Coleridge’s ” Ancient Mariner”: A brief overview [Archives:2004/720/Education]

March 15 2004

By Dr. Bashar Ghazi Askar
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An ancient mariner detains one of the three wedding guests he meets, and tells him his story. The ship is driven to the South Pole by a storm, his ship is surrounded by ice. Through the snow and fog appears suddenly an albatross that is received with joy. The mariner kills the albatross for no specific reason and this deed brings a curse, which falls onto the ship. The ship is driven to the north toward the equator and is calmed completely. The crew who had at first condoned the shooting, now they turn on the mariner viciously. However, all except the mariner die.
The curse is finally lifted when upon seeing the beauty of the God's sea creatures, the mariner blesses them. Thus the dead albatross falls off the mariner's neck. The mariner returns home but continues to pay penance. He has to tell his story to someone and in this way he teaches love and understanding for all God's creatures. There is a moral overtone suggesting human understanding and love of all creatures of the universe.
The poem is of great philosophical and psychological depth. Part of its charm lies in its suggestive imagery, its rhythm and its smooth flow words, its mystery.
If we survey the content of ” The Ancient Mariner” , its amazing comprehensiveness will strike us no less than its imaginative power. Coleridge touches with equal power and beauty every phase of life at sea. Coleridge gives us glimpses from time to time of the wedding feast to which the mariner had been invited.
The whole poem is wrought with the color and glamour of the Middle Ages. The voyage with its story of the albatross is the essence created out of such stuff as dreams are made on. The mariner himself gathers up into his person the elements of romance, mystery and haunting. His glittering eye, his skinny hand, his arresting voice and the spiritual misery drive him into speech to ease his tortured soul.