I KNOW AN ALBATROSS is an unlikely stalker but just look at that beak! The hooked tip is called the “nail,” and to me, a nail piecing Trinidad’s vulnerable eyes was a formidable threat.
Many people believe the albatross is a sign of bad luck, but actually killing the bird can seal a sailor’s fate as you learn in one of my favorite classical poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The Mariner’s tale begins with his ship departing on a journey. Despite initial good fortune, the ship is driven south off course by a storm and eventually reaches Antarctica. An albatross appears and leads them out of the Antarctic but, even as the albatross is praised by the ship’s crew, the Mariner shoots the bird. The crew is angry with the Mariner, believing the albatross brought the south wind that led them out of the Antarctic. However, the sailors change their minds when the weather becomes warmer and the mist disappears made a grave mistake in supporting this crime as it arouses the wrath of spirits who then pursue the ship; the south wind that had initially led them from the land of ice now sends the ship into uncharted and calm waters.
“Day after day, day after day/We stuck, nor breath nor motion. As idle as a painted ship/Upon a painted ocean. Water, water, everywhere/And all the boards did shrink. Water, water, everywhere/Nor any drop to drink.”