Use of the Sun and the Moon in Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Topics: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Moon, Sun Pages: 2 (664 words) Published: March 2, 2005
Both Sun and Moon play significant roles in this old poem, in a symbolic and supernatural way, in order to reinforce the mood that Samuel Taylor Coleridge has attempted to create in his use of old legends and superstitions. The role that the sun and moon play in this tale of cursed sailors is an old one, retold over and over the years that Coleridge adapted for his own.

Although mentioned several times before, the Sun makes its first significant appearance in the seventh stanza of the second part. Before then, one will find both Sun and Moon mentioned many times purely for the reader's enrichment. The repeated mention leads the reader to believe that it will soon become important by foreshadowing without making it of any greater appearance than mentioning it to describe the scenery in the aforementioned place in the poem. Here Coleridge describes the Sun as "The bloody Sun, at noon". This use of capitalizing such a common word as Sun only goes further to tell the reader to keep an eye out for something not quite right there. For those unfamiliar with old sailors' traditions, they may either skip right over this passage, or read too much into it as a sign of impending doom. An old phrase arises from the history books to describe this perfectly that reads, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight, Red sjy at morning, sailor take warning." When one takes a closer look at this, they might see that it describes storm patterns, but when one realises that the Sun is blood-red at noon--during the day--could this not be a bad omen of sorts?

Further along, it mentions the sun "flecked with bars…as if through a dungeon-grate he peered". It eventually turns out that those bars of prison are the shadows of Death's dead and dying ship, but does this not allude to the approaching change in life that the Ancient Mariner suffers? He becomes trapped in life, to wander the earth forever, spreading his story--a prison of freedom, a cell made out of eternal life. A curse disguised as...
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