What do images of nature in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge symbolize?
Imagery can be a difficult kind of figurative language to discuss because it is varied and encompasses a lot of other types of figurative language. Basically any kind of figurative language that helps create an image in the reader's mind is imagery. This image can be visual (what you see), auditory (what you hear), tactile (what you feel), gustatory (what you taste), olfactory (what you smell), kinesthetic (describing movement), or organic (creating a feeling or emotion).
The first striking and memorable use of imagery is that describing the Ancient Mariner himself, in the third line of the first stanza: "'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye," which tells the reader that the mariner is old (grey), unkempt (long... beard), and intense (glittering eye.) The mariner's "glittering eye" is mentioned again in the fourth stanza, and in the fifth stanza he is described as "The bright-eyed mariner." This repetition makes the mariner's eye his most striking feature. The word "glittering" shows that the mariner, although old, has a quick intelligence and a mesmerizing story to tell. His bright, glittering gaze seems almost hypnotic, which helps the reader to feel what the character of the wedding guest feels when the mariner stops him.
That brings us to the story. The mariner begins by describing how the ship crossed the horizon line, obscuring the view of civilization, and then how the sun rose and fell, going higher and higher each day, as the ship sailed southward. In this part of the poem, Coleridge used personification to describe the sun:
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.
Personification is a kind of imagery. It ascribes human qualities to an inanimate object. Coleridge makes the sun seem like a character by referring to it using the pronoun 'he.' This is the first instance of the strong imagery of nature in the poem, and it also foreshadows the supernatural elements that will be introduced later in the poem.
The storm is also personified:
(The entire section contains 718 words.)
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