The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by S.T. Coleridge

The poem is about the Ancient Mariner who stops a Wedding Guest from going to the wedding. He stops the young man to tell him the story of a ship; despite the Wedding Guest’s trying to leave, the Mariner still continues and the Wedding Guest has to listen to the Mariner’s tale. The story is about the mariner’s experiences at sea. His ship leaves the harbor and sails southward. Then there is a great storm pushing the ship towards the South Pole where he and the other Sailors are surrounded by snow, mist and glaciers. In the silent atmosphere, an Albatross comes and breaks the silence. All the sailors believe that the Albatross is a good sign for them; but the Mariner shoots and kills the albatross with his crossbow.

At first the other Sailors are very angry with the Mariner for killing the bird. After the Albatross is killed, the fog clears and the ship begins sailing northward that makes the Sailors believe the bird was the source of the god and mist and that killing the bird is a right action. But suddenly, the wind ceases, the Mariner and the Sailors become stranded on a calm sea without water. They become extremely thirsty but surrounding them is only the water that they cannot drink. During this miserable situation, the Mariner cries out to Christ in terror afraid of the slimy creatures crawling in the sea. Now all Sailors start blaming on the Mariner for what he did, therefore, they decide to hang the dead Albatross around the Mariner’s neck. But after some time, the Mariner sees a speck approaching in the westward sky and the Mariner begins to recognize what it is.

Stucking in the state of thirst, he is so thirsty that he cannot even speak. He alerts the Sailors to the approaching ship by biting his arm and drinking his own blood. Everyone think that they are going to be saved but his joy quickly turns to horror. The passengers on this ship are only Death himself and Life-in-Death, a woman described with yellow hair, red lips, and haunting white skin. Death and Life-in-Death have been playing dice for the lives of the Sailors and the Mariner and Life-in-Death has won the soul of the Mariner. After Life-in-Death’s victory, the Sailors turns to curse the Mariner with their eyes, then they drop down dead.

The Wedding Guest

interrupts the story while hearing that all the Sailors died, he is afraid that the Mariner died too. But the Mariner tells the Wedding Guest that his body didn’t drop like others and he alone remained alive. As the Mariner returns to the story, this loneliness becomes a terrible penance he must pay. Alone on the sea, he feels that he has no pity from saints, and he is stucked on the sea and with the dead bodies that is around him. The Mariner tries to pray but he fails. The Mariner notices the Water Snakes swimming beside the ship in the moonlight. At this moment he realizes that all of God’s creatures are beautiful and must be treated with respect and he is finally able to pray, the albatross fell off from his neck and go into the sea.

Once he has been opened back up to prayer, the Mariner is able to sleep now. He dreams of rain and he awakes to find his dream realized. But after drinking, the Mariner notices the natural world is in commotion. The dead Sailors rise up, and without speaking or moving their eyes, they begin working on the ship. Listening to this, the Wedding Guest is very scared, but the Mariner makes sure with him that it was not demons that reanimated the dead bodies, the bodies were piloted by angels. When the sun rose, a choir of angels rose out of the bodies of the Sailors. After this angels’ chorus, the Mariner sees a boat carrying a Pilot, the Pilot’s Boy, and a Hermit. The Mariner thinks the Hermit is a man of God, and he decides that the Hermit can rescue him from his sin and wash away the Albatross blood.

Suddenly, the Mariner’s ship sink and the Mariner is saved in the Pilot’s boat. The Pilot, the Pilot’s Boy, and the Hermit are so scared when the Mariner talking because they think that he is dead. Once upon land, the Mariner begs Hermit for the forgiveness because of his sin. Hermit is confused so the Mariner first retells him his story. Since then, the Mariner says that as he travels anywhere he is compelled himself to tell his tale, that he will suffer if he doesn’t share his story. He finishes his tale with the lesson that prayer is the greatest pleasure in life. Then he moves to find the next person who must hear his story, leaving the Wedding Guest as “a sadder and a wiser man.”