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SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE

1772-1834

562                           The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Part I

IT is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stoppst thou me?
An ancient Mariner meeteth three gallants bidden to a wedding feast, and detaineth one.
The Bridegrooms doors are opend wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
Mayst 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.
The Wedding-Guest is spell-bound by the eye of the old seafaring man, and constrained to hear his tale.
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 cheerd, the harbour cleard,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.
The Mariner tells how the ship sailed southward with a good wind and fair weather, till it reached the Line.
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 Wedding-Guest heareth the bridal music; but the Mariner continueth his tale.
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 oertaking wings,
And chased us south along.
The ship driven by a storm toward the South Pole.
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 roard the blast,
And 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 land of ice, 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 crackd and growld, and roard and howld,
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 haild it in Gods name.
Till a great sea-bird, called the Albatross, came through the snow-fog, and was received with great joy and hospitality.
It ate the food it neer had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steerd us through!
And lo! the Albatross proveth a bird of good omen, and followeth the ship as it returned northward through fog and floating ice.
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 perchd for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmerd the white moonshine.
The ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good omen.
God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!
Why lookst thou so?With my crossbow
I shot the Albatross.

Part II

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!
His shipmates cry out against the ancient Mariner for killing the bird of good luck.
And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work em woe:
For all averrd I had killd 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 Gods own head,
The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averrd I had killd the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.
But when the fog cleared off, they justify the same, and thus make themselves accomplices in the crime.
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followd free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
The fair breeze continues; the ship enters the Pacific Ocean, and sails northward, even till it reaches the Line.
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!
The ship hath been suddenly becalmed.
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, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere
Nor any drop to drink.
And the Albatross begins to be avenged.
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 witchs oils,
Burnt green, and blue, and white.
And some in dreams assuràd were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followd us
From the land of mist and snow.
A Spirit had followed them, one of the invisible inhabitants of this planet, neither departed souls nor angels; concerning whom the learned Jew, Josephus, and the Platonic Constantinopolitan, Michael Psellus, may be consulted. They are very numerous, and there is no climate or element without one or more.
And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was witherd 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.
The shipmates in their sore distress, would fain throw the whole guilt on the ancient Mariner in sign whereof they hang the dead sea-bird round his neck.

Part III

There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parchd, 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.
The ancient Mariner beholdeth a sign in the element afar off.
At first it seemd a little speck,
And then it seemd 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 neard and neard:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged, and tackd and veerd.
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 suckd the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!
At its nearer approach, it seemeth him to be a ship; and at a dear ransom he freeth his speech from the bonds of thirst.
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.
A flash of joy;
See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!
And horror follows. For can it be a ship that comes onward without wind or tide?
The western wave was all aflame,
The day was wellnigh 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 fleckd with bars
(Heavens Mother send us grace!),
As if through a dungeon-grate he peerd
With broad and burning face.
It seemeth him but the skeleton of a ship.
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 Womans mate?
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!
Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks mans blood with cold.
The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
The game is done! Ive won! Ive won!
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.
Death and Life-in-Death have diced for the ships crew, and she (the latter) winneth the ancient Mariner.
The Suns rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, oer the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.
No twilight within the courts of the Sun.
We listend and lookd sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemd to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersmans face by his lamp gleamd white;
From the sails the dew did drip
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornàd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.
At the rising of the Moon,
One after one, by the star-doggd Moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turnd his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.
One after another,
Four times fifty living men
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan),
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They droppd down one by one.
His shipmates drop down dead.
The souls did from their bodies fly
They fled to bliss or woe!
And every soul, it passd me by
Like the whizz of my crossbow!
But Life-in-Death begins her work on the ancient Mariner.

Part IV

I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbd sea-sand.
The Wedding-Guest feareth that a spirit is talking to him.
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.
But the ancient Mariner assureth him of his bodily life, and proceedeth to relate his horrible penance.
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.
He despiseth the creatures of the calm.
I lookd upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I lookd upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.
And envieth that they should live, and so many lie dead.
I lookd 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;
But 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 lookd on me
Had never passd away.
But the curse liveth for him in the eye of the dead men.
An orphans curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! more horrible than that
Is the curse in a dead mans eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.
The moving Moon went up the sky,
And nowhere did abide;
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside
In his loneliness and fixedness he yearneth towards the journeying Moon, and the stars that still sojourn, yet still move onward; and everywhere the blue sky belongs to them, and is their appointed rest and their native country and their own natural homes, which they enter unannounced, as lords that are certainly expected, and yet there is a silent joy at their arrival.
Her beams bemockd the sultry main,
Like April hoar-frost spread;
But where the ships huge shadow lay,
The charmàd water burnt alway
A still and awful red.
Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watchd the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reard, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.
By the light of the Moon he beholdeth Gods creatures of the great calm.
Within the shadow of the ship
I watchd their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coild 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 gushd from my heart,
And I blessd them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessd them unaware.
Their beauty and their happiness.
He blesseth them in his heart.
The selfsame moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.
The spell begins to break.

