PART - I
1. It is an ancient mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By they long grey beard and
glittering eye, How 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.’ (Lines 1-8)
An ancient mariner stopped one of the three guests, who were going for a wedding. The guest was attracted by the long beard and glittering eyes of the mariner. However, he does not like being stopped and asked the Mariner why he was holding on to him. The wedding guest was in a hurry since the doors of the bridegroom’s house were open and the sound of merrymaking and the festivities could be heard.
2. 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 (lines 9-16)
The mariner held the wedding guest with his skinny hand and started relating his story abruptly, “There was a ship.” The wedding guest is reluctant to stay but he is mesmerised by the gaze of the mariner and listens to his story like a three-year-old child.
3. 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 cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill
Below the lighthouse top.
The wedding guest sat down on the stone. The bright-eyed mariner started telling his story. When the mariner’s ship had to set sail, they were given a warm farewell and the ship started sailing, leaving behind the church, the lighthouse etc.
4. The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Wend 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 ship was sailing towards the south, so the sun appeared to be rising from the sea. It shone brightly and sank the same way. Everyday the sun rose higher and
higher, up to the height of the mast. At this point the mariner’s story is interrupted, since the loud music from the bridegroom’s house distracts the wedding-guest and he
starts getting restless to leave.
5. 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. (Lines 33-40)
The loud music is the indication of the arrival of the bride. She enters looking beautiful like a rose, and is followed by a band of musicians. The wedding-guest does
not like missing all these festivities but the mariner succeeds in detaining him.
6. And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong :
He struck with his o’ertaking-wings,
And chased us 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 (Lines 41-50)
The mariner continues telling his story. A very fierce storm lashes the ship with force and drove the ship towards the south. The masts of the ship were bent and its
prow dipped into the sea. The ship looked like a person with his head bent, escaping from an enemy.
7. 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, (Lines 51-58)
Now the ship reached the region of mists and ice. It was intensely cold and icebergs and snow-capped cliffs could be seen. This place was totally deserted and only ice
could be seen all around.
8. It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!
At length did cross an Albatross,
Through 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. (Lines 59-66)
Explanation ...The mariner and other shipmates were only surrounded by ice on all sides, which made funny sounds like that of growling, cracking and howling. At last an albatross appeared through the fog. The entire crew welcomes it, as if it were a Christian soul.
9. 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. (Lines 67-74)
The albatross ate the food the sailors gave and hovered around the ship. They were lucky because south wind started blowing which was favourable to them. The
albatross followed the ship and would appear when food was offered to him.
10. 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.
The sun now rose upon the right: (Lines 75-82)
The albatross would sit on the mast sails. The mariner and other sailors continued sailing for nine more days. At this juncture, the mariner looked fearful and guilty. The wedding-guest prayed that God have mercy on him but the mariner unravelled the mystery, saying, “I shot the albatross with my cross-bow.”
PART - II
11. 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 a hellish thing. (Lines 83-90)
The sun rose on the right side of the ship, though it had been misty all the day. The sun set and the favourable south wind was still blowing, but there was no bird to keep them company or eat the food they offered.
12. 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, (Lines 91-96)
All the shipmates condemned the ancient mariner for killing the albatross. They felt that albatross was a bird of good omen and now they will be facing misfortune and disaster, for killing the bird for no reason.
13. 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 the silent sea.
Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down.
To their surprise, bright sun arose, which looked glorious like the head of god. The sailors changed their opinion and now they praised the mariner for killing the bird, since the albatross had only brought fog and mist. The ship sailed gently and white foam was flying on the surface of the silent ocean.
14. ‘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. (Lines 107-114)
But too much silence is ominous and the atmosphere looks frightening. There is no wind, the sails drop and the sky looked like heated copper. The sun looked red and very small like the moon.
15. We stuck, nor breath not motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a pained ocean.
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
The very deep did rot: O Christ! (Lines 115-122)
The ship was stuck at the same place because there was no wind or tide. It was still like a painting. Although there was water everywhere, the boards of the ship started
shrinking and the sailors had not even a drop of water to drink.
