Ancient Mariner Part VII Carry over questions…. • Why is the Hermit on the Pilot’s boat? • Why a Hermit & not a priest? • Can he absolve (shrieve) the Mariner’s sin & alleviate his burden? First Stanza (514-518) This Hermit good lives in that wood Which slopes down to the sea. How loudly his sweet voice he rears! He loves to talk with marineres That come from a far countree. • Irregular Stanza (5 lines) • Internal & End Rhyme • Subtle Consonance of the ‘s’ sound • Imagery: distinctly favorable. Wholesome & pure. • Apparently, this Hermit likes to greet ships. Though, it is an odd hour to do so. Has he suspected something odd about this vessel? • “lives in that wood” suggests that he is an ascetic or a mystic. He lives in the natural world, not the institutional church. Stanza 2 & 3 (519-526) He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve— He hath a cushion plump: It is the moss that wholly hides The rotted old oak-stump. • • • • The skiff-boat neared: I heard them talk, 'Why, this is strange, I trow! Where are those lights so many and fair, That signal made but now?' • • • Conventional 4 line stanzas Polysyndeton: conjunctions in first line. Metonymy: Holiness & devotion of the Hermit are established. “Kneels” suggests prayer. “Moss” on the “stump” is his cushion. Suggests his simplicity & his connection with the natural world. May also take a shot at the pomp & decadence of the conventional church. “Trow” = I suppose Hermit observes that the escorting angels are no longer present. “strange” may actually constitute understatement. Stanza 4 'Strange, by my faith!' the Hermit said— 'And they answered not our cheer! The planks looked warped! and see those sails, How thin they are and sere! I never saw aught like to them, Unless perchance it were • • • • Irregular stanza Repetition of “strange” “cheer” may allude back to the cheer from the ship’s launch, albeit ironically. Continued subtle “s’ consonance. • • • One can be certain the Hermit has seen a few odd sights in his life. This one is a source of “wonder” to him, as per the gloss. The condition of the ship is ghastly & gothic. A description of the boat emerges through the Hermit’s observation. Clearly, this is not a functional boat. Stanza 5 Brown skeletons of leaves that lag My forest-brook along; When the ivy-tod is heavy with snow, And the owlet whoops to the wolf below, That eats the she-wolf's young.' • Continuation of the Hermit’s description: enjambment • Irregular stanza • Consonance of “l” sound • Alliteration of ‘w’ sound. • “Ivy-tod” = Ivy bush • Imagery is that of the natural world. • The decay of the ship’s sails is likened to the death of foliage in the fall. • A predatory scene from the natural order of things is depicted: an owl preying on a wolf’s young. Suggests that something has preyed upon the ship. But is it natural? Stanzas 6, 7, 8 'Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look— (The Pilot made reply) I am a-feared'—'Push on, push on!' Said the Hermit cheerily. • • • The boat came closer to the ship, But I nor spake nor stirred; The boat came close beneath the ship, And straight a sound was heard. Under the water it rumbled on, Still louder and more dread: It reached the ship, it split the bay; The ship went down like lead. Regular stanzas. Pilot speaks. Evokes the name of God at the sight of the “fiendish” ship. For him to be frightened (“afeared”) is significant. Juxtaposition: the Hermit’s enthusiasm contrasts the Pilot’s fear & trepidation. • • • Anaphora present in 1st and 3rd line. Mariner remains silent. WHY? Sound once again a key sensory element in the poem. • Who or what is responsible for the sound? • “dread” evokes the tone associated with the sound, in case there is any doubt that it is fearsome. A simple but definitive & alliterative simile. The boat sinks “like lead.” • Stanza 9 & 10 Stunned by that loud and dreadful sound, Which sky and ocean smote, Like one that hath been seven days drowned My body lay afloat; But swift as dreams, myself I found Within the Pilot's boat. Upon the whirl, where sank the ship, The boat spun round and round; And all was still, save that the hill Was telling of the sound. • • • • • • • • Irregular stanza: emphasizes the extremity of the scene Repetition: “dreadful” is reinforced The simile is ironic, as the Mariner is very much alive (life in death). He is not permitted to die, in spite of the danger of the conditions. Ambiguity surrounds the transition of the Mariner into the boat. How did he get there? Simile: “swift as dreams” suggests there is a surreal quality to these events. Alliteration: “w” and “s” sounds The action of the boat sinking is sudden, dramatic, and quick. An echo off of the “hill” confirms that the sound occurred, but what follows is silence & “still(ness).” Images related to the Pilot’s boat & the sinking of the ship Stanzas 11 & 12 I moved my lips—the Pilot shrieked And fell down in a fit; The holy Hermit raised his eyes, And prayed where he did sit. I took the oars: the Pilot's boy, Who now doth crazy go, Laughed loud and long, and all the while His eyes went to and fro. 