Excursions Of A Bibliophile

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Archive for May, 2012

On reading Coleridge’s “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on May 13, 2012

It has been more than two hundred years since Samuel Taylor Coleridge’sThe Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” has been published and when I read it recently I felt completely captivated. The language of the poem is simple readable English but the extraordinarily inspired wordplay, the stirring cadence and the rhythm of the verse, the imagery, the power of its moral vision, the evocation of the darker side of thoughtless and ignorant action and its consequences, the relief in redemption of the Mariner and the simplicity of its message are astonishingly wondrous and deeply impactful. There is something extremely beautiful and transcendental in this poem

As I read through the poem, I felt that it continues to remain intensely relevant to all of mankind even to this day. As the power of technology ascends, man’s power to cause irreversible harm to nature is also increasing. It is this harm that in analogical terms will be equivalent to the harm the Ancient Mariner inflicts on the well-meaning and benign Albatross. While the Mariner in the poem gets his redemption towards the end and the dead Albatross slides off his neck to sink deep into the sea, will the modern man have a similar chance? In reminding us that there is an urgent need to ask this question and find a suitable answer to our current predicament lies the relevance of this magnificent poem. Coleridge also leaves us with a possible clue in the seventh part of the poem where he points to the way for our redemption through these deeply wise words

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all

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