‘God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—
Why look’st thou so?’—With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.
What a shot it is, as engraved by the poet-artist David Jones (1895-1974) for his illustrated edition of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The albatross is pierced through the breast by the mariner’s arrow and pinned to the mast of the ship. Three drops of blood spring from the wound. In the hands of the Catholic Jones, the shooting of the albatross becomes a crucifixion. The bird’s wings are spread across the yardarm; the arrow is the spear of Longinus; the crow’s nest is Calvary.
A friend and patron once brought Jones an empty gilded frame and asked him to make a painting for it.
“What in the world can I put in there?” he asked.
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