Which segments are repeated throughout "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner?" Describe at least four and explain why they are repeated.
There is much repetition found in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." The types of repetition found within the poem are alliteration, assonance, internal rhyme, and general repetition (typical of the traditional folk ballad). Each could be defined as a segment based upon each line's ability to exist as a separate entity within the poem.
Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound (typically the initial sound of a word). An example of alliteration in the poem is found in line 103 of part two.
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew.
In this line, the "f" sound in "fair," "foam," and "flew" is repeated. This is included to create a sing-sing effect in the poem.
Assonance: Assonance is similar to alliteration, but the repetition sound is that of a vowel. An example of assonance is found in line 108 of part two.
'Twas sad as sad could be;
In this line, the "a" sound in "sad" and "as" is repeated. The use of assonance adds to the way the lines sounds as they roll off of the tongue (when read). Assonance softens the words and the mood of the poem. Some could argue that this compounds the dreamlike state of the Mariner during his constant retelling of his tale.
Internal rhyme: Internal rhyme is a rhyme which occurs within a single line of poetry and can also be found in following lines. An example of internal rhyme is found in line 7 of part one.
The guests are met, the feast is set.
Here, the words "met" and "set" are defined as existing as an internal rhyme. Like alliteration, the use of internal rhyme adds to the song like quality of the Mariner's tale.
Repetition: Repetition is the repeating of a word, phrase, or stanza. This repetition is used to enhance an idea or make something stand out. An example of repetition is found in lines 135, 139, and 141.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Here, in line 135, "day after day" is repeated. Coleridge wants readers to feel the seriousness of the Mariner's situation. By repeating "day after day," readers are made aware that the ship was still for a long time.
In lines 139 and 141, the phrase "water, water, everywhere" is repeated. That said, the separation of "everywhere" in line 141 compounds the fact that the ship is surrounded by water. This separation adds to the drawing out of the hopelessness of the ship and its crew.
Coleridge repeats several phrases, ideas, and segments through the text of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and often the repetition is to emphasize something that happened or the danger of the situation that the sailors are in. The repetition reinforces key points in the action and key themes in the text.
For example, when the boat first gets caught in the ice, the poem says "the ice was here, the ice was there, / the ice was all around" (lines 59-60). The repetition of the segment emphasizes how enclosed by ice these sailors were. It reinforces how dangerous the situation is and how isolated these men are.
Later, the narrator emphasizes his crime in killing the albatross, saying that "I had kill'd the bird / that made the breeze to blow. / Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay / that made the breeze to blow!" (lines 93-96). He repeats the idea that he killed the bird and that this bird somehow had the power to create wind for the sails of his ship. The repetition here emphasizes the narrator's action and why it was so terrible.
Immediately after the narrator talks about killing the bird, he brings it up again in the next stanza. This time he says "Then all averr'd I had killed the bird / that brought the fog and mist. / 'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay, that bring the fog and mist" (99-102). Not only will killing the bird stop the breeze, but it also will bring the fog and mist, making it difficult for the sailors to see. This event is so important that the narrator talks about killing the bird four times in two stanzas and reiterates the effects that killing the bird will have on the weather.
Once the weather does indeed do what the sailors predicted because of the death of the albatross, the narrator emphasizes how they are stuck in the same place "day after day, day after day" (line 115). The repetition increases the sense of monotony and danger for the sailors.
The repetition of various lines and segments throughout the text contributes to the overall feel and rhythm of the poem, but the choice of which words are repeated serves to drive home key points of action and key themes in the poem.