‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ is Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s best-known poem it is also Coleridge’s longest poem. It was written over the course of a year from 1797 to 1798 and published immediately after in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. The poem, along with others, is often cited when speaking about the beginnings of Romanticism in England. Throughout the poem, Coleridge uses literary techniques like personification and repetition while also shifting the mood between peace, fear, and feelings of doom.
Explore The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Part VII
The final section of the poem starts out with a description of the Hermit who he hopes will absolve him of his sins. He has a sweet voice. The Mariner’s ship starts to sink but he’s saved by the small boat. But, the bad luck seems to follow him and the small boat is sucked into the whirlpool created by the sinking of the Mariner’s ship. When he speaks, everyone reacts crazily, thinking that the man is dead. Finally, back on land, the Mariner begs for forgiveness from the Hermit. he also speaks of how his pain returns if he doesn’t tell his tale every so often. The Mariner reminds the Wedding Guest at the end that prayer is much sweeter than any wedding feast.
Coleridge engages with themes of sins/forgiveness and nature in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ The nature imagery in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ is impossible to avoid, especially in part V of the poem in which the supernatural and nature come together. Throughout the poem, the poet uses nature as the controlling force in the Mariner’s life, and those of his fellow men. At various points, it appears that nature is on their side, except, of course, after the Mariner makes the mistake of kill the albatross. It’s then that their little bit of luck runs out and they face many stanzas of hardship. The Mariner spends the rest of the poem paying for the one, great sin of killing the bird.
Structure and Form
The text is in short ballad stanzas that are usually four or six lines long. But, some reach as many as nine lines in length. The meter is only sometimes structured. The odd lines are usually in tetrameter while the even lines are in trimeter, features of ballad stanzas. The rhyme scheme is usually either ABAB or ABABAB but there are some alterations, for example, some stanzas rhyme ABCCB or ABAAB.
‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ is a lyrical ballad i.e. a poem written in the form and style of a folk ballad which is usually written by an anonymous person. The ballad is a narrative song-poem, usually relating a single, dramatic incident or story, in a form suitable for singing or rhythmical chanting.
Folk ballads often have sudden dramatic beginnings, are written in the form of a dialogue usually between the narrator and the listeners as well as between characters. The language is simple but there is plenty of repetition and use of archaic words. There is a sudden change of action besides music and rhythm. The poem contains all these characteristics. Hence, it is a ballad although not a folk-ballad.
Coleridge makes use of several literary devices in this part of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ as well as in all the other sections. These include but are not limited to personification, alliteration, repetition, and imagery. The latter is one of the most important techniques a poet can use in their work. Without it, readers might leave the poem interested or unmoved by what they read. For example, “Brown skeletons of leaves that lag / My forest-brook along.”
Alliteration is a type of repetition that’s concerned with the use and reuse of the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “morrow morn,” the last two words of the poem. Repetition also occurs more broadly in the poem with Coleridge’s use and reuse of refrains, images, and words that begin and end lines (examples of anaphora and epistrophe).
Personification is another technique readers can find throughout ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ Coleridge personifies the water, death, and the albatross at various moments in the poem.
Part 7: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Analysis
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.
In this seventh and last part of the poem, The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, the mariner says that the good hermit lived in the wood that stands on the slope of the Hill and slants down to the sea. He used to sing him hymns, in his sweet voice very loudly. He also loved to talk to the mariners that came from a distant land.
Describing Hermit’s daily routine and belongings, the mariner says that he (hermit) knelt in prayer thrice – in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. He had a thick cushion, which was a rotten old oak-stump covered all over with moss.
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?’
Just then the mariner sees that a small light boat came closer. And he heard the men in the boat saying that it was strange that they did not see in the ship the host of the fair lights that had beckoned onto them just a few minutes ago. By lights, they meant the host of the angels that had seemed to them like lights.
‘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
The hermit also said that it was really strange not to find those lights on the ship. Besides, the crew did not respond to their shouts of welcome. He added that the boards of the ship looked shrunken, and the sails were thin and dried up.
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.
He further said that he had never seen anything so dry and twisted as were those sails except the brown, dried, skeletal leaves that obstructed the movement of the brook in his forest, when in every summer the bush of ivy was laden with snow, and the owlet hooted at the wolf which, beneath the tree, ate his own young ones, in the absence of the she-wolf.
Thereupon the Pilot called upon God to save them, and exclaimed that the ship really had a devilish appearance, and so he was afraid to go ahead towards the ship. But the hermit encouraged him to row the boat on fearlessly.
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.
The boat soon came closer to the ship. But the mariner neither spoke to them nor made any bodily movement. Just as the boat came close to the ship, a loud sound was heard straightaway.
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.
The loud sound moved on with a heavy, rolling, noise, under the water. It also went on getting louder and louder, and more dreadful every movement. Just as it reached the ship, the water of the bay got split into two parts, and the ship sank between them, like a piece of 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.
