The Rime of the Iron Mariner

When listening to Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner the song is still very much a romantic poem in the sense that it still revolves around the same plot and moral lesson found in the original poem. The sound of heavy metal, loud voices, and use of words creates the impression that the song is also telling an epic tale of the mariner and a man who is battling against God and Nature and does this by creating a heroic tone rather than sad.

“The mariner’s bound to tell of his story

To tell this tale wherever he goes

To teach God’s word by his own example

That we must love all things that God made” (Iron Maiden)

“He prayeth best, who loveth best

All things both great and small;

For the dear God who loveth us,

He made and loveth all.” (Poem)

When comparing the lyrics from Iron Maiden’s version of the poem, the song is like Romantic poetry in the sense that many of the lyrics/ideas in the song are also found in the poem. This gives the impression that the song doesn’t fall too off from the original poem. For instance, the sentences found in the song ‘That we must love all things that God made’ can similarly be found in the poem ‘All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all’. The lyrics are similar and the moral lesson of the ballad is still there as well. Both the song and poem establish that God spared the mariner’s life, and his punishment for eternity is to spread the message that we must respect and love all tings which God has created.

Imagery is also evident in both the poem and song except that in the poem we get a better description of what is taking place and the small details. In Iron Maiden, however, we may not be given much details, but the story has a different tone and depiction of the events. For instance, Iron Maiden

Emotion is a characteristic found heavily in romantic works, and emotion is definitely expressed in the song. However, the emotions expressed in the song differ from the poem. In the song, the lyrics ‘The curse it lives on in their eyes The mariner he wished he’d die Along with the sea creatures’ suggests anger and resilience are coming from the mariner. The poem creates hope that the man will make it out alive and live to tell the tale, but in the song the anger displayed makes it feel as if the mariner wants to die so that he doesn’t have to endure this hardship.

Religion and Nature are two subjects often found in romantic works, and Iron Maiden also refers two both these subjects. Iron Maiden with the use of their various instruments and heavy metal sound create the illusion that the mariner is in a battle between God and Nature vs. Himself. Usually in rock songs, courageous heroes (badass men) are often glorified, but in this song much like the poem God is the one who is glorified. Iron Maiden created a man who fought against God and Nature and lost, and then it was God who spared him and cursed him for eternity. This showed that God always triumphs over man. By doing this Iron Maiden is able to tie the song in with the poem which also depicts the mariner as someone who has been slayed.

When I compared Iron Maiden’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner vs. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I view comparing the poem and the song as comparing Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation vs. Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Overall, all three carry very similar meanings, but the way they deliver their message is different. One creates a heroic man fighting the chains that enslave him like a badass, and the other also creates a hero, but does it in a sad tone, and makes the audience feel sympathy for his struggles.

-Benjamin Montes


3 thoughts on “The Rime of the Iron Mariner

  1. Most Interesting Idea: “sounded like an epic tale of a pirate sailing through the sea as discussed in the poem.”

    I agree, the Iron Maiden version was evocative of pirates sailing, consider particularly the mellowed out part of the song where there is creaking in the background and cackeling around minute 5. This post could be potentially improved if you consider explaining the extra sensory experience created by Iron Maiden’s song as it relates to our in class discussion on Synesthesia and Romanticism.
    -Araceli Garcia Munoz


  2. The most original idea in this blog was your opinion of the song and how it “sounded like an epic tale of a pirate sailing through the sea.” I agree with that statement. However, I do believe that this post could be improved by further explaining your claim and providing more textual evidence to support it. Overall, I like it!


  3. Ben, this is a top notch post spewing with originality. From epic pirate tale, to a lesson taught by god. Try to expand the length its too short. I know you have some more genius ideas. Keep up the great work.
    -Dario Lomeli (3/3)


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