The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a very very very long poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge about a guy who kills an albatross, a bird considered good luck to sailors. The poem is well worth a read, but mighty long. I studied it in school, and lived to tell the tale. :) Below is a quick version for those of you who haven’t the time to analyse every line in every stanza…
The Busy Man’s ‘ANCIENT MARINER’ by H. S. Mackintosh
It is the Ancient Mariner, he stoppeth one of three . . .
A devastating ‘Raconteur’ and Travel-Bore was he;
His victim was a Wedding-Guest who listened while he told
A story that went on for hours and never did unfold.
The A.M.’s tale described a trip around Cape Horn and back:
He worked aboard a sailing ship (I think he got the sack);
With nothing but a crossbow-shaft he killed an albatross,
His shipmates did not praise this feat, but were extremely cross;
They hung the bird around his neck (which must have been unpleasant,
For when an albatross gets ‘high’ it’s not like grouse or pheasant).
The Ancient M. went off his head, had sunstroke or D.T.s,
A guilt-complex afflicted him which nothing could appease,
He saw the sun and moon behave most oddly in the sky,
He thought he saw the ship break up and all his shipmates die;
Thirst, heat and cold, dead men and ghosts beset the luckless ship
And every kind of contretemps combined to spoil the trip.
How he got home he can’t recall (on foot? by boat? by carriage?).
The Wedding-Guest who heard all this was stunned and missed the marriage.
Don’t let yourself be buttonholed when you have got a date;
Don’t travel in a sailing ship (they’re nearly always late);
Avoid Old Salts, especially those who have a glittering eye;
Above all don’t shoot albatross (or is it albatri?).
(The ‘Ancient M’ is far too good for usages so vile,
And if you read the whole damn thing
You’ll find it well worth while.)