AD's English Literature : Coleridge’s 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' Explaining the Part One

Coleridge’s 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' Explaining the Part One

Coleridge’s  'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' not only a tale of  horror in which a mariner is hounded by disaster and supernatural forces after murdering an albatross. But it is much more than that. Coleridge’s underlying theme is that all things that inhabit the natural world have an inherent value and beauty, and that it is necessary for humanity to recognize and respect these qualities.

The settings in 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' at a wedding party somewhere at British seaport London and  on a long ocean voyage at the South Pole. In the first part of the book we find fairly realistic descriptions of the ship and its crew. Gradually we are transported to the world of uncanny ocean as well as the domain of guilty conscience of the mariner.

Main Points of Part the First:

Lines 1-20: Mariner detains wedding-guest.
21-30: Prosperous start from port.
81-40: Guest hears music, but must stay.
41-62; Ship drawn by storms to South Pole, through ice and awful sounds.
63-78: Albatross for nine days bird of good omen; ship turns north.
79-82:  Mariner kills the bird.

Help in Hand
It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
“By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stoppest thou me?

An ancient Mariner
meeteth three gallants
bidden to a wedding
feast, and detaineth

“The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,(5)
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din.”
He holds him with his skinny hand,
“There was a ship,” quoth he.(10)
“Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!”
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.
He holds him with his glittering eye—
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years child:(15)
The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest is
spell-bound by the eye
of the old seafaring
man, and constrained
to hear his tale.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.
The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,(20)
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the light-house top.

The Mariner tells how
the ship sailed southward

Out of the sea came he!(25)
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.

with a good wind
and fair weather, till it
reached the Line.

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon—
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,(30)
For he heard the loud bassoon.
The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.(35)

The Wedding-
Guest heareth the
bridal music; but the
Mariner continueth his

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.
And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o'ertaking wings,
And chased south along.

The ship drawn by
a storm toward the
South Pole.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow(45)
Still treads the shadow of his foe
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.
And now there came both mist and snow,(50)
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.
And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:(55)
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—
The ice was all between.

The land of ice, and of
fearful sounds, where
no living thing was to
be seen.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,(60)
Like noises in a swound!
At length did cross an Albatross:
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.(65)

Till a great sea-bird,
called the Albatross,
came through the
snow-fog, and was
received with great joy
and hospitality.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!
And a good south wind sprung up behind;(70)
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariners' hollo!

And lo! the Albatross
proveth a bird of good
omen, and followeth
the ship as it returned
northward through fog
and floating ice.

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;(75)
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.
“God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—
Why look'st thou so?”—With my cross-bow(80)
I shot the Albatross.

The ancient
Mariner inhospitably
killeth the pious
bird of good omen

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