Part VII

The Hermit of the Wood,

This Hermit good lives in that wood Which slopes down to the sea. How loudly his sweet voice he rears! He loves to talk with marineres That come from a far countree. He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve— He hath a cushion plump: It is the moss that wholly hides The rotted old oak-stump. The skiff-boat neared: I heard them talk, 'Why, this is strange, I trow! Where are those lights, so many and fair, That signal made but now?'

Approacheth the ship with wonder.

'Strange, by my faith!' the Hermit said— 'And they answered not our cheer! The planks looked warped! and see those sails, How thin they are and sere! 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, That eats the she-wolf's young.' 'Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look— (The Pilot made reply) I am a-feared'—'Push on, push on!' Said the Hermit cheerily. The boat came closer to the ship, But I nor spake nor stirred; The boat came close beneath the ship, And straight a sound was heard.

The ship suddenly sinketh.

Under the water it rumbled on, Still louder and more dread: It reached the ship, it split the bay; The ship went down like lead.

The ancient Mariner is saved in the Pilot's boat.

Stunned by that loud and dreadful sound, Which sky and ocean smote, Like one that hath been seven days drowned My body lay afloat; But swift as dreams, myself I found Within the Pilot's boat. Upon the whirl, where sank the ship, The boat spun round and round; And all was still, save that the hill Was telling of the sound. I moved my lips—the Pilot shrieked And fell down in a fit; The holy Hermit raised his eyes, And prayed where he did sit. I took the oars: the Pilot's boy, Who now doth crazy go, Laughed loud and long, and all the while His eyes went to and fro. '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, And scarcely he could stand.

The ancient Mariner earnestly entreateth the Hermit to shrieve him; and the penance of life falls on him.

'O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!' The Hermit crossed his brow. 'Say quick,' quoth he, 'I bid thee say— What manner of man art thou?' Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched With a woful agony, Which forced me to begin my tale; And then it left me free.

And ever and anon throughout his future life an agony constraineth him to travel from land to land,

Since then, at an uncertain hour, That agony returns: And till my ghastly tale is told, This heart within me burns. I pass, like night, from land to land; I have strange power of speech; That moment that his face I see, I know the man that must hear me: To him my tale I teach. What loud uproar bursts from that door! The wedding-guests are there: But in the garden-bower the bride And bride-maids singing are: And hark the little vesper bell, Which biddeth me to prayer! O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been Alone on a wide, wide sea: So lonely 't was, that God himself Scarce seemed there to be. O sweeter than the marriage-feast, 'T is sweeter far to me, To walk together to the kirk With a goodly company!— To walk together to the kirk, And all together pray, While each to his great Father bends, Old men, and babes, and loving friends And youths and maidens gay!

And to teach, by his own example, love and reverence to all things that God made and loveth.

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell To thee, thou Wedding-Guest! He prayeth well, who loveth well Both man and bird and beast. He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all." The Mariner, whose eye is bright, Whose beard with age is hoar, Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest Turned from the bridegroom's door. He went like one that hath been stunned, And is of sense forlorn: A sadder and a wiser man, He rose the morrow morn.