Dedication to the Story

The tone of the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge begins with a protest of hearing the man`s story about the mariner`s time at sea. It`s filled with panic and an abrupt redirection from one story, about a wedding, to another within that story that revolves around the ancient mariner. I believe that the song, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Iron Maiden begins the same way. The tone of voice is loud and seemingly unwelcoming to the listener. However, the song continues and the combination between its astonishing length and tone puts you in a trance-like state where it becomes meditative and you begin to focus on the song as it is, instead of the poem that is being discussed in the song. As in the poem, the protests stop and the wedding guest eventually gives in to listening to the man`s story. Thus, the poem transforms from a kind of meta-tale into the focus being on the tale of the ancient mariner alone.  This transformation occurs in the poem rather subtly where it is written,

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,

Yet he cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Mariner.


And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he

Was tyrannous and strong:

He struck with his o’ertaking wings,

And chased us south along.

The wedding guest, as “he beats his chest” marks his last effort to refuse to listen to the story of the mariner. The man promptly avoids giving way to the guests’ objections by raising his voice in in the following stanza, which also shows a testament to how strongly he believes in his story and how desperately he wants to share it. Perhaps it is his commitment to listening to the story that prevents him from living, or the physical embrace that the man has on him. Either way his final attempt is proven futile. The song mimics this resilience through the its length. The same effect occurs when someone listens to the song. They become invested in hearing the story and the rhythm just as much as the wedding guest becomes invested in this story that the old man is telling.

Also, as the picture of the dead bird shows in the video, it becomes clear that the mariners action of killing the bird is to blame for all of the death at sea. Even though they had no water and were at sea for an extended amount of time as mentioned in the poem, the song still makes it seem like the main cause of death was a curse from killing the bird. The delirious state of mind and the crews famished state isn’t given any credit to their demise. Perhaps this is the most blatant comparison that can be made between the song and the romantic genre, which in the class survey, was described as the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. This is extremely apparent in this song seeing as reason and rationality does not appear in the lyrics as a valid excuse for the crews’ death. In the picture, the dead bird and the curse that he unleashes seems to be the main reason for everything going wrong at sea. It is however, this powerful impulse that occurs when you believe something despite not having any logic to support it. The man telling the story is most- likely just insane but he has the same commitment to telling the story that this man and the audience of the song have when listening to it that is most likely brought on by sea madness that blinds the mariner to the rational truth. Thus, the song becomes a lot more gruesome and creepy than the poem because it focuses on the death of the bird and we don’t get the full story. Thus, both the song and the poem express this spontaneous outburst of emotion which grasps the audience by at first introducing a harsh tone, then compelling them to continue listening to the story as it enchants the audience with the strong sense of dedication to the story, which is a characteristic of the romantic genre.

-Kamani Morrow


2 thoughts on “Dedication to the Story

  1. Kamani, Your post was well done to say the least. The most interesting idea is how the tone affected the way the song made you feel. However, you misspelled “beats his chest” in the beginning of the second paragraph. Understand that you have til 6pm to fix it. Keep up the good interpretations.
    -Dario Lomeli (1/3)


  2. This seems to be a popular section to quote. I like that you drew attention the part where the wedding guest “beats his chest.” I agree that this is his sort of last cry of resistance before becoming absorbed by the mariner’s tale. That being said, I wonder if maybe the wedding goers actually didn’t have a choice, like we didn’t? In order to get full points on this assignment, we had to sit through the tale. Maybe the wedding guest had a similar motivation? Do you really believe they became enraptured with the tale, or did they simply figure sitting and listening would be faster and easier than protesting when the guy obviously refused to leave until he had been heard?


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