Not Romanticizing the Maiden

Iron Maiden’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is but a rendition of Coleridge’s poem of the same name. The Romantic essence presented in the original poem is convoluted, if not lost completely, in the heavy metal rendition. Iron Maiden tells the story of the mariner using their characteristic metal music, full of the sounds of electric guitars and screaming. These additions to the story of the mariner take great liberties with Coleridge’s poem. When looking at art of the Romantic era, particularly poems such as those found in the Lyrical Ballads, Romanticism is presented in a relaxing form of phrases and images. Though the subjects may be quite Gothic and macabre indeed, truly terrifying images like those found in the demons presented in the music video for this song are not seen. The connection with nature found in Romantic poetry and art brings a much more realistic and peaceful articulation of tragedy than Iron Maiden does with this piece. Looking at Coleridge’s poem, the reader is brought back from the mariner’s story at multiple points to the present scene with the wedding guest. This generally happens when the wedding guest confesses fear of the mariner in response to each terrifying image he adds to his story. It was not the goal of the Romantics or this poem to tell a tale of terror, rather, Romanticism is a way to bring one back to themselves. At the end of the poem, the reader witnesses the wedding guest’s change in outlook on life; it is this that Romantic poetry strives to create. Iron Maiden, on the other hand, appear to revel in the ideas of Death, Life in Death, a dead crew, and a cursed mariner. The entire song focuses on the macabre and terror. Using pictures made on a computer, detached from nature far more than paintings, and instruments that do nothing to recall the sounds heard in times of peaceful reflection, Iron Maiden is extremely different from what one would expect from an artist inspired by the Romantic period. In only one respect “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” resembles Romantic poetry, and that is in its lyrics. The goal of the poet, according to Wordsworth, is to do away with the verse and unusable language of poetry used before him. Iron Maiden’s rendition of Coleridge’s poem does not use the unclear and stuffy language favored by the author. Instead, they summarize the poem with more modern words in the way of Wordsworth.

-Meredith Leonardo

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Romantic Poetry, Feat. Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden’s rock-and-role rendition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner keeps this piece of work as classic romantic poetry by keeping the original words and feeling enveloped into it. The song holds a lot of imagery, as well as metaphors to help the listener truly imagine the scene set by Coleridge’s poem.

While Iron Maiden had made the poem into a much more rough-sounding version of the original, it still kept the meaning as a romantic poem, focusing on the hardships of people’s lives instead of the happiness in them. The rock-and-roll version seemed to accentuate this pain that humans go through instead of dull it, as can be seen in the line “The many men, so beautiful! And they all dead did lie.”

Some students and other listeners may disagree that Iron Maiden’s version of Coleridge’s song keeps the poem as a piece of romantic poetry based on the tone that it sets; however, I believe that the deep vibe pulls listeners into this 13-minute song and helps them to imagine the poem in a stronger light.

-Jody Omlin