Ancient Mariner

I am reading   Rime of The Ancient Mariner(said marry – ner)
while looking out at the bobbing boats of the Mariner (said maree – ner) from the breakfast table.   If my name was Marie Nuh then  I’d  be Marie Nuh on a Mariner (marree – ner) reading about an ancient Mariner (marry – ner). Such are the great and deep thoughts that occupy my mind.


The sun is reflecting off of the windows in the breakfast hall of The Granville restaurant and I am baking nicely. I’m transfixed by the story, bewitched by the tale. I’m transported,  and to read it here of all place’s, by the glassy bay.

It’s  about a man  cursed to forever tell the story,  trapped by a betrayal (his own) and the penance. He has learned to  cast a spell to tell his  story. Like any good storyteller.


It is a nature poem too, in many ways: The albatross and the reckoning. It is many things. It’s a  poem about climate change,  that we must look after  earth and the nature within  it because if we don’t, if we take the crossbow to the albatross,  nature  will turn against us with an almighty wrath.It is both religious and Pagan not unlike the wedding ritual at its heart. 


As I finish at the breakfast table Hal Wakethe festival organiser strolls in to say hello. He has a warm and organised presence.  I gush about the
Mariner and  he welcomes me to the festival.

Damn it is civilized to let an artist have a free day to recover from jet
lag so he can sit by the sea and read poetry. It never happens. But it’s
happening here.  Hal is one of the great literature festival directors in the western hemisphere. Sounds grand but its true.

A short while later Morganics and I step out into the city the sun has risen and the light is golden and crisp. The city awakes and we drink in coffee bars and chat about  “spoken word” scenes around the world; New York, Australia, London, Canada, New Zealand, all places we’ve both been to.

We are definitely doing the male bonding thing:  lots and lots of laughter, mutual respect and deep talk about the nature of spoken word, it’s pitfalls and new generations. Male bonding is important and the older I get the less I do it.   The other poets will be arriving tomorrow. Can’t wait.

We step into a gallery of first nation art, aboriginal art? And the gallery staff tell us that this is were  Damien Hirst buys first nation art  for his home in England.  Spending time around this art makes you stoned.  The Totems are incredible and have all the resonance of the story held inside the cedar wood. The story of The Ancient Mariner is here too.

1 thought on “Ancient Mariner

  1. Lemn,
    Going back a bit, the show was well worth the journey from my Midlands home…Thought your comments on the reviews were spot on and think there's more 'gestation' to come… I felt the show – like a child in the womb, is still a-shaping… There's something around the coldness yet the illumination of the harshness of 'white' in the snow sequence/s that hasn't yet found the 'settingness' for your lifestories that it could….like in the best of beautiful pieces of jewellry, jewels are set in something that pulls the disparatness of the individuial stones into a single great whole…
    Anyway….this most recent post reminded me powerfully of Charles Causley's poem, The Dancers…so here it is, below…
    Go well,
    The Dancers
    To a clearing
    in the foyer
    at the Gallery
    of Art,
    and a chatter
    of spectators
    waiting for the show
    to start,
    five young men, black,
    naked, dotted
    white and daddy-long-
    legs thin
    out of forty
    thousand years of
    dreamtime came lightfoot-
    ing in.
    Ssss! hissed the dancers from Arnhem Land.
    And a primal
    stillness fell as
    when arose the earl-
    iest sun,
    each dancer an
    emblem painted
    on rockface, or scored
    in stone.
    With an unpre-
    seemliness they took
    the floor,
    staring sightless
    as in lightening
    through a bronze by Hen-
    ry Moore.
    Ssss! hissed the dancers from Arnhem Land.
    To an insect
    buzz of music,
    snap of sticks, high nas-
    al whine,
    touched with brown and
    saffron ochre,
    and their teeth a yell-
    ow shine,
    five young men came
    barefoot, dancing –
    the sun halting in
    its climb –
    forwards, backwards
    through the littoral
    of time.
    Ssss! hissed the dancers from Arnhem Land.
    Beaded and in
    feather bracelets
    to the hoarse-voiced didge-
    they were emu
    and echidna,
    swirling snake and kang-
    razoring this and
    that way sharply,
    swifter than the bush-
    fire flame,
    each a demon,
    each an angel,
    each a god without
    a name.
    Ssss! hissed the dancers from Arnhem Land.
    Suddenly the
    dance was ended,
    clocks took back the Mel-
    bourne day,
    and it was as
    if the dancers
    melted like a mist
    In the restaur-
    ant I saw them,
    serious, and at smil-
    ing ease:
    five young men in
    T-shirt, jeans, with
    pavlovas and five
    white teas.
    Ssss! hissed the dancers from Arnhem Land.
    Charles Causley

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