguiled,
- Sir Leoline !
- And wouldst thou wrong thy only child,
- Her child and thine ?
- Within the Baron's heart and brain
- If thoughts, like these, had any share,
- They only swelled his rage and pain,
- And did but work confusion there.
- His heart was cleft with pain and rage,
- His cheeks they quivered, his eyes
- Dishonored thus in his old age ;
- Dishonored by his only child,
- And all his hospitality
- To the wronged daughter of his friend
- By more than woman's jealousy
- Brought thus to a disgraceful end--
- He rolled his eye with stern regard
- Upon the gentle ministrel bard,
- And said in tones abrupt, austere--
- `Why, Bracy ! dost thou loiter here
- I bade thee hence !' The bard obeyed
- And turning from his own sweet maid,
- The aged knight, Sir Leoline,
- Led forth the lady Geraldine !
- THE CONCLUSION TO PART II
- A little child, a limber elf,
- Singing, dancing to itself,
- A fairy thing with red round cheeks,
- That always finds, and never seeks,
- Makes such a vision to the sight
- As fills a father's eyes with light
- And pleasures flow in so thick and
- Upon his heart, that he at last
- Must needs express his love's excess
- With words of unmeant bitterness.
- Perhaps 'tis pretty to force together
- Thoughts so all unlike each other ;
- To mutter and mock a broken charm,
- To dally with wrong that does no harm.
- Perhaps 'tis tender too and pretty
- At each wild word to feel within
- A sweet recoil of love and pity.
- And what, if in a world of sin
- (O sorrow and shame should this be
- Such giddiness of heart and brain
- Comes seldom save from rage and pain,
- So talks as it's most used to do.
- RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
- PART THE FIRST
- It is an ancient Mariner,
- And he stoppeth one of three.
- `By long beard and glittering eye,
- Now wherefore stopp'st thou me ?
- The Bridegroom'} doors are opened wide,
- And I am next of kin ;
- The guests are met, the feast is set :
- May'st hear the merry din.'
- 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.
- He holds him with his glittering eye--
- The Wedding-Guest stood still,
- And listens like a three years' child :
- The Mariner hath his will.
- The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone :
- He cannot choose but hear ;
- And thus spake on that ancient man,
- The bright-eyed Mariner.
- `The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
- Merrily did we drop
- Below the kirk, below the hill,
- Below the lighthouse top.
- 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.
- Higher and higher every day,
- Till over the mast at noon--'
- The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
- For he heard the loud bassoon.
- The bride hath paced into the hall,
- Red as a rose is she ;
- Nodding their heads before her goes
- The merry minstrelsy.
- The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,
- Yet he cannot choose but hear ;
- And thus spake on that ancient man,
- The bright-eyed Mariner.
- `And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
- Was tyrannous and strong :
- He struck with his o'ertaking wings,
- And chased us south along.
- 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,
- The southward aye we fled.
- And now there came both mist and snow,
- And it grew wondrous cold :
- And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
- As green as emerald.
- 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 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 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.
- 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 !
- And a good south wind sprung up behind ;
- The Albatross did follow,
- And every day, for food or play,
- Came to the mariner's hollo !
- 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.'
- '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.
- PART THE SECOND
- 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 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 !
- 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.
- 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,
- We stuck, nor breath nor motion ;
- As idle as a painted ship
- Upon a painted ocean.
- Water, water, every where,
- And all the boards did shrink ;
- Water, water, every where,
- Nor any drop to drink.
- The very deep 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 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.
- Ah ! well a-day ! what evil looks
- Had I from old and young !
- Instead of the cross, the Albatross
- About my neck was hung.
- PART THE THIRD
- 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.
- 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 plunged 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 grin,
- 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
- Rested the broad bright Sun ;
- When that strange shape drove suddenly
- Betwixt us and the Sun.
- 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 ?
- And 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 ?
- 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.
- 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,
- Off shot the spectre-bark.
- 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 steerman's face by his lamp gleamed white ;
- From the sails the dew did drip--
- Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornd Moon, with one bright star
- 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.
- 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 !
- PART THE FOURTH
- `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 the 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 charmd 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.
- PART THE FIFTH
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 :
- It did not come anear ;
- But with its sound it shook the sails,
- That were so thin and sere.
- 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 lightning and the Moon
- The dead men gave a groan.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- `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 :
- 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.
- Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
- Then darted to the Sun ;
- Slowly the sounds came back again,
- Now mixed, now one by one.
- 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 !
- 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 go.
- 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 'gan 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.
- 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.
- `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 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.'
- The other was a softer voice,
- As soft as honey-dew :
- Quoth he, `The man hath penance done,
- And penance more will do.'
- PART THE SIXTH
- FIRST VOICE
- `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
- `Still as a slave before his lord,
- The ocean hath no blast ;
- His great bright 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 VOICE
- `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.
- 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.'
- 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 fitter :
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 light-house 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--
- O 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 moonlight lay,
- And the shadow of the Moon.
- The rock shone bright, 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 :
- I turned my eyes upon the deck--
- Oh, Christ ! 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 ;
- This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
- No voice did they impart--
- No voice ; but oh ! the silence sank
- 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 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 THE SEVENTH
- 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.
- 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 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 ?'
- `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
- 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.'
- `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 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
- Within the Pilot's boat.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.'
- 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 Hermit crossed his brow.
- `Say quick,' quoth he, `I bid thee say--
- What manner of man art thou ?'
- Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
- With a woeful agony,
- Which forced me to begin my tale ;
- And then it left me free.
- Since then, at an uncertain hour,
- That agony 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 bride-maids singing are :
- And hark the little vesper bell,
- Which biddeth me to prayer !
- O Wedding-Guest ! 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 who 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
- 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.