The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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Moon, Sun, and Stars

Symbol Analysis

What is this, an astrology lesson? With the attention he pays to the moon, sun, and stars, you'd think the Mariner had a Tarot card collection. Well, that's actually not too far, considering that these phenomena are invested with supernatural powers, particularly after the Mariner shoots the albatross. Above all, the moon is calling the shots, both in terms of the Mariner's punishment and his eventual penance. Watch out for any images of the moon and its white light.

  • Part I.Stanza 19: The first image of the moon is of the white light shining through the fog down in the Arctic. Sounds beautiful, right? Wait until those sailors see what the moon has in store for them.
  • II.27: When things start to go bad for the crew, the sun's color is compared to blood, and, more ominously, its size is the same as the moon's.
  • III.42: In this simile, the skeleton-like Ghost Ship makes the sun look like a prisoner staring through the bars of a dungeon.
  • III.48-49: When the moon gets horny, you'd better watch out. Get your mind out of the gutter: we're talking about the image of the crescent moon with two "horns" pointing up. One of the horns has a star next to it. This apparently does not bode well for the crew: they all start to die off.
  • IV.61-62: As is frequent in myth, the moon is personified as female. The moonlight is compared in a simile to the late spring frost in the month of April.
  • VI.94: Ah, and all the moon imagery is suddenly explained. A simile explains that the relationship between the ocean and the moon is like that of a slave and master. The moon has been running the show the whole time.
  • VI.100: The image of the moon shining in the dead sailors' eyes cements the moon's power in this poem.