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And ever and anon throughout his future life an agony constraineth him to travel from land to land.
'Say quick,' quoth he, 'I bid thee say-
Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
580 Which forced me to begin my tale;
Since then, at an uncertain hour,
And till my ghastly tale is told,
585 This heart within me burns.
I pass, like night, from land to land;1
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
590 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:
595 And hark the little vesper-bell,
O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
1 "I pass, like night." What different ideas are implied in this comparison? Should this explanation of the spell exerted by the Ancient Mariner have been given us at the beginning of the poem ? "Coleridge had the striking thought that possibly the punishment of a future life may consist in bringing back the consciousness of the Past." Robinson's Diary: II, 129.
2 To what preceding stanza are we here brought back? How do the last two lines prepare us for the rest of the poem ?
So lonely 't was, that God himself
600 Scarce seemed there to be.
O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
To walk together to the kirk
605 To walk together to the kirk,
And all together pray,
While each to his great Father bends,
Old men, and babes, and loving friends,
1 Why should the Mariner now love to walk to the kirk with a goodly company? 2 What is the key word of this and the succeeding stanza ? Has this same word served a similar purpose in any preceding portion of the poem ?
"There is one Mind, one omnipresent Mind,
And blesses it and calls it very good."
Cf. with "Religious
620 Is gone:1 and now the Wedding-Guest
He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
625 He rose the morrow morn.2
1 Would anything have been gained or lost by telling more of the life of the Ancient Mariner? Why not end the poem with stanza CXL ?
2 What was the effect of the story upon the Wedding Guest? Why this effect, rather than amazement and terror such as have characterized him before?
THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL
NOTE BY THE AUTHOR.-According to the mythology of the Romancers, the San Greal, or Holy Grail, was the cup out of which Jesus partook of the last supper with his disciples. It was brought into England by Joseph of Arimathea, and remained there, an object of pilgrimage and adoration, for many years in the keeping of his lineal descendants. It was incumbent upon those who had charge of it to be chaste in thought, word, and deed; but one of the keepers having broken this condition, the Holy Grail disappeared. From that time it was a favorite enterprise of the knights of Arthur's court to go in search of it. Sir Galahad was at last successful in finding it, as may be read in the seventeenth book of the Romance of King Arthur. Tennyson has made Sir Galahad the subject of one of the most exquisite of his poems.
The plot (if I may give that name to anything so slight) of the following poem is my own, and, to serve its purposes, I have enlarged the circle of competition in search of the miraculous cup in such a manner as to include, not only other persons than the heroes of the Round Table, but also a period of time subsequent to the date of King Arthur's reign.
PRELUDE TO PART FIRST
OVER his keys the musing organist,1
And builds a bridge from Dreamland for his lay:
5 Then, as the touch of his loved instrument
Gives hope and fervor, nearer draws his theme,
1 The first stanza, though printed as a part of the Prelude to Part First, is really a little introduction to the whole poem. It gives the idea of the poet's reverie as he follows his thought without the rigidity of a fixed construction.
Far away from whom or what?
Not only around our infancy
10 Doth heaven with all its splendors lie; Daily, with souls that cringe and plot, We Sinais climb and know it not; 2
Over our manhood bend the skies;
15 The great winds utter prophecies;
With our faint hearts the mountain strives;
Waits with its benedicite;
And to our age's drowsy blood
Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
25 At the Devil's booth are all things sold,
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
Bubbles we earn with a whole soul's tasking;
30 "Tis only God may be had for the asking;
1 The allusion is to Wordsworth's "Ode on the Intimations on Immortality," the first line of stanza v, "Our birta is but a sleep and a forgetting." Line 20 probably refers to the last part of stanza Ix of the same poem. Possibly line 21 may have been suggested as a comment on Wordsworth's "Earth fills her lap with treasures of her own." The student should read the ode.
2 See Exodus XIX, 3. Is Lowell's statement in these lines true?
3 Nature is more loyal to God than we.
4 Where has Longfellow spoken of the forest as standing like Druids? In poetry words are often more valuable for what they imply than for what they express. What is suggested by druid?
5 Just what does Lowell mean by Earth? What is the emphatic word in this line?