Long Live Rock and Roll

Since the beginning, rock and roll has been used as an outlet for the more complex emotions people keep locked inside as well as having lyrics that talk about the lifestyles normal society typically rejects. Literature from the Romantic era has strikingly similar characteristics to rock and roll. Poetry from the Romantic era is known to be about rebellious topics–like anti organized religion and things like that. The similarities between the subject matter of rock and roll and romantic poetry are undeniable. One specific poem from the Romantic era is Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This poem is about a Mariner who sails out to see with a crew and he kills a good omen bird. The crew is outraged and takes it upon themselves to punish him. Then members of the crew begin to “drop one by one.” The mariner is now cursed to be alive alone and continue living. He then prays to God for the curse to be broken. God grants him this and all of the crew members being to rise and create an army of the undead. Now the mariners bound to tell his story and spread God’s word for the rest of his existence. When Iron Maiden turned this poem into a rock song, they revolutionized the connection between rock and Romantic poetry. The tone of the poem is very vengeful and dark. I mean he is talking about death, curses, and bad omens. To represent that, Iron Maiden used images of skeletons with mystical powers that really brought the narrative of Coleridge’s poem to life. In the poem, most of the death references were metaphorical, but the way the band used images in the music video really brought the darkness forward. Basically, Iron Maiden made it very clear that this poem is from the Romantic era. The way they portrayed it made the poem’s rhythm very similar to that of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart; which is a poem that defines the poetry of this era.

-Oliver Briggs

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