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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When someone refers to "an albatross around my neck," is it an allusion to this poem? What does it mean?

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Yes, the idiom "an albatross around my neck" is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." The idiom simply means that something is a heavy burden of guilt that poses an obstacle to success.

Superstition is that the killing of an albatross...

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Yes, the idiom "an albatross around my neck" is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." The idiom simply means that something is a heavy burden of guilt that poses an obstacle to success.

Superstition is that the killing of an albatross brings back luck. In the poem, of course, a sailor kills an albatross and when the ship then reaches calm waters and runs out of drinking water near the equator, the other sailors blame him and force him to wear the dead carcass of the albatross around his neck for bringing bad luck unto their ship.

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