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Christianity in rime of the Ancient Mariner

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Steve Peter Coming Full Circle The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, penned by Samuel Coleridge, and published for the first time in 1798 in the co-authored "Lyrical Ballads" with William Wordsworth, is a poem in which an old sailor recounts his tales to a young wedding guest. The tale of the old seafarer was so unbelievable and supernatural, that the wedding guest and all others who hear the tale are captivated and, as Coleridge suggests, listen "like a three years' child" (15). Embedded through the Mariner's tale is a story that resembles the Christianesque path from sin to salvation. Throughout his poem, Coleridge uses the Albatross as a Christ-like figure to illustrate the stages of the Mariner's sin, repentance, salvation, and prostelization. Before the Albatross finds the sailors, they are frozen in the sea in the Antarctic Circle. When the sailors spot the bird, they believe it will bring them good fortune as Coleridge illustrates in lines 63-66: At length did cross an Albatross Through the fog it came; As if it had been a Christian soul, We hail'd it in God's name (63-66). ...read more.


This is a continuation of the cycle of Christian sin - death and repentance. As a sacrament for his sin, the Mariner is feels compelled to wear the Albatross around his neck. This is reminiscent of the common cross that many Christians around their neck to always remind them of Jesus Christ's sacrifice for them on the cross. All sins have consequences, and the Mariner soon realized the consequences of his transgression. The lives of his shipmates, his dear friends, were lost, and he must float, alone and windless until he learns the value of all living creatures from the birds above, to the animal that roam the plains, to the fish and even the sea snakes that reside below. The marine finally realizes his mistakes and begins to appreciate all living things, this is when the Mariner finally begins the salvation process. In lines 289-291, the Mariner describes his softened heart and the deep grief he bears: The selfsame moment I could pray;/And from my neck so free/The Albatross fell off, and sank (289-291). ...read more.


In conclusion, Coleridge uses the Albatross in his poem as a Christ-like figure that follows the Mariner through the Christian cycle of sin, repentance, salvation, and penance. The Albatross, as viewed by the sailors was a sign of hope and indeed the Albatross brought hope and lead the sailors away from the freezing bonds of death. The Mariner is wrought with jealousy and human sin and kills the Albatross. As a representation of his sin, the Mariner must wear the Albatross around his neck as an ever-present reminder of his sin and lack of worthiness, much like Christians were crosses around their necks even today. After the Mariner realizes his the value of all creatures big and small and speaks a true prayer seeking of heart-felt repentance, the Albatross breaks free and the Mariner feels forgiven and free. Now, the Mariner continues his feeling of forgiveness by paying penance for the remainder of his days recounting to all, his tale of the dangers of sin to all who will listen, including the wedding guest and the Christian hermit. With each guest who listens to the tale of his forgiveness, the Mariner feels like a more complete and better person. ...read more.

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