Boyd's Dante, Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, and the Pattern of Infernal Influence

by Eric C. Brown
Boyd's Dante, Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, and the Pattern of Infernal Influence
Eric C. Brown
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900
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Sb.1 38 (1998)

ISSN 0039-36.57

Boyd's Dante, Coleridge's Ancient
Mariner, and the Pattern of Infernal


As a literary critic, Samuel Taylor Coleridge tzias one of the first in the English language to assess the particularities of Dante's Divina Cornmedia. Indeed, his lecture on Dante in 1818 remains one of the most significant landmarks in the popular- izing of the Italian epic. Yet in discussions of Coleridge and his poetry, especially The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, his relationship to Dante is usually neglected. Coleridge's first exposure to him came relatively early in his poetic career; he borrowed from the Bristol library the first two volumes of a recent translation by Reverend Henry Boyd from 23June to 4 July 1796. In The Road to Xanadu, John L. Lowes writes further that from 1794 to 1798 Dante tzias "more or less in the air in Coleridge's circle."' Soon after reading Boyd's translation, Coleridge proposed in his note- book a "Poem in [three] Books in the manner of Dante on the excursion of Thor," crossing out "three" and rewriting "one" in the manuscript.* The Ancient Marinerwas subsequently composed between November of 1797, on the famous walk among the Quantock Hills, and March of 1798, when Coleridge went to dine with the Wordstvorths and brought along the finished ballad. I contend that The Ancient iVariner in many ways fulfills Coleridge's scribbled goal of an excursion in the manner of

Eric C. Brown is visiting assistant professor at the Unirersitv of South- western Louisiana. He is currently working on time and performance in Renaissance drama.

Dante (with "Thorn transformed into a sort of prototypical Heyerdahl), and that distinct verbal and imagistic parallels exist between the Inferno, as translated by Boyd, and Coleridge's poem.Woreover, the Inferno unlocks further dimensions of one of the great cruxes in The Ancient hlariner: the slaying of the albatross and the penance that ensues. The close connection with Dante's Inferno suggests that Coleridge first saw The Ancient iblariner as an inherently moral tale, one that might demon- strate the kind of spiritual struggle and progression evident in the first part of the Divina Cornmedia. Boyd himself saw the plan of Dante's epic in remarkable Ancient Mariner-like terms: "the conversion of a sinner by a spiritual guide, displaying in a series of terrible visions the secrets of Divine Justice, and whose inter- position had been procured by the supplication of a Saint in Paradi~e."~

Examining Coleridge's poem in light of this paradigm not only emphasizes the very Dantean morality of the poem-a morality some recent critics have tended, unlike Coleridge, to dismiss too readily-but also clarifies and unites many of the local incidents in the narrative into a coherently infernal at tern.^ The sin, the terrible visions, and the divine guidance all result in a poetic epic akin to Dante's spiritual allegory.

During Coleridge's trip to Italy in 1804, one of his self- professed hopes was to bring along "Dante & a Dictionary," and this tzias probably his first prolonged exposure to the original text.6 Still, Lowes asserts, one can "scarcely . . . assume that Coleridge could have done nothing with Dante in the original in 1798."7 Whether Coleridge knew Dante in the Italian, his first allusion to him appears in the 25 March 1796 edition of the Watchman. Discussing issues of slave trade, he writes, "I will not mangle the feelings of my readers by detailing enormities, which the gloomy Imagination of Dante tz~ould scarcely have dared attribute to the Inhabitants of Hell."8 Lowes himself cites only two stanzas of The Ancient Mariner as derived from Dante. And with little exception, subsequent critics have surprisingly looked no further into Boyd's translation of Dante, despite Lowes's initial suggestive findings."Several have, however, attempted to point out connections between Dante's Inferno and Coleridge's Kubla Khan, nevertheless leaving The Ancient Mariner alone on a wide, wide sea.)1° Several critics relegate the influence of Dante in general to an abysmal level." What makes the inattention perhaps all the more remarkable is the close proximity in time of Coleridge's 27 February 1818 lecture on Dante, and his 1817 republication (with revisions and glosses) of The Ancient Mariner. His addenda to the 1817 edition suggest that Dantean influences were resurfacing, for many of the revisions emphasize those parts of the poem that seem most Dantean. But the reading of Boyd more than suffices for any lack of opportunity on Coleridge's part to gather numerous impressions.

Boyd's translation is not an especially successful one, as he freely embellishes the original with frill and ornamentation. One contemporary review (December 1785) of the translation reads, "We cannot say much in praise of this work, but that the translation of Dante is generally faithful, and renders pretty correctly the sense of a very difficult writer"; while yet another critiques, "Of the translator's abilities and execution, we, on the whole, think highly. He has taken some liberty with the original, but it is principally in softening absurd or offensive images."'* More recent critics have been somewhat less forgiving. Boyd wrote in six-line stanzas, a stricture that forced him occasionally into awkward rhymes (consider the following, from canto 2: "Shall I presume, tho' great Aeneas dar'd / To meet the terrors of the Stygian guard"), either expansive or selective imagery, and diction that one critic has called "stiff and pompous."13 Thomas

L. Cooksey remarks of his opening to canto 1, "Boyd's version ('pathless grove') does little to evoke the terror of Dante's dark forest ('una selva oscura, / Che la diritta via era smarrita'). In its place one senses a languid weariness. Dante's greatest danger would seem to be ennui."14 But such criticisms distort what Boyd does accomplish. The difficulties of rhymed translations of Dante have long been catalogued by virtually every writer who has made the attempt; terza rima, or a semblance thereof, does not easily fit into English verse. His translation offers an accu- rate and often vivid display of the major encounters, particularly in the later cantos, and certainly depicted enough of Dante's imaginative power for Robert Southey. He had the first volume for two days and the second for one month in late 1794, and did not dissuade his friend from encountering Dante, perhaps for the first time, through Boyd's rendition.

