The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Structural Critique

1824 words 8 pages
Within the poem considered his most famous work, Samuel Taylor Coleridge uses an abundance of literary devices to contribute to the effect of the poem. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” contains many elements, each of which enhances the way the poem conveys meaning. The extensive use of alliteration, varying metrical patterns, internal and external rhyme, anaphora, caesura, enjambment, and inversion add to the complexity of the structure and the overall meaning of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which could be interpreted as love for all living things. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is set up in the form of a ballad with seven parts. The poem follows many traditional conventions of ballads; it is a narrative as opposed to a …show more content…
In everyday speech, it is said the albatross was hung about my neck. Coleridge, however, changes this to “instead of the cross, the Albatross/About my neck was hung” (140-141). Not only does this maintain the internal rhyme scheme, but it also highlights the importance of the albatross being hung around the mariner’s neck. Another device Coleridge uses to contribute to the internal rhyme scheme of the poem is caesura. There are instances throughout the poem where a pause helps exemplify the internal rhyme. For example, when the mariner first sees Death and Life-in-Death, they are playing a game. Life-in-Death proclaims “the game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won (197). The use of the exclamation mark in the line adds the caesura, which emphasizes the rhyme between done and won. Another occasion where a caesura contributes to the internal rhyme of the poem is near the end. The mariner is bidding the wedding guest good-bye and giving him advice. He says “farewell, farewell! but this I tell/to thee, thou wedding guest” (612); again, the use of the exclamation mark emphasizes the rhyme of farewell and tell. Not only do caesura and inversion maintain the internal rhyme scheme of the poem, but they also contribute to the external rhyme and add significance to various lines, as does the use of enjambment. One instance where the use of enjambment highlights a single line occurs when the mariner is telling the wedding guest “for all averr’d, I

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