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The hermit stepped forth from the coat,
“O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!" The Hermit crossed his brow.
Say quick,” quoth he, “ I bid thee sayWhat manner of man art thou ?”.
The ancient Mariner earnestly entreateth the Hermit to shrieve him; and the penance of life falls on him.
Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
To walk together to the kirk,
And to teach, by Farewell, farewell ! but this I tell
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
He went like one that hath been stunned
The first part of the following poem was written in the year 1797, at Stowey, in the county of Somerset. The second part, after my return from Germany, in the year 1800, at Keswick, Cumberland. It is probable, that if the poem had been finished at either of the former periods, or if even the first and second part had been published in the year 1800, the impression of its originality would have been much greater than I dare at present expect. But for this, I have only my own indolence to blame. The dates are mentioned for the exclusive purpose of precluding charges of plagiarism or servile imitation from myself. For there is amongst us a set of critics, who seem to hold, that every possible thought and image is traditional; who have no notion that there are such things as fountains in the world, small as well as great; and who would therefore charitably derive every rill they behold flowing, from a perforation made in some other man's tank. I am confident, however, that as far as the present poem is concerned, the celebrated poets whose writings I might be suspected of having imitated, either in particular passages, or in the tone and the spirit of the whole, would be among the first to vindicate me from the charge, and who, on any striking coincidence, would permit me to address them in this doggerel version of two monkish Latin hexameters.
'Tis mine and it is likewise yours;
Am the poorer of the two. I have only to add, that the metre of the Christabel is not, properly speaking, irregular, though it may seem so from its being founded on a new principle: namely, that of counting in each line the accents, not the syllables. Though the latter may vary from seven to twelve, yet in each line the accents will be found to be only four. Nevertheless this occasional variation in number of syllables is not introduced wantonly, or for the mere ends of convenience, but in correspondence with some transition, in the nature of the imagery or passion.
'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
• To the edition of 1816.
Tu—whit! Tu—whoo !
Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
Is the night chilly and dark ?
The lovely lady, Christabel,
She stole along, she nothing spoke,
The lady sprang up suddenly,
It moaned as near, as near can be,
The night is chill; the forest bare ;
Hush! beating heart of Christabel !
What sees she there?
There she sees a damsel bright,
Mary mother, save me now!
The lady strange made answer meet,