Literature: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
is probably one of the most-referenced
pieces of Romantic
poetry. Ever heard "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink
"? Yup, it's from here (although in the original text it's ''nor any drop to drink''
). It is a relatively long Narrative Poem
about a disaster-prone ship, enclosed in a Framing Device
where the sailor who cursed it is describing his travels to a guest at a wedding. It's notable for its religious and naturalistic themes and for having a lot in common with Gothic literature. The poem is divided into 7 sections, each dealing with a different part of the Mariner's journey.
References to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Tropes featured include:
- Afterlife Express: A soul ship.
- The Annotated Edition: The poem was reprinted with a "gloss" that explains several things.
- The Atoner: The Mariner, who wanders the world repeating his story to others as penance for his crime of shooting the albatross.
- Audience Surrogate: The Wedding-Guest is this. Essentially a blank slate who reacts to the Mariner's tale in much the same way as the reader.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: It's "nor any drop to drink", not "and not a drop to drink".
- Blondes are Evil: Life-in-Death has "locks [as] yellow as gold"
- Chess with Death: Actually, dice with death: Death and Life-In-Death gamble with dice, and Death wins the crew, while Life-In-Death wins the Mariner, and gives him a Fate Worse than Death.
- Common Meter: Throughout. If you want to make sure you can never take the poem seriously again, try singing it to "Yankee Doodle". Or the theme from Gilligan's Island.
- Dem Bones: DEATH is a skeleton.
- Did You Die?: After the Mariner describes how everyone on his ship died, the Wedding-Guest interrupts the story with "I fear thee, ancient Mariner!" and has to be reassured that the Mariner did not die.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The events of the poem occur because the Mariner kills an albatross. Then again, some critics argue that the albratross is representative of Jesus. Also, nautical folklore holds albratrosses to be good omens (perhaps as they often show land is near) and in killing one it was believed you bring on bad luck and misfortune.
- Of course, the fact that everyone on the ship except the Mariner died because of the Albatross slaying not only makes it disproportionate, but misaimed.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Ancient Mariner and the Wedding-Guest.
- Also the Pilot, his Son, Death, Life-in-Death, and in fact nearly every if not every named character.
- Fate Worse than Death: The Mariner gets one of these after Death loses him to Life-In-Death in a dice game.
- Footnote Fever: In the second edition, which is the one most commonly reprinted, the poem is accompanied by extensive marginal glosses. These are sometimes referred to as "built-in Cliff's Notes".
- Flying Dutchman: The Mariner.
- Framing Device: The Mariner telling his story to Wedding-Guest.
- The Grim Reaper: He fails to collect the Mariner's soul, so it instead goes to Life-In-Death
- Heat Wave: The ship gets stuck in the windless, tropical and hot doldrums. There is a drought along with the heat.
- Hope Spot: "I bit my arm, I sucked the blood, And cried, A sail! a sail!"
- Irony: The "Water, water, everywhere" verse is a famous example of situational irony.
- Narrative Poem
- Nautical Folklore: Borrows elements of this.
- Ocean Madness: The entire poem is a description of this.
- The Penance: The Mariner wears the dead albatross around his neck and is compelled to tell his story in order to atone for killing it.
- Rambling Old Man Monologue: The entire poem apart from the framing device.
- Redemption in the Rain: The day after the Mariner's curse is lifted, a tremendous rainstorm appears, and he stands in it, gulping down the water, so happy he believes he died and is in paradise.
- Rule of Three: "There is an Ancient Mariner, and he stoppeth one of three..."
- Signature Line: "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink."
- Sole Survivor: The Mariner is the only member of his crew to survive.
- Space Whale Aesop: "Be compassionate towards all creatures and don't go around murdering innocent seabirds, or else you'll wind up stranded in the middle of the ocean, all your friends will die, their corpses will torment you, and when you eventually make it to land you'll be forced to constantly wander the world telling your story instead of being able to live a normal life."
- Ungrateful Bastard: The Mariner shoots the Albatross for completely unexplained reasons, despite the fact that the bird actually just lead them out of the glacial maze.