Part 3 out of 3
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 fix'd on me their stony eyes
That in the moon did glitter.
The pang, the curse, with which they died,
Had never pass'd away;
I could not draw my eyes from theirs
Nor turn them up to pray.
And now this spell was snapt: once more
I view'd the ocean green,
And look'd 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 turn'd round, walks on
And turns no more his head:
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.
But soon there breath'd a wind on me,
Nor sound nor motion made:
Its path was not upon the sea
In ripple or in shade.
It rais'd my hair, it fann'd 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 sail'd softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze--
On me alone it blew.
O 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 steep'd 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 turn'd my eyes upon the deck--
O 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 wav'd his hand:
It was a heavenly sight:
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light:
This seraph-band, each wav'd his hand,
No voice did they impart--
No voice; but O! 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 turn'd 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 shrive my soul, he'll wash away
The Albatross's blood.
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 Mariners
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 ner'd: 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 answer'd not our cheer.
The planks look warp'd, and see those sails
How thin they are and sere!
I never saw aught like to them
Unless perchance it were"
"The 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 has a fiendish look--"
(The Pilot made reply)
"I am a-fear'd."--"Push on, push on!"
"Said the Hermit cheerily."
The Boat came closer to the Ship,
But I nor spake nor stirr'd!
The Boat came close beneath the Ship,
And strait a sound was heard!
Under the water it rumbled on,
Still louder and more dread:
It reach'd the Ship, it split the bay;
The Ship went down like lead.
Stunn'd by that loud and dreadful sound,
Which sky and ocean smote:
Like one that hath been seven days drown'd
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 mov'd my lips: the Pilot shriek'd
And fell down in a fit.
The Holy Hermit rais'd his eyes
And pray'd where he did sit.
I took the oars: the Pilot's boy,
Who now doth crazy go,
Laugh'd 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 mine own Countree
I stood on the firm land!
The Hermit stepp'd forth from the boat,
And scarcely he could stand.
"O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy Man!"
The Hermit cross'd his brow--
"Say quick," quoth he, "I bid thee say
What manner man art thou?"
Forthwith this frame of mind was wrench'd
With a woeful agony,
Which forc'd me to begin my tale
And then it left me free.
Since then at an uncertain hour,
That agency 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;
The 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
Turn'd from the bridegroom's door.
He went, like one that hath been stunn'd
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn,
_Written a few miles above TINTERN ABBEY, an revisiting the banks of
the WYE during a Tour_.
_July 13, 1798_.
Five years have passed; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a sweet inland murmur. --Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
Which on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
[Footnote 6: The river is not affacted by the tides a few miles
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which, at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Among the woods and copses lose themselves,
Nor, with their green and simple hue, disturb
The wild green landscape. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms
Green to the very door; and wreathes of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees,
With some uncertain notice, as might seem,
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some hermit's cave, where by his fire
The hermit sits alone.
Though absent long.
These forms of beauty have not been to me,
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of wariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration:--feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As may have had no trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life;
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lighten'd:--that serene and blessed mood;
In which the affections gently lead us on,
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame,
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft,
In darkness, and amid the many shapes
Of joyless day-light; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart,
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee
O sylvan Wye! Thou wanderer through the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams, of half-extinguish'd thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was, when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by,)
To me was all in all.--I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite: a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, or any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.--That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur: other gifts
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear; both what they half create, 
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.
[Footnote 7: This line has a close resemblance to an admirable
line of Young, the exact expression of which I cannot recollect.]
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay?
For thou art with me, here, upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou, my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend, and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear Sister! And this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our chearful faith that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain winds be free
To blow against thee: and in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; Oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor perchance,
If I should be, where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence, wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came,
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves, and for thy sake.
NOTE to THE THORN--This Poem ought to have been preceded by an
introductory Poem, which I have been prevented from writing by never
having felt myself in a mood when it was probable that I should
write it well.--The character which I have here introduced speaking
is sufficiently common. The Reader will perhaps have a general
notion of it, if he has ever known a man, a Captain of a small
trading vessel for example, who being past the middle age of life,
had retired upon an annuity or small independent income to some
village or country town of which he was not a native, or in which he
had not been accustomed to live. Such men having little to do become
credulous and talkative from indolence; and from the same cause, and
other predisposing causes by which it is probable that such men may
have been affected, they are prone to superstition. On which account
it appeared to me proper to select a character like this to exhibit
some of the general laws by which superstition acts upon the mind.
