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Sailor Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Sea Fever by John Masefield
  2. The Sailor's Appeal by Lydia Howard Sigourney
  3. A Sailor Bold by Annette Wynne
  4. The Sailor's Consolation by Charles Dibdin
  5. The Optimistic Skipper by Anonymous
  6. The Pilot Lost by Hannah Flagg Gould
  7. The Mariner's Dream by William Dimond
  8. A Sailor Ballad by Ruby Archer
  9. The Old Sailor by Margaret E. Sangster
  10. Captain Lean by Walter De la Mare
  11. Sailing To-Night by Anonymous
  12. The Sea-Boy by Lydia Sigourney
  13. The Fisher's Wife by Susan Rhyce Beckwith
  14. A Gray Day by Ruby Archer
  15. A Life on the Ocean Wave by Epes Sargent
  16. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  1. Sea Fever

    by John Masefield

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

  2. The Sailor's Appeal

    by Lydia Howard Sigourney

    Ye dwellers on the stable land,
    Of danger what know ye,
    Like us who brave the whelming surge,
    Or trust the treacherous sea?
    The fair trees shade you from the sun,
    You see the harvests grow,
    And breathe the fragrance of the breeze
    When the first roses blow.

    You slumber on your beds of down,
    Close wrapp'd in chambers warm,
    Lull'd only to a deeper dream
    By the descending storm;
    While high amid the slippery shroud
    We make our midnight path,
    And e'en the strongest mast is bow'd
    Beneath the tempest's wrath.

    Yet still, what know ye of the joy
    That lights our ocean-strife,
    When on its way our gallant ship
    Rides like a thing of life;
    When gayly towards the wish'd-for port
    With favouring wind we stand,
    Or first your misty line descry,
    Hills of our native land!

    There's deadly peril in our path
    Beyond the wrecking blast,
    A peril that may reach the soul
    When life's short voyage is past;
    Send us your Bibles when we go
    To dare the whelming wave,
    Your men of prayer, to teach us how
    To meet a watery grave.

    And, Saviour! thou whose foot sublime
    The foaming surge did tread,
    Whose hand the rash disciple drew
    From darkness and the dead,
    Oh! be our Ark when floods descend,
    When thunders shake the spheres,
    Our Ararat when tempests end,
    And the green earth appears.

  3. A Sailor Bold

    by Annette Wynne

    Sometimes I think I'd like to roam,
    A sailor bold across the sea,
    But how could Mother stay at home
    And be so very far from me?

    For who would sing my sleepy song,
    And tuck me in my sailor bed,
    And say God watches all night long,
    And kiss me when my prayers are said?

    I wonder if the sailor lad
    Is very, very lonely when
    The loud wind blows; and is he sad,
    And does he long for home again?

    So, after all, I would not roam,
    Until I'm eight to seas afar,
    While I am seven I'll stay at home
    Where Mother and her kisses are.

  4. The Sailor's Consolation

    by Charles Dibdin

    One night came on a hurricane,
    The sea was mountains rolling,
    When Barney Buntline turned his quid,
    And said to Billy Bowling:
    "A strong norwester's blowing, Bill;
    Hark! don't ye hear it roar now?
    Lord help 'em, how I pities all
    Unhappy folks on shore now!

    "Foolhardy chaps who live in town,
    What danger they are all in,
    And now are quaking in their beds,
    For fear the roof shall fall in;
    Poor creatures, how they envy us,
    And wish, as I've a notion,
    For our good luck, in such a storm,
    To be upon the ocean.

    "But as for them who're out all day,
    On business from their houses,
    And late at night are coming home,
    To cheer the babes and spouses;
    While you and I, Bill, on the deck,
    Are comfortably lying,
    My eyes! what tiles and chimney pots
    About their heads are flying!

    "And very often have we heard
    How men are killed and undone
    By overturns of carriages,
    By thieves, and fires in London.
    We know what risks all landsmen run,
    From noblemen to tailors;
    Then, Bill, let us thank Providence
    That you and I are sailors."

  5. The Optimistic Skipper

    by Amos Russel Wells

    The skipper of the Mary Ann, a jolly chap is he;
    With jaunty jest and merriment he gayly sails the sea.
    He knows no navigation and he missed his course a mile,
    But said, "It doesn't matter, so long as I can smile."
    He ran against an island, and he almost sank the ship—
    "Well, never mind!" he brightly said, "we'll have a cheerful trip."
    He did not see the gathering storm, but roared a sprightly song.

