“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a tale of crime and penance on the high seas. Written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poem takes place on a vast and unforgiving sea, where an old mariner must come to terms with his sins and the folly of humankind. Although, the core story of the poem is agreed upon, its finer details and intricacies remain a highly debated topic among literary critics. In my opinion, it is the story of the heavy price one must pay for disrupting the order of nature. Others debate that the tale is about the penance one must pay after committing a crime against God himself. Regardless, the tale remains that of a man who spent his life atoning for his crimes.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on October 21, 1772 in Devon, England. A famous poet and literary critic, Coleridge is considered to be a founder of the English Romantic Movement. He attended Cambridge University where he met fellow poet Robert Southey and was inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution which occurred in this time period. In 1795, Coleridge married Sarah Fricker, more for social standing than any other reason as he did not actually love her. Despite their problematic marriage, the two did produce a daughter. Late in the 1790’s, Coleridge developed a steadfast friendship with William Wordsworth, a fellow poet he would later collaborate with. In 1817 Coleridge sought the help of the physician James Gillman in the hopes of curing his opium addiction. He would spend the rest of his life in
Gillman’s care where he would publish his final works.
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is classified as a lyrical ballad due to its length and structure. The term lyrical ballad was actua...
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... He is still cursed to wander the earth for all time, telling his tale to those that must hear it.
The punishment begins after the death of the albatross. After the ancient mariner shoots the albatross with his crossbow, a senseless act of violence, he is condemned by the crew. But as time goes on and the weather improves, the crew hails the mariner as their savior. Their joy would not last, as soon the wind would die and the sun would beat down on them relentlessly. The ancient mariner was blamed once more, and the albatross slung about his neck. Just as Jesus wore the cross, the ancient mariner wore the albatross. By killing the albatross purely because he could, the mariner committed a crime against God and nature. In upsetting the balance of life he would pay dearly until his lesson had been learned, and even then he would continue to pay the price.
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