Part V

O 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 remaind,
I dreamt that they were filld with dew;
And when I awoke, it raind.
By grace of the holy Mother, the ancient Mariner is refreshed with rain.
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 lightalmost
I thought that I had died in sleep,
And was a blessàd 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.
He heareth sounds and seeth strange sights and commotions in the sky and the element.
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 pourd 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 reachd the ship,
Yet now the ship moved on!
Beneath the lightning and the Moon
The dead men gave a groan.
The bodies of the ships crew are inspired, and the ship moves on;
They groand, they stirrd, 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 steerd, 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 brothers son
Stood by me, knee to knee:
The body and I pulld 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,
Which to their corses came again,
But a troop of spirits blest:
But not by the souls of the men, nor by demons of earth or middle air, but by a blessed troop of angelic spirits, sent down by the invocation of the guardian saint.
For when it dawndthey droppd their arms,
And clusterd round the mast;
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,
And from their bodies passd.
Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
Then darted to the Sun;
Slowly the sounds came back again,
Now mixd, now one by one.
Sometimes a-dropping from the sky
I heard the skylark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seemd 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 angels 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 saild 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 lonesome Spirit from the South Pole carries on the ship as far as the Line, in obedience to the angelic troop, but still requireth vengeance.
The Sun, right up above the mast,
Had fixd 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 returnd,
I heard, and in my soul discernd
Two voices in the air.
The Polar Spirits fellow demons, the invisible inhabitants of the element, take part in his wrong; and two of them relate, one to the other, that penance long and heavy for the ancient Mariner hath been accorded to the Polar Spirit, who returneth southward.
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 VI

    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?
The Mariner hath been cast into a trance; for the angelic power causeth the vessel to drive north-ward faster than human life could endure.
    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 Mariners 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.
The super-natural motion is retarded; the Mariner awakes, and his penance begins anew.
All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
All fixd on me their stony eyes,
That in the Moon did glitter.
The pang, the curse, with which they died,
Had never passd 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 lookd far forth, yet little saw
Of what had else been seen
The curse is finally expiated.
Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turnd 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 fannd 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 saild softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze
On me alone it blew.
O dream of joy! is this indeed
The lighthouse top I see?
Is this the hill? is this the kirk?
Is this mine own countree?
And the ancient Mariner beholdeth his native country.
We drifted oer 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 steepd 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.
The angelic spirits leave the dead bodies,
A little distance from the prow
Those crimson shadows were:
I turnd my eyes upon the deck
O Christ! what saw I there!
And appear in their own forms of light.
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 O, the silence sank
Like music on my heart.
But soon I heard the dash of oars,
I heard the Pilots cheer;
My head was turnd perforce away,
And I saw a boat appear.
The Pilot and the Pilots boy,
I heard them coming fast:
Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy
The dead men could not blast.
I saw a thirdI heard his voice:
It is the Hermit good!
He singeth loud his godly hymns
That he makes in the wood.
Hell shrieve my soul, hell wash away
The Albatrosss blood.

Part VII

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.
The Hermit of the Wood.
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 neard: 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 answerd not our cheer!
The planks look warpd! 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-wolfs young.
Approacheth the ship with wonder.
Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look
(The Pilot made reply)
I am a-feard.Push on, push on!
Said the Hermit cheerily.
The boat came closer to the ship,
But I nor spake nor stirrd;
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 reachd the ship, it split the bay;
The ship went down like lead.
The ship suddenly sinketh.
Stunnd by that loud and dreadful sound,
Which sky and ocean smote,
Like one that hath been seven days drownd
My body lay afloat;
But swift as dreams, myself I found
Within the Pilots boat.
The ancient Mariner is saved in the Pilots 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 lipsthe Pilot shriekd
And fell down in a fit;
The holy Hermit raised his eyes,
And prayd where he did sit.
I took the oars: the Pilots boy,
Who now doth crazy go,
Laughd 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 steppd forth from the boat,
And scarcely he could stand.
The ancient Mariner earnestly entreateth the Hermit to shrieve him; and the penance of life falls on him.
O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!
The Hermit crossd his brow.
Say quick, quoth he, I bid thee say
What manner of man art thou?
Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenchd
With a woful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.
And ever and anon throughout his future life an agony constraineth him to travel from land to land;
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 seemàd 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.
And to teach, by his own example, love and reverence to all things that God made and loveth.
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
Turnd from the bridegrooms door.
He went like one that hath been stunnd,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn.

