Ancient Mariner is a poem of "memory and dream, of strange birds and ships, Arctic seas and storms, and legends and myths."
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Part of the Mariner's story is a factual accounting of what happened to the ship. It leaves port and is eventually blown to an area of mist and fog. He reports the albatross following them for days. He reports his senseless killing of the bird and the crews' reactions. Then, as things become more mystical, the telling is more like a dream world rather than reality. The lack of sleep and extreme thirst likely caused him to hallucinate. Coleridge was known as a drug user, so his dream- like descriptions may reflect his drug's reactions. Many of the lights he sees in the sea when becalmed are probably caused by phosphorescence. The spirits he sees and hears could well be his conscience, loaded with guilt over both the bird's and the crew's deaths. The ships apparent movement after his much needed sleep and the quenching of his thirst are probably deliriums of joy. His experiences, which no doubt seem real to him, will be his salvation. Spreading the word that God loves all creatures and man should also love the same will be his ticket to heaven. I hope these comments of mine help.
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