Coleridge's Poems

The Symbolic Themes of Mystery and the Supernatural in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," considered by many scholars as the quintessential masterpiece of English Romantic poetry, the symbolic themes of mystery and the supernatural play a very crucial role in the poem's overall effect which John Hill Spencer sees as Coleridge's "attempt to understand the mystery surrounding the human soul in a universe moved by forces and powers. . . immanent and transcendent" (157). Yet the Mariner himself appears to be trapped in this supernatural world as a result of ghostly manifestations which emanate from the realms of the unknown.

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was first published in Lyrical Ballads in 1798, a collection of poetry written and published jointly by Coleridge and his good friend William Wordsworth. Yet the text of the poem generally in use today appeared in Sibylline Leaves in 1817. The narrative in "Rime" is based on many sources and some of the ideas expressed in the poem were inspired by other pieces of verse read by Coleridge. The central action, however, seems to have been suggested by Wordsworth, who was familiar with Shelvocke's A Voyage Round the World by the Way of the Great South Sea...

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