The mariner is forced by the rest of the crew to wear the body of the albatross around his neck. This is as a punishment for his thoughtless slaying of the bird.
Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the Cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
He is condemned by his fellow shipmates in bringing bad luck upon the voyage by killing the albatross. The deeper supernatural and psychological tortures which arise as a result are part of Coleridge’s message that all life is sacred and deserves respect. The mariner is relieved of his burden when he praises the beauty of the sea snakes-
O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware
The selfsame moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.