Read the poem in full, all chapters in one page:
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Read the poem part by
part, each part in one page:
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
Original Illustrations: Gustave Dore
Released: September, 1970
"As to the poet, some wag said once of The Rime of the
Ancient Mariner, that "a half-great poet had a wholly great day." I have
also heard that Coleridge is supposed to have written his epic in one
sitting, in a great burst of inspiration. I can't vouch for that, but it is
truly a masterpiece--of that there can be no doubt."
Samuel T. Coleridge
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is an amazingly strong poem. Since I
read a summary of the romanticist epic poem during my college English
studies, I read the full work and some reviews. I have been completely
fascinated by the work. So here it is. But before that, I think it is
worthwhile to include a biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and short notes
on the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
You can find more works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge here:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Poems
The following biography is collected from
Online Literature Project
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
English lyrical poet, critic, and philosopher, whose
LYRICAL BALLADS, written with William
Wordsworth, started the English Romantic
movement. Although Coleridge's poetic achievement was small in
quantity, his metaphysical anxiety, anticipating modern existentialism, has
gained him reputation as an authentic visionary. Shelley called him
"hooded eagle among blinking owls."
Samuel T. Coleridge was born in Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, as the youngest
son of the vicar of Ottery St Mary. "At six years old I remember to have
read Belisarius, Robinson Crusoe, and Philip Quarll - and then I found the
Arabian Nights' entertainments - one tale of which (the tale of a man who
was compelled to seek for a pure virgin) made so deep an impression on me (I
had read it in the evening while my mother was mending stockings) that I was
haunted by spectres whenever I was in the dark - and I distinctly remember
the anxious and fearful eagerness with which I used to watch the window in
which the books lay - and whenever the sun lay upon them, I would seize it,
carry it by the wall, and bask, and read."
After his father's death Coleridge was sent away to Christ's Hospital School
in London. Coleridge studied at Jesus College. He joined in the
reformist movement stimulated by the
French Revolution, and abandoned his studies in 1793. After an unhappy
love-affair and pressed by debt he in desperation enlisted in the 15th Light
Dragoons under the name of Silas Tomkin Comberbache. Soon he realized that
he was unfit for an army career and he was brought out under 'insanity'
clause by his brother, Captain James Coleridge. In Cambridge Coleridge met
the radical, future poet laureate Robert Southey
(1774-1843) in 1794. Coleridge moved with him to Bristol to
establish a community, but the plan failed. In 1795 he married the sister of
Southey's fiancée Sara Fricker, whom he did not really love.
Coleridge's collection POEMS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS
was published in 1796, and in 1797 appeared POEMS.
In the same year he began the publication of a short-lived liberal political
periodical The Watchman. He
started a close friendship with Dorothy
and William Wordsworth, one of the most
fruitful creative relationships in English literature. From it resulted
Lyrical Ballads, which opened
with Coleridge's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner'
and ended with Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey.
These poems set a new style by using everyday language and fresh ways of
looking at nature. 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', a 625-line ballad,
is among his essential works. It tells of a sailor who kills an albatross
and for that crime against nature endures terrible punishments. The ship
upon which the Mariner serves is trapped in a frozen sea. An albatross comes
to the aid of the ship, it saves everyone, and stays with the ship until the
Mariner shoots it with his crossbow. The motiveless malignity leads to
punishment: "And now there came both mist and show, / And it grew wondrous
cold; / And ice, mast high, came floating by, / As green as emerald." After
a ghost ship passes the crew begin to die but the mariner is eventually
rescued. He knows his penance will continue and he is only a machine for
dictating always the one story. When Mrs. Barbauld objected to Coleridge
that the poem lacked a moral, the poet told her that "in my own judgment the
poem had too much; and that the only or chief fault, if I might say so, was
the obtrusion of the moral sentiment so openly on the reader as a principle
or cause of action in a work of pure imagination."
The brothers Josiah and
Thomas Wedgewood granted Coleridge an
annuity of 150 pounds, thus enabling him to pursue his literary career.
Disenchanted with political developments in France, Coleridge visited
Germany in 1798-99 with Dorothy and William
Wordsworth, and became interested in the works of
Immanuel Kant. He studied philosophy at
Göttingen University and mastered the German language. However,
he considered his translations of Friedrich von Schiller's plays from the
trilogy Wallenstein distasteful.
At the end of 1799 Coleridge fell in love with Sara
Hutchinson, the sister of Wordsworth's future wife, to whom he
devoted his work DEJECTION: AN ODE (1802).
During these years Coleridge also began to compile his
NOTEBOOKS, daily meditations of his life.
Suffering from neuralgic and rheumatic pains, Coleridge had became addicted
to opium, freely prescribed by
physicians. In 1804 he sailed to Malta in search of better health. Supplied
with an ounce of opium and nine ounces of laudanum, he wrote in his journal:
"O dear God! give me strength of soul to make one thorough Trial - If I
land at Malta / spite of all horrors to go through one month of unstimulated
nature..." He worked two years as secretary to the governor of Malta,
and later traveled through Sicily and Italy, returning then to England. In
1809-10 he wrote and edited with Sara Hutchinson the literary and political
magazine The Friend.
From 1808 to 1818 he gave several lectures, chiefly in London, and was
considered the greatest of Shakespearean critics.
Kubla Khan was inspired by a dream. In the summer of 1797
the author had retired to a lonely farm-house between Porlock and Linton.
He had taken anodyne and after three hours sleep he woke up with a clear
image of the poem. Disturbed by a visitor, he lost the vision, with the
exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images. Modern
scholarship is skeptical of this story, but it reflects Coleridge's problems
to manage practical life and finish his ideas.
In 1810 Coleridge's friendship with Wordsworth came to crisis, and the two
poets never fully returned to the relationship they had earlier. During the
following years Coleridge lived in London, on the verge of suicide. After a
physical and spiritual crisis at Greyhound Inn, Bath, he submitted himself
to a series of medical régimes to free himself from opium. He found a
permanent harbor in Highgate in the household of Dr. James Gillman, and
enjoyed almost legendary reputation among the younger Romantics. During this
time he rarely left the house.
In 1816 the unfinished poems CHRISTABEL
and KUBLA KHAN were published, and next
year appeared SIBYLLINE LEAVES.
According to the poet, he heard the words to 'Kubla
Khan' in a dream. After 1817 Coleridge devoted himself to
theological and politico-sociological works - his final position was that
of a Romantic conservative and Christian radical. He also contributed to
several magazines, among them Blackwood's Edinburgh
Magazine. Coleridge was elected a fellow
of the Royal Society of Literature in 1824. He died in Highgate,
near Londonon July 25, 1834.
Another excellent biography can be found here :