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Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" tells the story of a sailor who offended the powers of nature. In a dream, he comes to understand the nature of his sin, and he shares his insights with a stranger, a man on his way to a wedding. This poem was written at the end of the 18th century, at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Coleridge's story encourages a respect for all forms of life, and describes all sorts of horrors he had to face because he killed an albatross that had apparently aided him and his shipmates for no apparent reason. The wedding guest cannot pull himself away, and so hears all the terrible things that happened to Coleridge, how all his shipmates died, were re-animated in supernatural ways, and how the mariner's perception of the world around him changed as he came to understand the gravity of what he had done. As the wedding guest listens, he is sometimes moved and sometimes scared, but he cannot tear himself away, and so hears the story from beginning to end. The story represents how a state of sin interferes with a person's relationship with God: until the mariner can truly appreciate the sanctity of all life by recognizing the beauty in creatures he had previously loathed (sea snakes), he cannot pray, and the dead albatross remains around his neck. Once he has this insight, he can pray again, and the albatross drops off. The poem is didactic. The wedding guest says he is sadder but wiser, but does not tell us what lesson he has learned. Presumably, he has learned that all beings in God's world are connected and to not treat the life of any creature casually....

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Rime of the Ancient Mariner. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:14, July 07, 2015, from