Within Samuel Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of the poem I believe the song does the poem justice. From a first impression it seems like the song may be too “aggressive” or “satanic” to even compare to the aesthetic of the poem but on the contrary, the heavy metal genre fits well with the aesthetic of the poem and it also tackles the idea of what romanticism means.
The more I listened to the song and read the poem I notice not only a lot of the dialogue similarities but how both work well with one another to illuminate the concept of the poem. The song begins with the lyrics:
“Hear the rime of the Ancient Mariner
See his eye as he stops one of three
Mesmerises one of the wedding guests
Stay here and listen to the nightmares
of the Sea
And the music plays on, as the bride passes by
Caught by his spell and
the Mariner tells his tale”.
Not only is the song straightforward with the idea that the Ancient Mariner will tell a story but what it will revolve around, a nightmare. This is important to notice from the song because the sound of the song, from beat and rhythm, suggests a nightmare and the poem itself illustrates the imagery of these perspectives by Iron Maiden.
In Samuel Coleridge’s poem he further elaborates on the nightmares by discussing elements of religion and death. The speaker of the poem displays himself or herself as someone vulnerable by stating:
“Alone, alone, all all alone
Alone on the wide wide sea;
And Christ would take no pity on
My soul in Agony” (59)
This kind of diction not only humanizes the person but also paints a picture into what extent their suffering looks like. As readers this idea of what suffering looks like differs but because we’re all envisioning a nightmare the emotions are mostly the same and that’s where romanticism chimes in.
A characteristic we may find within romanticism is a predilection for the exotic, the monstrous, the diseased, and even the satanic and if this holds true then it goes back to my argument that the heavy metal genre is well-fitted to the poem. Also, finding an interest in this poem despite its’ dark elements is another form of beauty because just as life is a natural thing so is death especially when concepts of religion start surfacing. Lastly, the idea of emotion over reason is crucial since romanticism strives us away from the literary structure forced upon us and encourages us to focus on other elements that are not merely the text such as the beat and rhythm of a song.