The Lie of the Ancient Mariner


Now I am immortalised, I get to see it

play across the ancient page forever.

Me the bad cess and black pariah.

He the one I ruined with my murder. 

Fickle world that turns a truth

over for a lie.


Beforetime, I would navigate magnetically.

Majestic spread tip to tip, southern winds would

never grip my heart in cold embrace.

I rarely had to stir to make my way.

A compass to discover.

Young and barely feathered.

I should never have gone near that cursèd man


though it is hard to resist a siren song.

A morsel here and there, a handful of crumbs,

kindly speech and company so sweet.

They were lost and I couldn’t leave them be,

but sailors are such superstitious beings;

rituals for everything, they scare so easily


so I gave them safe passage

through the misty snow and ice,

my gift to them for charity,

a use for second sight.

Repaid with deadly arrow, a target I became,

then fathoms nine I plunged beneath

and silent sang the waves.


When linen sagged like withered skin

beneath the copper sky,

and southern wind had died a death,

only then did they decide

what he had done was wrong;

blamed me for unspoken crime

with shrivelled roots for tongues.


Worst to come, they hung me from

the neck of my assassin.

Forced my feathers to his skin,

even death could not deliver

comfort. I felt their words

move through the air to heaven

where my soul had settled.


My fault, my fault! My stolen breath

was blamed for all misfortune.

Not foolishness, ill-captaincy,

error, chance or unforeseen.

Just evil me, a passing bird,

terror dressed in feathers.


Ballads, ballads, everywhere

and no good word for me. 

I should have let them sink

beneath the misty snow and sea.

No compass I discovered.

Forever young, barely feathered,


for me the one he ruined with my murder

and he the bad cess and black pariah!



◄ Token Valentine Poem

On Reflection ►


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Laura Taylor

Sun 5th Mar 2023 12:30

Thanks all!

Graham - not that different, still rooting for the underdog 😉

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Stephen Gospage

Sun 5th Mar 2023 08:43

Well done, Laura. A really accomplished piece of writing.

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John Marks

Sat 4th Mar 2023 18:00

Skips along nicely Laura (no small feat): "Ballads, ballads, everywhere/ and no good word for me." You bring out the sublimity and the awe(ful) setting of Coleridge's poem: “Listen, Stranger! Mist and Snow, / And it grew wond’rous cauld: / And Ice mast-high came floating by / As green as Emerauld.”

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Graham Sherwood

Sat 4th Mar 2023 13:32

This is a different tack from you Laura (isn't it?) and I really enjoyed the alternate viewpoint. Good to see you on here

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Laura Taylor

Sat 4th Mar 2023 13:15

Hey, thank you Clare, I really enjoyed writing this so I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

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Fri 3rd Mar 2023 16:21

Mind blowing piece of writing. Congratulations on your magnificent talent. A pure delight to read!😊

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