Nightmare on a Boat

As you search for purpose and reason in your life through the realms of academia and erudition, perhaps fervent scouring of the vast depths of philosophy and science have sapped the essence of your weary mind; it is now then, the time to embrace your unique soul and the boundaries of raw emotion to harness your latent aptitude. Romanticism embodies the feeling you get after finishing all of your finals or papers, an exuberant spark of joy, the exclamation mark, the incessant cry of a newborn, a declaration that emotion holds more meaning to the human experience than the infinitude of logic.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner takes you on a distortion of reality, an eventful mind-bending tale of confounding sequences. The journey that you embark upon while reading of the experience that the Ancient Mariner shares, encourages you to look beyond what you see, to listen to more than what you can hear. Your imagination is paramount and to neglect it would spell emptiness and suffering altogether. Coleridge’s poems tell us to live fruitfully and experience continuously, reinventing the norm and insinuating creation and originality. Centuries later, his tale of a nightmare at sea, would continue on.

Plug the amp, align your cymbals, tune your six-strings, where else but music lays the ultimate expression of individuality and freedom of spirit? Iron Maiden breathes horror, excitement, uncertainty, fear, and wisdom in their reinterpretation of the romantic classic. The phases of varying tempo in Iron Maiden’s version of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner express the development of emotion in the story. Repetition echoes the lament and suffering of the Mariner. The sudden intensity of the climax breathes raw emotion and absolute passion through persistent beats. Perhaps the spirit of Coleridge remains head-banging to this metal classic Although the song represents creative ingenuity, the powerful imagery of Coleridge’s Poem is unmatched through the metal reproduction.

The ominous feeling of grief and hopelessness captured by Samuel Taylor Coleridge can not be imitated. “The water, like a witch’s oils, Burnt green, and blue and white.” (30)The unusual coloring of the water signifies an abnormal otherworldly presence. The lines of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner induce spooking chills and a sense of uncertainty.

The juxtaposition of intense metal and image-inducing poetry enables us to understand the capacities of human imagination. Emotion can be represented in an endless number of ways. As Iron Maiden’s classic, of a romantic classic, lives on to entertain new audiences, we are reminded that imagination and individuality live on and on. I’m sure Coleridge would be proud, in some way.


Thomas Pham


Iron Maiden: The New Romantics

Although many did not consider Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem as a romantic poem, I beg to differ. For Coleridge, the Romantics should be breaking away from classical and elaborate styles, such as that of Pope’s. Romantic poetry should be accessible to the common man, whether or not he achieved this is a different story. It should provoke a powerful feeling of human emotion and I feel that Iron Maiden stays true to that idea more than Coleridge actually does. Iron Maiden has evolved and become representative of Romantic poetry in the 20-21st century.

In the first stanza Iron Maiden phrases it as “Hear the rime of the ancient mariner/ See his eye as he stops one of three/ Mesmerizes one of the wedding guests/ Stay here and listen to the nightmares of the sea” while Coleridge writes “It is an ancyent Marinere,/ And he stoppeth one of three:/ “By they long grey beard and thy glittering eye/ Now wherefore stoppest me” (Coleridge 51). They both are discussing the same thing, but take different approaches. In using a quote to tell the reader what the mariner says, Coleridge evokes the presence of the mariner that creates a different experience through out the poem. We become a part of the story because it is as if he is speaking to us directly. While Iron Maiden does not quote the mariner, but chooses to just tell us what he’s doing and what is going on. In doing this, Iron Maiden create the sense of oral folklore, as if we were sitting down around a campfire hearing an old sailor tells us the stories told while out at sea. They both portray the experience differently, but they both give us a rich and powerful experience nonetheless.

Iron Maiden’s version, at least to me, is much truer to the statement of romantic poems being universal for everyone. Anyone can understand and relate, which can explain their popularity. They’re use of musical instruments even enhance the experience and human emotion. I don’t need to count the rhyme schemes or anything, I just have to listen. Through the act of listening Iron Maiden take us on a different voyage of human emotions that are stimulated by sound and touch. I know it’s cliche but you feel the music too, you feel your foot shaking, for fingers hitting the desk and your focus on the experience more than anything else, which can’t be replicated by just reading the poem.

-Nancy Sanchez


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

Romanticism (and suspense) on Board

Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is like Romantic poetry due to the imagery, and figurative language. Both the poem and song contain characteristic that would label them as romantic poetry. In stanza twelve the scenario around the ship is described as having “Sloping masts” which means it was at a slope angle as if it were sinking if. That is a very sorrow image because it is as if the ship were about to sink down this is vivid imagery because it gives the reader a view of how “distressed” the ship was. This helps set the tone for the poem.  In the next line the words “who pursued with yell and blow” add more to the haunting and dark image. Since the storm that is taking place is adding to the dark it is even worse that the ship is being followed by its “foe” or enemy as the storm is described.