Lowes writes that Coleridge "was stirred to emulation by Dante's art," and singles out the voyage of Ulysses as particularly influential. He aptly notes that "Ulysses's last voyage, as his rest- less shade relates it in the Inferno, was into the unknown South."15 Boyd translates the recounting of Ulysses as follows:

With measur'd stroke the whit'ning surge they sweep,
Till ev'ry well-known star beneath the deep
Declin'd his radiant head; and o'er the sky
A beamy squadron rose, of name unknown,

Antarctic glories deck'd the burning zone
Of night, and southern fires salute the eye.


Forging into the Antarctic, Ulysses and his crew do seem, in Boyd's nearly surreal translation, to be entering a land where "snowy clifts / . . . send a dismal sheen," the shimmering zone of the aurora a~stralis.~~owes

then compares the final submerg- ing of the Mariner's vessel, in which "The ship went down like lead" (line 549), to the swift and climactic flap-dragoning of Ulysses' ship:

Trembling I saw the Heav'n-commission'd blast
The canvas tear, and bend the groaning mast;
In vain we toil'd the ruin to prevent:
Thrice round and round the found'ring vessel rides,
The op'ning plank receiv'd the rushing tides,
And me and mine to quick perdition sent!


Indeed, Dante's imagery resembles that conjured by Coleridge near the conclusion of his poem:

And straight a sound was heard.
Under the water it rumbled on,
Still louder and more dread:


Upon the whirl, where sank the ship,
The boat spun round and round;
And all was still, save that the hill
Was telling of the sound.

(lines 545-59)

The ship nearing land after a long voyage into unknown south seas, the sudden uprising of a tremendous force, and the mael- strom whirling and sinking the ship seem resoundingly to echo one another. Lowes does not delve into perhaps the final asso- ciation, however, that of the penance itself. Most Dantean crit- ics acknowledge the island-mountain of Ulysses to be Mount Purgatory. Ulysses fails to reach the place of penitence and redemption, but the Mariner, like Dante's Pilgrim at the begin- ning of the Purgatom'o, is brought aboard a Pilot's boat and trans- ported to his purgatorial circle, in which "ever and anon throughout his future life an agony constraineth him to travel from land to land . . . And to teach, by his own example, love and reverence to all things that God made and loveth" (Gloss, lines 582, 610). Like Ulysses, the Mariner is enclosed in a tongue of flame, for "at an uncertain hour, / That agony returns: / And till my ghastly tale is told, / This heart within me burns" (lines 582-5, my emphasis). He is compelled by those he meets to tell his story and show by example the nature of his crime-like Ulysses, and in fact many shades, in the Inferno. The "ancient mariner" in Dante is the shade of Ulysses.

In addition to Ulysses, a second ancient sailor plays a promi- nent role in Coleridge's poem: the boatman Charon. The river Acheron his Pacific, Charon appears in the third canto, the whole of which Coleridge would single out in his lecture as full of a "wonderful sublimity." As "picturesque beyond all, modern or ancient," the appearance of Charon at the close of the canto is proffered by Coleridge." And the image of Charon is a star- tling one. As Dante and Virgil prepare to cross the waters with a contingent of pale shades, they spot from the shore the wizened pilot (" Un vecchio bianco per antico pelo") :

Far off exclaim'd the grizzly mariner,
"Hither, ye Denizens of Hell, repair!
The Stygian barque her wonted load requires;
For you diurnal stars benignant beam,
Prepare ye now to feel the fierce extreme
Of frost corrosive, and outrageous fire."


Boyd's dramatic epithet-"grizzly marinern-evokes quite closely Coleridge's "ancient Mariner" whose "beard with age is hoar" (line 619). The words of Charon are appropriate for the Mariner as well, as if the Wedding-Guest were preparing "to feel the fierce extreme." The baking sun ("All in a hot and copper sky, / The bloody Sun, at noon, / Right up above the mast did stand, / No bigger than the moon" [lines 11 1-41 ) and bitter frost are both pertinent aspects of the Mariner's tale. The mesmerizing powers of the Mariner-"He holds him with his glittering eye," "the bright-eyed Mariner" (lines 13, 20)-resemble Charon's as well. The Stygian guide forces the souls to obey him: "The Fiend, with lifted oar, and eyes of flame, / Compell'd the ling'ring soul to haste on board" (3.23).ls Further, the "spectre-bark" bears some similarities to the skiff of Charon. After Death and his mate depart, "The stars were dim, and thick the night, / The steers- man's face by his lamp gleamed white" (lines 206-7). The Mariner's own ship becomes the skiff of Charon, leading ever further into a realm where, the Mariner says, "never a saint took pity on / My soul in agony" (lines 234-5), where indeed "diur- nal stars benignant beam," and where the gleaming white steers- man is a ghastly caricature of a mythical ferryman.

The combination of these two figures-Ulysses and Charon- helps establish that the Mariner bears a recurrent infernal trait: a soul who is at once a prisoner and a guide. Aspects of the Mariner, these same forces operate in the poem as a whole, espe- cially insofar as they are expressed in subsequent Dantean elements of Coleridge's poem. Lowes finds one in the "lonesome road" passage. In one of Coleridge's own copies of Sibylline Leaves, a penciled note says simply "From Dante" next to the stanza that reads,

Like one, that on a lonesome road

Doth walk in fear and dread,

And having once turned round walks on,

And turns no more his head;

Because he knows, a frightful fiend

Doth close behind him tread.