    "O sailors, keep a-singing, and the way will not be long!"
    The tempest blew him eastward and the tempest blew him west;
    Whatever way he travelled, he liked that way the best.
    He lost his course entirely, but he never lost his grin;
    Said he, "The bark of laughter is the ship to travel in!"

    And somewhere on the ocean, from the tropics to the pole,
    The storms are still a-buffeting that optimistic soul.
    He knows no navigation, but "What's the odds?" asks he,
    "So long as I am sailing on the top side of the sea?"

  6. The Pilot Lost

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Mariners! mariners, what will ye do?
    The distant, fathomless deep ye've crossed.
    Your rock-bound coast has risen to view;
    And what will ye do? for your Pilot's lost.

    He, who had hastened through surge and foam,
    And reef and shallow so freely passed,
    To bring your ship with a welcome home,
    Your faithful Pilot is gone at last!

    His trusty boat has her trust betrayed!
    Her master has done with the sail and oar.
    And he, low under the waves is laid,
    Who guided his thousands safe to shore.

    He took his life in his friendly hand,
    When venturing forth your lives to save.
    To bring you again to your native land,
    He hurried himself to a watery grave.

    On earth's broad bosom no verdant turf
    Was marked for him in his final rest.
    The deep green sea and her curling surf
    Have pillowed his head and wrapped his breast!

    The waves o'er which he would lightly skim,
    When many a peril for you was run,
    Are sounding a requiem over him,
    And wailing the sorrowful deed they've done.

    With the heart of a brother, an eagle's eye,
    And a pilot's hand, when the heavens are dark,
    And blast and billow are strong and high,
    Who will now come to your wildered bark?

    O, there is One, who the deep can smooth,
    And hush the winds, who will still be nigh!
    Listen! your trembling hearts he'll soothe,
    With 'Mariners, be of good cheer—'t is I.'

    Trust him while crossing life's stormy sea.
    In every peril he'll lend you aid.
    Your pilot through Jordan's waves he'll be.
    Follow him closely and be not afraid!

  7. The Mariner's Dream

    by William Dimond

    In slumbers of midnight the sailor boy lay;
    His hammock swung loose at the sport of the wind;
    But watch-worn and weary, his cares flew away,
    And visions of happiness danced o'er his mind.

    He dreamed of his home, of his dear native bowers,
    And pleasures that waited on life's merry morn;
    While Memory each scene gayly covered with flowers,
    And restored every rose, but secreted the thorn.

    Then Fancy her magical pinions spread wide,
    And bade the young dreamer in ecstasy rise;
    Now, far, far behind him the green waters glide,
    And the cot of his forefathers blesses his eyes.

    The jessamine clambers in flowers o'er the thatch,
    And the swallow chirps sweet from her nest in the wall;
    All trembling with transport, he raises the latch,
    And the voices of loved ones reply to his call.

    A father bends o'er him with looks of delight;
    His cheek is impearled with a mother's warm tear;
    And the lips of the boy in a love kiss unite
    With the lips of the maid whom his bosom holds dear.

    The heart of the sleeper beats high in his breast;
    Joy quickens his pulses,—all his hardships seem o'er;
    And a murmur of happiness steals through his rest,—
    "O God! thou hast blest me,—I ask for no more."

    Ah! whence is that flame which now bursts on his eye?
    Ah! what is that sound that now 'larums his ear?
    'T is the lightning's red glare painting hell on the sky!
    'T is the crashing of thunders, the groan of the sphere!

    He springs from his hammock,—he flies to the deck;
    Amazement confronts him with images dire;
    Wild winds and mad waves drive the vessel a wreck;
    The masts fly in splinters; the shrouds are on fire.

    Like mountains the billows tremendously swell;
    In vain the lost wretch calls on Mercy to save;
    Unseen hands of spirits are ringing his knell,
    And the death angel flaps his broad wings o'er the wave!

    O sailor boy, woe to thy dream of delight!
    In darkness dissolves the gay frostwork of bliss!
    Where now is the picture that Fancy touched bright,—
    Thy parents' fond pressure, and love's honeyed kiss?

    O sailor boy! sailor boy! never again
    Shall home, love, or kindred, thy wishes repay;
    Unblessed and unhonored, down deep in the main,
    Full many a fathom, thy frame shall decay.

    No tomb shall e'er plead to remembrance for thee,
    Or redeem form or fame from the merciless surge;
    But the white foam of waves shall thy winding sheet be,
    And winds in the midnight of winter thy dirge.

    On a bed of green sea flowers thy limbs shall be laid,—
    Around thy white bones the red coral shall grow;
    Of thy fair yellow locks threads of amber be made,
    And every part suit to thy mansion below.

