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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
By: (1772-1834)

An exciting, compelling, and eerie ballad, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner focuses on the uncanny experiences of a sailor who has returned from a long sea voyage that has left him with a heavy burden to bear. Furthermore, the poem explores numerous themes including retribution, suffering, salvation, torment, nature, spirituality, and supernaturalism.

The poem opens with the appearance of its mysterious protagonist, a skinny old man with a curious glittering eye, as he stops a young man who is on his way to attend a wedding. Although the young man demands to be left alone so that he can proceed to the wedding ceremony along with his two companions, he is nevertheless compelled to sit down and listen to the mysterious man’s tale. Accordingly, the Mariner begins his woeful tale, recounting the beginning of his journey as he boards and sets sail from a ship in his homeland. Later he goes on to describe the fine weather and the positive atmosphere prevalent among the crew. Things, however, take a startling turn when the ship suddenly encounters a terrible storm and guides them into icy waters, from which they are unable to escape due to its impenetrable ice. Fortunately, an Albatross appears and saves them from their unfortunate circumstance, only to be later whimsically shot by the Mariner. The death of the bird is regarded as a bad omen, as the winds die down and the sun mercilessly glows, bringing the sailors to the brink of dehydration. Consequently, the Mariner must overcome his actions and live with the repercussions, regardless of their severity.

Interestingly, Coleridge exemplifies his magnificent talent of storytelling, as he encourages his audience to not only observe his story, but also become avid listeners of the old Mariner, as they too are compelled to take a seat beside the wedding guest as he recounts his mesmerizing tale. The piece is additionally fortified by Coleridge’s generous supply of personification, repetition, and powerful imagery, which in turn helps set the mood, builds suspense, and evokes various emotions. A truly gripping poem incapable of losing its allure no matter how many times the journey of the Mariner is revisited, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner remains a timeless piece owing its potency to Coleridge’s masterfully employed techniques.

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Reviews (Rated: 5 Stars - 1 review)

Reviewer: - April 28, 2013
Subject: Classic Poetry
Clearly read and with enough 'drama' for the youngest of my students to enjoy.

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