The poem, The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, by S.T. Coleridge is about how the Ancient Mariner’s ship sailed past the Equator, and was driven by storms to the cold regions towards the South Pole; from there she sailed (the ship) sailed back to the tropical Latitude of the Pacific Oceans; how the Ancient Mariner cruelly and inhospitably killed a sea-bird called Albatross, and how he was followed by many and strange distresses; and also how he could come back to his own country.
Part 3: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Analysis
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.
In this first stanza of the third part of the poem, The Rime of The Ancient Mariner By S.T. Coleridge, the mariner says that we had a weary time, and each man’s throat was dried up with thirst. The eyes of each of us glazed, as if they were made of glass. It was a weary, painful, time, when our eyes glazed. And then, suddenly, looking westward, the mariner noticed a strange thig 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.
In these lines the mariner says that at first, the thing looked like a speck. And then it got enlarged into a dim appearance. It moved onward, and at last took a certain form, as I thought.
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.
The mariner further says beginning with the form of a dot; it assumed a dim appearance, and then a shape, as he could gather. It came closer and closer all the time. Yet its course was not course, and also changed directions frequently as if it evaded some water-spirit.
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 sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!
He says since our throats were dry, and our lips were parched, we could neither laugh nor cry. Because of utter drought, all of us stood dumb. So in order to tell other mariners of the approaching ship, the mariner bit his arm, and sucked his own blood to moisten his tongue and sucked his own blood to moisten his tongue and throat. And when he was able to speak, he exclaimed that there was a ship near the horizon.
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.
In this extract, the mariner says that with dry throats and parched lips, the mariners heard his (mariner) exclamation. And they (mariners) opened their mouths wide in surprise to see the ship. They (mariners) also exclaimed, “Gramercy!” and smiled broadly, for joy. Then at once they drew in their breath as if all of them were drinking water.
See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!
In these lines the mariner says immediately I (mariner) urged them to notice that the ship did not sail in a zigzag course anymore and that it was coming towards us, straight, to be of great help to us. I (mariner) also pointed out that it was something divine. For it was sailing steadily, with upright keel, without a breeze or a tide.
The western wave was all a-flame.
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 flecked with bars,
(Heaven’s Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered
With broad and burning face.
In the above lines the Mariner further says that the sea-waves in the West were all golden with rays of the setting Sun. They looked reddish as if they were all fame. The day had almost come to an end. And the broad bright sun was almost resting upon the Western part of the sea. Just at that moment the strange ship suddenly came between our vision and the sun. And immediately the sun appeared to be marked with bars. Filled with fear, I (the mariner) prayed that Virgin Mary might send us grace. And with broad and burning face, the prison—the fact was that it was 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?
Mariner says that it was a cause of sorrow, he thought, and his heart beat fast. And the skeleton ship sailed fast, and came closer and closer every moment. Its parts looked like silky spider-webs floating in the calm air, and shining in the sun. In amazement, I (the Mariner) asked myself (himself) whether they were its sails that shone in the sun like floating silky spider-webs.
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?
The mariner then asked himself whether they were its ribs through which they peeped, as if it were behind prison bars. Then noticing the figure of a woman in it, I (the mariner) asked himself whether she was alone there as her sailor. Was she a ghost? Do the ghostly figures on the ship form a pair? Was the second a figure mate to the first? These lines are really amazing, and the question asked in the last lines show how much terrified the mariner was.
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.
Describing the physical features of the woman, the mariner says that the ghostly woman’s lips were red. Her looks were bold. Her hair was yellow as gold. Her skin was as white as leprous skin. The horrifying woman was Life-in-Death. She was so horrible that her sight could freeze a man’s blood with cold fear.
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.
Just then the mariner notices something and says soon the skeleton ship arrived by the side of our ship. The two ghostly figures were seen playing dice, one to win our (mariners) ship’s crew and the other to win me i.e. the Ancient Mariner. Suddenly Life-in-Death exclaimed with delight that the game was over, and that she had won me, as her stake. And then she whistled three times merrily.
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.
He says just then the sun sank in the western part of the sea. Abruptly the stars began to twinkle in the sky. Soon it was dark all around. Then, with a loud whispering sound which could be heard from far, over the sea, the ghostly ship disappeared in the dark.
We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman’s face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornèd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.
We (the mariners) listened to the echo whisper. We also looked up sideways. My heart was filled with fear, as if it were a cup. The stars shone dimly. The night was thick with the dark. And in the lamp-slights, I (the ancient mariner) noticed that our (his) steersman’s face was white with great fear.
The mariner in the further lines says that he also noticed that dew-drops dipped from his sails. Trembling with fear, he peered into the dark till the crescent moon, with one bright star within its lover thin curve, rose above the eastern horizon. About the last two lines of the above stanza, Coleridge says it is a common superstition among sailors that something is about to happen whenever a star dogs the moon. The “horned moon” refers to the crescent moon whose two upper ends look like its horns.
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.
Through these lines, the mariner says that then, as if struck by the star-dogged moon, each of his fellow mariners twisted his face with a death-like pain, looked at him with cursing eyes, and quickly fell down dead, without a groan or sigh, one after the other.
He says that two hundred living men dropped down dead, one by one, each with a heavy thud. The mariner says he did not hear their sigh or groan.
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!
In these last lines of the poem, the mariner says that their souls fled their bodies to enter heaven or hell. Yet each soul passed by him with a whizzing sound like that of his arrow that had killed the Albatross. The use of word “whizz” in the last line of the extract stands for the hissing sound made by the mariner’s arrow which killed the albatross, whereas, “cross-bow” refers to arrow form the cross-bow.