A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Rites of the Viking Prince

In the closing moments of the Justice League Unlimited episode "To Another Shore," Wonder Woman recites a poem as the League performs the funeral rites for the Viking Prince. The scene is also intercut with J'onn J'onzz taking leave of the team.

The poem is not identified by name during the episode, but it is the exceedingly appropriate The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The verses that Wonder Woman quotes are from near its end, and read as follows:

And now, all in my own country,
I stood on the firm land!
The Hermit stepp'd forth from the boat,
And scarcely he could stand.

"O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!"
The Hermit cross'd his brow.
"Say quick," quoth he, "I bid thee say—
What manner of man art thou?"

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrench'd
With a woful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.

Since then, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns:
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.

I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.

Coleridge adds the following notes of explanation in the margins adjacent to these verses:

The ancient Mariner earnestly entreateth the Hermit to shrieve him; and the penance of life falls on him. And ever and anon throughout his future life an agony constraineth him to travel from land to land;

So the next time someone accuses JLU of being merely a children's cartoon, ask them what was the last TV show they watched that quoted a member of the Romantic Movement.