(lines 446-51)

Lowes feels confident that the marginalia was not written in Coleridge's hand, but adds, "there is every reason for assum- ing . . . that information which it records . . . may have come from Coleridge by word of mouth," as the volume was passed from Coleridge to two friends, James Gillman, with whom he lived for eighteen years, and S. B. Watson, "both a pupil and a friend." Finding Boyd's rendering a somewhat imprecise and unlikely source, Lowes appends Carlyle's prose translation.lg Coleridge may have recollected this canto because of the extended naval metaphor with which it begins, concerning workers in the Venetian shipyards.*O This question may be resolved below, in the wake of Dantean elements overlooked by Lowes in Boyd.

If the Mariner's tale begins as a recounting of Ulysses' voyage, it soon plunges into deeper waters. Coleridge writes, "And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he / Was tyrannous and strong; / He struck with his o'ertaking wings, / And chased us south along" (lines 41-4). (In canto 21, that of the naval conceit and "lonesome road," Boyd describes a "storm" as "dark-wing'd" [stanza 31 ) . Immediately, Coleridge decidedly inverts the conno- tations one might expect from the popular Romantic metaphor of wind. The conventional attitude toward wind is famously explained by M. H. Abrams, who remarks that "air-in-motion, whether it occurs as a breeze or a breath, wind or respiration . . . is not only a property of the landscape, but also a vehicle for radical changes in the poet's mind . . . [TIhe rising wind, usually linked with the outer transition from winter to spring, is correlated with a complex subjective process: the return to a sense of community after isolation, the renewal of life and emotional vigor after apathy and a deathlike torpor, and an outburst of creative power following a period of imaginative ~terility.'~~

Coleridge's own contribution to this convention is of course The Eolian Harp; however, by the time of The Ancient Mariner, the wind that in Coleridge's earlier piece brought "motion" and "joyance every where" metamorphoses into some- thing of an abomination: it petrifies and freezes the Ancient Mariner, much like the Mariner's own "breath" of speech entrances and stuns the Wedding Guest (lines 27, 29). As the ship nears the pole, the wind acts as an antithesis to the divine breath that motivates "all of animated nature"; it is, in effect, Satanic. The storm-blast blows the Mariner and ship not only to the south, but downward into the benthic wastes of an infernal Cocytus, Dante's hellish realm of snow and ice.

In the final canto of the Inferno, the tyrannical figure of Satan appears "with six shadowy wings" (34.9). Dante's Pilgrim says,

He wav'd his sail-broad wings, and woke the storm,
Cocytus shudder'd thro' her tribes deform
That felt the freezing pow'r in ev'ry gale:
Keen, polar blasts around his pinions fleet,
And o'er the region sift th' eternal sleet,
And mould, with many a gust, the beating hail.


The motion of the winds in both the Inferno and The Ancient Mariner creates, paradoxically, a stasis. For just as Satan gener- ates the winds to perpetuate the frozen souls' icy coffin, so too the Mariner's "storm-blast" blows the ship into a realm where "The ice was here, the ice was there, / The ice was all around" (lines 59-60)-the "land of ice, and of fearful sounds where no living thing was to be seen" (Gloss, line 55). Dante's Pilgrim has reached the lowest point on earth, the frozen wastes of hell, and the Mariner has arrived as well in the symbolically abysmal envi- ronment of the Antarctic, where "now there came both mist and snow, / And it grew wondrous cold: / And ice, mast-high, came floating by" (lines 51-3) .22 This is the glacial, paralytic domain of souls locked in ice as flies in amber. (It is also the home of the polar spirit, who follows the ship "nine fathoms deep," just as Dante's Satan is solidly locked in the ninth circle of Indeed, further relating Coleridge's domain to the sphere of Satan, Boyd writes of the ninth circle, "here the morning points a purple ray, / And gilds with light the broad antarctic wave"

(34.23). The pattern of suspension and paralysis needs to be emphasized here, because the paradox of which they form part-the other being the sense of guidance and motion-is embodied by the punishment that takes place in this terrain of immobility.

If Coleridge recalled the twenty-first canto by virtue of its ship imagery, even more dramatic naval imagery begins immediately upon the arrival in Cocytus. Upon being deposited in the ninth circle by the giant, Antaeus, the Pilgrim remarks: "Reclining breathless on the shore unbless'd, / We saw the Libyan rear his stately crest, / Spring like a mast, and tow'r above the view" (31.23). Similarly, the Mariner describes the initial view of the southern sea, where "there came both mist and snow," as a confrontation with "ice, mast-high" (lines 51, 53). Dante's Pilgrim then recites the "wand'ring o'er the frozen flood, / A dreary polar scene, extending wide!" (32.4). He calls the region that of "everlasting ice," and "eternal frost," anticipating the Mariner's perception of the Antarctic as a place of ubiquitous ice (32.6-14). In The Ancient Ma~ner, following the metaphorical inversion of the usually cathartic wind, and the accordant asso- ciations with the ninth circle of hell and frozen wastes of Cocy- tus, the albatross appears within the diabolical surroundings. With the advent of the bird, "The ice did split with a thunder-fit7' and "a good south wind sprung up behind" (lines 69, 71). The wind returns as giver of life, a physical and spiritual mover; it is once again a gentle breeze. The visitation of the albatross, and ensuing crime, has been the subject of much criticism.24 What critics have overlooked, however, is the very specific depiction of the crime and a Dantean tradition of punishment utterly appropriate for the transgre~sion.~~

The punishment melds perfectly the overriding forces of motion and suspension that form the Dantean hallmarks in Coleridge's poem.

