Romanticism and Iron Maiden

Romanticism loosely defined is poetry which shows “a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality that typified Classicism in general and late 18th century Neoclassicism”. We have discussed in class also that Romantic poetry is characterized by a type of Synesthesia that encourages the reader to understand a cross between his/her senses to create a type of transcendent experience.

When we consider this we may consider Iron Maiden as a whole and their interpretation of “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere” as a work similar to Romanticism. Iron Maiden is a heavy metal rock band. Rock as a genre is one which largely rejects the precepts of order, balance, and rationality conventionally defined. This is evident when look at images and videos of Iron Maiden’s concerts, with flames on the stage, the art typically behind them of zombie faces, lights flashing, electric guitars, and so forth which are little evocative of any type of neoclassicism. We can then interpret Iron Maiden to have in common with Romantic poetry the rejection of a constrained normal of its time.   

When we consider the mere fact that Iron Maiden has taken a poem and applied music to it and a performance on stage as well we can understand them to have created for people a literal synesthetic experience. Not only is the poem to be read and heard with just words. With Iron Maiden we are offered a whole other sensory experience particularly when we consider the change in tempo of the music from energetic to eerie and slow around minute 5 when the song gets to the particularly creepy part of the original poem when the crew of the ship are cursed.
Lastly, we may even consider the “The Rime of Ancyent Marinere” by Iron Maiden’s to be more Romanticist than the original. When we consider the preface of “Lyrical Ballads” it states Romantic poetry aims at adopting the language of ordinary men which is “less under the influence of social variety” and “convey their feelings and notions in simple unelaborated expressions.” yet the poem arguably hardly uses language which could be typical of the average British person of the time. Iron Maiden simplifies passages of the original poem for example when they summarize lines 61-98 with

“The mariner kills the bird of good omen
His shipmates cry against what he’s done
But when the fog clears, they justify him
And make themselves a part of the crime.”

This is a unelaborated expression of “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere”. The story isn’t lost in it and nor is the “transcendent” quality when we consider the music and show that accompanies their interpretation.

-Araceli Garcia Munoz


2 thoughts on “Romanticism and Iron Maiden

  1. I thought it was very interesting how you point out that the very genre of the band (and their performance) is Romantic. I also agree with the notions that Iron Maiden’s version is more Romantic than the actual poem by Coleridge because of its simplicity. You talk about the differences between the poem and the song, to enhance your blog post you could include some excerpts (from the poem) that give an example.


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