Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Poem Analysis

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'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'

'The Rime of The Ancient Mariner' was written in 1798 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Published as part of Lyrical Ballads, a collection of Coleridge and William Wordsworth's poetry that sparked the beginning of the Romantic Literature in Britain.

The poem begins at the outside of a wedding, which seems a strange place to use as a setting for the following events. The Mariner talks to the Wedding-Guest, both of them strangers to one another, this could indicate that the Mariner is such a lonely person that he has no choice but to turn to strangers for conversation, much like elderly people do today. As weddings are symbolic of joy, love and unity, this would differ from the solitariness and isolation of the Mariner.

“By thy long grey beard and glittering eye”, the third line of the poem, gives the first real visual description of the Mariner. The Mariner's eye is described as “glittering”, this gives a feeling that the Mariner's character has some supernatural, or magical dimensions, this contrasts to the other description of his appearance; “long grey beard”. The 'glittering eye' is mentioned four times, and the 'grey beard' twice by repeating both of these descriptions, both of their visual impacts are emphasised, contrasting the two images much more strongly so they seem more significant to his character and the narrative of the poem.

Repetition of phrases, and even lines is used throughout the poem. Line nine, at the start of the third stanza says “He holds him with his skinny hand,” the wedding guest then shakes off the Mariner, calling him a “grey-beard loon”. Later on, at the start of the next stanza, line thirteen says “He holds him with his glittering eye”, to begin with this sounds like same line repeated but rather than physically trying to grasp the Wedding-Guest he keeps him there using the mysteriousness of his character. As the latter attempt is more successful, it demonstrates that the Mariner's old and...
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