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An introduction to the rime of the ancient mariner

Synopsis[ edit ] The mariner's tale begins with his ship departing on its journey. Despite initial good fortune, the ship is driven south by a storm and eventually reaches Antarctic waters. An albatross appears and leads them out of the ice jam where they are stuck, but even as the albatross is praised by the ship's crew, the mariner shoots the bird: With my cross-bow, I shot the albatross. 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: They soon find that they made a grave mistake in supporting this crime, as it arouses the wrath of spirits who then pursue the ship "from the land of mist and snow"; the south wind that had initially led them from the land of ice now sends the ship into uncharted waters near the equator, where it is becalmed.

Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean. And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot — Oh Christ! That ever this should be. Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs, Upon the slimy sea. Icicles hang from the rigging. The sailors change their minds again and blame the mariner for the torment of their thirst. In anger, the crew forces the mariner to wear the dead albatross about his neck, perhaps to illustrate the burden he must suffer from killing it, or perhaps as a sign of regret: What evil looks Had I from old and young!

  • Beginning as mixed exhibition, its character became increasingly religious;
  • Yet the Poem contains many delicate touches of passion, and indeed the passion is every where true to nature, a great number of the stanzas present beautiful images, and are expressed with unusual felicity of language; and the versification, though the metre is itself unfit for long poems, is harmonious and artfully varied, exhibiting the utmost powers of that metre, and every variety of which it is capable;
  • At the beginning of his career he had worked largely in lithographs, drawing upon the stone himself, but in the years of greatest fame nearly all his work was engraved on wood.

Instead of the cross, the albatross About my neck was hung. Eventually, the ship encounters a ghostly hulk.

On board are Death a skeleton and the "Night-mare Life-in-Death", a deathly-pale woman, who are playing dice for the souls of the crew. With a roll of the dice, Death wins the lives of the crew members and Life-in-Death the life of the mariner, a prize she considers more valuable.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Her name is a clue to the mariner's fate: One by one, all of the crew members die, but the mariner lives on, seeing for seven days and nights the curse in the eyes of the crew's corpses, whose last expressions remain upon their faces. Eventually, this stage of the mariner's curse is lifted after he appreciates the sea creatures swimming in the water. Despite his cursing them as "slimy things" earlier in the poem, he suddenly sees their true beauty and blesses them "a spring of love gush'd from my heart, and I bless'd them unaware" ; suddenly, as he manages to pray, the albatross falls from his neck and his guilt is partially expiated.

The bodies of the crew, possessed by good spirits, rise again and help steer the ship. In a trance, the mariner hears two spirits discussing his voyage and penance, and learns that the ship is being powered supernaturally: The air is cut away before, And closes from behind.

  1. The Salon accepted his work but skied it; the critics ignored or slated it and the public preferred the brilliance of Meissonier. Why Should I Care?
  2. Is this the hill?
  3. On board are Death a skeleton and the "Night-mare Life-in-Death", a deathly-pale woman, who are playing dice for the souls of the crew. After relaying the story, the mariner leaves, and the wedding guest returns home, and wakes the next morning "a sadder and a wiser man".

Finally the mariner comes in sight of his homeland, but is initially uncertain as to whether or not he is hallucinating. Is this indeed The light-house top I see? Is this the hill? Is this the kirk? Is this mine own countree?

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We drifted o'er the harbour-bar, And I with sobs did pray— O let me be awake, my God! Or let me sleep alway. The rotten remains of the ship sink in a whirlpool, leaving only the mariner behind. A hermit on the mainland had seen the approaching ship and had come to meet it with a pilot and his boy, in a boat. When they pull him from the water, they think he is dead, but when he opens his mouth, the pilot has a fit. The hermit prays, and the mariner picks up the oars to row.

The pilot's boy goes crazy and laughs, thinking the mariner is the devil, and cries, "The Devil knows how to row". As penance for shooting the albatross, the mariner, driven by guilt, is forced to wander the earth, telling his story over and over, and teaching a lesson to those he meets: He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all. After relaying the story, the mariner leaves, and the wedding guest returns home, and wakes the next morning "a an introduction to the rime of the ancient mariner and a wiser man".

The poem received mixed reviews from critics, and Coleridge was once told by the publisher that most of the book's sales were to sailors who thought it was a naval songbook. Coleridge made several modifications to the poem over the years.

In the second edition of Lyrical Ballads, published in 1800, he replaced many of the archaic words. Inspiration for the poem[ edit ] Commemorative statue at WatchetSomerset: Instead of the cross, the Albatross About my neck was hung. On this second voyage Cook crossed three times into the Antarctic Circle to determine whether the fabled great southern continent existed.

