illustration of the Ancient Mariner in the ocean with an albatross tied around his neck

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Describe the medieval element and the romantic element used in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

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One way of analysing the Romantic elements of this incredible poem is looking at the role of nature and how it is shown to exert power over humans. Let us remember that Romanticism was dubbed as a "return to nature" and it emphasised the importance and the role of nature in our lives and how rationalism was taking us away from that. The strident message of this poem, as the Mariner learns to his cost, is that we cannot treat nature in a disrespectful way, as if we do, Nature will wreak her own revenge. Consider what happens straight after the Mariner kills the albatross:

And I had done a 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.

The Mariner, and the Wedding Guest by extension, learns that Nature is not something to be trifled with, or gainsaid or forgotten.

Secondly, considering medieval elements, one of the interesting aspects of this poem is the high number of archaic words, or words that are no longer used in society. Consider the following example:

Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,

The glorious Sun uprist.

"Uprist" is clearly an anachronistic word that is obviously no longer used in English language, yet the use of this poem clearly links it to a medieval past that, as the poem shows, still has an impact on us today.

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