Samuel Taylor Coleridge
A Different Traveler
Like many of his contemporaries, Samuel Coleridge was interested in travel and travel books he read about exotic strangers in faraway places. As a young man he even joined a group planning a utopian settlement in the United States. The scheme was abandoned, staying in England living in the countryside where he attracted friends including the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy to join him. One of the most brilliant scholars and thinkers of his day One of his best known poems, The Rime of the ancient mariner is describing a strange and ter- ifying voyage to the edge of the earth. Like some earlier travel adventures it is a fantastical work, but toward a different end. Such as Gulliver Travels and Robinson Crusoe. There are no message about political satire or courageous survival here, but rather one of sin and repentance. Gulliver and Crusoe face strange inhabitants, physacal adversity, and there is culture shock, Coleridge's "hero" faces life in death he sees ghostes.
Gulliver and Crusoe begin their adventures as victims of shiprecks. The Ancient Mariner has caused the events that beset him. By committing an immoral act. When he kill an albatross that was following their ship he triggers a series of frightening events. The only survivor of a frightful voyage with a crew of ghostally sailors on a spectral sea. The intents old man now travels from land to land; compelled to "teach" his tale to those who catch his eye the tail he teaches is enveloped in a mysti- cal romantic story. but like the otherwise-carefree wedding guest, those who listen well and heed his tail their lives will be forever changed.