The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Seven Parts


It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
"By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?
"The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din."
He holds him with his skinny hand,
"There was a ship," quoth he.
"Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.
He holds him with his glittering eye—
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years child:
The Mariner hath his will.
The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot chuse but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.
The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the light-house top.
The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.
Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon—
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.
The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.
The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot chuse but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.
And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o'ertaking wings,
And chased south along.
With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.
And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.
And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—
The ice was all between.
The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!
At length did cross an Albatross:
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.
It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!
And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariners' hollo!
In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.
"God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—
Why look'st thou so?"—With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.


The Sun now rose upon the right:
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.
And the good south wind still blew behind
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariners' hollo!
And I had done an hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay
That made the breeze to blow!
Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,
The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free:
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
'Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!
All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.
About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue and white.
And some in dreams assured were
Of the spirit that plagued us so:
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.
And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.
Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.


There passed a weary time.  Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.
At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist:
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.
A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.
With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could not laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!
With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.
See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!
The western wave was all a-flame
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.
And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven's Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered,
With broad and burning face.
Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
Like restless gossameres!
Are those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a DEATH? and are there two?
Is DEATH that woman's mate?
Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.
The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
"The game is done!  I've won!  I've won!"
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.
The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea.
Off shot the spectre-bark.
We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clombe above the eastern bar
The horned Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.
One after one, by the star-dogged Moon
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.
Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.
The souls did from their bodies fly,—
They fled to bliss or woe!
And every soul, it passed me by,
Like the whizz of my CROSS-BOW!


"I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand.
"I fear thee and thy glittering eye,
And thy skinny hand, so brown."—
Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!
This body dropt not down.
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.
The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.
I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.
I looked to Heaven, and tried to pray:
But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came, and made
my heart as dry as dust.
I closed my lids, and kept them close,
And the balls like pulses beat;
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
Lay like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.
The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
Nor rot nor reek did they:
The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed away.
An orphan's curse would drag to Hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! more horrible than that
Is a curse in a dead man's eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.
The moving Moon went up the sky,
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside.
Her beams bemocked the sultry main,
But where the ship's huge shadow lay,
The charmed water burnt alway
A still and awful red.
Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.
Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.
O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.
The self same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.


Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,
That slid into my soul.
The silly buckets on the deck,
That had so long remained,
I dreamt that they were filled with dew;
And when I awoke, it rained.
My lips were wet, my throat was cold,
My garments all were dank;
Sure I had drunken in my dreams,
And still my body drank.
I moved, and could not feel my limbs:
I was so light—almost
I thought that I had died in sleep,
And was a blessed ghost.
And soon I heard a roaring wind:
It did not come anear;
But with its sound it shook the sails,
That were so thin and sere.
The upper air burst into life!
And a hundred fire-flags sheen,
To and fro they were hurried about!
And to and fro, and in and out,
The wan stars danced between.
And the coming wind did roar more loud,
And the sails did sigh like sedge;
And the rain poured down from one black cloud;
The Moon was at its edge.
The thick black cloud was cleft, and still
The Moon was at its side:
Like waters shot from some high crag,
The lightning fell with never a jag,
A river steep and wide.
The loud wind never reached the ship,
Yet now the ship moved on!
Beneath the lightning and the Moon
The dead men gave a groan.
They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose,
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.
The helmsman steered, the ship moved on;
Yet never a breeze up blew;
The mariners all 'gan work the ropes,
Where they were wont to do:
They raised their limbs like lifeless tools—
We were a ghastly crew.
The body of my brother's son,
Stood by me, knee to knee:
The body and I pulled at one rope,
But he said nought to me.
"I fear thee, ancient Mariner!"
Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest!
'Twas not those souls that fled in pain,
Which to their corses came again,
But a troop of spirits blest:
For when it dawned—they dropped their arms,
And clustered round the mast;
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,
And from their bodies passed.
Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
Then darted to the Sun;
Slowly the sounds came back again,
Now mixed, now one by one.
Sometimes a-dropping from the sky
I heard the sky-lark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seemed to fill the sea and air
With their sweet jargoning!
And now 'twas like all instruments,
Now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel's song,
That makes the Heavens be mute.
It ceased; yet still the sails made on
A pleasant noise till noon,
A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June,
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.
Till noon we quietly sailed on,
Yet never a breeze did breathe:
Slowly and smoothly went the ship,
Moved onward from beneath.
Under the keel nine fathom deep,
From the land of mist and snow,
The spirit slid: and it was he
That made the ship to go.
The sails at noon left off their tune,
And the ship stood still also.
The Sun, right up above the mast,
Had fixed her to the ocean:
But in a minute she 'gan stir,
With a short uneasy motion—
Backwards and forwards half her length
With a short uneasy motion.
Then like a pawing horse let go,
She made a sudden bound:
It flung the blood into my head,
And I fell down in a swound.
How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare;
But ere my living life returned,
I heard and in my soul discerned
Two VOICES in the air.
"Is it he?" quoth one, "Is this the man?
By him who died on cross,
With his cruel bow he laid full low,
The harmless Albatross.
"The spirit who bideth by himself
In the land of mist and snow,
He loved the bird that loved the man
Who shot him with his bow."
The other was a softer voice,
As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he, "The man hath penance done,
And penance more will do."


