Rime of the Ancient Mariner Essay

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Rime of the Ancient Mariner

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner consist of many different styles and poetic devices. Many have said that the poem itself is an allegory or a repetition. Prior to going into the details of the poetry and writing style used in the poetry, a brief summary of the poem is discussed.

This poem starts off as a story of three young men walking together to a wedding when one of them is detained by a grizzled old sailor. An ancient mariner who is a very tanned and has a glittering eye stops the wedding guest who is with his companions. The mariners then tells his tale to the three persons despite the Wedding Guest's interjections. The story of the mariner involves him sailing with two other sailors to his native land. He talks about how everything was going smooth until they are all hit by a terrible storm, which ultimately moves their ship southwards. Everything is basically lost in a mist but an Albatross appears out in the mist. As long as the Albatross accompanies the mariner, everything works out well for them, However, one day he is shot by the mariner and then the winds start changing for the entire crew.

The winds stop blowing which ultimately leaves the ship stagnant on the ocean. All the sailors basically blame the mariner that bad luck has befell on the crew because of his actions. The sun becomes unbearable and the crew runs out of drinking water. As a punishment, the Albatross is hung around the mariner's neck. After some time, a ship is seen on the horizon, which is ultimately a ghost ship that is manned by death. Basically, they see life in death in form of a beautiful naked woman. The Life in Death basically wins the Ancient Mariner's soul and all the other crewmembers are left to die. As the other members are dying, they curse the mariner and all the things that he did.

Ultimately, the mariner is left all alone on the ship with slimy creatures called across the surface. His condition is so bad that he is unable to pray, unable to bear the sight of the dead men and unable to die as well. About seven days later, great water snakes are moving through the silver moonlight as they are glittering blue, green and black. The mariner acknowledges the beauty of these creatures and at that time, he is able to pray. After that, the sprits and souls of the bodies exit from the corpse and are sent to circle around the ship. These bodies are singing are they are leaving and it appears as a very soft music to the mariner. As soon as the mariner is free and falls to the deck, he hears two voices in the air. This discussion basically declares that even though the mariner is guilty for killing the Albatross, he has gone through his share of the punishment. The wind ultimately guides the mariner home and he is about to reach the forest when is ultimately caught in a whirlpool. Near the woods, a holy man known as The hermit lives who loves it talk to mariners. He encourages the Pilot and his son to help out the mariner but he is compelled to share his story with them. Once the mariner tells his story, the guilt that he has is relieved. That is when the mariner realizes that whoever he meets my fate, he has to tell him the tale. At that time, the mariner also has to relate this tale to his audience as well. The end of the poem is that the church door opens and the wedding party is coming outside. At the end, the mariner basically emphasizes to the wedding guest that he should love God and all his creatures to lead a happier and better life.

Poetic Devices

The Rime of Ancient Mariner is written in loose and short ballad stanzas. Most of the stanzas are either four or six lines long but at times, they are also nine lines long as well. The language that is used by Coleridge is unique and rather archaic language. The entire poem is an allegory and it deals with supernatural punishment and penance of a seaman. As mentioned above, the story is told by the seaman himself and therefore it involves a lot of repetition as well. Because there are many poetic devices used in the poem, all the different devices will be discussed separately.

As mentioned before, the entire poem itself is in an allegorical form and is a reputation. Repetition is mostly seen to create the effect of the story and boost on the imagery of whatever scene that is taking place.

For instance, in part IV, words like alone, eye, curse and show are repeated quite often. Repetition is used in association with many other poetic devices that will be discussed below. Because the mariner is telling the tale himself, he chooses to emphasize on most of his words and repeat them to attain a desired effect.


As mentioned before, the language of the entire poem is rather archaic as opposed to being romantique. Many a times, the endings of the words are changed and a 'Th' is placed in the end as opposed to an's in the end. This again makes the poem sound very old fashioned. Regardless, it should be known that most of the mariner's words are rather simple and therefore they can easily be used by a sailor for his story.

Similes, Metaphors and Personification.

There are numerous similes and metaphors used in the poem to give the reader more description about the setting and the characters

In the first part of the poem, the author is trying a lot to create the right setting of the weather. In doing so, he used many similes, metaphors and personification. As mentioned before, in stanzas 11-12, he makes use of the word shadow to show that the storm is some sort of a predator who is trying to escape it. Personification is also seen in the first part of the poem when in line talking about the ice near Antarctica. This reference in part 1, line 15 where the author talks about the ice making sounds. The author states that it is making loud cracking noises that sound "like noisies in a swound" This is an example of personification as ice itself is nota able to make such noise.

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

The point in the first part where the ship is not able to move because of the wind, Coleridge refers to the motionless ship as being on a painting. Surely, a painting is unable to move therefore the author make use of this simile in this part.

In part one of the poem, the albatross is also symbolized by using various poetic devices.

At length did cross an Albatross,

Thorough the fog it came;

As if it had been a Christian soul,

We hailed it in God's name

In this part, we see that Coleridge talks about the Albatross in terms of religion and personifies it like a Christian soul. The idea here is that the Jesus Christ is sometimes compared metaphorically to a bird. Therefore, in the poem, the bird is regarded to with much respect. Due to this reason, the sailors all get very offended when the storyteller shoots the bird.

Another simile is used by the poet when he talks about the mouths of the sailors become as dry as "soot" or ashes" This point in line number 33 in part two of the poem. In the second part, line 27, when the things start getting bad for the crew, the entire tone and imagery of the poem is changes. The tone and imagery will be discussed in the sections below. To aid in the creation of that tone, the author makes use of the follow simile.

ll in a hot and copper sky,

The bloody Sun, at noon,

Right up above the mast did stand,

No bigger than the Moon.

Here, the author is comparing the sun to the moon. Not only that, the size of the sun is also compared to the moons. In other words, the author himself is trying to relate the idea that sun is huge and therefore is adding on the scary effect of the poem.

In Part 2, lines 23-24, the author uses parallelisms to show the sailors alter their mind about the death of the albatross. Ultimately, all the sailors do decide that the killing of the bird was wrong and that all of them will ultimately have to suffer due to the mariner killing the bird.

The souls did from their bodies fly,

They fled to bliss or woe!

And every….....

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