Why is the wedding guest unable to return to the wedding after hearing the mariner's tale in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"? What about the story makes the wedding guest so sad but wise?

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The story that the Ancient Mariner tells the Wedding-Guest is one of great tragedy and solemnity. After the beginning of the story, the Wedding-Guest is horrified, thinking the Mariner is a ghost. The Mariner has to calm this fear:

Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!
This body dropt not down.

This quote means that the Mariner did not die with the others. The Wedding-Guest experiences a horrifying story that makes him question if the being telling the story is even alive. This horror immediately takes away the merriment that he would have felt if he had gone to the wedding unhindered.

The sadness comes from the tragedy and guilt in the story, but the wisdom comes from realizing the importance of loving all forms of innocent life. The Mariner explains that he was punished greatly for needlessly killing an albatross. This crime was so great because the albatross was only helping the crew. There is a moral to the story which causes the Wedding-Guest to ponder the importance of praying and spending intentional, solemn time with good people.

O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
'Tis sweeter far to me,
To walk together to the kirk
With a goodly company!—

The story gently rebukes the frivolity of the feast, and this causes the Wedding-Guest to become pensive.
He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn

The story shocks him into deeply pondering life. This kind of pondering often leads to a sadder but wiser individual. Tragedy, especially tragedy that is a result of a foolish action, can result in deeply reflecting on humanity and how to live correctly. This reflection is what the Wedding-Guest is beginning to do, and it draws him away from the party.

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The wedding-guest has been shown a completely different side to life by the Ancient Mariner's tale: a darker, more disturbing side. His induction into the mysterious world of the supernatural has had a profound effect on him; life will never be quite the same again. So he can be forgiven for not returning to the festivities as if nothing's happened. And he can also be forgiven for feeling more than a little sad at what he's just heard. After all, the Ancient Mariner has spun a tale of suffering, death, and misfortune. It's hardly surprising that he'd be on a bit of a downer after hearing all that.

But more importantly, the wedding-guest knows deep down that the Ancient Mariner's tale wasn't just an old shaggy-dog story, a seaman's yarn overlaid with legend and make-believe. His story has the ring of truth about it. And because of its complete plausibility, the wedding-guest has cause to reflect upon the great insight into the human condition with which the story has provided him. In the face of such profound truth, the wedding guest's response is the only appropriate one: a certain sense of sadness, tinged with wisdom and rueful understanding.

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The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone : and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn :
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.

I guess you could say that, after hearing the Ancient Mariner's story, the wedding guest is no longer in a partying mood. He's heard a wild and riveting story of ignorance, revelation, death and redemption. It has stunned and awed him. He no longer wants to join in any frivolous festivities. He needs to ponder and plumb the depths of what he has heard. His understanding has been expanded, and his world is newly illuminated. He's been saddened and awakened, distracted and amazed. He is in no state of mind for dancing and small talk.

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