Coleridge, Samuel Taylor - The Rime of Ancient Mariner
“The Rime of Ancient Mariner” is a ballad because it is full of repetitions, it contains a sort of refrain and it tells a dramatic and story in verse; it is written in archaic language and it is a mixture of dialogue and narration, in fact Coleridge used an language connected to the old ballads, rich in allitterations, repetitions and onomatopoeias.
In this poem an old, lonely Mariner stops a wedding-guest to tell him his dreadful tale, the tale is about a sea voyage that is very mysterious and that presents supernatural characteristics.
The author creates a mysterious and dreamy atmosphere with a combination of supernatural and common place.
The Mariner narrates that he and the other mariners of his ship reached the Equator and than the Polar regions after a violent storm; after the storm, when by then the mariners had lost the hope to come back home, an albatross appeared though the fog and it was killed by the Mariner.
This event is very mysterious because we don’t know why he killed the bird, because this action is against nature and life and because the albatross is a supernatural symbol, it is a pious bird of good omen.
The albatross is linked with the cross, so its killing resemble the killing of Christ.
The crew punishes the Mariner by hanging the dead albatross around his neck; he has another punishment too: he must tell his tale to the people he meets. For the ancient Mariner’s behaves, the ship is stopped and the sailors are tortured by thirst: everything is motionless except the slimy creatures in the sea.
In these circumstances the Mariner’s guilty soul becomes conscious of what he has done and of the dreadful situation on the ship: the death wins the crew and the “death in life” wins the Mariner, who now is cut off not merely from human intercourse but also from nature.
But he would like to re-establish a relationship with natural world, so he blesses the water-snacks, that are signs of his redemption, because they are God’s creatures. He begins the process of revival of his soul, his redemption through punishment; but it seems that he continues to have a sense of guilt. At the end of the narration the Mariner gains the wedding-guest sympathy.
Unlike Wordsworth, the poet did not view nature as a moral guide or a source of consolation and happiness; his contemplation of nature was always accompanied by awareness of the presence of the ideal in the real, because for Coleridge natural images have abstract meaning, material word is nothing but it is the projection of the real word of Ideas on the flux of time.