The Weird, The Romantic, The Mariner

Romanticism is a difficult term to define and pin out, even in Lecture Notes #8 there are only eight “characteristic attitudes” that can help define this fickle term. I myself have a hard time defining Romanticism because I think it is so many things and it greatly depends on the reader in their interpretation.

Although I do not like Iron Maiden’s version of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, with the help of those eight characteristics it can be argued that this version can indeed be interpreted like Romantic poetry. One instance that this can be argued, with the help of characteristic number 8, this version has a lot of weird, monstrous, and satanic impacts. Both the Iron Maiden version and major poem version share this in common. These characteristics fit with Iron Maiden because simply, it’s a weird song. The guitar riffs are also loud and fast and with the fluctuating voice of the main singer there is change throughout the song that makes it go fast and slow. Not to say that the poem is devoid of these characteristics, in section III towards the end a somewhat satanic act takes place, “Four times fifty living men, With never a sigh or groan, With heavy thump, a lifeless lump They dropp’d down one by one.” How do all these men just instantly die and without warning? It’s a very weird and supernatural thing to happen that Iron Maiden echoes with their instrumental background and tone of the lyrics, “Then, crew one by one they drop down dead, two hundred men She, she, Life in Death. She lets him live, her chosen one.”

Another helpful characteristic that can help explain the similarities as to why Iron Maiden’s version is like Romantic poetry is the overpowering emotion over reason. Iron Maiden’s lyric, “He prays for their beauty not doom With heart he blesses them God’s creatures all of them too” reflects the IV part of the poem when the Mariner can see all the men dead on the ship and decides to pray out of fear “I look’d to Heaven, and try’d to pray; But or ever a prayer had gusht, A wicked whisper came and made My heart as dry as dust.” Now at this point, what really is there to do when all your crewmen have just mysteriously dropped dead and you’re the only survivor? The Mariner tries to comfort himself by praying in this situation because he does not know what else to do. After this line in the Iron Maiden song the tone changes drastically and there is a long wait until the next verse. The absence of lyrics portrays this part as going on and on for a long period of time and it creates a big buildup of feelings as the music changes and as one has to wait for what comes next.

— Alison Vining


3 thoughts on “The Weird, The Romantic, The Mariner

  1. Right off the bat I agree with your first paragraph and find that it is entirely up to the reader’s interpretation to decide whether it is Romanticism or not. I believe that the example about the satanic part could be better explained, because as I interpreted it, the Mariner was won by Life in Death which means he cannot die while his mates can. He is trapped within his own body, forced to go through unbearable pains without having the relief of death. Maybe you could use this to back up your claim that there is a satanic act, in the sense that he is forced to pay for his sins just as many believe happens in Hell.


  2. I like the rhetorical question you asked about the mysterious death of the crew. It seemed very sudden in the song. You could closely analyze those lyrics and the poem more by looking at the alliteration, the unusual use of diction, etc. I also liked how you discussed how the absence of the lyrics created a big buildup of feelings. I find it interesting that you thought the story contained a satanic act when the crew’s dropped dead but I think it could also be argued because it was a satanic act to kill the albatross, maybe?


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