    Days, months, years, and ages shall circle away,
    And still the vast waters above thee shall roll;
    Earth loses thy pattern forever and aye;
    O sailor boy! sailor boy! peace to thy soul!

  8. A Sailor Ballad

    by Ruby Archer

    Oh, tie your knot with a tug and twist,
    And never a careless bend,
    Look out for strands that you may have missed,
    And never leave a loose end.

    In law or love will the ruling hold:
    If trouble away you'd fend,
    Be careful ever, and often bold,
    But never leave a loose end.

    The lag or slip of a rope will give
    A loop that you can't defend.
    You'll hate yourself as long as you live—
    Oh, never leave a loose end!

    Some other fellow as quick as thought
    Will do what you cannot mend—
    Untie your luck or your true-love knot,—
    So never leave a loose end.

  9. The Old Sailor

    by Margaret E. Sangster

    I've crossed the bar at last, mates,
    My longest voyage is done;
    And I can sit here, peaceful,
    And watch th' setting sun
    A-smilin' kind of glad like
    Upon the waves so free.
    My longest voyage is done, mates,
    But oh, the heart of me,
    Is out where sea meets skyline!
    My longest voyage is done....
    But—can I sit, in peace, mates,
    And watch the settin' sun?

    For what's a peaceful life, mates,
    When every breeze so free,
    When every gale a-blowin',
    Brings messages to me?
    And is the sky so shinin',
    For all it's golden sun,
    To one who loves the sea, mates,
    And knows his voyage is done?
    And, can a year on land, mates,
    Match with one day—at sea?
    Ah, every wind a-singin'
    Brings memory to me!

    I've crossed the bar at last, mates,
    My longest voyage is past,
    And I must watch the sunset,
    Must see it fade, at last.
    My steps are not so light, mates,
    As they were, years ago;
    And sometimes, when I'm tired,
    My head droops kind of low—
    Yet, though I'm old and—weary,
    The waves that dance so free,
    Keep callin' to my soul, mates,
    And thrill the heart of me!

  10. Captain Lean

    by Walter De la Mare

    Out of the East a hurricane
    Swept down on Captain Lean—
    That mariner and gentleman
    Will never again be seen.

    He sailed his ship against the foes
    Of his own country dear,
    But now in the trough of the billows
    An aimless course doth steer.

    Powder was violets to his nostrils,
    Sweet the din of the fighting-line,
    Now he is flotsam on the seas,
    And his bones are bleached with brine.

    The stars move up along the sky,
    The moon she shines so bright,
    And in that solitude the foam
    Sparkles unearthly white.

    This is the tomb of Captain Lean,
    Would a straiter please his soul?
    I trow he sleeps in peace,
    Howsoever the billows roll!

  11. There's a Ship on the Sea

    by Mary Mapes Dodge

    There’s a ship on the sea. It is sailing to-night,
    Sailing to-night!
    And father’s aboard, and the moon is all bright,
    Shining and bright!
    Dear Moon, he’ll be sailing for many a night—
    Sailing from mother and me.
    Oh, follow the ship with your silvery light,
    As father sails over the sea!

  12. The Sea-Boy

    by Lydia Sigourney

    "Up the main-top-mast, ho!"
    The storm was loud,
    And the deep midnight muffled up her head,
    Leaving no ray.

    By the red binnacle,
    I saw the sea-boy. His young cheek was pale,
    And his lips trembled. But he dar'd not hear
    That hoarse command repeated. So he sprang,
    With slender foot amid the slippery shrouds.

    He, oft by moonlight watch, had lur'd my ear,
    With everlasting stories of his home,
    And of his mother. His fair brow told tales
    Of household kisses, and of gentle hands
    That bound it when it ached, and laid it down
    On the soft pillow, with a curtaining care.

    And he had sometimes spoken of the cheer
    That waited him, when, wearied from his school,
    At winter's eve, he came. Then, he would pause,
    For his high beating bosom threw a chain
    O'er his proud lips, or else he would have sigh'd,
    In deep remorse, for leaving such a home.

    And he would haste away, and pace the deck,
    More rapidly, as if to hide from me,
    The gushing tear. I mark'd the inward strife
    Unquestioning, save by a silent prayer
    That the tear wrung so bitterly, might work
    The sea-boy's good, and wash away all trace
    Of disobedience. Now, the same big tear
    Hung like a pearl upon him, as he climb'd
    And grappled to the mast.

    I watch'd his toil,
    With strange foreboding, till he seem'd a speck
    Upon the ebon bosom of the cloud.
    And I remember'd that he once had said,
    "I fear I shall not see my home again:"
    And sad the memory of those mournful words,
    Dwelt with me, as he pass'd above my sight,
    Into thick darkness.

