'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s (1772-1834) experimental, supernatural poem was originally published in Lyrical Ballads (1798), a collaborative venture with William Wordsworth. The mariner describes his ship becoming trapped in ice at the South Pole. After escaping, the sailors credit their salvation to an albatross; however the mariner shoots the bird with a crossbow, and misfortunes follow. He is blamed by his shipmates, who hang the carcass round his neck. Gradually the penitent mariner becomes more appreciative of the natural world, and this redeems him. Nevertheless, he continues to share his harrowing story. Critics have considered allegorical meanings, but the poem defies reduction to a single interpretation. 

Creator:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Published:
1798
Forms:
Poem
Genre:
Romantic literature
Literary period:
Romantic

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An introduction to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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Theme:
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Dr Seamus Perry describes the origins of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and considers how Coleridge uses the poem to explore ideas of sin, suffering and salvation.

The Romantics

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Dr Stephanie Forward explains the key ideas and influences of Romanticism, and considers their place in the work of writers including Wordsworth, Blake, P B Shelley and Keats.

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