The Time of the Ancient Mariner–Life and Death

Originally, I wanted to say that Iron Maiden’s version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner was not romantic poetry because it’s not romantic in the sense that I’m used to things being romantic. I generally don’t listen to rock music, so I have that bias. However, trying to avoid that bias, in the preface of Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, they describe poetry as

“…the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science… In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs, in spite of things silently gone out of mind and things violently destroyed, the Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time. ”

Which made me realize that this is exactly what Iron Maiden’s version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner had. What better way to show “impassioned expression” than to yell like all the lyrics. And though you usually wouldn’t have this “epic and wicked” feeling in romantic pieces, Iron Maiden gives us both romance and wickedness in this song–a climate/mixture that is usually not the case (at least in my world). And most importantly, this song appears to have a definite impact on people even after all these years. So by default, I want to say that Iron Maiden’s song of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner is indeed like romantic poetry.

In terms of the lyrical and actual content of the song, we could look at the following,

“Death and she Life in Death,
They throw their dice for the crew
She wins the mariner and he belongs to her now.
Then, crew one by one
they drop down dead, two hundred men
She, she, Life in Death.
She lets him live, her chosen one.”

Generally, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner was about life and death, though they say it’s about God’s creations when you deduct religion, it’s about life and death–about how we should appreciate life, and the people that surround us because otherwise, life is kind of pointless, it’s upsetting, it’s lonely. And romantic poetry is generally about the love and appreciation people have for others or other things that fulfill their lives. Especially when you are out in the sea, the company of others is very important to your survival–to help you keep your sanity, which clearly didn’t happen for the Ancient Mariner. So though the Ancient Mariner was the chosen one, he was alone, so life was pointless for him then, the pity of others was not what he wanted when he was telling his story to the wedding guest, he wanted them to learn to appreciate the people that surround them, the way that he didn’t get to do.


-Luz Palacios


3 thoughts on “The Time of the Ancient Mariner–Life and Death

  1. Certainly enjoyed reading your post. An original aspect of your post is the religious theme of the song and poem. You discussed religion and how the poem is more about love and death rather than love and romanticism. This post can be improved by delving more into the romanticism of the song.-Anthony Miller


  2. I like how you interpreted Iron Maiden’s version of the poem as wicked but still had feelings of romance. I also like how you talked about the Mariner and what he wanted was the company of others. One thing you can improve on is going more in-depth about Iron Maiden and how their song portrayed romance and wickedness.


  3. I enjoyed reading about how you challenged your own bias by interrogating how iron Maiden could be romantic though their impassioned vocals. I would like to see more discussion about the instruments however since they have something to do with the nature of their sensory details.
    Cesar R


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