The Rime of the Young Reaper [Rime of the Ancient Mariner]
Sailor went to sit down and relax down at the bar,
And listen to the old man’s tale,
His drunken eyes brightened under circular lens,
His skinny hand tightly gripped on his fifth ale.
He declares he was once a sheriff of sorts,
A man of law, nicknamed Grimm,
For all who crossed the law,
Would speak their last words to him.
One particular day, he says,
A young man moved into the house next door,
After an odd series of events,
The family of four was found dead on the floor.
The sheriff kindly greeted the man,
Who silently nodded at the welcome,
But never spoke, his lips only parted,
To whistle an odd hum.
So the young man and the sheriff lived along one another,
A friendly relation began, without needing to speak,
As it turned out the young man had sharp interest,
For the justice of authority he seemed to seek.
The young man accompanied the sheriff,
Later employed as his lawful companion,
Together in his patrol car they rode,
To catch all the criminals on the run.
Grimm one day was forced to fire,
One day he was forced to kill,
Rapist and murderer of three,
His bloodlust was yet to fill.
So Grimm did as he always did,
With the scum of the world in his sight,
Attempting to flee and continue his acts,
Grimm had to do what was right.
Once more, twice more, and yet another,
Soon the fiend fell under,
And his lifeless eyes rolled back,
Grimm had only began to wonder.
It was only now he noticed,
The young man next to him began to speak,
His eyes fixed upon the fatal wound,
That from which blood continued to leak.
Grimm asked if he was a being of faith,
A prayer is what he might be chanting,
But Grimm was wrong, and now in tears of the memory,
In sadness of the events that have led to his current ranting.
The young man denied Grimm’s judgement,
And told him nothing more than the following:
“I am only here to follow your acts,
All these lives to someone are oweing.”
“And who might that someone be?”
Grimm asked in confusion,
But the young man refused to continue,
And left the sheriff in exclusion.
A few days later, Grimm’s child fell sick,
A cancer, ravaging her poor life,
The family was devastated, drowned in tears,
But most of all, the sheriff’s wife.
The mother who had so happily birthed,
The first daughter, her first daughter,
But now illness had come to take away,
And her happiness was for death to slaughter.
The young man came to the sheriff’s home,
To leave his silent blessings with the girl,
Or at least, this is what the sheriff assumed,
For he trusted this man with his beloved daughter Pearl.
When the doctors came to give their final note,
The sheriff and his wife were torn apart,
With only weeks to share with little Pearl,
A girl whose life has only begun to start.
In her last days, the young man stayed by her side,
Murmuring his inaudible word,
Grimm had allowed it as a way to keep peace,
Until days later, he finally heard.
Grimm pushed away the young man,
Violently picking him from below,
What was it he heard?
“You can die now, no need to be slow.”
Grimm cried out in anger, what could this mean?
To which the young man answered, “I am the Reaper,”
For days and weeks your daughter has fought,
A war on illness that will never stop for her.”
Grimm paused, took a moment to see,
His daughters feeble hand straining to reach,
Their hands met and with a saddened look she said,
“Daddy, Reaper has a lot to teach.”
“He told me some people die because they are fools,
Others die because they were victims to fools,
But me, I’m special you see,
Now is my time to be free,
I’m in pain, it’s really bad,
But I’ll be ok soon, I love you Dad.”
The old man’s story was soon interrupted,
As his eyes widened and he grabbed his chest,
He fell to the floor and coughed and wheezed,
And soon fell dead to join his daughter’s rest.
The sailor looked around for help,
Only to see a young skinny man by the window,
But from his lips the sailor could swear,
He could hear hum ever so low.
“Lawful, evil, innocent and guilty,
All will be met with the end of a life so cruel,
Evil men can no longer act, young little girls no longer suffer,
I am your saint, your deaths are for me to rule.”
“I will take my leave, but soon you too shall grieve, as all men should.”
In writing my own creative work, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and write a ballad, something I have very little experience with. I tried telling a story while attending to the system of ABCB quatrains, and likewise involved death as the main subject of the poem. Just as Coleridge, there was a moment in which I broke from this system. I was heavily influenced by my own interpretation of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, one that was somber, saddening, and even intimidating – I felt unsettled by the tale. And as such, I tried to mimic that feeling whilst adding my own personal touch regarding the plot. Instead of the mariner spinning the tale, a sailor must listen to the words of a drunken sheriff, beginning off as odd and bewildering and later becoming more sentimental, dark.
What I did change about the ballad was how death and supernatural forces may be depicted, instead of massive powers capable of raising the dead, I aimed for a simpler rendition of death. My Reaper was simply a man that allowed the dead to cross the bridge from life to death, but at the same time I aimed to keep a certain abnormal air about death. Death is silent and ignored until things like illness or fatal injury comes, only then do we remember death, and only then does it begin to speak to us.
I wish I had more space to continue the ballad, and I think my inexperience may have been the most difficult part about its creation – I’m much more used to writing longer works, and feel that shorter creative assignments are my weakness. Even so, I’m somewhat pleased with how it ultimately came out. This story isn’t something meant to please or give a comforting ending: Grimm dies before he even finishes his tale, as the Reaper gifts him death as he pities the once prideful sheriff to reunite him with his daughter. It’s not a particularly happy ending, but death in itself is not a happy ending, and I think I accurately depicted my interpretation from what I felt from the original.