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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Weather: The Good, The Bad, The Icy, The Dry

Symbol Analysis

In pretty much any poem or novel about life at sea, you can expect quite a lot of attention to be devoted to the weather. But who could have expected a huge fog near Antarctica, a massive drought that turns the ocean into a swamp, or a lightning show that gets dead people moving again? Here's the general trajectory: the Mariner's ship gets driven down south by a bad storm, then the albatross guides them through fog and ice, then they suffer a truly horrifying, windless drought, the Mariner sees a massive and supernatural night-time storm, and he finally gets carried by invisible forces back to the bay.

  • Part I.Stanzas 11-12: The storm that drives the ship south is compared metaphorically to some kind of winged predator on the hunt. The ship is like the animal at ground level that runs in the "shadow" of the predator to escape it.
  • I.15: The ice near Antarctica makes loud cracking noises that sound "like noises in a swound," that is, like the sounds a fainting person might hear. The word "like" makes clear that this is a simile.
  • II.25: This stanza, describing the good weather (which lasts all of one stanza) enjoyed by the crew, features the alliterative repetition of the "f" sound, as in "furrow follow free."
  • II.28: When the wind dies and the ship can't move, the scene is compared using simile to a motionless painting.
  • II.29: The ship's shrunken wood boards become central image of the terrible dryness that the killing of the albatross produces.
  • II.33: The crew becomes so thirsty that it's as if their mouths were full of dry "soot," or ashes, which is a simile.
  • V.72-74: Images of a strange meteorological event accompany the rising of the sailor's bodies from death. A single cloud appears in the distance, lightning falls down perfect line, a wind that can be heard but not felt makes a ruckus.
  • VI.105: Coleridge really likes similes. Here he compares the mysterious wind that blows on him alone to a spring breeze blowing through a meadow.

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