“water water everywhere”

In Part 2 of the 7 parts of Coleridge’s masterful Rime of the Ancient Mariner, we come across some very oft quoted lines. As the ship sailed steadily south. In a storm the ship is carried toward the south pole, it is here that the albatross becomes a good omen but at this moment the mariner kills the albatross with his cross-bow. The ship sailing northward – the sun rising on the right. The wind drops, the ship is becalmed, and it would appear that the albatross is being avenged. The shipmates in their distress place the whole guilt and fault of their plight on the one who shot the albatross. Take time to enjoy the images Coleridge creates especially the slimy things upon the slimy sea – a whole other world of “spirits” On a much larger scale we begin to see the discord between humankind and nature, when no regard was shown to the great sea bird.

The Sun now rose upon the right:
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 mariner’s hollo!

And I had done a hellish thing,
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,
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 that silent sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
‘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,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
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 assurèd were
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, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung. Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Lord God,
similar to the anguish of the poem
we too feel this very day
like that painted ship upon a painted ocean.
The wind of hope and joy seems to have departed us
in the wake of so much tragedy.
The souls of the children cry out,
and in our hearts we feel the pain of our failure
to keep them safe as we sought to educate them for the good.
Holy God, words are themselves unable to make love and healing real
Somehow, someway, come to our aid.
Somehow, someway, embrace the broken hearts and squashed souls
of parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers.
Somehow, someway, make the present bearable
and the future once again hopeful
for all who mourn and grieve such enormous loss and pain.
In Your mercy, O Lord,
hear our humble prayer. Amen.

2 thoughts on ““water water everywhere”

  1. We are indeed a nation “in irons”, unable to sail forward towards a favorable horizon. And this is the way we will remain until the perceptions of our rights are in line with the responsibility that comes with those rights. The pain of our albatross is immense, but apparently that is not enough. The prayer you offer here is perfect.


    1. Ann, Sorry you have not seen your comment. I am always looking for your words which are always wise and enlightening. I have been slow at looking at my separate email for WordPress. I could do with some instruction on how best to use the features of the blog site. Hope you and Bob are having or have had a good restful time in Minnesota


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