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Reading No. 33Jump to the latest reading

Helen Macdonald
Recorded in Fitzrovia, London

Mark Dion
The Albatross

But soon I heard the dash of oars,
I heard the Pilot's cheer;
My head was turned perforce away
And I saw a boat appear.

The Pilot and the Pilot's boy,
I heard them coming fast:
Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy
The dead men could not blast.

I saw a third—I heard his voice:
It is the Hermit good!
He singeth loud his godly hymns
That he makes in the wood.
He'll shrieve my soul, he'll wash away
The Albatross's blood.

Murdering the albatross sends 'The Rime' on a strange and dark spiritual path, finally emerging with some form of redemption. In an influential and controversial essay written fifty years, the historian Lynn White suggested that ‘the present increasing disruption of the global environment is the product of a dynamic technology and science which originated in the Western medieval world deeply grounded in Christian dogma.'

'Hence we shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man'. But he goes on, in a less quoted conclusion, to say, 'Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not.'

John Spicer