“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is a
somewhat lengthy poem concerning the paranormal activities of a sea
mariner and his crew. The work was constructed to be the beginning
piece in Lyrical Ballads, a two-volume set written by William
Wordsworth and Coleridge. Wordsworth intended to, in his volume, make
the ordinary seem extraordinary, while Coleridge aimed to make the
extraordinary ordinary. “The Rime” was first published in 1798.
Despite the current popularity of the piece, it was harshly criticized
upon being first published. One of “The Rime’s” toughest opponents
was Wordsworth himself, who claimed that the poem had “neither
characterization nor proper agency nor skill in the handling of
imagery” (Fry, 12). Wordsworth even bluntly described the piece as
being in the wrong overall meter (Fry, 12). Because of these presumed
flaws, “The Rime” was edited into several subsequent editions, being
released in 1800, 1802, 1805, 1817, and 1834.
When a reader examines “the Rime,” the piece first appears to be
merely that of an archaic ghost story. Throughout the years though,
many have analyzed the poem from various angles of interpretation.
Some of the methods used to decipher “The Rime” have included
reader-response, Marxist, new historicism, psychoanalytic, and even
deconstruction analysis. While each of these alternatives provides an
individualistic prospective on the poem, they are all somewhat
different, and can even be objective at times depending on the reader
in question. While “The Rime” may have been constructed to address
slavery, the economy, or even morality, it can also be greatly
appreciated when looke...
... middle of paper ...
...ations of his work (Fry, 8). A short
time later, Coleridge died, but only after some of the most peaceful
years of his life.
“The Rime” is a supernaturally based poem, which is full of
imaginative symbolism and imagery. Despite its numerous revisions, it
is still a defining piece of literature from the Romantic period.
While several approaches can be taken to investigate the poem, a
biographical analysis provides an insightful look into the life of the
author that created the work. In “The Rime,” Coleridge has the
Mariner facing many of the same obstacles that he faced throughout his
life, including death, isolation, constant wandering, and a final
search for salvation.
Coleridge, Samuel. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Fry 26-75.
Fry, Paul, ed. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Boston and New
York: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 1999.
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