The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Part-1

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Part-1

(Samuel Coleridge)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, philosopher and literary critic. He is one of the founders of Romantic movement in  English. He wrote the poems ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and Kubla Khan. He is also the author of the famous prose ‘Biographia Literaria’. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a long poem. Its words have given English Language ‘the metaphor’ of an albatross around one’s neck. Coleridge first published the poem,  his famous ballad, , in Lyrical Ballads, his 1798 joint effort with his close friend and colleague William Wordsworth.

rime of the ancient mariner

Summary of part-1

In the poem’s first line, we meet its protagonist, “an ancient Mariner.” He stops one of three people on their way to a wedding celebration. The leader of the group, wedding guest tries to resist beingstopped by the strange old man with the “long grey beard and glittering eye.” He explains that he is on his way to enjoy the wedding merriment; he is the closest living relative to the groom, and the festivities have already begun. Still, the Ancient Mariner takes his hand and begins his story. The Wedding Guest has no choice but to sit down on a rock to listen.

The Ancient Mariner explains that one clear and bright day, he set out sail on a ship full of happy seamen. They sailed along smoothly until they reached the equator. Suddenly, the sounds of the wedding interrupt the Ancient Mariner’s story. The Wedding Guest beats his chest impatiently as the blushing bride enters the reception hall and music plays. However, he is compelled to continue listening to the Ancient Mariner, who goes on with his tale. As soon as the ship reached the equator, a terrible storm hit and forced the ship southwards.

albatrossThe wind blew with such force that the ship pitched down in the surf as though it were fleeing an enemy. Then the sailors reached a calm patch of sea that was “wondrous cold”, full of snow and glistening green icebergs as tall as the ship’s mast. The sailors were the only living things in this frightening, enclosed world where the ice made terrible groaning sounds that echoed all around. Finally, an Albatross emerged from the mist, and the sailors revered it as a sign of good luck, as though it were a “Christian soul” sent by God to save them. No sooner than the sailors fed the Albatross did the ice break apart, allowing the captain to steer out of the freezing world. The wind picked up again, and continued for nine days. All the while, the Albatross followed the ship, ate the food the sailors gave it, and played with them. At this point, the Wedding Guest notices that the Ancient Mariner looks at once grave and crazed. He exclaims: “God save thee, ancient Mariner! / From the fiends that plague thee thus!- / Why lookst thou so?” The Ancient Mariner responds that he shot the Albatross with his crossbow.


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