But tell me, tell me! speak again,
Thy soft response renewing—
What makes that ship drive on so fast?
What is the OCEAN doing?
Still as a slave before his lord,
The OCEAN hath no blast;
His great bright eye most silently
Up to the Moon is cast—
If he may know which way to go;
For she guides him smooth or grim
See, brother, see! how graciously
She looketh down on him.
But why drives on that ship so fast,
Without or wave or wind?
The air is cut away before,
And closes from behind.
Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high
Or we shall be belated:
For slow and slow that ship will go,
When the Mariner's trance is abated.
I woke, and we were sailing on
As in a gentle weather:
'Twas night, calm night, the Moon was high;
The dead men stood together.
All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
All fixed on me their stony eyes,
That in the Moon did glitter.
The pang, the curse, with which they died,
Had never passed away:
I could not draw my eyes from theirs,
Nor turn them up to pray.
And now this spell was snapt: once more
I viewed the ocean green.
And looked far forth, yet little saw
Of what had else been seen—
Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.
But soon there breathed a wind on me,
Nor sound nor motion made:
Its path was not upon the sea,
In ripple or in shade.
It raised my hair, it fanned my cheek
Like a meadow-gale of spring—
It mingled strangely with my fears,
Yet it felt like a welcoming.
Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
Yet she sailed softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze—
On me alone it blew.
Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed
The light-house top I see?
Is this the hill? is this the kirk?
Is this mine own countree!
We drifted o'er the harbour-bar,
And I with sobs did pray—
O let me be awake, my God!
Or let me sleep alway.
The harbour-bay was clear as glass,
So smoothly it was strewn!
And on the bay the moonlight lay,
And the shadow of the moon.
The rock shone bright, the kirk no less,
That stands above the rock:
The moonlight steeped in silentness
The steady weathercock.
And the bay was white with silent light,
Till rising from the same,
Full many shapes, that shadows were,
In crimson colours came.
A little distance from the prow
Those crimson shadows were:
I turned my eyes upon the deck—
Oh, Christ! what saw I there!
Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat,
And, by the holy rood!
A man all light, a seraph-man,
On every corse there stood.
This seraph band, each waved his hand:
It was a heavenly sight!
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light:
This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
No voice did they impart—
No voice; but oh! the silence sank
Like music on my heart.
But soon I heard the dash of oars;
I heard the Pilot's cheer;
My head was turned perforce away,
And I saw a boat appear.
The Pilot, and the Pilot's boy,
I heard them coming fast:
Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy
The dead men could not blast.
I saw a third—I heard his voice:
It is the Hermit good!
He singeth loud his godly hymns
That he makes in the wood.
He'll shrieve my soul, he'll wash away
The Albatross's blood.


