The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Part II

The Rime of the Ancient
Mariner: Part II
Gabby Verzella
Vidya Venkatesh
Molly Andersen
Bill Powell
Contrast to beginning
description of voyage: heading
Negative imagery despite
escape from ice
Parallel drawn between the
Albatross, the wind, and their
general good fortune
Internal rhyme emphasizes the
judgment on the mariner
Break from four-line stanzaic
structure emphasizes this point:
that the crew condemned his
The Sun now rose upon the right
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.
The good south wind still blew behind
But no sweet bird did follow
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariners’ hollo.
For 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.
Gloss: His shipmates cry out against the
ancient Mariner, for killing the bird of good luck
In contrast to “hid in mist,” the
bright sun is a beacon of hope
to the mariners.
Repetition and parallel structure
underlines the shift in mindset
of the sailors.
Break from stanzaic structure
again emphasizes the crew’s
view: now they support the
mariner’s ‘hellish’ action, thus
invoking them in the crime.
Nor dim nor red, like God’s own head,
The glorious sun uprist:
Then all averred I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.
Gloss: But when the fog cleared off, they
justify the same, and thus make themselves
accomplices in the crime.
Alliteration emphasizes the
progress of the ship and the
positive tone.
Internal rhyme underlines
hero/explorer sense to the
Juxtaposition between “burst”
and “silent” marks a distinct
change in situation.
Chiasmus illustrates ubiquity of
the stillness.
Alliteration of unvoiced
consonant highlights the
emptiness of the situation.
Internal rhyme sets up a
rhythmic, monotonous syntax.
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free.
We were the first that ever burst,
Into that silent sea.
Gloss: The fair breeze continues; the ship
enters the Pacific Ocean, and sails
northward, even till it reaches the Line.
Down dropt the breeze; the sails dropped
‘Twas sad as sad could be,
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea.
Gloss: The ship hath been suddenly
Diction shifts from merely
dismal to violent and
Repetition of phrase illustrates
Cacophonic word choice
evokes a complete halt
Hell-like imagery marks the
beginning of the punishment for
the mariner’s crime
Simple syntax throughout and
consistent stanza structure
evokes the relentless,
unchanging nature of the
All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody sun at noon
Right above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the moon.
Day after day, day after day
We stuck, nor breath nor motion
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink.
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
Gloss: And the Albatross begins to be avenged.
Apostrophe invoking God
shows the mariners’
desperation , and that God is no
longer with them after the
‘hellish’ crime.
Paired alliteration and
polysyndeton create a lilting,
dancing rhythm, in accordance
with the mariner’s wild, reeling
Death-fires believed to be light
emanating from decaying
corpses; in actuality caused by
luminescent bacteria that
decomposes dead matter
Vaguely trippy imagery here
may be a result of Coleridge’s
addiction to opium.
A type of plankton gives off
light when agitated; sailors in
Coleridge’s time reported this
phenomenon as resembling
“burning,” once again aiding to
the hell imagery
Gothic imagery throughout
these stanzas
The very deep did rot; Oh, Christ!
That ever this should be!
And slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.
About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night.
The water like a witch’s brew
Burned green and blue and white.
Pinpoints an individual
antagonist, as opposed to
general misfortune or bad
Seems to indicate it is the
Albatross’ spirit, since it
appeared in the land of mist and
The gloss illuminates us as to
the nature of the “spirit” as an
agent of neither man nor God
Cacophonous language evokes
the rasp of a parched throat
And some in dreams assured were
Of the spirit that plagued us so.
Nine fathoms deep he had followed us,
From the land of mist and snow.
Gloss: A Spirit had followed them; one of the
invisible inhabitants of this planet, neither
departed souls nor angels; concerning whom
the learned Jew, Josephus, and the Platonic
Constantinopolitan, Michael Psellus, may be
consulted. They are very numerous, and there
is no climate or element without one or more.
And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.
Exclamation s make the tone
into a lament
Internal rhyme draws striking
parallel between Christ and the
Albatross; the mariner’s sin
echoes Christ’s killers
The guilt and weight of that
action are its own punishment
Ancient instinct of the
unfortunate: to find a scapegoat
when in fact everyone is
Ah! well-a-day! What evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
Gloss: The shipmates, in their sore distress,
would fain throw the whole guilt on the
ancient Mariner: in sign whereof they hang
the dead sea-bird round his neck.
The most important purpose of this section is to introduce the
“punishment” of the mariner. The plot progresses quickly in this section,
passing from good fortune into dreary arrest, which rapidly evolves into
violent oppression. The repeated references to Hell and godlessness
represent passing a point of no return into a realm of endless suffering.
The theme of crime and punishment is very present in this
portion of the poem. The idea that bystanders who support a crime are
equally culpable as the actual perpetrator is laid out in no uncertain terms
by the gloss: “… they justify the same, and thus make themselves
accomplices in the crime.” However, the mariner bears the blame for
everyone, in a strange and ironic parallel to Christ. Unlike Christ,
however, the mariner’s acceptance of this blame was not voluntary, which
is a key difference.
In another sense, the Albatross is a Christ-like figure and the
mariner with his action has directly assaulted one of God’s most beloved
creatures, thus justifying all misfortune that falls on the crew and himself.
Ironically, the judgment that falls upon them is completely merciless and
out of accordance with the idea of a benevolent, forgiving God.
The section as a whole expands on these themes of sin,
punishment, and spiritual parallels which appear throughout the poem. It
also offers a previously unknown perspective on the natural and
supernatural dynamics of the ill-fated voyage.

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