Genre: ballad (sort of).
Form, Meter, & Rhyme scheme: ballad stanza, with many variants. Six sections.

1. The young man stopped by the Mariner's glittering eye is on his way to a wedding. What's the significance of that? Is he changed for the better by the Mariner's story?

2. When read aloud, this poem sounds like a ballad (see other examples like "Lord Randal," Sir Patrick Spence," or "Barbara Allen"). But it comes with a lot of extra impedimenta: a headnote in Latin, an introduction, and a Gloss. Coleridge added and expanded these things when the poem was reprinted in his 1817 Complete Poetical Works, almost twenty years after its original publication in Lyrical Ballads. Why? Are these things necessary to the poem, or do they complicate it further? Would the poem be incomplete without them?

3. Is the albatross some sort of symbol? Which is more important, the fact that the Ancient Mariner kills; that he kills without a reason to do so; or that he kills an albatross?

4. If the primary theme of the poem is universal charity ("He prayeth best, who loveth best/ All things both great and small;/ For the dear God who loveth us,/ He made and loveth all"), what excuse is there for all the rest of the poem — its special atmosphere, the story within a story, the quasi-Renaissance setting, and the bizarre imagery?

Related Materials

Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000