The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Pride Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariners' hollo!
In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white moon-shine."
"God save thee, ancient mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus! –
Why lookst thou so?" "With my crossbow
I shot the albatross. (I.18-20)
When the Mariner shoots the albatross, the question isn't whether the albatross was bringing the ship good luck, although the poem suggests that it does. The question is: what did the albatross ever do to him? The answer seems to be "nothing," so the Mariner shoots it only because he can. Pride is inherently irrational.
And I had done an 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!
Nor dim nor red, like an angel's 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. (II.23-24)
The sailors misinterpret why killing the albatross is such a bad thing. They only care about their own self-interest, and as soon as the fog goes away, they are no longer angry with the Mariner. Maybe that's why they get whacked by Death later on.
I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;
But or ever a prayer had gushed,
A wicked whisper came, and made
My heart as dry as dust. (IV.57)
The "wicked whisper" sounds like the Mariner's pride, which prevents him from doing something so degrading as to ask for help and forgiveness. In this poem, the setting – here, dryness – often mirrors the spiritual condition of the Mariner.