Farewell, farewell! but this I tellTo thee, thou Wedding-Guest!He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.He prayeth best, who loveth bestAll things both great and small;For the dear God who loveth us,He made and loveth all.– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Part VII
This part of the poem is the moral of the story. As it is stated in the very end, it pretty much sums up the whole story with the mariner finding his appreciation of nature. He says farewell to the wedding guest and advises the guest to respect all of God’s creations. “All things great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all.” Every part of nature that the mariner has encountered are made and loved by God. And in return, people should love nature. As stated in the lecture notes, one of the characteristics that defines Romanticism is “a deepened appreciation of the beauties of nature”.
Furthermore, Iron Maiden’s take on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner covers this part at the very end of the song. Although it is not quoted directly, it is paraphrased and rewritten into:
The Mariner’s bound to tell of his story
To tell his tale wherever he goes
To teach God’s word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made.– Iron Maiden
Again, it is stating how the Mariner is telling his story to the wedding guest and how important it is to appreciate the beauty of God’s creations, all things of nature. But it shows more than just appreciation of nature, it also implies a change in the character’s personality and a sense of transcendence and spiritual truth. The three things I just mentioned are one of the many different characteristics of romanticism.
An example of this change would be the albatross they encounter in the first part. The mariner shoots the albatross and would eventually live to regret that decision. The turning point starts with the shooting of the albatross and it is then the mariner learns the hard way that humans should respect nature. A series of unfortunate events occur after the shooting; the ship starts to enter uncharted waters and is visited by Death and The Nightmare Life-in-Death.
“One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,Too quick for groan or sigh,Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,And cursed me with his eye.Four times fifty living men,(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,They dropped down one by one.”– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Part III
This sets up the turning point for the Mariner, as he begins to realize that after his crimes against nature that it is time for him to pay up. It is mentioned that Death and the Nightmare Life-in-Death had played a game of dice in which something was at stake. It turns out that it was the crew’s lives that were at stake. One after one, the crew would die off. This could be cruel irony as the Nightmare Life-in-Death’s name could be an implication of the mariner’s fate. A fate where he will suffer far worse than death for killing the albatross. Thus, he changes his mindset and realizes his wrongs for committing such crimes against nature.
The prayers that follow after the visit from Death and She-Death and the realization of the beauty of the watery snakes were all changes in the mariner’s personality and spiritual truth. At first he referred to the watery snakes as “slimy things” and would eventually describe them as:
O happy living things! no tongueTheir beauty might declare:A spring of love gushed from my heart,And I blessed them unaware:Sure my kind saint took pity on me,And I blessed them unaware.– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Part IV
This description of the watery snakes show a change in the mariner and stresses how important nature is to him. He is now appreciating these snakes he once despised earlier in the poem. And within the song, the mariner doesn’t pray for the doom of the sea creatures, but instead, the beauty. This signifies his change in personality as he would’ve prayed for the death of all sea creatures earlier in the story that is being told. He has finally overcome his beliefs he once had. Not only is it showing the change of the Mariner as a person, but stressing the idea of appreciating nature.
Finally, the use of language in the Iron Maiden song tells us something about it. The terminology wasn’t very technical, but very easy to understand as the lyrics were “plain”. And one of the objectives of poetry is for the “low and rustic life” where the use of language shouldn’t be so complicated but more empathic. But are the lyrics relatable to the common man? Somewhat. Seamen make as much as the working-class in today’s world (“Able Bodied Seaman Salary”). If we were able to understand and like the song then maybe we are the wedding guest. And if we were able to understand the meaning of it and become a “sadder and wiser” person after it, then yes, the song has romanticism roots all over it.
– Christopher Luong