'Ha! ha!' quoth he, 'full plain I see, The Devil knows how to row.' • • • • • • • They cannot believe he is alive. The Hermit’s behavior is dramatic counterpoint to the Pilot’s. Yet, both the shrieking and the praying dramatize the scene’s terror. Their respective reactions inform the reader as to how distorted the appearance of the Mariner is, taking the place of direct description. Irregular stanza Out of necessity, the Mariner takes control of the boat. The behavior of the Pilot’s boy is even more dramatic than the reaction of the Pilot & the Hermit. Again, the Mariner’s appearance is rendered terrifying without any direct description. The association of the Mariner with the “Devil” suggests both his physical & moral condition. Stanzas 13 & 14 And now, all in my own countree, I stood on the firm land! The Hermit stepped forth from the boat, And scarcely he could stand. • The Mariner seems gleeful about his return to “firm” land, understandably. His glee is contrasted by the Hermit’s instability. • 'O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!' The Hermit crossed his brow. 'Say quick,' quoth he, 'I bid thee say— What manner of man art thou?' • The Mariner’s plea to be “shrieve(d)” evokes his desperate hope that what happened at sea can be righted on land. The Hermit’s reaction (“crossing his brow”) suggests he made the sign of the cross. He might do this to protect himself from the Mariner, whom he views as evil. The Hermit is not certain that what he sees is a man. Before he can offer absolution, he must confirm that he is not some other order of spirit or reanimated body. • Was the Mariner shrieved? Stanzas 15, 16, 17 Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched With a woful agony, Which forced me to begin my tale; And then it left me free. • • • • Since then, at an uncertain hour, That agony returns: And till my ghastly tale is told, This heart within me burns. I pass, like night, from land to land; I have strange power of speech; That moment that his face I see, I know the man that must hear me: To him my tale I teach. Transition Point Alliteration: strong presence in the stanza. This represents the first (presumably of many times) that the Mariner is required to tell his tale by what whatever agent continues to punish him. The supernatural power of this force is indisputable based upon the description. • • Repetition: “agony” The “uncertain(ty)” of the “agony(‘s)” return no doubt contributes to the punishment. • Simile: Why “like night” rather than “like day”? His life is a shadowy & tortured one. Repetition: the word “strange” has been used many times in this section. The Mariner speaks of the recognition process by which he identifies his listeners. There is no explanation of why. Allusion: The Wandering Jew motif emerges in this stanza. Diction: The use of the word “teach” is conspicuous. • • • • Stanzas 18, 19 What loud uproar bursts from that door! The wedding-guests are there: But in the garden-bower the bride And bride-maids singing are: And hark the little vesper bell, Which biddeth me to prayer! O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been Alone on a wide wide sea: So lonely 'twas, that God himself Scarce seemed there to be. • • • Irregular stanza Alliteration: the “b” sound The Mariner draws attention to the wedding feast. In doing so, he intends to contrast the joy of the celebration with his on-going penance. “biddeth me to prayer” may suggest the Mariner is required to pray. Or is it of his own free will? • • Alliteration/consonance: “s” sound The use of “O Wedding-Guest!” may be suggestive of apostrophe. However, his particular part of the poem would be better characterized as dramatic monologue. (see next slide) “God” is evoked. The reader is left to wonder what role He has played in the Mariner’s fate. • A dramatic monologue is a piece of spoken verse that offers great insight into the feelings of the speaker. Not to be confused with a soliloquy in a play (in which the character speaking speaks to him or herself), dramatic monologues suggest an auditor or auditors. They were favored by many poets in the Victorian period, in which a character in fiction or in history delivers a speech explaining his or her feelings, actions, or motives. The monologue is usually directed toward a silent audience, with the speaker's words influenced by a critical situation. M. H. Abrams notes the following three features of the dramatic monologue: 1. A single person, who is patently not the poet, utters the speech that makes up the whole of the poem, in a specific situation at a critical moment. 2. This person addresses and interacts with one or more other people; but we know of the auditors' presence, and what they say and do, only from clues in the discourse of the single speaker. 