"Now Wherefore Stoppest Thou Me?"

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 159

Context: Contemplating a tale on the Wandering Jew and another on the wanderings of Cain (the first never materialized, the second produced a fragment), Coleridge turned his Ancient Mariner into a wanderer who, as part of his expiation for a crime, must tell his story of sin and redemption to those in need of its lesson: "He prayeth best, who loveth best/ All things both great and small." The Mariner has no difficulty singling out those overly complacent persons to whom he must speak, and at the opening of the poem he has halted a wedding guest:

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It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
"By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?
The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din."
He holds him with his skinny hand;
"There was a ship," quoth he.

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