Dante reserves Cocytus, the land of mist and ice, for traitors; he reserves a special portion for those treacherous to guests ("Pto1omea"-named after Ptolemy, the captain of Jericho who murdered his father-in-law and two sons while dining at a banquet). There, unlike in the prior zones of Cocytus, the souls seemed "for ever bound in iron sleep" (33.19). Upon entering this region, the "bitter blast, / Relentless breathing o'er the sullen waste" begins (33.20). (Here again appears the "storm- blast," signaling arrival in the depths of hell.) In The Ancient Mariner, Coleridge is meticulous (perhaps obsessive) in stressing the communal aspects of the sailors' encounter with the alba- tross. The Mariner relates that the bird "ate the food it ne'er had eat / . . . / And every day, for food or play, / Came to the mariners' hollo!" (lines 67-74). In the Gloss, Coleridge stresses aspects of guest-friendship: the albatross "was received with greatjoy and hospitality" (Gloss, line 63) and further "perched for vespers nine" (line 76) in anticipation of conviviality. Even more overtly, in the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads Coleridge appends a rewritten "Argument," focusing on the nature of the crime: "how the Ancient Mariner cruelly, and in contempt of the laws of hospitality, killed a Sea-bird." When the Mariner shoots the bird with his cross-bow, Coleridge glosses the crime in comparable terms: "the ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good omen" (Gloss, line 79). In Dante's hell, those who are traitorous to guests suffer a unique punishment; indeed, the punishment is the penultimate in magnitude in all of the Inferno. The very first soul that Virgil and the Pilgrim encounter, in the region of hell in which one might expect the Mariner to be punished, goes by the name "Fra Alberigo."

(Although Alberigo was a historical personage of questionable mien, in Italian, albergo can ironically denote hospitality. The assonant resemblance between "Alberigo" and "Albatross" is also tantalizingly coincidental.) In this Dantean episode, Coleridge may have found not only the crime but the appro- priate penance for his Mariner.

Alberigo relates to the Pilgrim that those souls in Ptolomea are often plunged into eternal ice even while their physical forms reside on earth:

"For ever exil'd from the bounds of day,

Oft' the sad Spirit seeks the frozen bay,

And leaves the limbs, posses'd of life, behind.

When first the Traitor's soul forsakes its seat,

A chosen demon finds the soul retreat,

And ev'ry function of the man renews:

To all his old allies, the form posses'd,

Still seems the same, caressing or caress'd,

'Till age or sickness sets the pris'ner loose.

Know, Mortal! with the first felonious deed,


A Demon comes to guide the mortal frame;
Below, in frozen chains the Spirit pines."


Alberigo's crime was signaling, under the pretense of serving a dessert of fruit, for his guards to slay guests he had invited for dinner. The Mariner's crime, verily "a hellish thing" (line 91), is also treachery to guests, second in Dante's Hell only to the sin of Judas Iscariot (those treacherous to benefactors), and the Mariner's punishment is identical to that of Fra Alberigo: Life-in-Deathz6 The Mariner leaves a life behind, still chained to the glacial bergs, and embarks upon a demon-driven existence. Notably, Coleridge's Gloss underscores the images of Life-in-Death: "The Wedding-Guest feareth that a Spirit is talking to him; But the Ancient Mariner assureth him of his bodily health" (Gloss, lines 224, 230) The assurance of bodily health, to the exclusion of Spirit, is also made apparent in the hardly solacing lines, "'fear not, thou Wedding-Guest! /This body dropt not down"' (lines 230-1). As with the Dantean shades treacherous to guests, the body functions perfectly well, while the soul suffers eternal torment in the "frozen bay." And the tremulous words of the Wedding-Guest, "'I fear thee, ancient Mariner! / .. . thou art long, and lank, and brown, /As is the ribbed sea-sand"' (lines 224-7), fuse the Mariner with an earlier image, that of the "strange ship" whose "ribs are seen as bars" (Gloss, line 183), "ribs through which the Sun / Did peer, as through a grate"

(lines 185-6). Meanwhile, the "Demon" who "comes to guide the mortal frame," while "in frozen chains the Spirit pines," rides upon that very ship, and is none other than Life-in-Death herself, the perfect avatar for the union of motion and utter immobility (33.26).

In a note, Boyd comments that the Dantean supposition of punishment to those traitorous to guests bears "a striking poet- ical effect, and includes a very fine moral," in that "a single act of this kind is equivalent to a conformed habit of some other vices" (Boyd, 2:345, note; my emphasis). The singular act in Therlncient Mariner begins to be punished with a second "freezing" of the Mariner's ship, during which neither "breath nor motion" appears. The marginal Gloss, "And the albatross begins to be avenged," appears next to the well-known stanza,

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.   (lines 119-22)

This stanLa is arrestingly Tartarean; the image is of Tantalus, a gloomy, tortured shade in the classical Underworld who, surrounded by and immersed to the chin in water, seeks to quench an eternal thirst only to have the liquid ebb from his lips as he bends to drink. While the evocation of this famous image need not derive from Dante to emphasi~e the link between the penance for killing the albatross and infernal punishment, the Infprno does contain an analogous victim who thirsts eternally in the presence of water.27 It should be further noted that the crime for which Zeus punishes Tantalus is also treachery to guests: in order to test the gods' omniscience, Tantalus served his own son, in a stew, to an assemblage of banqueting deities. (Even in Thor's excursion, mentioned in Coleridge's notebook, guests and dining are interwoven in a dismal underground. The expe- dition to which he most likely refers involves the god's descent into the Norse underworld, in which a disguised Thor disturbs the wedding feast of his enemy. Such an excursion, if in the manner of Dante, should focus too on guests and feasting.)