3. The main principle controlling the poet's choice and formulation of what the lyric speaker says is to reveal to the reader, in a way that enhances its interest, the speaker's temperament and character. Apostrophe (Greek ἀποστροφή, apostrophé, "turning away"; the final e being sounded) is an exclamatory rhetorical figure of speech, when a speaker or writer breaks off and directs speech to an imaginary person or abstract quality or idea. In dramatic works and poetry written in or translated into English, such a figure of speech is often introduced by the exclamation "O". It is related to personification, although in apostrophe, objects or abstractions are implied to have certain human qualities (such as understanding) by the very fact that the speaker is addressing them as he would a person in his presence. Apostrophe is often used to convey extreme emotion, as in Claudius's impassioned speech in Hamlet. Stanzas 20 & 21 O sweeter than the marriagefeast, 'Tis sweeter far to me, To walk together to the kirk With a goodly company!— To walk together to the kirk, And all together pray, While each to his great Father bends, Old men, and babes, and loving friends And youths and maidens gay! • • • • • • • Tone: the poem takes on a decidedly preachier & didactic quality as the Mariner builds to his moral. Some scholars think this stanza points to Coleridge’s own marital troubles, which are well-documented. Regardless, it seems reasonable that a lonely old man, deeply penitent for his sins, would find a quiet church service preferable to a party (marriage feast). The Mariner may also be bitter that part of his penance precludes him from marriage & a conventional life. “Kirk” = church Irregular stanza: 5 lines Repetition: lines 603 & 605 (ABCCB) Christian fellowship is promoted actively in this stanza. The Mariner sounds like a spiritual man. Perhaps he was shrieved? Stanzas 22 & 23 • Farewell, farewell! but this I tell To thee, thou Wedding-Guest! He prayeth well, who loveth well Both man and bird and beast. • • • Gloss: And to teach, by his own example, love & reverence to all things that God made & • loveth. He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all. • • • • The Mariner begins his closing statement & departure sequence. Tone: the Mariner’s proselytizing reaches it height. It would seem to constitute a clear & direct moral. All life is sacred. Direct address punctuates that the advice is for the Wedding-Guest to internalize. The gloss suggests that the Mariner ‘teach(es)”, a word that came up earlier in the section. Ambiguity: Can “teaching” be authentic when it occurs under compulsion & duress? Wouldn’t it be more powerful & compelling if the Mariner did it of his own volition & free will? Is the Mariner’s on-going fate consistent with the idea of a God who “loveth all”? Parallel Structure: lines 612 & 614 Repetition: “loveth” 4x underscores the moral Stanzas 24 & 25 • The Mariner, whose eye is bright, Whose beard with age is hoar, Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest Turned from the bridegroom's door. He went like one that hath been stunned, And is of sense forlorn: A sadder and a wiser man, He rose the morrow morn. • • • • • The “eye” remains the Mariner’s most distinguishing characteristic right to his departure. Although, it is now simply “bright” rather than “glittering”. The impact of the story on the guest is clear. He is no longer interested in the wedding feast…buzz kill. “He” refers to the guest, not the Mariner. Tone: the words “stunned”, “forlorn”, “sadder”, & “wiser” are central the closing of the poem. “forlorn” = deprived “sadder” = soberer • Pure Poetry or Didacticism??? Lingering issues & questions… “The absence of moral or intellectual core in the poem suggests that the more comprehending parts of our minds should go to sleep while we read.” – • “Mrs. Barbauld told me that the only faults she found with the Ancient Mariner were – that it was improbable and had no moral. As for the probability – to be sure that might admit some question – but I told her that in my judgment the poem had too much moral, and that too openly obtruded on the reader.“ – • Critic I.A. Richards promotes an aesthetic or pure poetry reading in his 1950 evaluation. We can assume that Coleridge is referring to the overtly didactic nature of the poem’s closing in this quote. But does the moral of the Ancient Mariner really add up?? Consider: – – – – – – – What is the Mariner’s crime? Does his punishment fit the crime? Does his punishment EVER end? How can you have a tell of crime & expiation when the sinner is never fully forgiven? Who is the REAL agent(s) of the Mariner’s punishment? Does the punishment of the crew seem apropos? Their souls are evidently not judged based upon the one choice to approve the Mariner’s behavior. How can punishment assigned as result of a game of chance be fair? It seems purely arbitrary. (Death & Life-in-Death) Does the Mariner exhibit sufficient free will? Need he demonstrate free will at all? • Inability to pray • Blessing the water snakes “unaware” • His compulsion to tell his tale – – Does the punishment fit the crime? Only if the bird is a symbol of something greater. What is the Mariner’s crime? An act of pure, willful pride.