Dazed by the loud and dreadful sound that had hit the sky and the Ocean hard, he lost his consciousness. When he came to himself, that is; when he regained his consciousness, he found himself floating on the surface of the bay waters, like one who had been drowned seven days ago. Then in moments, as swift as in a dream, he found himself in 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.
Then upon the whirlpool where the ship had sunk, the boat spun round and round for a while. Gradually everything became quiet in the bay except that the cloud sound was still being echoed by the hills.
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.
When the mariner opened his lips to speak, the pilot screamed in fear, lost consciousness, and fell down in the boat. The holy hermit sitting on his place also raised his eyes towards the sky, and made a prayer to God to save the pilot.
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.’
Since the pilot lay unconscious, the mariner took the oars to propel the boat. The pilot’s boy went crazy to see him rowing the boat. He burst into a loud and long laughter. He also rolled his eyes this way and that for a while. Then he exclaimed that he could then see very plainly that the Devil knew how to row a boat.
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.
Having arrived at the shore the mariner now stood on the firm ground of his own country. The hermit had also got out of the boat. But his feet were shaky so that he could scarcely stand him.
‘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?’
Then addressing him as “holy man”, the mariner requested him to listen to his confession, and absolve him from the consequences of his spiritual sin. Thereupon the hermit crossed his forehead, and then told the mariner to say quickly what kind of man he was.
Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
With a woful agony,
Which forced me to begin my tale;
And then it left me free.
The mariner says that instantly his body was twisted with a sorrowful, great, pain of mind and body. It also forced him to begin his tale of sin. But once he had finished it, his mind got free from its burden.
Since then, at an uncertain hour,
That agony returns:
And till my ghastly tale is told,
This heart within me burns.
Here again we meet the Wedding-Guest. Addressing him, the Ancient Mariner tells him that ever since that day the remorseful agony has returned to his mind every now and then at an indefinite hour. When the fit of agony is on him, his heart burns with remorse till he tells someone his deplorable tale of killing the albatross.
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.
Now he travels from one land to another as regularly as night comes on and goes away. He has also acquired the power of telling his tale in a striking manner. Further, watching the face of a man he comes to know the right man, he must tell his tale. And to him, he relates his story of sin.
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!
The Ancient Mariner then points to the bridegroom’s door and says that a loud noise of music and talking issues from the house. The merry and gay Wedding-Guests are there feasting, singing and dancing. But in the garden, the bride and bride maids are heard singing together. Just then the bell of evening prayer is also heard. The Ancient Mariner tells the Wedding-Guest to listen to the little evening-prayer-bell. He adds that the bell calls him to come to church to say his evening prayer.
O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
Alone on a wide wide sea:
So lonely ’twas, that God himself
Scarce seemèd there to be.
In this extract, the Ancient Mariner further tells him that he had been all alone on the vast ocean. The region was so lonesome that God Himself did not seem to be present there.
O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
‘Tis sweeter far to me,
To walk together to the kirk
With a goodly company!—
The Ancient Mariner adds that, to him, going to church in the company of excellent companions is more pleasant than taking part in a marriage feast. It is sweeter far to him!
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!
It is indeed delightful to him to walk to church together with devout companions, and to take part in the mass prayer in which old men and women, and children, loving friends and foes, smart young men and gay maidens –all kneel together in prayer to God, great Father.
Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
The Ancient Mariner, in these lines, then bids a hearty farewell to the Wedding-Guest, and also gives him a piece of advice. He tells the latter to remember that he who loves abundantly, all human beings, birds or animals, pray God rightly.
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 repeats that he who loves great and small creatures most sincerely prays to God most earnestly. For the dear God loves all of us. Having made all the creatures, he loves all equally.
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.
Thereafter the Ancient Mariner whose eyes sparkled with strange brightness and whose beards were grey with old age went away. Then the Wedding-Guest also turned back to go home, without attending the Wedding-feast in the bridegroom’s house.
He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.
This is the last extract of the Part VII of the poem, Rime of The Ancient Mariner”, wherein the poet tells us that on the way, he (the wedding-guest) walked like one who had been stupefied (by a great or news), and was therefore deprived of his practical wisdom. And when he woke up next morning, he was a graver and more pious man.
That is; the wedding-guest went home, like a man who had been greatly shocked and was therefore out of his senses. But when he woke up next morning, he was a more earnest and wiser man than before. Now, the passage implies that the moral of the tale cast a great elevating effect upon his soul and mind.
The word “morrow morn” means next morning, while the meaning of “And is of sense fortorn” means that the Wedding-Guest has been forsaken by his power of judging; or, and was out of his senses.
Readers who enjoyed the seventh part of this poem should also read some of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s other best-known poems. For example, ‘The Eeolian Harp,’ ‘Work Without Hope,’ and ‘Love.’ The latter is a fairly simple love poem in which the speaker recounts his attempts ot woo the woman he loves. In ‘Work Without Hope,’ the speakerdescribes the way Nature works as well as the importance of dreams. ‘The Eeolian Harp’ is a 64-line poem in which the poet uses the harp and imagery related to music to describe his relationship with someone he loves and God.