Historical Context in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The poem was first published in 1798, in the popular “Lyrical Ballads” and is widely regarded as Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s seminal work. Coleridge was a notable leader of the British Romantic Movement, and characteristics of this movement strongly informed his writing. Romanticism developed in response to the Enlightenment, which prized rationalism and logic, and valued passion, emotion, and imagination. This can be seen explicitly in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which acts, quite simply, as a cautionary tale of distancing one’s self from nature and the which stresses the importance of spirituality and belief.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Seven Parts 1
"And southward aye we fled...."   (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Seven Parts)

So far, this poem has consisted of four-line stanzas, called quatrains, with a rhyme structure of ABCB. Coleridge deliberately breaks this style in this stanza and in several other places later on to demonstrate that he values content and meaning more than form and structure. This is significant because this poem and the larger collection it was published in, Lyrical Ballads, marked a significant transition in writing style away from classical poetic elements to the more modern, Romantic period in British literature.