The Rime of the Ancient Dæmon-lover

The romantic period in British literature was a very complex period. Many of this time period’s writings had similar themes. They seem to be inspired by one another. Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” seems to have been inspired not by another work from the romantic period but rather an old folk song “The Dæmon-lover” for they seem to share a similar theme. “The Dæmon-lover” in a tale about a woman waiting for her sailor husband who has been gone for some time now. The husband finally arrives one day and sets sail with the woman but he reveals that he is a dæmon turning the trip into a living hell. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a tale about a sailor interrupting a wedding in order to tell his tale and warn not to make his mistake. He tells the tale of all the hell he went through at sea because he had made the mistake of killing an albatross. These two tales seem to also have a similar supernatural aspect. 

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “The Dæmon-lover” are very similar; it almost seems as if Coleridge was heavily inspired by the old folk tale. Coleridge’s tale seems to echo many aspects of “The Dæmon-lover” one of which is the location of the tale, which the majority of takes place at sea. Typically most tales told at sea have a similar dark, violent, or haunting theme for as the sea is a vast void of the unknown. Coleridge and this folk tale both evoke these ideas by using imagery to show supernatural occurrences in which the sea is depicted as violent and unknown. For example in “The Dæmon-lover”, “The clouds grew dark, and the wind grew loud, / And levin° fill’d her e’e / And waesome wail’d the snaw-white sprites / Upon the gurlie° sea” (Lines 69-72). Prefacing these line the dæmon, which in itself is supernatural, and his lover are conversing when all of a sudden the dæmon reveals himself and his plan to the lover to take her soul. He begins to turn the sea and the sky into a violent dark abyss very much reflecting what the sea is usually depicted as. Coleridge echos this in his tale when he writes, “Upon the slimy sea / About, about, in reel and rout / The death-fires danced at night; / The water, like a witch’s oil, / Burnt green, and blue, and white” (Lines 126-130). Coleridge uses imagery to depict the sea as a dark and mysterious abyss with an aura around it similar to the stigma supernatural witches cauldrons as well as depicting the sky as deathly and haunting.  Coleridge very much echos the depiction of the sea and the supernatural aspect of “The Dæmon-lover”. 

Although very similar “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “The Dæmon-lover” there are some major differences. The reasoning behind why they were written is one of these differences. “The Dæmon-lover” is more of a tale that’s meant to teach you a lesson to not dive headfirst into the unknown. While the “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is more of a fully developed story about a character telling others about his mistake and what they should learn from it. 

Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a tale about seamen who happens to make a grave mistake while at sea and wants others to learn from his mistakes. The tale is filled with imagery to depict the sea as very dark and grim. This imagery seems to very much echo the old folk tale “The Dæmon-lover” making it seem as though Coleridge was very much inspired by it. However, there are a few differences such as that they were written for different reasons. 

Works Cited

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Romantic Period. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. W. W. Norton, 2017. pp. 448-64.

“The Daemon-lover.” The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Romantic Period. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. W. W. Norton, 2017. pp. 37-39.

2 Replies to “The Rime of the Ancient Dæmon-lover”

  1. Reuben, “The Rime of the Ancient Daemon-lover” presents a thoughtful comparative study of the Celtic ballad “The Daemon-lover” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” focusing on the supernatural aspect of the two. Correcting minor errors of punctuation and style would make this strong essay even stronger.

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    1. Reuben, many good comparisons were made between the “Daemon-lover” and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner¨ in your analysis of the two. I like that the characteristics of the sea’s impact on both pieces of writing is included. I think that this is very insightful. While reading both pieces, I also thought about the supernatural aspect of both of them. Fixing a few grammatical errors could improve this comparative overall.

      Like

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