It is interesting that the song includes the lyrics “The mariner kills the bird of good omen. His shipmates cry against what he’s done. But when the fog clears, they justify him. And make themselves a part of the crime.” This correlates with the idea (in lecture note 8) of romanticism deepening the appreciation for   the weird, the occult, the monstrous, the diseased and even satanic which is the same feeling the song evokes when speaking about “good omen” even though there may be a contrast between the good and bad omen there is still an appreciation for the supernatural.

The words “and forward bends his head”  in the poem are highlighting  the stress the ship is feeling because of the toll the storm is taking on it. This is personification because it is obvious that the ship cannot have human characteristics.   However, on the last sentence is is explained that the ship is moving forward, “The ship drove fast, … aye we fled “which is a characteristic of hope which both aligns with the ideas of romanticism being imaginative and spontaneous because it was spontaneous that after the gloomy scene present in both the poem and song the ship was able to speed away especially with the way the ship’s surroundings were describe din the song as described in the song  “water water everywhere” in the song makes it seems as if the people in the boat are trapped, although it is obvious that there is water everywhere the repetition create a a haunting image.

When the song begins it has very upbeat sound, after a while however the tone changes and it speeds us as if emphasizing that the time is passing by which builds suspense. Shortly after that there is a moment that is silence as if the song were about to end. After the silence the song keeps going but at a faster speed, therefor it aligns very well with the romanticism and flow of the poem.


 -Luz Zepeda


Shredding The High Seas with Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden’s rendition of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge encaptures a modern interpretation of the poem, in the form of metal music. Moving past text on a piece of paper, the melodic transposition of the poem into metal music is very intense in its purpose: Iron Maiden offers a unique perspective in which to interpret the poem by combining the senses (auditory and visual), which is a staple in Romanticism.

Direct references are paid to Coleridge’s poem, exemplifying a sense of responsibility the band has to the poem:

“Day after day, day after day,

we stuck nor breath nor motion

as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean

Water, water everywhere and

all the boards did shrink

Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.”

While the lyrics aren’t verbatim to the poem’s lines, it nonetheless follows the same idea as the original but highlights the imagery further. The image of a painting comes into play, calling forth thoughts of a paintbrush strokes, ever so harsh and careful as the sea itself. Furthermore, the structure of the song parallels that of a storm at sea; in between the heavy riffs and screaming vocals, we are taken to a calm interlude-mimicking the eye of the storm. In this interlude, we find shelter and are given the chance for self-reflection just as the mariner contemplates his fallen crew and the eeriness of the ghost ship.

The purpose of the poem’s rendition to music lies in the foundations of Romanticism itself. To be accessible to others, to both admire and fear nature, to overflow with emotions, to experience the world’s forces and its relations to the self. This I argue, is achieved through the song. Granted, many might not like metal or feel as though the song does justice to the poem, but anyone who listens to metal understands the genre’s important theme is to express raw emotion. In a sense, Coleridge captures that rawness of nature in the poem. Iron Maiden simply breathes life into it or rather, screams at it to wake up.

-Daniel Corral

Heavy Metal Poetry

Iron Maiden’s version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a depiction of Romantic poetry. However, when I first heard the music, I did not immediately consider it to be any sort of Romantic poetry. I was automatically disinterested because it is not the genre of music I normally listen to. Which is why it was important for me to separate the lyrics from the instrumentation in order to focus on the words. Once doing this, I found the lyrics had a deeper meaning that helped me see the connection to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

“The mariner’s bound to tell of his story
To tell this tale wherever he goes
To teach God’s word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made.”

These lines from Iron Maiden’s song portrays the natural and spiritual characteristics of Romantic poetry. Romantic poets had a great respect for the natural world and expressed interest in the supernatural or mystic worlds. Despite seeming very different than Coleridge’s poem, the only difference in Iron Maiden’s version is the way it is carried out. The Iron Maiden version of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” holds many characteristics of Romantic poetry, just in a more modern form that appeals to a different audience.

-Natalia Alvarado

Similar or Not?

Within Samuel Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of the poem I believe the song does the poem justice. From a first impression it seems like the song may be too “aggressive” or “satanic” to even compare to the aesthetic of the poem but on the contrary, the heavy metal genre fits well with the aesthetic of the poem and it also tackles the idea of what romanticism means.

The more I listened to the song and read the poem I notice not only a lot of the dialogue similarities but how both work well with one another to illuminate the concept of the poem. The song begins with the lyrics:

“Hear the rime of the Ancient Mariner

See his eye as he stops one of three

Mesmerises one of the wedding guests

Stay here and listen to the nightmares

of the Sea


And the music plays on, as the bride passes by

Caught by his spell and

the Mariner tells his tale”.


