Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Rime of the Phantom Ship

Phantom Ship photo © 1999 Benjamin Zingg of Switzerland, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

If ever you visit Crater Lake National Park in the summer, a boat tour is highly recommended; it provides a unique perspective on the lake. I know firsthand, having guided a few hundred tours.

The Phantom Ship is among the lake's most spectacular features when viewed from the water.

Inspired by the Phantom Ship and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, I have composed the poem below. I share this poem on my tours, when we visit the Ship.

The Rime of the Phantom Ship

Looking forward, I behold a something in the lake.
At first it seems a little speck,
and then it seems a mist.
It vanishes, returns and takes at last
A certain shaped I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape I wist.
And still we neared and neared.
Like moths to flame, we are drawn to see,
the mysterious phantom ship.

Spires like sails, the ship prevails
over the deep blue lake
Without a breeze, without a sail
its shadow makes the heart shake

400,000 years old,
the eldest in the caldera,
these rocks do tower,
At the base of Mazama they did stand
in the mountain's final hour.

One after one, by the smoke-filled sky
Too quick for groan or sigh,
The surrounding rocks crumbled and cracked,
and cursed me with their cry.

In two great landslides, the surrounding rocks,
too loud for sigh or groan,
with deafening crash, into the ground,
They dropped down all at once.

The Phantom Ship, betwixt the landslides
Survived the boom.
In subsequent epochs,
the wind and rain have shaped its craggy loom.

Its walls are steep, and hot and dry
And yet, life persists
Growing upon these grand spires
seven species of tree exist
A point of fascination, to any botanist.

Lichens and penstemons also grow,
the pink flowers they do thrive
Upon the Phantom Ship, between the lake and sky.

Gramercy! I cry! Violet green swallows
on ­the spires!
They fly and dive, in green and glossy black,
They coil and turn, and ever track
is a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! No tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushes from my heart
And I bless them unaware.
Sure my kind saint takes pity on me,
for I bless them unaware.

the mariner and the water snakes, one of Gustave Doré's illustrations to Coleridge's
Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The poem and the illos are now in the public domain.

1 comment:

  1. What is the history of this phantom ship? Why do people think its haunted?