After all the other sailors have died, the Mariner is left alone on his ship. It seems that there is no way that he can return home now. At this point, sea snakes surround the ship, and the Mariner praises their "rich attire" and notes that "no tongue / Their beauty might declare." The Mariner has come to realize that all creatures have beauty and are God's creations worthy of respect. This has the effect of breaking the curse he received after shooting the albatross, and thus the albatross falls from his neck. With the curse lifted, the fates can allow the Mariner to return home.
However, there is no one left alive to man the ship. Angels come and reanimate the corpses of the dead sailors, who steer the ship at supernatural speed back to port. The Ancient Mariner loses consciousness. As he faints, he hears the voices of Death and Life-in-Death explaining that he must spend his days continuing to do penance for his past crime against nature. He will walk the earth telling his story to people, such as the Wedding-Guest, as a parable and a warning. Although he is in the protected waters of the port, some mysterious force sinks the Mariner's ship, leaving him floating like a corpse in the water. At this point, a boat arrives to rescue him and take him to land, where he begins a new life of penance and humility.