At Dante's lowest infernal point, where usually swirling fogs have dispersed, the gargantuan figure of Satan confronts the Pilgrim, who cries, "New palsies seiz'd my agonizing frame, / And glowing now I felt the fever's flame, / While life and death by turns my limbs forsook (34.6). If the punishment of those treacherous to guests failed to capture Coleridge's imagination, the alarming lines of the Pilgrim-"life and death by turns my limbs forsookv-surely would. And it follows in The Ancient Mariner that upon the clearing of the fog, the spectre-bark bear- ing Life-in-Death and her mate arrives.28 Coleridge added the "Life-in-Death" epithet after the initial publication, and, as with the marginal Gloss, the addition strengthens the ties to Dante, as Coleridge's own mind became further steeped in the complete Divina C~mmedia.~Wante's

shades in Cocytus "feel thro' their veins the icy horrors creep. / Their rigid lips were sealed in dumb despair, / Their stony eyes, unconscious of a tear" (34.4-5). As a harbinger of the demonic, the power of cold, which Thomas Hobbes declared "doth . . . generate fear in those that sleep, and causeth them to dream of ghosts, and to have phantasms of horror and danger," permeates the depths of hell.30 The internalization of such a realm, in frozen veins, beto- kens the onset of Life-in-Death as well, who "thicks man's blood with cold" (line 194), and at the time of her appearance, the Mariner reports, "Through utter drought all dumb we stood!" (line 157). The "black lips baked" and "throats unslaked" of the Mariner's crew, like the "rigid lips . . . sealed in dumb despair" of the shades, hint at that horrific aspect of nightmares in which one's power of speech is paralyzed, and slack-jawed screams bear the chilled silence of an Edvard Munch rendering. They represent well the forces of motion and stasis entwined.

During the Mariner's return, a remarkable instance of frozen motion recurs. Just before he falls into a very Dantesque "swoon," the ship again becomes becalmed. The Mariner has reached once more the equator, and as to the ship, "The Sun, right up above the mast, / Had fixed her to the ocean" (lines 383-4). In effect, the sun "fixes" the ship in the same way that the Mariner transfixes the Wedding-Guest with his Charon-like gaze. The Wedding-Guest is suspended at the threshold of the banquet, frozen as if either locked in an ice floe or fixed by the sun, while the ship and its crew are suspended at the threshold of a symbolic return north. The Mariner's initial descent south, over the globe's ever-shrinking latitudinal circles, may be seen as a pattern mimicking Dante's own descent through the concentric circles of When the Mariner begins his ascent, he reaches at the liminal equator a position of Dantean suspended animation. The work of such forces in The Ancient Mariner, suspending action at some critical threshold, has been noticed by several readers. Lowes sees the Mariner as "a denizen of the borderland between two worlds," while Harold Bloom calls the Mariner "a lurker at the threshold"; Camille Paglia writes of the Wedding-Guest's suspension before the wedding hall-"This doorway is the obsessive scenev-and Coleridge had his own obsessive predilection for the doorway in Dante. He singled out the inscription "Per me si va " on Hell's gate, in his 1818 lecture, as especially profound.32 Coleridge's concern for the supernatural power of such locales is again evident in Christabel, when Geraldine is carried over the threshold, a barrier she is otherwise unable to cross. Utter suspension tends to operate as a recurring dramatic threat in both The Ancient Mariner and the Inferno, both anticipating and recalling the frozen worlds- Cocytus and Antarctica-of absolute immobility.

Following his second collapse, the Mariner hears two voices belonging to the "invisible inhabitants of the element." The Polar Spirit, apparently sated with the "penance long and heavy" imposed upon the Mariner, returns to the land of mist and snow. The air spirits tellingly converse upon the force impelling the ship; the second voice declares of the Mariner and his motion that

His great bright eye most silently

Up to the moon is cast-

If he may know which way to go;

For she guides him smooth or grim.

See, brother, see! how graciously

She looketh down on him.

(lines 416-21)

Such guiding forces in The Ancient iMariner continue to echo Dante, and recall Boyd's emphasis on "the supplication of a Saint in Paradise." (The Mariner himself serves as a sort of guide, lead- ing the M7edding-Guest on a tour of his own personal descent, just as Virgil guides Dante's Pilgrim through the underworld.) The dialogue of the spirits may be compared with Virgil's expla- nation of his intentions and sources of divine aid to the Pilgrim. He first relates the words of Beatrice, one of the guiding compul- sions for the entire Divina Commedia:

"I fear, I fear, my succour comes too late;
For see! he struggles in the toils of fate,
Beset by Fiends in terrible array!
Portentous rumours sadden all the sky!"


