Harshitbansal , asked a question
Subject: English , asked on 17/8/15

line by line explanation for the rime of the ancient mariner ?

Vs , added an answer, on 7/2/13
305 helpful votes in English

 IT IS an ancient Mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three.
'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?


In the poem's first line, we meet its protagonist, "an ancient Mariner." He stops one of three people on their way to a wedding celebration. The Wedding Guest , tries to resist being stopped by the strange old man with the "long grey beard and glittering eye.

The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din.'

He explains that he is on his way to enjoy the wedding merriment; he is the closest living relative to the groom, and the festivities have already begun. 

He holds him with his skinny hand,
'There was a ship,' quoth he.
'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

The ancient mariner stops the wedding guest with his hand but when the wedding guests orders him to unhand him and calls him a loon, he lets go.

He holds him with his glittering eye--
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child:
The Mariner hath his will.

 Though the  mariner did not restrict the wedding guest physically the intensity in the gaze of the mariners eye was such that the wedding guest had no choice but to listen. And he listened like a 3 year old child listening to a bed time story. The mariner had his will/way.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

The wedding guest had no choice but to hear and the ancient mariner started to tell his tale.  He sits on a rock and listens.

The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

The Ancient Mariner explains that one clear and bright day, he set out sail on a ship full of happy seamen. They sailed past the church, the hill and the lighthouse top till they could see no more of the land.

The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.

They were sailing southwards as the sun came upon the left. He shone bright and strong,

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon--'
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.

The sun rose higher and higher everyday showing that they were nearing the equator. Suddenly, the sounds of the wedding interrupt the Ancient Mariner's story and the wedding guest beat his breast.

The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.

The Wedding Guest beats his chest impatiently as the blushing bride enters the reception hall and music plays. Next stanza –the wedding guest cannot choose but hear the ancient mariners tale.

And now the Storm-blast came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o'ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

Personification.- As soon as the ship reached the equator, a terrible storm hit and forced the ship southwards. The storm is tyrannous and strong. It is being compared to a bird- overtaking wings.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.

The mast of the ship unable to bear the strong and powerful wind of the storm bent under its force. The wind blew with such force that the ship pitched down in the surf as though it were fleeing an enemy. Ship was chased by the storm southwards.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

Then the sailors reached a calm patch of sea that was "wondrous cold", full of snow and glistening green icebergs as tall as the ship's mast.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken--
The ice was all between.

There were neither animals nor any other living creature in sight. All that one could see was ice and snow.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

The sailors were surrounded by ice. The sailors were the only living things in this frightening, enclosed world where the ice made terrible groaning sounds that echoed all around.

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.

  Finally, an  Albatross   emerged from the mist, and the sailors revered it as a sign of good luck, as though it were a "Christian soul" sent by God to save them. 

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

No sooner than the sailors fed the Albatross did the ice break apart, allowing the captain to steer out of the freezing world. 

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariners' hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine.'

The wind picked up again, and continued for nine days. All the while, the Albatross followed the ship, ate the food the sailors gave it, and played with them.    'Presence of the moonshine' signifies that God is pleased with the sailors on the ship and his blessings are with them.

God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!--
Why look'st thou so?'--'With my cross-bow
I shot the Albatross.'

At this point, the Wedding Guest notices that the Ancient Mariner looks grave and crazed. He sees a look of pain and horror on his face.

 The wedding guest was frightened. He called the God to save the Ancient Mariner from the devils which were troubling him. He asked him why he looked so. The Mariner replied that he had shot the Albatross with his cross-bow.

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.

At least time doesn't stop after he kills the albatross. The sun keeps rising and setting just as before, and the weather remains misty. Since the sailors are now traveling north instead of south, the sun rises on the right and sets on the left,

And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariners' hollo!

Though the south wind blew no albatross followed them or answered their call.

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

All the sailors believed that the mariner had committed a crime and said that he had done a hellish thing. They all agreed that the mariner should not have killed the bird that made the wind to blow. They called him a wretch to slay the bird.

Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,
The glorious sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.

As the sun was rising it looked more and more bright and beautiful due to aura of light. The sailors all then agreed that it was right to kill the bird that brought the fog and mist. This shows their fickle mindedness

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,- alliteration
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down,
'Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!

Everything is going along quite well for the crew. They carve the mounds of the waves with the wind at their back. They lose the good breeze at their backs, and without a breeze to fill the sails, the ship can't move. Suddenly, the "silence" of the uncharted waters sounds very ominous..

All in a hot and copper sky,- Metaphor
The bloody sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the moon.

The sun is small and "blood-red": it looks very far away. The sky has a strange fiery color. It tells us how intense the sun is.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Repetition to emphasise a lot of days. The sailors were stuck there was no motion. “As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.”

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

When wood is exposed to heat it shrinks. Thought they were surrounded by the vast ocean they could not drink a single drop of the water as it was salty .

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.

The salty sea water around the ship began to evaporate so fast that it seemed as though the entire sea had begun to rot and stink. The "ancient mariner" remarks that the situation became grim. The level of the sea water had fallen so low that he was able to see the deep sea creatures crawling and slithering about on the sea floor. The sea itself had become "slimy”. Crew members started hallucinating

. About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue, and white.

The situation the mariners were in was so disgusting that they felt everything around was moving in an unsteady way. Thus the water being under the spell of a black magician, appeared like the oil meant for evil purposes, burning green blue and white.


And some in dreams assured were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.

Spirit of albatross had followed them for nine fathoms- measurement of depth ; They are not in their senses. Semi - conscious

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

The tongue of the sailors was withered .They could speak no more as if they had been choked with soot.

Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung."

Even though the sailors could not talk their eyes said all. They were very upset with the ancient mariner and hung the albatross around the mariner’s neck as giving the blame entirely to the mariner and wanted him to carry the burden of guilt.






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