How does Samuel Taylor Coleridge's long work The Rime of the Ancient Mariner compare and contrast with Percy Bysshe Shelley's short poem "Love's Philosophy" in terms of two common characteristics...

How does Samuel Taylor Coleridge's long work The Rime of the Ancient Mariner compare and contrast with Percy Bysshe Shelley's short poem "Love's Philosophy" in terms of two common characteristics of Romanticism, nature and emotion?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Though very different in theme and content, there certainly are some similarities between Percy Bysshe Shelley's short poem "Love's Philosophy" and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's longer work The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Coleridge's tale is a ghost story that also explores the spiritual concept of redemption, while Shelley's poem is merely a love poem. However, they share similarities with respect to nature and emotion imagery.

One nature image they share is of course the ocean. Shelley uses ocean imagery to describe unity in order to illustrate his theme concerning love. For example, he starts out the poem by describing the fact that all rivers flow to the ocean, or "mingle" with the ocean, ocean and rivers both being nature images. In the second stanza, he describes the image of moonbeams kissing the sea in order to portray intimacy, as we see in the following lines:

... And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

Hence we see that the image of the ocean is also used in conjunction with other images of nature to capture unity and therefore the intimacy of romance.

Likewise, as the title suggests, Coleridge's The Rime of Ancient Mariner is an ocean tale and, therefore, also contains ocean imagery. First, it may need to be noted that a mariner is a sailor, or one who navigates ships, so the very name mariner in the title implies ocean imagery. Other than in the title, we can see the first reference to ocean imagery in the very third stanza in which Coleridge, through the mariner's voice, describes the sun rising out of the sea and setting into the sea as we see in the following passage:

The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea. (24-27)

In this passage, Coleridge uses "he" to refer to the sun and describing the sun as rising out of and falling into the sea is another way to metaphorically describe sunset and sunrise. He uses the imagery of the sunset and sunrise to describe the passing days. Hence, we see that clearly, the ocean, or sea, is common nature imagery found in Coleridge's poem.

While love is not an emotion found in Coleridge's poem, even though it's found in Shelley's poem, other emotions Coleridge's poem investigates are fear, sorrow, and repentance, showing us that like Shelley's poem, Coleridge's also explores emotions characteristic of Romanticism.

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