Notes on Coleridge's Poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

We begin by reviewing the plot of the poem since it tells a story (narrative).  We end with the apparent moral of the poem - lines 614-17 (see the footnote 6).

As readers we should be able to articulate this moral and find examples in the structure of the poem and in its actions/ideas that support the moral.  

Our plot summary--and our analysis of the poem's moral--raises other questions, which we need to think about and discuss.

1. What is the relationship between the marginal glosses and the main text?  Do they contradict each other at times?  Why?

2. Consider the Latin epigraph--pg 443-44, footnote 2.  What is the role of the supernatural in this poem?

3. Can the poem be read as a Christian allegory, e.g., Christian story of sin, suffering, and redemption?
(For example:  pattern of the Mariner's journey, shape of the cross-bow.

4.  Reconcilable opposities in the poem?  Or are these left in conflict?

5.  Consider these details that seem at odds with the morals?  Can they be explained?

An observation about morals:  Morals convey the linear relationship or pattern of causes and effects. Also, the assumption in this pattern is that the outcome of an action can be known ahead of time. This is why morals are often viewed as good for teaching, especially children.  Consider these ideas as you read the final footnote (p. 446) and the questions/ideas above.

This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison

Compare lines 59-67 to lines 119-134 of "Tintern Abbey." The poem reveals the speaker's imaginative journey he describes while left behind by his friends on their literal journey. This bower, which he initially views as a prison, reveals the presence of nature (43-47 and 59-67). The speaker is not alone.

Frost at Midnight

This poem should remind you of "Tintern Abbey"; in fact it was written shortly before Wordsworth's poem. (See the end of both poems for dates.)

Key ideas: opening--speaker in solitude--mind. Also, childhood and memory, e.g., lines 23-43. Key passage: 44-64: Speaker addresses his infant son--city and nature (compare to speaker's childhood (51-2); lines 60-4--God and nature (not the same thing)

Poem's main metaphor--Frost (icicles--receive and reflect light--memory works like this: child and adult speaker)