    The wild blast swept on.
    The strong ship toss'd.
    Shuddering, I heard a plunge,
    A heavy plunge,—a gurgling 'mid the wave.
    I shouted to the crew. In vain! In vain!
    The ship held on her way. And never more
    Shall that poor, delicate sea-boy raise his head,
    To do the bidding of those roughen'd men,
    Whose home is on the sea.

    And never more
    May his fond mother strain him to her breast,
    Weeping that hardship thus should bronze the brow,
    To her so beautiful, nor the kind sire
    Make glad by his forgiveness, the rash youth
    Who wander'd from his home, to throw the wealth
    Of his warm feelings on the faithless sea.

  13. The Fisher's Wife

    by Susan Rhyce Beckwith

    Lonely, desponding—the gathering gloom
    Slowly filling the quiet room—
    Sits the fisher's wife, with disheveled hair;—
    What does she see in the darkness there?

    Outside, the breakers, with sullen dash
    Fling high their spray to the window-sash,
    That, by the fitful gleams of the moonlight thrown,
    Seems like prison-bars on her floor of stone.

    On this same night, ten years before,
    While the angry sea lashed the rock-bound shore,
    She, anxiously watching, trimmed her light;—
    And the waves were cold, and the moon was bright.

    "Set the light, my lass, by the cottage door,"
    Said the fisher that morn as he sought the shore;
    "The moon will be up when I come to-night;
    Her wake once crossed, I shall be all right."

    With earnest eye, since the waning day,
    She had followed the moon in her upward way,
    And her quivering wake on the midnight sea,
    If there the looked-for boat might be.

    'Mong the rocks, where shadows so darksomely hide,
    Where the sea-foam that wreathed them was gone with the tide
    With tight'ning hands o'er the sickening heart,
    With blanching cheek, and lips apart—
    Like a statue she stood, so cold and white,
    Searching, but vainly, into the night.

    A tiny form with outstretched hands,
    And pink feet glancing among the sands,
    And a baby voice—"Mamma, mamma!"
    But the merciless sea, shock after shock,
    Assaulting the solid towering rock
    With fearful echoes, re-echoing far,
    Swallows the cry;
    Did'st thou hear it not?


    There's a desolate heart and an empty cot.
    And that little form, uncoffined and white,
    Revealed by the gleams of the pale moonlight,
    As pulseless it lay on the surf-washed shore,
    Shall rest on her memory evermore.

    'Tis this she sees in that quiet room,
    Where all is wrapped in the gathering gloom;
    And alone—God help her! she sits apart,
    With folded hands and a broken heart!

  14. A Gray Day

    by Ruby Archer

    A gray day, and the gulls are gone.
    Visor of mist o'er the sun is drawn.
    The cordage creaks and the sails all strain,
    The deck is drenched with the rushing rain,
    The waves leap strong at the struggling keel,
    And the ship rides madly with plunge and reel.
    But the sailors shout as they haul away,
    And merrily sing, for it's naught care they
    For the wind that screams on the lee,
    Or a gray day out at sea.

  15. A Life on the Ocean Wave

    by Epes Sargent

    A life on the ocean wave!
    A home on the rolling deep!
    Where the scatter.d waters rave,
    And the winds their revels keep!
    Like an eagle cag'd I pine,
    On this dull unchanging shore—
    Oh give me the flashing brine,
    The spray and the tempest's roar.
    A life on the ocean wave!
    A home on the rolling deep!
    Where the scatter'd waters rave,
    And the winds their revels keep!

    Once more on the deck I stand
    Of my own swift-gliding craft,
    Set sail! farewell to the land,
    The gale follows fair abaft.
    We shoot through the sparkling foam,
    Like an ocean bird set free;
    Like the ocean bird our home,
    We'll find far out on the sea.
    A life on the ocean wave! &c.

    The land is no longer in view;
    The clouds have begun to frown;
    But with a stout vessel and crew,
    We'll say let the storm come down.
    And the song of our hearts shall be,
    While the winds and the waters rave,
    A life on the heaving sea!
    A home on the bounding wave.
    A life on the ocean wave! &c.

  16. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

    by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    Part I.

    It is an ancient Mariner,
    And he stoppeth one of three.
    "By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
    Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

    "The Bridegroom's 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 chuse 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 light-house 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 chuse 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 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,
    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 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 mariners' 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 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!

    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 III.

    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 not 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!

    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 clombe above the eastern bar
    The horned 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 IV.

    "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 a 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 charmed 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 V.

    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 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?

    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 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.

    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.

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