Coleridge(TM)s use of natural imagery

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Last updated: March 16, 2019

Life in death wins the dice game for the ship’s crew and subsequently the two hundred sailors on the boat die.After telling the wedding guest about all the crew dying, he fears that the Mariner is a ghost himself, however the Mariner quickly assures him that he survived, “this body fell not down” almost as if it was a punishment not to die and join his crew. Separation from society, isolation.

The moon rises and seems to bring a drastic change with it, a more calming and soothing environment and a one which the Mariner seems to be comfortable in.In the moon lit sea he watches the water snakes and blesses them unaware, resulting in the albatross falling from his neck like lead into the sea.When he shot the albatross it showed a lack of care for nature and it stayed with him as a constant reminder, when he blesses the water creatures and appreciates nature and their vivid colours the albatross falls of his neck and the spell is broken. The fact that he blesses them unaware shows that it’s genuine.He perceives the water creatures as being beautiful and he doesn’t need any one to tell him that or convince him because its self evident that their beautiful, ” No tongue their beauty might declare.” And so he has this feeling of love that gushes to him that he wishes to share with the creatures and seems to feel that he belongs with them and nature, more than he did with his human counterparts that were aboard the ship.

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Its important that he’s not accepted nature on a conscious level but that its come from within and Coleridge amplifies this point by repeating the word unaware, “And I blessed them unaware: sure my kind saint took pity on me, and I blessed them unaware.”The killing of the albatross can be seen as mirroring the death of Jesus Christ and the sea snakes are a redemptive presence in the poem that can allow the Mariner to see the error of his ways and be forgiven.This is the pivotal moment of the poem because he has changed from some one who has no respect or love of nature to some one that does and experiences a pantheist epiphany in nature realising that God is in everything tying in with the views that the Romantics along with Coleridge had on nature.As The Mariner shot the Albatross under the light of the moon which separated himself from God, in this extract the Albatross finally falls into the sea, also under the light of the moon and nature has reasserted itself.

Coleridge brings a feeling of relief to the spell being broken in lines two hundred and ninty and two hundred and ninety one by describing the Albatross as falling “like lead into the sea”, as if it was some sort of heavy anchor that has fallen which emphasises the Mariner’s burden which he has been rid of.Unlike Wordsworth, Coleridge did not view nature as a moral guide or a source of happiness and consolation; his contemplation of nature was always accompanied by awareness of the presence of the ideal in the real.Coleridge believed that natural images carried abstract meanings and he used them in his most visionary poems.

This can be seen in The Ancient Mariner as Coleridge uses natural images such as the sun and the moon to signify a change in mood and events. He personifies both the star and the planet describing them as if they are moving with a purpose , “The sun now rose upon the right: out of the sea came he, still hid in mist, and on the left went down into the sea.” Here, Coleridge makes it seem as if the sun is spying on the Mariner whilst hiding with some sort of cruel and sinister intent.

Contrast to the more macabre events happening under the sun’s rays, the moon appears to bring a calming atmosphere with it as in Coleridge’s notes at the side, he’s written, “By the light of the Moon he beholdeth God’s creatures of great calm.”At the end of the poem the Marine tells the moral of the story to the wedding guest, ” He preyeth 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.”This is the only real time that the moral message is mentioned explicitly and seems to come out of no where., where as the events and creaures such as the Albatross were mentioned repeatedly throughout the poem and have dramatic actions associated with them, for instance the Albatross being shot with a cross bow or falling like lead are both memorable things. The disturbing image of death and a mysterious woman gambling for the crew’s lives on a ghost ship that was likened to a rib cage is much harder to forget than four lines that talk about God’s love.It seems as though description of the moral message isn’t given the same the importance that the Albatross and water creatures are as the Albatross is described as following the ship for a long amount of time and bringing a strange mist with it, so before even the event of its death is mentioned there has been an ongoing build up of the Albatross in the readers mind and the thought that something is going to happen.The events of the poem have a life of their own which is superior to the preachers moral at the end which is somewhat clich�d and the imagery used to convey the message becomes distracting therefore having the power linger in the readers mind more than the moral message itself.


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