The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
This is the most important work of Coleridge because it mainly contributed to the Romantic movement, with its supernatural atmospheres of mystery and demonism.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a symbolic and spiritual ballad, divided in 7 parts. There are two levels of narration (immagine in allegato)
The MarinerIn the first part the Mariner is described: he has ‘glittering eye’, long grey beard, skinny hands. He casted a spell on the Wedding Guest who was frightened of him because his appearance. In fact he seemed a sort of ghost with supernatural qualities (similar to the poet in Kubla Khan).
The ship and the AlbatrossThe ship was driven to the south pole by a storm, a strong wind. The sailors couldn’t move because of the ice surrounding the ship, but an Albatross appeared and saved them. The Albatross was welcomed to the sailors and it with his apparition the ship reached the north again. The Mariner killed the Albatross: it will produce negative evidences.
Then a sort of punishment happened: the ship stopped (‘stock ship’) and the wind dropped, slimy creatures appeared in the water and the sailors suffered of thirst because there was no water (drought), death-fires in the sea, the water burnt and seemed to be witch’s oils.
The crewThe crew accused the Mariner and hung the dead Albatross round his neck.
Death a hooded character similar to a spirit/skeleton/ghost wearing a long black clothe… death and life are custing(??) dice to win mariner’s crew
The Mariner can’t pray, can’t cry (tearswater: life, purification…).
The slimy creatures were not welcomed from the Mariner at the beginning but then he blessed the sea-snakes and appreciated them. The moonlight high lined sea-snakes’ beauty. Then the Albatross fell down his neck, in the sea (symbol).
The spirit of the crew rose and hunted him.
The messageThe message is to love and respect all God’s creatures, ever.
After the story the Wedding Guest became wiser and sadder because he became more conscious of experience, also of negative things in life. The Wedding Guest changed from a state of innocence (similar to a child: ‘the most unsophisticated, uncontaminated natural man’ Blake) to a state of experience (adult).
The nature is described in both realistic and symbolic terms. It is realistic because there are lots of details: the storm, the ship moved… and it can make you see the scene like a portrait. The punishment, the reaction of nature to the killing of the Albatross is the symbolic term in which the nature is described.