Friday, April 18, 2008

Introduction: "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

1) Coleridge, Samuel, T. " The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel T. Coleridge Illustrated by Gustav Ublmann. Yellow Springs: Kahoe & Spieth,1927

2) This is a very long and complex poem published by Coleridge in 1817. The poem begins with the "mariner" stopping a man on the way to his relatives wedding and compelling him to listen to his tale. The "mariner's" tale is of a sea voyage around uncharted waters. At one point the ship is guided safely by a Albatross. The "mariner", for no apparent reason kills the Albatross. His crew members force him to wear the Albatross around his neck and one by one they die. Ultimately the "Mariner" is the only survivor and he is compelled to carry on and tell all he can about his ordeal.

3) I have found this poem interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, growing up I had often heard my father say something like, "we all have our own Albatross". I never knew what he meant. Now I see it is much like saying, " "we all have our own cross to bear". To the mariner the Albatross is symbolic as his cross. I recently read a historical account of "The Essex", ( the ship of "Moby Dick"), after the wreck of "The Essex" the crew drifted aimlessly at sea and eventually resulted in cannibalism of their fellow crew members. The voyage of the "Mariner" is very similar to that of the "Essex". The Essex was a whaling ship out of Nantucket and had travelled to unknown territory around Cape Horn around the same time period. I got a feeling that maybe the Mariner's "Albatross" was a symbolic representation of this same scenario. I can think of no heavier cross to bear than eating a person.

4) I can't think of a poem that we have studied in this class that correlates with this poem. However, I would suggest reading the book " The Loss of The Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale: First Person Accounts". I think if you do you too will make some correlations.

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