The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Introduction
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner book cover
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So you’re going to teach “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's classic poem has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its challenges—archaic language and syntax—teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into Romantic poetry, the lyric ballad as a genre, and important themes regarding nature, imagination and spiritual redemption. This guide highlights the text's most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Publication Date: 1798 
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:
  • Approximate Word Count: 3,900 
  • Author: Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
  • Country of Origin: England 
  • Genre: Lyric Ballad, Morality Tale 
  • Literary Period: British Romantic 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Self, Person vs. Nature 
  • Structure: 7-Part Ballad, ABCB Rhyme Scheme 
  • Mood: Imaginative, Fantastical, Dramatic

Texts That Go Well With “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Kubla Khanis another famous poem by Coleridge, written at the same time as “Mariner” but published in 1816. While these two poems are Coleridge’s most famous, they are remarkably different. The story of “Kubla Khan”’s inspiration and composition is arguably as famous as the poem itself. Under the influence of opium, Coleridge claimed 200–300 lines of the poem came to him in a vivid dream. Upon waking, Coleridge scrambled to write the poem down, but only managed to record a small portion before being interrupted by a knock on the door, causing him to forget the remaining lines. It is thought that the final stanza of the poem was written post-interruption, as it deals with the loss of vision or inspiration. 

“Ode to the West Wind” is a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley first published in 1820, two decades after Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” The poem deals with a number of the same conceits; namely, the use of natural elements as symbols for power, change, and inspiration. A number of Shelley’s poetic works deal with similar themes to that of Coleridge. It may prove useful to study Coleridge alongside his Romantic contemporaries. 

Pirates of the Caribbean is a blockbuster movie series that first premiered in 2003. Students are likely to be familiar with the series, which shares not only its nautical setting with Coleridge’s poem, but also a number of key motifs and themes. In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse...

(The entire section is 635 words.)