563                                             Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills
Where blossomd many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But O, that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As eer beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced;
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the threshers flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reachd the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she playd,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me,
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

564                                                     Love

All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
     And feed his sacred flame.
Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live oer again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay,
     Beside the ruind tower.
The moonshine, stealing oer the scene,
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy,
     My own dear Genevieve!
She leand against the armàd man,
The statue of the armàd Knight;
She stood and listend to my lay,
     Amid the lingering light.
Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
She loves me best wheneer I sing
     The songs that make her grieve.
I playd a soft and doleful air;
I sang an old and moving story
An old rude song, that suited well
     That ruin wild and hoary.
She listend with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew I could not choose
     But gaze upon her face.
I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;
And that for ten long years he wood
     The Lady of the Land.
I told her how he pined: and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang anothers love,
     Interpreted my own.
She listend with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes, and modest grace;
And she forgave me, that I gazed
     Too fondly on her face!
But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he crossd the mountain-woods,
     Nor rested day nor night;
That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
     In green and sunny glade
There came and lookd him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And that he knew it was a Fiend,
     This miserable Knight!
And that, unknowing what he did,
He leapd amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
     The Lady of the Land;
And how she wept and claspd his knees;
And how she tended him in vain
And ever strove to expiate
     The scorn that crazed his brain;
And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest leaves
     A dying man he lay;
His dying wordsbut when I reachd
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faltering voice and pausing harp
     Disturbd her soul with pity!
All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrilld my guileless Genevieve;
The music and the doleful tale,
     The rich and balmy eve;
And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
     Subdued and cherishd long!
She wept with pity and delight,
She blushd with love and virgin shame;
And like the murmur of a dream,
     I heard her breathe my name.
Her bosom heavedshe steppd aside,
As conscious of my look she stept
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
     She fled to me and wept.
She half enclosed me with her arms,
She pressd me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, lookd up,
     And gazed upon my face.
Twas partly love, and partly fear,
And partly twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see,
     The swelling of her heart.
I calmd her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,
     My bright and beauteous Bride.

565                                           Youth and Age

VERSE, a breeze mid blossoms straying,
Where Hope clung feeding, like a bee
Both were mine! Life went a-maying
With Nature, Hope, and Poesy,
                  When I was young!
When I was young?Ah, woful When!
Ah! for the change twixt Now and Then!
This breathing house not built with hands,
This body that does me grievous wrong,
Oer aery cliffs and glittering sands,
How lightly then it flashd along
Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore,
On winding lakes and rivers wide,
That ask no aid of sail or oar,
That fear no spite of wind or tide!
Naught cared this body for wind or weather
When Youth and I lived in t together.
Flowers are lovely! Love is flower-like;
Friendship is a sheltering tree;
O the joys, that came down shower-like,
Of Friendship, Love, and Liberty,
                  Ere I was old!
Ere I was old? Ah, woful Ere,
Which tells me, Youths no longer here!
O Youth! for years so many and sweet,
Tis known that thou and I were one;
Ill think it but a fond conceit
It cannot be that thou art gone!
Thy vesper-bell hath not yet tolld
And thou wert aye a masker bold!
What strange disguise hast now put on,
To make believe that thou art gone?
I see these locks in silvery slips,
This drooping gait, this alterd size:
But springtide blossoms on thy lips,
And tears take sunshine from thine eyes!
Life is but thought: so think I will
That Youth and I are housemates still.
Dewdrops are the gems of morning,
But the tears of mournful eve!
Where no hope is, lifes a warning
That only serves to make us grieve,
                  When we are old!
That only serves to make us grieve
With oft and tedious taking-leave,
Like some poor nigh-related guest
That may not rudely be dismist.
Yet hath outstayd his welcome while,
And tells the jest without the smile.

566                                    Time, Real and Imaginary

AN ALLEGORY

ON the wide level of a mountains head
(I knew not where, but twas some faery place),
Their pinions, ostrich-like, for sails outspread,
Two lovely children run an endless race,
       A sister and a brother!
       This far outstrippd the other;
Yet ever runs she with reverted face,
And looks and listens for the boy behind:
       For he, alas! is blind!
Oer rough and smooth with even step he passd,
And knows not whether he be first or last.

567                                         Work without Hope

ALL Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair
The bees are stirringbirds are on the wing
And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.
Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrightend, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.

568                                         Glycines Song

A SUNNY shaft did I behold,
   From sky to earth it slanted:
And poised therein a bird so bold
   Sweet bird, thou wert enchanted!
He sank, he rose, he twinkled, he trolld
   Within that shaft of sunny mist;
His eyes of fire, his beak of gold,
   All else of amethyst!
And thus he sang: Adieu! adieu!
Loves dreams prove seldom true.
The blossoms, they make no delay:
The sparking dew-drops will not stay.
     Sweet month of May,
       We must away;
       Far, far away!
         To-day! to-day!

 

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