After the Ancient Mariner slew the albatross which had brought the ship luck, he was blamed for the following disasters and forced to wear the dead bird around his neck in penance. The punishment proved no talisman for his shipmates, though:
The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
Nor rot nor reek did they :
The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed away.
An orphan’s curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high ;
But oh ! more horrible than that
Is the curse in a dead man’s eye !
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.
The full poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is at the link above.
Barack Obama can surely relate to the Ancient Mariner, now that his controversial pastor and friend, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has decided not to go gently into that good night, granting interviews with PBS’ Charlie Rose and others, and agreeing to speak to the upcoming NAACP meeting. Wright has aggressively defended himself from the broad criticisms, claiming his remarks were taken out of context.
What possible “context” might make his assertions that white men and the US government had invented AIDS as a genocidal tool, or that 9/11 was just “America’s chickens coming home to roost,” or that “white greed blocks world need,” etc., appear reasonable to normal people is unclear. Wright has evidently opted to defend his own reputation, eschewing the sacrifice to help elect the first black President. He isn’t going away anytime soon.
Wright’s prominent reemergence puts the lie to the mainstream media meme that Obama’s “race speech” (really nothing more than artful evasion and diversion) settled the issue forever and ever, Amen. Like the Mariner’s shipmates, Obama supporters are suffering a slow death from deprivation, having lost the warm adulation accorded their candidate and themselves up until recently. The shock and disbelief upon their faces recalls the “dead man’s eye” almost perfectly.
“Hope” has been shattered (shadoobee, shadoobee), and “Change” denied as the slow, cold recognition spreads across the Obamanation. Their torment recalls the Mariner’s own as their wails and sobbing fall unheard into the open grave of his candidacy.