Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The friendship between Wordsworth and Coleridge mutually stimulating effect on the two poets. Together they assembled an anthology of their works, Lyrical Ballads which was one of the major landmarks in the history of English literature.
His literary reputation is based on the composition of a terrific poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which has a dream-like quality and a highly evocative language.
The rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner tells the story of a Mariner who is punished for killing an albatross. His shipmates are also punished because they justified his crime. They die from thirst. He manages to return to his country but he has to travel endlessly to tell people about his experience and teach them to love and respect all the creatures of God.
In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner the elements of nature could have a symbolic meaning are: the sun is a symbol of a divine justice; the calm symbolizes the desolation of a sinful soul; the rotting sea reflects the mariner’s soul troubled by guilty; the moonlight announces the refreshing coolness of forgiveness.
The stanza is basically a 4-line stanza but there are also stanzas with 5 or more lines. The typical abab rhyme scheme of the ballad is present but not very regular. A typical feature of the content is the supernatural theme. Untypical are the length of the story and of the descriptions of the landscapes.
There are two main interpretations: the first is religious (the killing of the albatross is a sin against God; the Mariner’s sufferings are a form of purgatorial fire and his return to his country represents salvation); the second is aesthetic (the Mariner is seen as the artist who breaks the limits of convention in his search for beauty and self-knowledge, passes through a terrible time of trial and is eventually saved by the power of imagination).