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The skiff-boat near'd: I heard them talk,
Where are those lights so many and fair,
ApproachethStrange, by my faith!' the Hermit said-
The ship suddenly sinketh.
The planks look warp'd! and see those
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,
6 Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look'
(The Pilot made reply)
'I am a-fear'd'-'Push on, push on!'
The boat came closer to the ship,
The boat came close beneath the ship,
Under the water it rumbled on,
It reach'd the ship, it split the bay;
Stunn'd by that loud and dreadful sound,
saved in the Which sky and ocean smote,
Like one that hath been seven days drown'd
But swift as dreams, myself I found
Upon the whirl, where sank the ship,
The boat spun round and round;
I moved my lips-the Pilot shriek'd
The holy Hermit raised his eyes,
I took the oars: the Pilot's boy,
Laugh'd loud and long, and all the while
'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,
'O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!'
'Say quick,' quoth he, 'I bid thee say—
Forthwith this frame of mine was wrench'd
Which forced me to begin my tale;
Since then, at an uncertain hour,
And till my ghastly tale is told,
I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
I know the man that must hear me:
What loud uproar bursts from that door!
The wedding-guests are there :
But in the garden-bower the bride
And bride-maids singing are :
The ancient Mariner earnestly entreateth the Hermit to shrieve him; and the pe
nance of life
falls on him.
And ever and anon throughout his future life and agony constraineth him to travel from land to land;
And to teach,
O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
So lonely 'twas, that God himself
O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
To walk together to the kirk
To walk together to the kirk,
While each to his great Father bends,
He prayeth best, who loveth best
The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Is gone and now the Wedding-Guest
He went like one that hath been stunn'd,
A sadder and a wiser man,
[ROBERT SOUTHEY was born at Bristol on Aug. 12, 1774. He was educated at Westminster School and at Balliol College, Oxford; and after some years of wandering and unsettlement he went to live, in 1803, at Greta Hall, near Keswick, which remained his home till his death in 1843. In 1813 he was made poet laureate. Besides his countless prose works, his volumes of verse were very numerous; the chief of them are:-Poems by Robert Lovell and Robert Southey, of Balliol College, Oxford, 2 vols., 1795-9; Joan of Arc, 1796; Poems, 1797; Thalaba the Destroyer, 1801; Madoc, 1805; Metrical Tales and other Poems, 1805; The Curse of Kehama, 1810; Roderick, the last of the Goths, 1814; A Vision of Judgment, 1821.]
In the year 1837, two years before his brain softened and his mind went to ruin, Southey superintended a collective edition of his poems in ten volumes.
Of his five narrative poems, Joan of Arc, written at nineteen years of age (1793-94), was, in his own just estimation, the least worthy to succeed; and yet it gave him what he calls a 'Baxter's shove into his right place in the world.'
Thalaba came next; 'the wild and wondrous song;' delightful in its kind, as a Tale of the Arabian Nights is delightful; but wanting, as all stories in which supernatural agencies play a leading part must be, in one sort of charm,—that which results from a sense of art exercised in the fulfilment of a law. For when the law of Nature is set aside, the poet's fancy may 'wander at its own sweet will.'
To a poem thus lawless in its incidents and accidents, Southey thought that a rythmic structure of blank verse almost equally lawless was appropriate. He does not deny that regular blank verse is superior; he says of it in one of his prefaces,- Take it in all its gradations, from the elaborate rhythm of Milton, down to its loosest structure in the early dramatists, I believe there is no measure comparable to it, either in our own or in any other
language, for might, and majesty, and flexibility and compass.' But for Thalaba he prefers a blank verse of his own, in which the decasyllabic rule is renounced, and the lines, following a spontaneous melody, divide themselves into every variety of length, with the ordinary iambic cadence interrupted from time to time by some trochaic or dactylic movement, springing up as a pleasant surprise :
Years of his youth, how rapidly ye fled
In that beloved solitude!
Is the morn fair and doth the freshening breeze
His dog beside him in mute blandishment
Now lifts an anxious and expectant eye,
Courting the wonted caress.
BOOK III. 17.
Southey in his school-days at Westminster had conceived the design of founding a poem on each of the more important mythologies known to the world. Thalaba was founded on the Mahometan; and Kehama followed, founded on the Hindoo. For Kehama he had less expectation of success, inasmuch as it rambles farther still beyond the range of human sympathies. It had an advantage, however, of which he seems to have been unconscious, that of being in rhyme. This he valued by its cost to himself, which was apparently next to nothing; he says in a letter to me that 'rhyme suggests more thoughts than it baulks ;' but it is to rhyme probably that the greater success of Kehama was owing.
In the one poem, as well as in the other, though we are carried far and wide into other worlds than this, we meet from time to time with some penetrating insight into human life and nature as it exists here below ::
'Be of good heart, and may thy sleep be sweet,