October Poem--Samuel Taylor Coleridge--Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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A short excerpt from one of the great creepy-poems of all time.

The context--Death and his spouse Life-in-Death are casting dice for the lives of the crew of the ship on which the Ancient Mariner served. Death wins the majority, but LIfe-in-Death takes one:

Rime of the Ancient Mariner Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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?

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?

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 steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip--
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornèd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

life in death.jpg.jpg

Wonderful illustration by Gustav Doré

Find the full version of the 1834 revision of the poem here

One last note--the context of the time makes this seem eerily appropriate. If we allow Ms. Shaivo to die in the name of the separate and equal balance of power, or of any number of things people seem to argue that she should die for, we will have killed the albatross, and it shall be hung about our necks, marking us.

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That last remark is one arrow of truth. A fine insight.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 26, 2003 7:59 AM.

October Poem--Shakespeare--Full Fathom Five was the previous entry in this blog.

Learning from Ms. Shaivo is the next entry in this blog.

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