The "fiends . . . that plague" (line 80) the Mariner are in part dispelled by the succor of the gracious lady who guides him in part 4: the Polar Spirit finally "returneth southward" only after the Mariner becomes protectively entranced. A close proximity also exists in the poem between the giving of the "holy Mother's" grace and portentous rumors saddening the sky, for the Mariner "heareth sounds and seeth strange sights and commotions in the sky" (Gloss, lines 297,309). And those Dantean lines addressed to the guardian saint intensify the associations with the Mariner's plight: "Ah! gentle Lucia, haste! thy suppliant save; / See what dire shapes around their victim rave; / And see how sorrow bends his tortur'd frame" (2.20). The dire shapes of the ghastly crew, "For a charnel-dungeon fitter" (line 435), surround the Mariner in just this way. The "blessed troop of angelic spirits, sent down by the invocation of the guardian saint" (Gloss, line 346) compare with the spiritual aid sent by three protective women in the Inferno: Mary, St. Lucy, and Beatrice. When the Mariner exclaims, "Sure my kind saint took pity on me, / An3 I blessed them unaware" (lines 286-7), the sanctuary may well have been provided by any one of that divine trio.

During the ship's return to the harbor, the Mariner is reminded of whence he has come. The Dantesque "lonesome road" passage, as noted earlier, appears here. The Mariner then immediately observes, "soon there breathed a wind on me, / . . . It raised my hair, it fanned my cheek" (line 456), and now Abrams's correspondent breeze of "emotional vigor" and "renewal of life" appears rightly oriented. But the apparent rectitude is as delusive as Satan's fog. When the Mariner contin- ues, "It mingled strangely with my fears, / Yet it felt like a welcoming" (lines 458-9), the mingling of fear and invitation unite his past and present. No sooner does he arrive in his "owne countree" than the imagery returns to hellish Cocytus. "The harbour-bay was clear as glass" (line 472), just as those imprisoned in the lowest and innermost region of Cocytus appear "In silent shoals, beneath the frozen bay, / The lowest tenants of the wint'ry waste!" (34.3). The ghoulish paradox of life in death continues to haunt him. The "skiff-boat" (line 523) reappears in the Mariner's homecoming, just as the glass-like harbor of Cocytus returns. The Pilot, Pilot's Boy, and Hermit make up a conglomerate Charon, this time bearing the Mariner not into but out of the Underworld. Tmly, "The Devil knows how to row" (line 569).

That The Ancient Mariner comes full-circle is further indicated by the symmetrical relation of the harbor's landmarks: the initial "Merrily did we drop / Below the kirk, below the hill, / Below the lighthouse top" (lines 22-4) becomes upon the return "is this indeed / The light-house top I see? / Is this the hill? is this the kirk?" (lines 464-6). Such countercurrent images stress the ouroboric quality of the trip, and lend to the harbor the feel- ing not just of glass, but of a mirror. It is also highly significant that the scene of penance occurs at a feast, a wedding banquet, and that the penance appropriately is directed toward a Wedding-Guest.33 The Mariner avers, "That moment that his face I see, / I know the man that must hear me" (lines 589-90). The Guest is the perfect vehicle of penance for one whose treachery has been to unsuspecting visitants. Like the "Hermit good," who first hears the tale, and who also is noted for his hospitality ("He loves to talk with marineres / That come from a far countree" [lines 514-81 ), the Wedding-Guest inherits the projected position of albatross: an unwitting participant in a recurring banquet. Returning, as it were, to the scene of the crime, the Mariner instructs "by his own example" the figure who best embodies those traits that previously perished with the "whizz" of a crossbow.

With the circularity of The Ancient Mam'ner in mind, I would like to return to my earlier discussion of the "lonesome road" passage. Lowes thought canto 21 to have been, perhaps, Coleridge's source; but "the lonesome road" passage might well have originated from a much earlier portion of the Inferno. As the narrative begins, Dante's Pilgrim remarks,

Now fled my fear, that thro' the toilsome night The vital current froze, and urg'd my flight, When the sad moments of despair I told.

Then, like a toil-worn mariner I stood,

Who, newly scap'd the perils of thejlood,

Turns him again the danger to behold.

(1.4, my emphasis)

In Coleridge's poem, the marginal Gloss relates that "the curse is finally expiated," but the toil-worn mariner has yet more danger to behold (Gloss, line 442). The Ancient Mariner inverts, in a sense, Dante's pattern of descent, beginning in ice-locked Cocytus and continuing with the Mariner's ascent out of the south seas, rather than the corkscrew effect of the Inferno. For when "the curse is finally expiated," and the Mariner claims,

once more

I viewed the ocean green,

And looked far forth, yet little saw

Of what had else been seen,

(lines 442-5)

we are effectively back in canto 1 of the Inferno. However, the Mariner's homecoming is also a constant iteration of an eternal plight, "ever and anon throughout his future life," in which he is forever bound with polar chains to the land of ice, and the Circle of souls traitorous to guests.

The exact extent of Coleridge's debt to Dante is, of course, difficult to assess. Yet there is no doubt that Coleridge read the Inferno before beginning his own poem of pilgrimage, and that aspects critical to his poem bear similarities, often overt, to Dante's. The mariner figures of Ulysses and Charon begin the pattern of paralysis and motion that the Antarctic realm of Cocytus emanates so potently in the punishment of Life-in-Death, and the punished souls who only delay and stay the Pilgrim's course contend with those "saintly" ones who offer guidance. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner possesses distinctly infernal parallels, but they are not present haphazardly. They maintain a powerful convergence of antagonistic forces upon which Coleridge draped his own art. Especially in light of Coleridge's later fascination with Dante, it does not seem far- reaching to suppose his first impressions to have been powerful enough to find their way into a poem so thematically and imag- inatively congruent with the latter's work. A passage by a later writer, Edgar Allan Poe, might serve as a sufficient gloss for the whole of the Ancient Mariner's experience and its relation to Dante. In his "MS. Found in a Bottle," the narrator writes of a tumultuous trip to the Antarctic, where cresting and falling upon titanic breakers, "At times we gasped for breath at an elevation beyond the albatross-at times became dizzy with the velocity of our descent into some watery hell, where the air grew stagnant, and no sound disturbed the slumbers of some kraken."34 The Mariner's descent to the south finally both oscil- lates between poles-an albatross and a watery hell-and magnetizes them-motion and immobility, the dizzying and the stagnant, life and death. Coleridge would later note Dante's poem to be "a system of moral[,] political, and theological Truths with arbitrary personal exemplifications-(the punishments indeed allegorical perhaps)."35 If such truths exist in Coleridge's poem, the punishments for transgression are vertig- inous allegories indeed: the Mariner observes that "An orphan's curse would drag to hell / A spirit from on high" (lines 257-8). So too his own "hellish thing" draws many into its infernal depths. There, in the manner of Dante, terrible visions of divine justice both haunt and edify, producing a very Coleridgean



