Monday, February 02, 2009

Feast of Brigid's silent poetry reading - 2009

A selection from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner


The Sun now rose upon the right:

Out of the sea came he,

Still hid in mist, and on the left 85

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! 90

And I had done a 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, 95

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. 100

'T was 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 105

Into that silent sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,

'T was sad as sad could be;

And we did speak only to break

The silence of the sea! 110

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, 115

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; 120

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 125

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. 130

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, 135

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! 140

Instead of the cross, the Albatross

About my neck was hung.


O happy living things! no tongue

Their beauty might declare:

A spring of love gushed from my heart,

And I blessed them unaware: 285

Sure my kind saint took pity on me,

And I blessed them unaware.

The selfsame moment I could pray;

And from my neck so free

The Albatross fell off, and sank 290

Like lead into the sea.


I've always loved this poem. Lately, the metaphor of the albatross has taken on some rather strong significance for me. I wear a necklace of an albatross with a hole through the middle to remind me that even the most horrific of things come an end, eventually. The albatross did fall off for him, 'though it left him affected for the rest of his days. So too, will I be rid of my own albatross one day.


teabird said...

(silent appreciation)

Josiane said...

Thanks for explaining why you chose this poem. You certainly will be rid of your own albatross one day.