In "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," why did Coleridge use the archaic spelling of "rhyme" in his title? What effect does this have?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Authors choose their titles carefully for a variety of literary reasons, and diction plays a significant role in framing a title. Imagine, for example, what the effect would have been if Coleridge had called this work "The Poem of the Old Sailor." Just awful! Who would read that? "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," however, is a rich and intriguing title.

The word "rime" is archaic and brings to Coleridge's work the connotation of age and distance--olden times. This connotation is then emphasized by the choice of the word "ancient" itself combined with "mariner," another word associated with older times. The result of Coleridge's careful diction is to present "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" as an old, old tale (the stuff of myth and legend) rather than a modern story. By setting his narrative in the mystery of the distant past, rather than in the reality of the present, Coleridge creates a tone that encourages the reader to "suspend disbelief" when hearing the mariner's gothic tale full of many fantastic and supernatural events. 

chloe-amber1 | Student

Samuel Taylor Coleridge has performed a very witty play on words. If you refer to dictionary, 'Rime' is an opague coating of ice. Here he is referring to the lonely, ice-covered area where the mariner is in his story.

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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