'John L. Lowes, The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the Ways ofthe Imagination (1927; rprt. New York: Vintage Books, 1959), p. 422. For further detail of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's borrowings, see George Whalley, "The Bristol Library Borrowings of Southey and Coleridge, 1793-8," The Library 4, 2 (September 1949): 114-31. Although, as Whalley points out, many of Coleridge's borrowings contain annotations and marginalia (mostly uniden- tified), no definitively Coleridgean markings are recorded in Henry Boyd's translation.

%oleridge, The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Colendge, 4 vols., ed. Kathleen Coburn (New York: Pantheon Books, 1957), 1:170.

"n The Circle of Our Vision: Dante's Presence in English Romantic Poetry (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), Ralph Pite also suggests that "This poem [in the manner of Dante] may be one of the projects realized in 'The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere"' (p. 69, n. 1). Yet Pite adds merely that "From Boyd's translation, Coleridge could only have gained a sense of Dante's structure."

E. E. Stoll, From Shakespeare to Jojce: Authors and Critics; Iiterature and Life (Garden City SJ: Doubleday, Doran, and Company, 1944), pp. 397-8, offers that Coleridge "is able to use superstition, like Dante and Shakespeare, directly . . . marking the transition by a voyage into an antipodean world," and that in "The Ancient Mariner, indeed, it is rather Dante's method than Shakespeare's."

-'Henry Boyd, trans., A Translation ofthe "Inferno" ofDantr Alighiwi in English Verse,2 vols. (Dublin, 1785). Subsequent citations will be made parenthetically, and, unless otherwise specified, by canto and stanza number.

"Cf. Coleridge's infamous remarks, many years after writing the poem (31 March 1832) concerning the moral of his story: "it had too much of a moral . . . [and] ought to have had no more moral than the story of the merchant sitting down to eat dates by the side of a well and throwing the shells aside, and the Genii starting up and saying he must kill the merchant, because a date shell had put out the eye of the Genii's son" (Table Talk, ed. Carl Woodring, 2 vols. [Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 19901, 1:273.) Some of those critics persuaded, and dissuaded, by this comment are noted below.

Toleridge, Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 6 vols., ed. Earl Leslie Griggs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956), 2:1059.

'Lowes, p. 482, 11.92.

Woleridge, The Watchman, ed. Lewis Patton, vol. 2 in The Collected Works of Samuel Gylor Coleridge, 14- vols., hereafter CW (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1970-), 2:133. Coleridge turns an almost identical phrase in his review of The Monk, published in 1797: the "man who had been described as possess- ing much general humanity . . . degenerates into an uglier fiend than the gloomy Imagination of DantP would have ventured to picture" (Coleridge, Shortw Works and Fragments, ed. H. J. Jackson and J. R. de J. Jackson, vol. 11 of CW, 11:60.

his "Addenda" to The Road to Xanadu, p. 567, Lowes relates the sugges- tions of Albert R. Chandler, who proposes "that details from the story of Ugolino (Inferno, canto 33) are woven into part 3 of 'The Ancient Mariner,"' By far the most comprehensive attempt is that of A. A. Mendilow, "Symbolism in Coleridge and the Dantesque Element in 'The Ancient Mariner,"' Scripta Hierosolymitana 2 (1955): 25-81. Mendilow makes spare use of Boyd's transla- tion, however, and spends little time actually proposing possible textual links between the Inferno and Coleridge's poem. Federico Olivero, "Dante e Coleridge," Giornale Dantesco 16 (1908): 190-6, may have been the first critic to note resemblances between Dante's Ulysses and the Ancient Mariner; cf. Edoardo Zuccato, "S. T. Coleridge as a Critic of Dante," ConLett9, 18 (Sovem- ber 1992): pp. 377-93. A survey of allusions to Dante in the Coleridgean materials then available can be found in Paget Toynbee's Dante in English Liter- aturefrom Chaucer to Cary, 2 vols. (London: Methuen, 1909), 1:612-30. He does miss Coleridge's earliest references, cited in this essay.

'Osee especially Donald P. Haase, "Coleridge and Henry Boyd's Translation of Dante's Inferno: Toward a Demonic Interpretation of 'Kubla Khan,"' ELN 17, 4 Uune 1980): 259-65; cf. Michael Greer, "Coleridge and Dante: Kinship in Xanadu," LDR 10, 3 (Summer 1974): 65-74; G. Wilson Knight, "Coleridge's Divine Comedy," in The Starlit Dome: Studies in the Poetrj of Vision (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1941; rprt. 1971), pp. 83-178; Maud Bodkin, Archetypal Patterns in Poetry: Psycholopcal Studies of Imapnation (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1934), p. 135.