This Hermit good lives in that wood
Which slopes down to the sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears!
He loves to talk with marineres
That come from a far countree.
He kneels at morn and noon and eve—
He hath a cushion plump:
It is the moss that wholly hides
The rotted old oak-stump.
The skiff-boat neared: I heard them talk,
"Why this is strange, I trow!
Where are those lights so many and fair,
That signal made but now?"
"Strange, by my faith!" the Hermit said—
"And they answered not our cheer!
The planks looked warped! and see those sails,
How thin they are and sere!
I never saw aught like to them,
Unless perchance it were
"Brown skeletons of leaves that lag
My forest-brook along;
When the ivy-tod is heavy with snow,
And the owlet whoops to the wolf below,
That eats the she-wolf's young."
"Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look—
(The Pilot made reply)
I am a-feared"—"Push on, push on!"
Said the Hermit cheerily.
The boat came closer to the ship,
But I nor spake nor stirred;
The boat came close beneath the ship,
And straight a sound was heard.
Under the water it rumbled on,
Still louder and more dread:
It reached the ship, it split the bay;
The ship went down like lead.
Stunned by that loud and dreadful sound,
Which sky and ocean smote,
Like one that hath been seven days drowned
My body lay afloat;
But swift as dreams, myself I found
Within the Pilot's boat.
Upon the whirl, where sank the ship,
The boat spun round and round;
And all was still, save that the hill
Was telling of the sound.
I moved my lips—the Pilot shrieked
And fell down in a fit;
The holy Hermit raised his eyes,
And prayed where he did sit.
I took the oars: the Pilot's boy,
Who now doth crazy go,
Laughed loud and long, and all the while
His eyes went to and fro.
"Ha! ha!" quoth he, "full plain I see,
The Devil knows how to row."
And now, all in my own countree,
I stood on the firm land!
The Hermit stepped forth from the boat,
And scarcely he could stand.
"O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!"
The Hermit crossed his brow.
"Say quick," quoth he, "I bid thee say—
What manner of man art thou?"
Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
With a woeful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.
Since then, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns;
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.
I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.
What loud uproar bursts from that door!
The wedding-guests are there:
But in the garden-bower the bride
And bride-maids singing are:
And hark the little vesper bell,
Which biddeth me to prayer!
O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
Alone on a wide wide sea:
So lonely 'twas, that God himself
Scarce seemed there to be.
O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
'Tis sweeter far to me,
To walk together to the kirk
With a goodly company!—
To walk together to the kirk,
And all together pray,
While each to his great Father bends,
Old men, and babes, and loving friends,
And youths and maidens gay!
Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all.
The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.
He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.


  1. The Mariner has been so traumatized by his journey that often his “agony returns” at unpredictable times. This isn’t unlike the experience of other victims of traumas like violence or warfare, who often reexperience traumatic memories throughout their lifetimes.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  2. As soon as the ship falls apart and sinks to the bottom of the bay, the Mariner is pulled under and almost drowns in the process “like one that hath been seven days drowned.” This is a reference to the previous seven-day curse when he was adrift alone at sea. But by the end, the Hermit and Pilot rescue him rather quickly, as “swift as dreams.”

