Publication Year



Coleridge, unreliable narrator, spiritual, Christian moral


English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Other Psychology


Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner is perhaps the most compelling vision of the strange an mystical in English poetry. It is an odyssey that takes us from a simple man's wedding to a surreal voyage through an ocean populated by vengeful spirits and guardian angles. It forces us to reexamine our own experience, and see the mysterious and fearful world that lies beyond the apparently mundane. Unwilling the let the reader listen to his tale with unguarded ears, Coleridge gives us an intermediary narrator to shield us from the Mariner's sense-rending power. This gloss presents one of the greatest challenges, and aids, to readers of the poem. The Mariner is no moralist, but the narrator of the gloss is, and his commentary turns our attention to the poem's nature as a religious piece in a way that we might never otherwise consider. In the process, the gloss complicates and closes off other interpretations and by addition changes the poem itself in a way that, unlike external criticisms (this essay, for instance), we are unable to disregard.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License