sábado, 15 de agosto de 2015

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Since then, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns;
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.

Today, if a stranger would stop me at some party to talk to me about some story, I'd probably walk away with a nervous smile, holding my pepper spray with dissimulation. I admit it, I do not easily trust people. That is one of my many flaws fed by one complicated present. And, yes, not all people are bad but I am not willing to take any chances.
The Rime of the Ancient MarinerHowever, many years ago, a young man that was going to a wedding, had no other choice but to listen to a strange man's story. He resisted but the old man, a bright-eyed Mariner, had already decided that the young guest was going to be the next listener. And so the story begins.

This is my first Coleridge and I was delightfully surprised. This poem was published in 1798 and it is divided into seven parts. It is written in old English, of course, and that always means that I have to read it very carefully to avoid confusion. At some point, I felt like a four year-old finding help in the beautiful illustrations that this book contains. I probably should not admit that, but there it is. It is written. I cannot take it back. I could, though, but I do not want to erase that and think of something else to write. Like a lie. Because that would be too weird. And the babbling

Coleridge's poetry is a true gem waiting to be discovered. Its vividness is something I have seen before but with a different style. A very unique melody. It is exceptionally evocative. The images it describes are too powerful, they manage to leave the paper to become something you can see and touch. The roar of the sea becomes too intense to bear. The sky transforms into a dark vapor viciously moving from one side to another. I could hardly see who was next to me, I only hear their yelling. And the loudest one came from the sea.
And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald. (12)

And yet, the frightening images described by this poem do not sound that bad after listening to the music dwelling in every verse. This beautiful melody took me by surprise and became a serene partner throughout this entire adventure. Suddenly, the sky did not look so threatening; the icy water became bearable, and the solitary immensity of the sea was welcome.
And again, contradictions. That feeling described above changed from time to time. The desperation of being trapped in such a surreal landscape was so great sometimes that I could feel it in my bones.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean. (21)

Gustave Doré
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. (25)

The story continues with the Mariner killing an albatross. That sad decision brought disgrace to all the crew, and especially, to the bright-eyed Mariner.
Sometimes death embodies blessing, when living becomes a curse.
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony. (35)

This poem is a perfect reminder of everything we need, no matter the place nor time: respect for one another. For all living things. Not only for the sake of others, but for yours. Every action has its consequence. It would be a dreadful thing to have killed the bird that made the breeze to blow.

* Photo credit: Book cover via Goodreads.

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