Sounds of Change
In ?The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner?, Coleridge brings us into a world of magical fantasy. Using many poetic devices, he takes us along the voyage to the ends of the earth and back, following a magical old mariner. Beginning at the end, the story of the seaman?s travels bring him to a lovely wedding ceremony, forcing himself upon an unsuspecting guest, and he tells the tale, which has changed the mariner into the ghastly figure he is today. In the end of this almost epic poem, the ancient mariner (Coleridge) changes the conceptions of the wedding guest (the reader), making him a ?sadder and wiser man?. In this process, only the healing hands of this lonesome hermit can remove the sin from the mariner?s decaying soul.
The poems powerful words move the reader and the listener into feeling for the mariner?s woes. Even from the very beginning of part 7 of the poem, there is a paradox; the hermit is not what is usually expected. The very definition of a hermit is one who lives in solitude, yet it is he who is first to greet our man from the abyss along with a pilot and his boy.
Which slopes down to the sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears!
He loves to talk to mariners
That come from a far countree. (Coleridge p. 436)?
An eerie sense of evil is given off all around. For example, where there was light aboard the ship, there now is none. The pilot and the hermit, who come to guide the ship in, descend upon the vessel, but they pause looking for the lights that had once given notice to the ship?s arrival. The signal of the pilot?s arrival also goes unanswered, causing even more fear. The hermit is forced to push the pilot on. As soon as they get closer, the rumble of the water is all that can be heard as the mariner?s ship goes down.
?Under the water it rumbled on,
Still louder and more dread:
It reached the ship, it split the bay;
The ship went down like lead.(Coleridge p.436)?
The word ?rumble? clearly illustrates the churning of the water as it splits the bay and ravages the ship. At last, our mariner is back on dry land, but the memories still haunt him. His first action upon revival of his being is to ask for forgiveness. The words uttered move us into feeling pity for the weary sailor: ?? O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!?(Coleridge p.437)? The cries are like a wail from an injured animal. In this final call for help, he is given a new chance, but only if he goes around telling his tail to others. With the end of the mariner?s tale, he bids the guest farewell, leaving the Wedding-Guest with the burden from the tale:
?He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.?