Read The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (Project Gutenberg, #151) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge Free Online
Book Title: The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (Project Gutenberg, #151)|
The author of the book: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Edition: Project Gutenberg
Date of issue: March 11th 2006
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Format files: PDF
The size of the: 27.47 MB
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So why did the Ancient Mariner shoot the Albatross?
To me the answer is simple. He did it because he could; he did it because is he is a man, and that’s what men do: he saw something beautiful; he saw perfection in nature, and he killed it. That’s humanity for you. Sinning is easily, as quickly as a finger click: it happens just like that. There’s little thought involved. For the Mariner it is spontaneity itself; it’s in his nature to destroy. The shooting of the bird suggests that all sin is the same; it’s so very easy to be evil in the face of opportunity.
“And I had done a 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!”
The bird is suggestive of a Christian soul; the Mariner shoots in regardless. He doesn’t care. Remorse comes later, but can it be called true remorse? It is only born out of regret because of the dire situation he is placed in because of his wanton act. Is this remorse or self-pity? Is he merely regretful because he wishes to be saved? The other sailors hang the bird round his neck, to represent a cross to show that they had no part in the deed. But, they didn’t care before; they had a pack mentality, to kill so mercilessly was a joke; it was fun to be in a position of power. However, when the scales are turned they realise the error of their ways. Is empathy that hard to develop? Do they have to be in a dire situation to understand brutality?
“Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.”
Before the shooting of the bird the world is a wonder. The ice is picturesque; it is sea is green like an emerald and the sun is fantastic. With the Albatross came the wind and the mist. Afterwards the sea becomes silent, the water turns to oil and the sun is bloody and vengeful. Nature recognises the crime; it reacts in turn and attacks humanity in its anger. The supernatural occurs, and the power of Coleridge’s romantic imagination is felt. The wonder of the poem is the many allegories it holds. It can be read in many different each of which is valid.
The one that I hear when I read is the one that suggests of a spiritual salvation. No matter what the symbolic nature of the Mariner’s crime suggests, he is still redeemable. Humanity is still redeemable. Not all is lost. There is still hope for the spontaneous and the thoughtless:
“The selfmoment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.”
It may be self-deceiving, and it may be just to save his own skin. But, I’d like to think the Mariner is genuine. I’d like to think he realises the futility of his actions and comes around. I’d like think his morale transformation is real, and he isn’t just doing it to continue his existence, but who knows. This poem is dense and conflicting, but it’s easily Coleridge’s best work.
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