The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Discuss supernaturalism in Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a first-generation Romantic poet. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is filled with many of the characteristics of Romantic writing, including a respect for nature (the sin of killing the albatross), melancholy (as seen with the mariner's state of mind), and especially the supernatural—anything beyond the natural world. While today's reader might consider witches and vampires to be supernatural, Coleridge incorporates spirits, angels, and ghosts; he also includes supernatural powers.

The poem is filled with the supernatural. When the ship is becalmed (a punishment for killing of the albatross), the crew is dying of thirst:

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink. (118-119)

Initially the reader might think that the mariner is delirious because of his terrible thirst, but he is not. First he notes strange lights shining in the water.  Then he reports that a spirit is following the ship:

And some in dreams assured were

Of the spirit that plagued us so:

Nine fathom deep he had followed us... (128-130)

Side notes indicate that some of the crew members have dreamt of this spirit—it is that of the dead albatross. Next, the mariner sees ships approaching:

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist! ...

It plunged and tacked and veered […] (150, 153)

[I] cried, A sail! a sail! (156-157)

Initially it seems as if the crew may be saved, but as the ship gets closer, what they see brings no relief. The first hint that this is not a normal ship is that it is sailing without the wind, for the sea is still becalmed. Then as the ship grows closer, the mariner sees that as it passes in front of the setting sun, the sun's rays shine through the boards of the ship: for what...

(The entire section contains 592 words.)

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