The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Part VI Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
- The two voices continue their dialogue, and Coleridge helps us figure out who is talking by adding stage directions: "First Voice" and "Second Voice."
- The first voice is curious and the second voice is knowledgeable.
- The first voice asks how the ocean has made the ship move, and the second voice replies that the ocean is just following orders from the moon, personified as a woman. The moon is happy with the Mariner, but she wasn't before.
- The first voice isn't satisfied and wants to know how the ship is moving so fast. The second voice explains that the air is creating a vacuum in front of the ship and then pushing it forward from the behind. Physics students, we'll leave this one to you.
- The second voice urges the ship to move faster. They have a lot of ground to cover before the Mariner wakes up.
- The Mariner awakes from his trance and finds all the dead sailors still hanging around on the ship's deck. He thinks that a slaughterhouse would be a more appropriate place to see a sight like that.
- But the sailors' curse has been lifted, and the ocean returns to its normal color. The Mariner tries not to look back on the past horrors he has seen. He's still pretty frightened that they will catch up with him again.
- He feels a pleasant wind on his body, but the wind seems to be located only around him and not the ocean outside the ship.
- The strange wind is localized just around the boat, but it means that the Mariner can sail again, even as the boat is still being pushed from beneath.
- The Mariner ends up back at the port he left from so, so long ago. He sees the lighthouse, hill, and church come back into view.
- It's a beautiful sight, and naturally, the Mariner is overjoyed.
- The moonlight shines across the bay, but another set of lights soon appears. He sees shapes in "crimson" or red colors. These turn out to be angels ("seraphs"). All the dead men who came back to life to sail the ship go back to being dead, and the angels are standing beside their bodies.
- These must be the angels that took over the sailors' bodies. They wave at the Mariner as if to say, "Our work is done. We're gonna peace out."
- They don't speak to the Mariner, but he feels delighted anyway.
- The Mariner hears a boat coming toward the ship. A "pilot" or oarsman and his young crewmate are coming to rescue him.
- There's another man on the boat, too: the nice old "hermit." A hermit is someone, often very religious, who lives his or her life in solitude. This particular hermit lives in the forest.
- The Mariner looks forward to the hermit clearing away his sins by asking him questions, by "shrieving" his soul, like a confession.
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