The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
How we cite our quotes:
And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken –
The ice was all between. (I.14)
The ship is driven down to the Arctic, and the poem suggests that this still might be early enough in the Age of Exploration that these are uncharted waters. There aren't even penguins! Actually, Coleridge had never been to the Arctic, he could only read the few accounts that were available describing it. He just knew there was a lot of ice and no people.
Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down,
'Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea! (II.26)
When the sailors lose the wind that would carry them home, there's nothing they can do but wait it out. Speaking will only make them more depressed. This isn't just unusual weather: they are being punished for killing the albatross.
I closed my lids, and kept them close,
Till the balls like pulses beat;
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
Lay like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet. (IV.58)
When the sailors are killed by Death, the Mariner remains in the state of Life-in-Death. The world is so large around him, but it all feels like dead weight pushing down on his eyes. He is incredibly lonely, and the lingering curse on the eyes of the crew makes him want to just shut out the world.