Iron Maiden & Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Version vs Interpretation

The one way that Iron Maiden’s version of this poem is similar to Romantic Poetry is the way they are able to stimulate two senses at once through language, much like synesthesia. But my experience of reading the poem and listening to the song were so different I could not put the two together and say they were alike. The song was definitely enjoyable to listen to as it had its way of provoking certain emotions through the heavy metal music and images, but it is exactly that that I argue this song is really not like Romantic Poetry.

I read through Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” with such peace and quiet. This poem is a sub genre called Romantic Literature under the genre of Romanticism while the song can be placed under the sub genre of Romantic Music. It was all about myself as an individual when I was reading this poem. The words left me as the reader with endless interpretations based on my decision as a reader. Every emotion I felt through the poem was internal and I felt peace and quiet while reading scenes of terror and destruction, which doesn’t seem to coincide but it was pleasurable. An example among many examples from the poem that made me feel a sense of calmness is from Part 6 of the electronic version, “But why drives on that ship so fast, / Without or wave or wind?” The ship moving fast without wind or waves is like the ship is a ghost ship gliding through the undisturbed waters. It was like it didn’t even exist and all theses images were derived from my own imagination. Everything was more external with the song. It’s definitely an interpretation of the poem, but based on my experience of the poem, the song does not do it justice. Iron Maiden’s heavy metal music along with the singer’s voice of anger was expressive and emotional. I felt the emotions of the song, the terror and the unease of the singer. It was like these emotions were predetermined and the goal was to make me feel the same way. With the poem, there really was no sort of distractions that will provoke my senses as I read the poem. And that is, I think, the point of Romantic Poetry; to be in a state of peace and calmness while experiencing the weird and mysteriousness of the art inside of my head. The song limits out interpretations.

Edit- Iron Maiden’s song definitely fit into the Romantic era, just not under Romantic Poetry specifically as the prompt was asking. The challenge of comparing the song to the poem is there is components to the song, or music in general, that shifts the main focus away from the words. I find it a bit challenging to compare the sound of the guitar riff to a word. It may be easier if I were to compare Coleridge’s poem to another poem or a piece of literature.

-Van Vang

3 thoughts on “Iron Maiden & Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Version vs Interpretation

  1. I agree with you that the song and the poem are different, however, I would attempt to view the connections not through the song directly, but instead through the genre of the Romantics. Further analysis of this may provide an interesting take for your post. Nevertheless, you make solid points in comparing the two and it is fresh take on reviewing the differences between the two works.


  2. I do understand your point on how Iron Maiden doesn’t offer the same experience as silently reading the poem, however don’t try and only focus your opinion on reader-response. Focus on the concepts we discussed in class about what makes a piece of work part of the Romantic era. How does Iron Maiden’s rendition not fit in?


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