16. 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 (Lines 123-130)
The water looked rotten and sticky and ugly sea creatures could be seen near the ship. The sailors pray to God to save them. Death-fires appeared to be dancing and
hovering around them and the sea water looked like the oil burnt by witches.
17. 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, nor more than if
We had been choked with soot.
Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young! (Lines 131-138)
Some of the sailors had a nightmare that a spirit was trying to take revenge for killing the albatross. The spirit was tracking them from the land of mist and snow
and it was moving nine fathoms deep in the water.
18. Instead of the cross, the Albatross About my neck was hung. (Lines 139-142)
The sailors condemn the mariner for landing them into such a ghastly-situation. Their throats are absolutely choked with soot. They are full of contempt and in great
anger they removed his cross and put the dead albatross round his neck.
19. Long grey beard and glittering eye......... (lines 3-4)
These physical features of the ancient mariner are very striking and charismatic and have a great effect on the wedding-guest. He is mesmerised by the appearance and
the manner of the mariner and becomes subdued. The long beard of the mariner suggests subtly that he has become a spokesman for nature.
20. grey-beard loon........ (line 11)
Coleridge’s use of archaic words makes the poem look timeless. These words are a part of old-fashioned vocabulary.
21. For he heard the loud bassoon.........(line 32)
The musical instruments suggest the festivities in the bridegroom’s house, but the wedding-guest is still under the spell of the mariner. There is a deliberate contrast between the bright lights of the wedding ceremony and the dark tale of the mariner.
22. And now the storm-blast came and he
was tyrannous and strong......... (lines 41-42)
The storm-blast is personified as a person, who is very cruel and strong and the entire ship is tossed here and there because of the fury of the storm-blast. The stormblast
has great devastating power and it pushes the ship to the south.
23. And ice, mast-high, came floating by
As green as emerald......... (lines 53-54)
The ship has reached the region of snows and mist and icebergs as high as masts can be seen. The green colour of the sea can be seen reflected by the icebergs.
These kind of scenes add to the beauty and pictorial quality of the poem.
24. It cracked and growled, and roared and howled.........
The above words all are associated with sounds and they add to the musicality of the poem. These words indicate the breaking, sliding and falling of huge chunks of
25. As if it had been a ‘Christian soul’
We hailed it in God’s name......... (line 64)
The albatross is seen as a symbol of God’s favour, a blessing in disguise. The coming of the albatross lifts the spirits of the crew and his coming ‘out of fog’ signifies
‘hope from despair’.
26. With my cross-bow
I shot the albatross................ (line 80)
The killing of the innocent creature of God is a sin and this act of the mariner signifies that he has lost connection with God and all good things.
27. Then all averred, I had killed the bird
that bring fog and mist............. (line 101)
The sailors are very fickle-minded. First they welcome the albatross and consider him a blessing. Later they think that albatross was responsible for the coming of
fog and mist.
28. Water, water, everywhere
Nor a drop to drink...............(lines 120-121)
The crew realises the gravity of the mariner’s action of killing the albatross. They are stranded without wind or water to drink. These signify that the crew has lost touch with the very elements of life. The crew also seem to share equally in the act of sin.
29. Slimy creatures did crawl with legs............... (line 124)
death-fires danced at night................... (line 127)
The poet uses these mystic elements dramatically to create an atmosphere of horror and evil. The mariner, by destroying one of God’s creatures, exposes himself to the
darker aspects of the world. The poet suggests that sin and defiance of God bring the worst results.
30. instead of the cross, the albatross
About my neck was hung............. (line 140)
In retaliation for their increasingly miserable plight, the crew hangs the corpse of the dead albatross about the mariner’s neck like a cross. The cross, a symbol of God’s grace and blessing, is wrenched away from the mariner and the albatross is put instead, which is a grim reminder of his sin.