There passed a weary time. Each throat(140) 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.(145) The ancient Mariner beholdeth a sign in the element afar off 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!(150) And still it neared and neared; As if it dodged a water-sprite, It plunged and tacked and veered. Weary used four times/repetition represents time passing Assonance with ‘e’ sound, alliteration with ‘w’ sound The Mariner sees something It takes form and moves through the water Wist – to become aware of
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! 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:(160) Gramercy! they for joy did grin, And all at once their breath drew in, As they were drinking all. A flash of joy; Unslaked – unsatiated The heat and thirst are oppressive He needed to announce what he saw, so “at a dear ransom” he freed his voice by drinking his blood. Repetition of “With throats unslaked, with black lips baked” reiterates monotony of life on a doomed ship. Jaws open, as that’s the only way they can react
See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more! Hither to work us weal;(165) 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? Tonal shift – Joy turns to ominous feeling Very odd for a ship to completely steady without any assistance from anything. The gloss questions whether it’s possible for a ship to do this. This stanza marks the start of gothic imagery.
The western wave was all a-flame The day was well nigh done! Almost upon the western wave(170) 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!)(175) As if through a dungeon-grate he peered, With broad and burning face. It seemeth him but the skeleton of a ship. The sun reflects upon the water As the sun sets “western wave” “broad bright” “strange shape” The ‘ship’ comes between them and the sun It is a skeleton ship – gothic imagery Mariner prays for help “He” is death
Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud) How fast she nears and nears! Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,(180) Like restless gossameres! A feeling of despair as the ship approached Gossameres – spider webs More gothic imagery
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?(185) Is DEATH that woman's 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! The sun gleams through the ship – a spooky image The ship would be black against the sun – a silhouette Even more gothic, if possible The sun symbolizes hope and life. Death is blocking the sun. Two horrors man the ship – they are skeletal as well.
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,(190) 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.(195) Death and Life-in- Death have diced for the ship's crew, and she (the latter) winneth the ancient Mariner. Repetition of ‘L’ sound Disturbing description of Death’s mate “Yellow as gold” “white as leprosy” The ship pulls up Death looses the dice game and gets the crew. Life-in-Death wins and gets the ancient Mariner Humans have no control over the natural world. Crime and punishment: it does not make sense.
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. No twilight within the courts of the Sun. The night comes unnaturally quick. It sets the mood for what is about to happen. Darkness personified with the “stride”
We listened and looked sideways up!(200) 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—(205) Till clombe above the eastern bar The hornéd Moon, with one bright star Within the nether tip. At the rising of the Moon, Longer stanza/Change in meter– signals changing of events Gothic imagery- “my life blood seemed To sip” Image of “sipping blood” recalls Mariner Drinking his own blood Clombe- “climbed” Nether = lower, under Netherworld Colderidge restates obvious action but Breaks it into parts to build suspense
One after one, by the star-dogged Moon Too quick for groan or sigh,(210) Each turned 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,(215) They dropped down one by one. His shipmates drop down dead. Meter returns to standard Men look at him and grimace in blame Silently curse mariner with eyes Chilling silence from dying men Internal rhyme- “thump” and “lump”
The souls did from their bodies fly,— They fled to bliss or woe! And every soul, it passed me by, Like the whiz of my cross- bow!(220) But Life-in-Death begins her work on the ancient Mariner. The souls leave the bodies of sailors Fly away similar to the departure of Death’s ship Irony- souls flying past feel like shots from a crossbow, but it was his actions with a crossbow that cause the death on the ship References him shooting the albatross Life in Death starts to exert her control over the Mariner.
Significance While the previous section shows the beginnings of the consequences of the Ancient Mariner’s actions, his true punishment does not occur until this section. His encounter with Death and Life-In-Death condemns him to a cursed life. The dice game shows that humans are not always in control of their fate, and much of life is left up to chance. The Mariner does not have the power to change his circumstances, showing his lack of free will.