In the book, a melancholy sailor, Simon Hatleyshoots a black albatross: We all observed, that we had not the sight of one fish of any kind, since we were come to the Southward of the streights of le Mairnor one sea-bird, except a disconsolate black Albatross, who accompanied us for several days.

He, after some fruitless attempts, at length, shot the Albatross, not doubting we should have a fair wind after it.

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As they discussed Shelvocke's book, Wordsworth proffers the following developmental critique to Coleridge, which importantly contains a reference to tutelary spirits: Bernard Martin argues in The Ancient Mariner and the Authentic Narrative that Coleridge was also influenced by the life of Anglican clergyman John Newtonwho had a near-death experience aboard a slave ship. Herriot of PenicuikScotland, was unveiled at Watchet harbour.

Poem illustration published 1896. In Biographia Literaria, Coleridge wrote: The thought suggested itself to which of us I do not recollect that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. In the one, incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural, and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions, as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real.

And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency. For the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life. In this idea originated the plan of the 'Lyrical Ballads'; in which it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least Romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.

With this view I wrote the 'Ancient Mariner'. Mrs Barbauld once told me that she admired The Ancient Mariner very much, but that there were two faults in it -- it was improbable, and had no moral. As for the probability, I owned that that might admit some question; but as to the want of a moral, I told her that in my own judgement the poem had too much; and that the only, or chief fault, if I might say so, was the obtrusion of the moral sentiment so openly on the reader as a principle or cause of action an introduction to the rime of the ancient mariner a work of such pure imagination.

It ought to have had no more moral than the Arabian Nights' tale of the merchant's an introduction to the rime of the ancient mariner down to eat dates by the side of a well, and throwing the shells aside, and lo! From what I can gather it seems that the Ancient Mariner has upon the whole been an injury to the volume, I mean that the old words and the strangeness of it have deterred readers from going on. If the volume should come to a second Edition I would put in its place some little things which would be more likely to suit the common taste.

However, when Lyrical Ballads was reprinted, Wordsworth included it despite Coleridge's objections, writing: The Poem of my Friend has indeed great defects; first, that the principal person has no distinct character, either in his profession of Mariner, or as a human being who having been long under the control of supernatural impressions might be supposed himself to partake of something supernatural; secondly, that he does not act, but is continually acted upon; thirdly, that the events having no necessary connection do not produce each other; and lastly, that the imagery is somewhat too laboriously accumulated.

Yet the Poem contains many delicate touches of passion, and indeed the passion is every where true to nature, a great number of the stanzas present beautiful images, and are expressed with unusual felicity of language; and the versification, though the metre is itself unfit for long poems, is harmonious and artfully varied, exhibiting the utmost powers of that metre, and every variety of which it is capable.

It therefore appeared to me that these several merits the first of which, namely that of the passion, is of the highest kind gave to the Poem a value which is not often possessed by better Poems.

The use of archaic spelling of words was seen as not in keeping with Wordsworth's claims of using common language. Criticism was renewed again in 1815—16, when Coleridge added marginal notes to the poem that were also written in an archaic style.

These notes or glossesplaced next to the text of the poem, ostensibly interpret the verses much like marginal notes found in the Bible. There were many opinions on why Coleridge inserted the gloss. The entire poem was first published in the collection of Lyrical Ballads. Another version of the poem was published in the 1817 collection entitled Sibylline Leaves [12] see 1817 in poetry.

Interpretations[ edit ] On a surface level the poem explores a violation of nature and the resulting psychological effects on the mariner and on all those who hear him.

According to Jerome McGann the poem is like a salvation story. The poem's structure is multi-layered text based on Coleridge's interest in Higher Criticism. This verbal distinction is important because it calls attention to a real one. Like The Divine Comedy or any other poem, the Rime is not valued or used always or everywhere or by everyone in the same way or for the same reasons.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in popular culture In addition to being referred to in several other notable works, due to the popularity of the poem the phrase "albatross around one's neck" has become an English language idiom referring to "a heavy burden of guilt that becomes an obstacle to success". Monty Python 's "Albatross Sketch" [16] in which an irascible movie-theatre refreshment vendor tries to sell a single albatross from a tray around his neck, is a parody of Coleridge's description of the Mariner.

The phrase "Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink" has appeared widely in popular culture, but usually given in a more natural modern phrasing as "Water, water, everywhere But not a drop to drink"; some such appearances have, in turn, played on the frequency with which these lines are misquoted.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Retrieved 5 March 2007.