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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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In this poem an old sailor tells a story to a wedding guest. The story tells us about a voyage and how the sailor shoots the Albatross, the crew die and he gets back to his homeland. The title ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ creates a lot more mystery rather than ‘The Story of the Old Sailor’.

Part one

In section one the ancient mariner stops just one of three people. This makes us ponder on why he just stopped one of three people. Also by talking in present tense it makes you feel as if you are actually in the poem. The contrast of an old man and a young man is quite strange as normally they would not have even talked. The Mariner is hypnotic because it says ‘he holds him with his skinny hand’. It then goes on to say ‘The wedding guest stood still, and listens like a three years’ child: the Mariner hath his will’. The sailors were scared of the storm as it seemed alive. The Mariner says ‘he was tyrannous and strong’.

The wind blew them south into the cold and icy South Pole. He relates the ice to be ‘as green as emerald’. By repeating things it gives a good effect as when he says ‘the ice was here, the ice was there, the ice was all around’. Coleridge also uses onomato-poeia when he uses words like cracked, growled, roared, howled and swound. They had found an Albatross and got lucky with it as ice cracked and they were able to get free from the ice. The Mariner killed the bird that made the breeze to blow.

Part two

The sailors soon change their tone when they say ’twas right, such birds to slay, that bring the fog and mist’. Coleridge repeats things again as he says ‘down dropt the breeze the sails dropt down’. You can get the feeling of how empty and quiet it was when it says ‘and we did speak only to break the silence of the sea!’. He uses good descriptions of the sky when he mentions ‘the bloody Sun, at noon,’. Another good description is when it says ‘as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.’. It is quite ironic how it says ‘water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink’. To make sure that the Mariner knew that this was his fault the sailors hung the Albatross around his neck.

Part three

At the start of part three ‘a weary time! a weary time!’ is repeated stating that they have been there for some time. They see a boat and describe how it was coming nearer. The Mariner used words like a little speck, a mist and a shape. To emphasize how dry their throats were it says ‘with throats unslaked, with black lips baked,’. The Mariner even had to suck his own blood to be able to speak. When they see who is coming on the boat there is a contrast between the way that Life-in-death is described. This is because it says ‘her lips were red, her looks were free, her locks were yellow as gold: her skin was as white as leprosy’.

Part four

The Mariner emphasizes his loneliness by saying ‘alone, alone, all, all, alone, alone on a wide wide see!’. He mentions ‘and I blessed them unaware’ twice to emphasize it. The quote ‘the many men, so beautiful! And they all dead did lie’ this is quite odd how now that they are dead they become beautiful. This could be interpreted to them seeming graceful because they are so peaceful and helpless. It adds to the atmosphere when one of the listeners says ‘I fear thee, ancient Mariner!

I fear thy skinny hand!’ the listeners is basically saying that he thinks that the mariner is dead. There is a good use of description when he goes on to say ‘And thou art long, and lank, and brown, As is the ribbed sea-sand’.

There is a great emphasis on ‘And a thousand thousand slimy things’. The mariner is becoming quite disheartened when everything he looks at is seen as rotting, such as ‘I looked upon the rotting sea’ and ‘I looked upon the rotting deck’. The lines ‘For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky Lay like a load on my weary eye, And the dead were at my feet’ this almost portrays him to be the devil because of everything being on top of him and the dead at his feet.

Towards the end of part four the mariner becomes relieved of his sins and as a sign the albatross fell from his neck and ‘sank like lead into the sea’ this is a way of describing how fast his sins were disappearing.

Part five

‘Fly, brother, fly! More high, more high’ this is emphasized by repetition. This includes swiftly, swiftly and sweetly, sweetly. There is a good description when he says ‘the harbour-bay was clear as glass’.

When the Mariner awoke the men were working to describe them working he said how they went ‘to and fro, and in and out’. This helps to describe the continuity of it. There are many riming words in this poem that are close together like dank and drank, loud and cloud, crag and jag and edge and sedge.

The lines ‘I dreamt that they were filled with dew; And when I awoke, it rained’ show that his dreams are coming true and that there is hope for him. He becomes blessed when the crew comes alive by the help of spirits and this is known because the mariner says ‘But a troop of spirits blest’

Part six

The riming words in part six are hand and land, sight and light, cheer and appear, boy and joy, fast and blast, good and wood etc. There is at one point a short poem and it reads ‘Like one that on a lonesome road doth walk in fear and dread, and having once turned round walks on, and turns no more his head; because he knows, a frightful fiend doth close behind him tread’. This is a small story within the poem. There is a simile on the line ‘Like a meadow-gale of spring’. ‘is this indeed the light-house top I see? Is this the hill? Is this the kirk? Is this mine own countree!’ here he is asking many questions because he is excited and wants to be sure that it is his home.

Part seven

There is repetition in this when he says ‘the boat spun round and round’. The mariner then just gets out of the boat when ‘the ship went down like lead’. This shows how worn and fragile the ship was after the long journey. There is also repetition in the line ‘O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!’. There is a simile that links the mariner to night and it says ‘I pass, like night, from land to land’. He tells them that ‘I have strange power of speech’ this is how he can get people to listen to his story. After the long and terrible journey that the mariner has been on ‘I moved my lips–the Pilot shrieked’ this is a way of getting people to understand just how bad his journey has been.


The rime of the ancient mariner has shown to be mysterious by the ways in which I have talked about. These are things like repetition to really get the point across. Also used are similes to project an image into the readers head. There is use of personification to make things like the moon and sun have emotions.

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