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  3. The Hermit uses an extended autumnal metaphor to describe the ship’s dilapidated state. He draws on images of “brown skeletons of leaves” and “ivy-tod [or group of ivy leaves] heavy with snow” to describe what he’s seeing.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  4. “Trow” is an archaic form of “think” or “believe.” In this case, the Pilot and Hermit are surprised by how quickly the boat came to shore in such a broken-down state.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  5. This is an example of polysyndeton, a device in which the writer or speaker repeats conjunctions such as “and” or “but” in quick succession, usually to elongate a phrase or emphasize the words between each conjunction. Here the Mariner emphasizes just how often the Hermit “kneels” to pray.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  6. In Arthurian legends and other British myths, hermits are often associated with monastic orders that separate themselves from the rest of society for religious reasons. In this case, the Hermit stands in for God on the Mariner’s behalf to “shrieve,” or free, his soul from sin or guilt. This action continues the theme of religious guilt and atonement present throughout most of the poem.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  7. Once the reanimated bodies of the crewmates fall back dead on the deck of the ship, a “seraph-man,” stands where “every corse,” or corpse, once stood. According to the Bible, a “seraph” is the singular form for “seraphim,” an order of six-winged angels depicted in Isaiah 6:2-3 as flying about the throne of God and singing his praises. The image is so surprising that the Mariner references the “holy rood,” or cross, in his exclamation in line 489.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  8. Often poets will describe an object or event by instilling it with a quality that is incongruent or contradictory to its very nature. In this case, the aural adjective “silent” describes the “light” in the bay, an image than can only be seen.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  9. In a miraculously short amount of time, the Mariner returns to his homeland, presumably in the British Isles. He sees a familiar hill and “kirk”—a Scottish or northern English word for a church.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  10. These mirroring, rhyming phrases of “swiftly, swiftly flew” and “sweetly, sweetly blew” also contain two paradoxes. The ship flies “swiftly” but also “softly,” which is difficult for any vessel to do when travelling across an entire ocean. Furthermore, the wind blows on the Mariner but on nothing else around him, underscoring the sheer impossibility of this event.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  11. As the dead crew remains standing, they appear ready for a “charnel-dungeon,” a place to store dead bodies. Once again, the word “glitter” is used to describe their “stony eyes,” though the established phrase “glittering eye” is separated in a slight variation of this pattern. Poets often establish their own patterns or rules earlier in their poems before intentionally changing or breaking them later on.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  12. Because this ship is speeding northward, faster than any mortal person can physically handle, the spirits place the Mariner in a trance until they reach their final destination to avoid being “belated” (or made late) by the Mariner’s gaining consciousness. Eventually, once his trance “is abated” (or subsides), the Mariner discovers that he will be spared.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  13. Here two invisible, unembodied spirits begin a dialogue that will extend into the next section, in which they will discuss the Mariner’s fate. It’s significant that Coleridge set the ship’s travels in the southern seas near Antarctica, a relatively unexplored region of the globe at the time. Romantic poets such as Coleridge would frequently write about mysterious, awe-inspiring places to explore the Sublime.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  14. “Fathom” is a nautical term used to measure the depth of water. One fathom is six feet. The spirit diving beneath the ship (a “keel” is the structure forming the bottom of a boat) and helping it move across the ocean’s surface is fifty-four feet deep.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  15. The Mariner uses images of nature, such as “a noise like a hidden brook” and “the sleeping woods all night,” to describe the unearthly sounds and compare them to the angelic choirs of the previous stanza. Even though this pastoral imagery may seem out of place in an oceanic setting, it evokes a peaceful mood as the Mariner makes his escape.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  16. The Mariner’s dead crewmates are animated and rise up from where they lay, returning to work the ship. They remain silent except for their groans. According to some additional commentary on the poem provided by Coleridge in the 1817 edition of the poem, the Mariner must later reassure the Wedding-Guest that this isn’t a result of demonic possession but instead the work of more angelic, benevolent spirits helping to finally move the ship.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  17. Sedges are a family of wetland plants that resembles rushes or grasses. Coleridge—like his friend and Lyrical Ballads co-author, William Wordsworth—is among the famous “nature poets” of the late 18th- and early 19th-century England. Many of the descriptions in this section rely on natural imagery that Coleridge and Wordsworth were known for.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  18. Wind billows the “thin and sere”—or withered—sails. The Mariner beholds “a hundred fire-flags” across the sky, possibly referring to either lightning or the Southern Lights, the Antarctic analogue to the famous Northern Lights.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  19. When he recognizes and blesses the beauty of the sea creatures, the Mariner notices the vibrancy of their colors—“blue,” “green,” and gold—made possible by the light of the moon. These vibrant colors associated with life stand in sharp contrast to the colors often associated with Death, such as black and white.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  20. As a part of the curse, the Mariner’s dead shipmates neither “rot nor reek,” being perfectly preserved. The accusing look they gave the Mariner in their dying moments remains on their faces. He describes this in further detail in line 260 whenever he beholds “the curse in a dead man’s eye.”

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  21. This is an example of an antimetabole, or a reversal of word order within a repeated phrase, in this case to switch the order of “sea” and “sky.”

