This is a description of a storm at sea based on the famous poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ It is a Level 5 extract, which means it is for advanced students.
If you like this summarised version, you can get the full essay and Levels 1,2,3 and 4 by clicking the PDF document underneath:
Jack knew it would be a rough passage home. The sea was too placid for a sanguine moon. There was a storm a-brewing.
The boat began to roll from side to side and the temperature dipped all of a sudden. Dark clouds obscured the moon. They churned grimly in the night sky, as black as a witch’s Sabbath. The moon’s mercury flush was painted silver by the thunderheads, casting down shivers of light with a ghostly glow. Underneath the moon, the rain moved towards him like a wraith’s veil of sorrow. A winnowing wind fermented and sighed, rippling the surface of the corpse calm sea.
His boat heaved and tossed in the rising swell and he gripped the tiller with his naked fingers. He could just make out the figure of his wife standing on the shingled beach, lamp raised aloft to guide him home. Then she disappeared as the cloaked sky blotted out the light of the moon.
The rain-shroud passed by, spitting at him with its Undead tears. It wrung his hobbit curls into a mop and soaked his jerkin through. The rain whipped down like crystal nails and streaky lightning emblazoned the sky. The sea swells rose and his beard rime froze as the north wind blew and sped him to his doom. Lacerating rain stung his bare arms like ice burn and the sea throbbed grey with woe.
His boat bobbed like a cork upon the capacious sea and for the first time ever, he felt his own mortality. The brine hissed and sissed, lashing his face, and he felt a fever in his eyes. His little boat keeled and tilted like the death flop of a mackerel. The timber planks buckled and bulged, then screaked and shuddered, but the boat righted herself once more.
The bedlam of the sea caused a hectic in his blood, but he could swear that an old man’s, spectral face was fixed in the sky where the moon should be. It wore a mask of hatred and longing and it transfixed Jack utterly. He looked at it aghast, like a mooncalf would stare at the night sky. The old man’s eyes seemed to glare at the sea on his starboard side. Jack’s own eyes followed and slowly widened as he gazed down into a whirlpool opening and spinning beneath the boat. The words of his father came to him unbidden then: “There’s nothing worse than the dreadful curse lodged in a dead man’s eye.”
Jack became angry, trying to remember the rest of the advice. He knew it was important, but he couldn’t think with the tumult and the tempest.
Jack’s two hands gripped the tiller and refused to let go. His father’s words came back unbidden; “A true mariner never deserts a sinking ship.” He gripped on tighter. A mountainous wave rose up before him, blotting out the sky. The wind howled out his doom, the whirlpool span faster and whiter and the old man’s face leered down in triumph.
The boat rose with the swell, inclining upwards to its destruction. It was propelled up onto the lip and hovered there, a fly-speck on the cobwebbed lines of the wave. Time seemed suspended. The whirlpool gaped under him with dire-white jaws. It roiled and spun, inviting Jack in. Then the boat plummeted down into its milky depths, swallowed whole in a final, terrible, squeak of timber.
I hope this helps to germinate ideas for those who want to write about a storm at sea.
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