A Journey of the Mariner’s Inner World

Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is, to my own opinion, very much like Romantic poetry. Romantic poetry is often characterized as a focus on the writer or narrator’s emotions and inner world and a celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination. Iron Maiden doesn’t derive away from these specific characteristics in their song. More than anything, they emphasize on these sections of the poem for their song to create a more expressive response from their listeners and to retain the central message of the poem: to love all of God’s creatures and creations.

Of course, Iron Maiden had to take some creative decision making to fit the poem into the rhythmic beat of a rock song. In the opening lines of Iron Maiden’s song, “Hear the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. See his eye as he stops one of three”, is incredibly different from how Coleridge opens his own poem, “It is an ancient Mariner, And he stoppeth one of three.” Of course, Iron Maiden isn’t going to go word-by-word of Coleridge’s poem in a song, they had to change the lyrics, but Iron Maiden’s song keeps the crucial aspects of the poem to express to listeners the severity of the Mariner’s action and the rough and treacherous journey the Mariner and the crewman took. After meeting with death, the song changes tune and only a guitar is heard with a low voice from the singer describing the deaths of the crewman that were affected by the curse. “With a heavy thump, a lifeless lump, they dropped one by one.” This section of the song in its tune is expressing sorrow and grief which reflect back to the lyrics. The song overall is focusing on the narrator’s emotions and how not only what it feels like, but what it sounds like.

The closing remarks of the songs prove that it’s like a Romantic poem as it expressed a celebration of nature, in a darker and gloomier way compared traditional Romantic poetry. “To teach God’s word by his own example, that we must love all things that God made.” The song does almost everything like Romantic poetry but with a darker twist. Therefore, it can be considered Romantic poetry. It expresses a lesson to love nature and see its beauty and the 13-minute song is a journey of both feelings and listening to the Mariner’s inner world.

-Abe Alvarez

4 thoughts on “A Journey of the Mariner’s Inner World

  1. The original idea is that Maiden’s cover is inherently Romantic. Your interpretation could be improved by listing more of the characteristics of Romantic poetry and emphasizing the parallels. It would also be interesting to see these themes portrayed in other nwobhm songs.


  2. I think the most original idea presented was the way you talked about the tune of the song going along with the poem. For example when you said the poem was expressing sadness you mentioned that the song, singer and instruments were in a lower tune and was expressing sadness as well. I hadn’t taken this into account.


  3. I like how you talk about how the song has a different type of tone towards each line of the poem. Like you said, this is a 13 minute song but us, as the listeners are able to interpret the feelings and emotions of not the Mariner and the guest through this rock music. I think your blog post could’ve been a whole lot better if you were to go a little more in depth with the feelings and emotions of the guests the Mariner was telling his story to. Other than that, great blog post, very interesting.


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