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  22. At first, the Mariner sees everything around him through the lens of death and decay. Other than his shipmates’ corpses, he applies this same framing to the living creatures of the sea, like fish and algae, alongside the dead, namely the corpses of his shipmates. Here he may be implicitly comparing himself to these “slimy things” as though he were no better than they are because of his cursed state and prolonged isolation. He also displays a sense of regret that these “thousand slimy things” live on while his crew remains dead.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  23. Aside from repetition, placing these keywords “alone” and “all” together creates a series of assonance and consonance (the repetition of similar vowel and consonant sounds, respectively, usually intended for musical effect) with the repetition of “al”. This is similar to the long i sounds in “wide wide” to describe the sea, used to instill a mood of intense melancholy as the Mariner laments that he is cursed to remain adrift at sea.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  24. Here we return to the original device used to frame the poem: the Wedding-Guest who is listening to the Mariner’s tale. He reacts in horror and believes that the Mariner had also died, fearing that the man talking to him is actually a ghost. Similar to the start of the first section of the poem, the Wedding-Guest continues to feel mesmerized by the Mariner’s “glittering eye.”

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  25. The internal rhyme of “thump” and “lump” helps evoke the Mariner’s shipmates physically collapsing as they die. Each of their souls then fly to their fated destinations of heaven or hell like shots from a crossbow, in reference to the Mariner’s needless killing of the Albatross earlier in the poem. Once again, the Mariner indicates that he brought this misfortune upon his crew.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  26. Here the two supernatural characters associated with fate or Death roll some dice for the souls of the other ship’s crew in a game of chance.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  27. The Mariner likely knows that sailing a vessel requires a crew of experienced sailors. Thus, he finds it puzzling that only two people appear on board: a woman and “a Death.” This could be an allusion to the characters of Sin and Death that Lucifer encounters during his initial journey out of hell in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In that poem, Sin is portrayed as a woman and Death is a shadowy, mysterious figure.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  28. The noun “gossameres” in this simile refers to a film of spiderwebs that hang from trees or float in the air, extending the speaker’s association of the approaching ship with death and decay.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  29. The setting sun’s rays reveal that this ship is partly hollow, almost as though the sun were peering “through a dungeon-grate” or prison bars. The Mariner’s diction here is deliberate, evoking a sense of terror that causes him to pray to the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother, for help.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  30. Before the invention of the steam engine, ships crossing entire oceans in the late 18th-century had to harness the winds by using large sails; a lack of wind and waves can strand a ship in the middle of the ocean. The ancient Mariner’s crew find themselves in such a situation. When the other vessel approaches without the aid of a “breeze” or “tide,” the Mariner reacts with surprise.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  31. The first line of each of these two stanzas repeat themselves word for word, but the second stanza later inverts and contrasts the content of the first. More specifically, they both begin by highlighting that the sailors are dying of thirst, and the ancient Mariner must bite into his arm and drink his own blood to parch his thirst enough to speak. But in the second, to contrast the ghastly image of drinking one’s own blood, the other sailors drink in breaths of air as they experience a newfound sense of hope.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  32. The object that the Mariner sees in the distance—later revealed to be a ghostly ship—seems to defy description either because of his hallucinations or the object’s ephemeral nature. He’s unsure whether it is “a speck” on the horizon, “a mist” hovering over the sea, or “a shape” of some sort. The Mariner repeats and condenses these descriptions into a single line as he begins to “wist,” or know, that this might be another vessel coming to their aid.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  33. These lines repeat keywords like “weary,” “glazed,” “time,” and “eye” to emphasize how long the sailors have been lost at sea. They also reference the beginning of the poem, when the Wedding-Guest feels hypnotized by the ancient Mariner’s “glittering eye” in lines 3 and 13). This key image reappears here during the low-point of the Mariner’s journey.

