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Imagery to Coleridge

Imagery to Coleridge was as important as blood to a living body. ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ abounds in a lot of instances of his nature descriptions that reverberate with romantic suggestiveness and realism together. The descriptions of ice in the Polar Regions and the intense heat in the tropics are colored effectively with a sense of mystery and a touch of the supernatural, but the common man never finds it difficult to digest.

This saga of Coleridge is jam-packed with images of light and luminous color in sky and sea. Ice as green as emerald sends a dismal sheen. White moonlight glimmers through fog-smoke white. Life-in-death has red lips and yellow locks and her skin is as white as leprosy. In the second section of the poem, the poet connects the fraud and wickedness of the internal world to the external universe.

Here we see, in a hot and copper sky, the bloody sun stands right up over the mast and the ship remains as inactive as a painting. Slimy things are seen crawling upon the slimy sea. At night death fires dance and water burns like a witch’s oils (lines111-130). With “Water, water everywhere/ Nor any drop to drink,” (121-2) the most pitiable image of a universe dying of thirst and haunted by phantoms along with beating sun, unmoving ship and rotting water is complete.

The albatross itself stands for the essential sanctity of all created life and the guilt of the mariner is much beyond the murder of an ordinary bird. He has violated the inviolable sanctity of life and his action is inhuman and morally irresponsible to the utmost. This very action of the mariner stands for the failure of sympathy with fellow creatures which is the hallmark of the present age. Undoubtedly this has to be acquired through suffering. Only then regeneration can happen.

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