Adam Bolivar

The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner

           by Adam Bolivar

The greatest mercy in the world
     I think is we are blind
To contents that lie tightly furled,
     Asleep within the mind.

Well, it was at a wedding feast
     Where I was next of kin;
A host of fishy relatives
     The church had just gone in,

When did a staring lunatic
     Upon me lay a hand;
His beard grew like a prickly thorn,
     His face in tropics tanned.

It was an Eldritch Mariner,
     Made hoary in short years,
For he had seen with his own eyes
     What lurks in darkest fears.

That is not dead, he raved to me,
     Which can eternal lie.
And æons’ strangeness may one day
     Cause even death to die.

It started with a raven that
     Had roosted on the mast.
I tried to disregard its caws,
     Which drove me mad at last.

We sailed in fœtid southern seas,
     In waters thick as ooze,
The constellations alien,
     Our consolation booze.

’Twas on a drunken sleepless night
     That I took up my gun
To shoot the raven through the heart,
     And so the deal was done.

Mayhap it was grim Odin’s bird
     That recklessly I’d slain,
And it was then the ocean groaned
     As if it were in pain.

The latitude and longitude
     I’ll carry to my tomb,
For it was there a city rose
     Where sleeps our race’s doom.

My crewmates’ faces turned pale white,
     Just like that maiden Death,
Who kisses you with blood-red lips
     And steals your final breath.

We lit upon the island’s shore
     Of slime-slick stones and mud,
And staggered through a ruin that
     Gushed terrors in a flood.

Across the titan masonry
     We crawled like tiny ants;
And what we saw there made us know
     The solace nescience grants.

Vast horrors lay beneath those stones,
     Of that there was no doubt;
Their angles joined impossibly
     To Euclid’s theorems flout.

We crossed the courtyard in a daze,
     A monstrous marketplace;
With revelations there we saw
     Our minds could not keep pace.

It was the Portuguee who climbed
     That dæmoniac stair
To call us in a hoarsened voice
     With wild dishevelled hair.

A Cyclops’s door to hellish depths
     Before us towered high;
To call our actions reasonable
     Would be to tell a lie.

Without result we pushed the door,
     Until the answer dawned:
It hinged on a diagonal—
     And like a maw it yawned.

The aperture was raven-black,
     And spewed out horrid things,
Which long had been imprisoned there,
     And flew on filmy wings.

The odour was unbearable;
     We heard a slopping sound,
As something lumbered towards the door,
     From far beneath the ground.

Cthulhu now was loose again,
     And ravened for delight,
Asleep a vigintillion years,
     Repulsive was the sight,

For now the stars were right again;
     A mountain stumbled blind—
A sticky star-spawned bat-winged god
     Before us did we find.

And what an age-old cult had failed
     By artifice to do
Accomplished then by accident
     A random foolish crew.

Its flabby claws swept up three men
     Before they even turned;
God rest their souls if there be rest,
     And not from heaven spurned.

We plunged in terror over rocks,
     Whose angles most perplexed;
And in the end but two survived,
     To witness what came next.

My mate and I fled in the ship
     As fast as she could steam;
The creature cursed us from the shore
     Just like the Polypheme.

The Thing was bold and would not stop;
     It slid into the sea.
The churning claimed my crewmate’s mind,
     And soon a corpse was he.

A desperate gamble I took then,
     And so reversed my course
To speed towards the noxious Thing
     And strike with lethal force.

Relentlessly I drove the bow
     Through jelly foul and green,
Which burst and smelt of open graves,
     Abhorrently unclean.

I heard a seething sound astern—
     The sky-spawn recombined;
But then our distance widened fast,
     Before I lost my mind.

So now I’ve told my loathsome tale
     In hopes my soul to shrive;
And yet I fear I will be cursed
     As long as Im alive.

Water, water, everywhere,
     Cthulhu dreams below;
R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn:
     This blasphemy I know.

The Wedding-Guest then turned away,
     Made mad from what he’d learned;
And like the Eldritch Mariner
     His soul now heaven spurned.