    — Owl Eyes Editors
  34. What does the Albatross's falling from the Mariner's neck symbolize?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  35. What literary device is this line an example of?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  36. How does Coleridge first introduce an aspect of the supernatural in the poem?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  37. Coleridge uses a literary device called situational irony in this stanza. The irony is that the ship is surrounded by water, but the sailors cannot drink the saltwater. Coleridge's use of irony here helps to emphasize just how dire the situation is for the sailors.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  38. The sailors ultimately blame the Mariner for their bad luck. As punishment, they make him wear the bird around his neck as a reminder of his crime. It is also a symbol of the burden of sin, and Coleridge is deliberately drawing a comparison between the Albatross and the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  39. This famous passage also created an expression in the English language---to have an albatross around one’s neck---which means that something you have done or are connected to is causing you problems or stopping you from being successful.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  40. Coleridge's moral of the story relates to having a relationship with God. To have a positive relationship with God, this stanza suggests that it is necessary to realize that God made and loves everything in the world, not just humans.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  41. Coleridge uses two literary devices in this stanza to emphasize the length of time that the ship was without wind. First, the repetition of "day after day" gives the impression of a lot of time passing by. Second, the simile in the last two lines where the ship is compared to a painting also reinforces the idea that the ship is static and can't actually move at all.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  42. Coleridge's words emphasize that the blessing was not done consciously for the purpose of achieving forgiveness. When the Mariner blesses the snakes "unawares", he is indicating that the Mariner blesses the snakes "in his heart."

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  43. Coleridge utilizes many different literary devices throughout the poem, such as this line where he uses internal rhyme. Coleridge employs this device, among others, to heighten the poem's effects by adding to the meanings of words and enhancing the cadence of the poem.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  44. Coleridge has the Wedding-Guest again briefly interrupt the story to help us better understand the Mariner. Since the Mariner only states that he shot the bird without describing the scene, the Wedding-Guest’s strong reaction to the expression on the Mariner’s face helps show us how deeply the Mariner regrets this action and foreshadows the consequences the Mariner later faces for killing the Albatross.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  45. Coleridge indicates something supernatural early in this poem by presenting the readers with an ancient and skinny Mariner who appears to be able to compel the Wedding-Guest to listen to him with nothing more than his stare. That the Mariner has supernatural qualities foreshadows the likewise otherworldly elements of his story, signaling that they will be a strong thematic element throughout.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  46. In this stanza and the previous, Coleridge uses parallelism, repeating the same grammatical forms and structures, to contrast the superstitious and fickle nature of the sailors. The similar structures of these two sets of four lines help to highlight this contrast. First, they blame him for bringing bad luck on them, and then they quickly change their minds and praise him for killing the bird, thinking it had brought bad weather. By doing this, they make themselves accomplices in the Mariner’s crime, which has serious consequences later on.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  47. These last several stanzas mark a pivotal point in the Mariner’s story. Earlier, he despised the water-snakes as “slimy creatures,” but he now sees how truly beautiful they are, describing them in rich colors that have connotations of warmth, light, and hope. We can see how this passage marks a change in his attitude towards living creatures when he blesses the snakes and suddenly manages to pray. In a symbolic moment, the Albatross, a reminder of his sin and guilt, falls from his neck into the ocean.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  48. By comparing the seabird to a Christian soul and describing how the bird helps get the ship to safety in the next stanza, Coleridge creates an allusion to the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark, in which a dove leads the ark to safety. Allusions occur when the author indirectly refers to a different story and leaves it up to the reader to make the connection.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  49. Coleridge's use of these four verbs in succession are examples of onomatopoeia, which refers to words formed from sounds that they are associated with. Note how Coleridge uses this device to create an intense, almost living, scene in the desolate ice fields.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  50. Coleridge uses personification throughout this poem. By attributing human qualities to non-human elements, Coleridge gives them active roles in the story that help convey a variety of stronger impressions (supernatural, dangerous, serene) depending on the mood in different parts of the poem.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  51. Coleridge uses a lot of words that start with the letter f in this stanza for expressive purposes. Repeating letters at the start of words is called alliteration. Try reading this passage out loud. All of those f-sounds imitate the sound of a blowing wind.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  52. The rain in this section illustrates a key component in the rebirth, or change, of the Mariner. In literature, rain has many symbolic meanings, such as cleansing and renewal. Since the Mariner was finally able to sleep and awoke in the rain, Coleridge is showing us how the curse on the Mariner is breaking.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  53. The Mariner describes the complete isolation of the ship in the Antarctic, and how the sailors don’t recognize anything in the area. This section, and others like it later in the poem, describes and celebrates the majesty and power of nature, a defining characteristic of Romanticism and one of the themes Coleridge explores throughout this poem.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  54. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor