Critical Summary of Ancient Mariner Part I : "Ancient Mariner" by S.T Coleridge

Relating the horrific yet morally significant experiences of an old Mariner, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is a long and eventful sea voyage involving supernatural in a dramatic style. The poem is sheer fantasy. Though it is based on a supernatural and imaginative story, yet it proves the concept of "willing suspension of disbelief" because the audience is willing to "...listen like a three years' child". The poem is fascinating and captivates the readers with its rich imagery, color, love of nature, music and dramatic style. First published within "Lyrical Ballads", the poem is romantic in essence but in unlike other romantic poems it has certain moral aspects to profess and it invites the readers to contemplate upon the human side of their lives.

The poem begins in a dramatic style with an old Mariner who "stoppeth one of three" wedding guests. The wedding guest resists:

"The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin..."

The old Mariner begins to relate his sea voyage. "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!", says the guest. The old Mariner frees the guest but he does not move. The guest seems hypnotized. He sits there listening the tale of the old Mariner because "he cannot choose but hear". The Mariner relates the journey: "The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared". But soon "the STORM-BLAST came" and "chased us south". "And now there came both mist and snow". The ancient Mariner tells:

"The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around".

The ship didn't move any more. Then, an albatross came. "We hailed it in God's name". After it came, the ice split and the ship moved. Albatross came daily for food and play. But "I shot the ALBATROSS".

The sun rose and set. The bird was no more. The Mariner says:

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe".

People cursed him for this deed of cruelty. But when the fog ended with the death of the bird, they praised him: "Twas right...such birds to slay". Later, the sun rose "in a hot and copper sky". The wind stopped and the ship halted:

"As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean".
Read Part II...