Not only is the song straightforward with the idea that the Ancient Mariner will tell a story but what it will revolve around, a nightmare. This is important to notice from the song because the sound of the song, from beat and rhythm, suggests a nightmare and the poem itself illustrates the imagery of these perspectives by Iron Maiden.

In Samuel Coleridge’s poem he further elaborates on the nightmares by discussing elements of religion and death. The speaker of the poem displays himself or herself as someone vulnerable by stating:

“Alone, alone, all all alone

Alone on the wide wide sea;

And Christ would take no pity on

My soul in Agony” (59)

This kind of diction not only humanizes the person but also paints a picture into what extent their suffering looks like. As readers this idea of what suffering looks like differs but because we’re all envisioning a nightmare the emotions are mostly the same and that’s where romanticism chimes in.

A characteristic we may find within romanticism is a predilection for the exotic, the monstrous, the diseased, and even the satanic and if this holds true then it goes back to my argument that the heavy metal genre is well-fitted to the poem. Also, finding an interest in this poem despite its’ dark elements is another form of beauty because just as life is a natural thing so is death especially when concepts of religion start surfacing. Lastly, the idea of emotion over reason is crucial since romanticism strives us away from the literary structure forced upon us and encourages us to focus on other elements that are not merely the text such as the beat and rhythm of a song.

-Kristy Frausto

The Rime of the Modern Mariner

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well

Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Part VII
          This part of the poem is the moral of the story. As it is stated in the very end, it pretty much sums up the whole story with the mariner finding his appreciation of nature. He says farewell to the wedding guest and advises the guest to respect all of God’s creations. “All things great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all.” Every part of nature that the mariner has encountered are made and loved by God. And in return, people should love nature. As stated in the lecture notes, one of the characteristics that defines Romanticism is “a deepened appreciation of the beauties of nature”.
         Furthermore, Iron Maiden’s take on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner covers this part at the very end of the song. Although it is not quoted directly, it is paraphrased and rewritten into:
The Mariner’s bound to tell of his story
To tell his tale wherever he goes
To teach God’s word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made.
– Iron Maiden
            Again, it is stating how the Mariner is telling his story to the wedding guest and how important it is to appreciate the beauty of God’s creations, all things of nature. But it shows more than just appreciation of nature, it also implies a change in the character’s personality and a sense of transcendence and spiritual truth. The three things I just mentioned are one of the many different characteristics of romanticism.
           An example of this change would be the albatross they encounter in the first part. The mariner shoots the albatross and would eventually live to regret that decision. The turning point starts with the shooting of the albatross and it is then the mariner learns the hard way that humans should respect nature. A series of unfortunate events occur after the shooting; the ship starts to enter uncharted waters and is visited by Death and The Nightmare Life-in-Death.

“One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,

Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.
Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Part III
This sets up the turning point for the Mariner, as he begins to realize that after his crimes against nature that it is time for him to pay up. It is mentioned that Death and the Nightmare Life-in-Death had played a game of dice in which something was at stake. It turns out that it was the crew’s lives that were at stake. One after one, the crew would die off. This could be cruel irony as the Nightmare Life-in-Death’s name could be an implication of the mariner’s fate. A fate where he will suffer far worse than death for killing the albatross. Thus, he changes his mindset and realizes his wrongs for committing such crimes against nature.
          The prayers that follow after the visit from Death and She-Death and the realization of the beauty of the watery snakes were all changes in the mariner’s personality and spiritual truth. At first he referred to the watery snakes as “slimy things” and would eventually describe them as:
O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Part IV
This description of the watery snakes show a change in the mariner and stresses how important nature is to him. He is now appreciating these snakes he once despised earlier in the poem. And within the song, the mariner doesn’t pray for the doom of the sea creatures, but instead, the beauty. This signifies his change in personality as he would’ve prayed for the death of all sea creatures earlier in the story that is being told. He has finally overcome his beliefs he once had. Not only is it showing the change of the Mariner as a person, but stressing the idea of appreciating nature.
          Finally, the use of language in the Iron Maiden song tells us something about it. The terminology wasn’t very technical, but very easy to understand as the lyrics were “plain”. And one of the objectives of poetry is for the “low and rustic life” where the use of language shouldn’t be so complicated but more empathic. But are the lyrics relatable to the common man? Somewhat. Seamen make as much as the working-class in today’s world (“Able Bodied Seaman Salary”). If we were able to understand and like the song then maybe we are the wedding guest. And if we were able to understand the meaning of it and become a “sadder and wiser” person after it, then yes, the song has romanticism roots all over it.
– Christopher Luong