The Rime of the Ancient Mariner "Water, Water, Everywhere"
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner book cover
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"Water, Water, Everywhere"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" appeared first in Lyrical Ballads (1798), published jointly by Coleridge and William Wordsworth (1770-1850). For that book, Coleridge had taken as his province "persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic." The supernatural machinery of the poem emerges after the Mariner has killed an albatross. At first his shipmates are angered, but when the mist surrounding the boat clears, they insist it is right "such birds to slay." Now retribution begins. An elemental spirit who loved the albatross has followed the ship and becalms it:

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.