Superstitious men are almost always men of slow faculties and deep
feelings; their minds are not loose but adhesive; they have a
reasonable share of imagination, by which word I mean the faculty
which produces impressive effects out of simple elements; but they
are utterly destitute of fancy, the power by which pleasure and
surprize are excited by sudden varieties of situation and by
It was my wish in this poem to shew the manner in which such men
cleave to the same ideas; and to follow the turns of passion, always
different, yet not palpably different, by which their conversation
is swayed. I had two objects to attain; first, to represent a
picture which should not be unimpressive yet consistent with the
character that should describe it, secondly, while I adhered to the
style in which such persons describe, to take care that words, which
in their minds are impregnated with passion, should likewise convey
passion to Readers who are not accustomed to sympathize with men
feeling in that manner or using such language. It seemed to me that
this might be done by calling in the assistance of Lyrical and rapid
Metre. It was necessary that the Poem, to be natural, should in
reality move slowly; yet I hoped, that, by the aid of the metre, to
those who should at all enter into the spirit of the Poem, it would
appear to move quickly. The Reader will have the kindness to excuse
this note as I am sensible that an introductory Poem is necessary to
give this Poem its full effect.
Upon this occasion I will request permission to add a few words
closely connected with THE THORN and many other Poems in these
Volumes. There is a numerous class of readers who imagine that the
same words cannot be repeated without tautology: this is a great
error: virtual tautology is much oftener produced by using different
words when the meaning is exactly the same. Words, a Poet's words
more particularly, ought to be weighed in the balance of feeling and
not measured by the space which they occupy upon paper. For the
Reader cannot be too often reminded that Poetry is passion: it is
the history or science of feelings: now every man must know that an
attempt is rarely made to communicate impassioned feelings without
something of an accompanying consciousness of the inadequateness of
our own powers, or the deficiencies of language. During such efforts
there will be a craving in the mind, and as long as it is
unsatisfied the Speaker will cling to the same words, or words of
the same character. There are also various other reasons why
repetition and apparent tautology are frequently beauties of the
highest kind. Among the chief of these reasons is the interest which
the mind attaches to words, not only as symbols of the passion, but
as _things_, active and efficient, which are of themselves part of
the passion. And further, from a spirit of fondness, exultation, and
gratitude, the mind luxuriates in the repetition of words which
appear successfully to communicate its feelings. The truth of these
remarks might be shewn by innumerable passages from the Bible and
from the impassioned poetry of every nation.
"Awake, awake Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song:"
"Arise Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou Son of Abinoam."
"At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet be bowed,
he fell; where he bowed there he fell down dead."
"Why is his Chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the Wheels of his
Chariot?"--Judges, Chap. 5th. Verses 12th, 27th, and part of 28th.
--See also the whole of that tumultuous and wonderful Poem.
NOTE to the ANCIENT MARINER, p. 155.--I cannot refuse myself the
gratification of informing such Readers as may have been pleased
with this Poem, or with any part of it, that they owe their pleasure
in some sort to me; as the Author was himself very desirous that it
should be suppressed. This wish had arisen from a consciousness of
the defects of the Poem, and from a knowledge that many persons had
been much displeased with it. The Poem of my Friend has indeed great
defects; first, that the principal person has no distinct character,
either in his profession of Mariner, or as a human being who having
been long under the controul of supernatural impressions might be
supposed himself to partake of something supernatural: secondly,
that he does not act, but is continually acted upon: thirdly, that
the events having no necessary connection do not produce each other;
and lastly, that the imagery is somewhat too laboriously accumulated.
Yet the Poem contains many delicate touches of passion, and indeed
the passion is every where true to nature; a great number of the
stanzas present beautiful images, and are expressed with unusual
felicity of language; and the versification, though the metre is
itself unfit for long poems, is harmonious and artfully varied,
exhibiting the utmost powers of that metre, and every variety of
which it is capable. It therefore appeared to me that these several
merits (the first of which, namely that of the passion, is of the
highest kind,) gave to the Poem a value which is not often possessed
by better Poems. On this account I requested of my Friend to permit
me to republish it.
NOTE to the Poem ON REVISITING THE WYE, p. 201.--I have not ventured
to call this Poem an Ode; but it was written with a hope that in the
transitions, and the impassioned music of the versification would be
found the principal requisites of that species of composition.
END OF VOL. I.