"For instance, Charles P. Brand, Italy and the English Romantics: The Italianate Fashion in Early Nineteenth-Century England (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1957), p. 59, observes that the "poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge . . . shows little trace of any direct Dante influence." Similarly, Werner P. Friederich, Dante's Fame Abroad, 1350-1850 (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1950), p. 243, remarks that "With regard to actual influences of Dante upon Coleridge's poetical works, critics are generally agreed that there are none."

12As quoted in Toynbee, pp. 421-2. 13Gilbert Cunningham, The Divine Comedy in English: A Critical Bibliography, 1782-1900 (Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd, 1965), p. 15.

14Thomas L. Cooksey, "Dante's England, 1818: The Contribution of Cary, Coleridge, and Foscolo to the British Reception of Dante," PLI, 20, 4 (Fall 1984): 355-81, p. 357, n. 4.

13Lowes, p. 263.

16Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, in The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 2 vols., ed. E. H. Coleridge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), pp. 186-209, lines 55-6. All quotations to Coleridge's poems will hereforth be cited in the text by line number. Unless otherwise noted, refer- ences to The Ancient Mariner are to the version of 181 7.

"See Coleridge, Lectures 1808-1819 on Literature, 2 vols., ed. R. A. Foakes (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1987), 2:401. On the difficulty in precisely dating Coleridge's notes for his two Dante lectures, one 27 February 1818, the other 11 March 1819, see the Lectures, 2:184-5.

18Lowes notes that the "glittering eyes" of professional hypnotists were in particular vogue at the time of the poem's construction, and that Coleridge's "interest in ocular hypnosis . . . is one of the blending elements in the concep- tion of the Mariner" (p. 232). In "The Power of the Eye in Coleridge," in Studies in Language and Literature in Honor ofJ M.Hart (NewYork: Holt, 1910), pp. 78-121, Lane Cooper writes that the poet was generally fascinated with the supposed influence of eyes in magnetically "fixing" susceptible individuals. Cf. Ronnie H. Terpening, Charon and the Crossing: Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Transformation ofa Myth (Lewisburg: Bucknell Univ. Press, 1985).

lgLowes, pp. 480-1, n. 92. Cf. R. J. Dingley, "Coleridge and the 'Frightful Fiend,"' N&Q28,4 (August 1981):313-4; Paul Magnuson, Colen'dge's Nightmare Poetry (Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1974), p. 78.

'OPatricia M. Adair, The WakingDream: A Study ofcolen'dge's Poetry (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1968), p. 81, suggests that the opening of canto 21, the boil- ing pitch and Venetian ships (Adair accidentally places this allusion in canto 26), may have combined with Coleridge's Malta trip to produce the "o'ertak- ing wings" of the storm-blast, as well as the continuance, "With sloping masts and dipping prow, / As who pursued with yell and blow / Still treads the shadow of his foe." She singles out the line "con l'ali aperte, e sopra il pie leggiero" (line 33), which follows on the heels of the ship conceit, as the probable source. Boyd translates the line, with little similarity, "Ashigh suspended o'er the floating field, / On dragon wing the black Pursuivant came!" (21.5); however, Coleridge had ample time to have read Dante in Italian by the time of these lines, published in 1817.

"M. H. Abrams, The Correspondent Breeze: Essays on English Romanticism (New York: Norton, 1984), pp. 37-8. For a brief critical summation, see Charles J.

Rzepka, The Selfas Mind (Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1986), p. 119, who states that the correspondent breeze is a pattern "which is now taken for granted in Coleridgean criticism." Cf. Duncan Wu, "The Ancient Marinel: A Wordsworthian Source," N&Q38,3 (September 1991): 301; Hans H. Rudnick, "Concretizations of the Aeolian Metaphor," in Poetics of the Elements in the Human Condition, Part 2: The Airy Elements in the Human Condition, ed. Anna Theresa Tymieniecka (The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1988), pp. 145-58. Interestingly, modern climatological studies describe the Antarc- tic continent as "'the home of the wind,"' where "winds whirl off the immense south polar ice dome with a ferocity seldom matched on earth" (Willy Ley, The Poles [New York: Time, 19621, p. 14.)

"Lowes (pp. 124-39) catalogues a host of possible sources for Coleridge's "fields of ice," including the travel narratives of Frederick Martens, Captain James, and John Harris. But Lowes runs into a problem; the accounts by which "Coleridge vicariously sailed" all concerned Arctic voyages, while the Mariner's venture traverses the Antarctic. He dismisses the incongruity: "Coleridge . . . has imperturbably reversed the poles. Ice is ice, be it austral or boreal waters in which it floats and howls" (p. 136). Lowes misses Dante's voyage into the polar infernal, an expedition not to the Arctic but to the very bottom of the world, and suitable for Coleridge to have adopted without any bipolar disorder.

2:3Extended interpretations of the polar spirit, primarily instructed by Coleridge's Gloss, can be found in Lowes, The Road to Xanadu, pp. 213-5; Katherine B. Tave, The Demon and the Poet: An Interpretation of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" According to Coleridge's Demonologzcal Sources (Salzburg: Univer- sitat Salzburg, 1983); and Donald P. bczvinsky, "Coleridge's Polar Spirit: A Source," EIdN 24, 3 (March 1987): 25-8.

'IIn one of the most influential essays on the poem, Robert Penn Warren ("A Poem of Pure Imagination: An Experiment in Reading," in Selected Essays [New York: Random House, 19.511, pp. 198-30.5) remarks that "the crime is, symbolically, a murder, and a particularly heinous murder, for it involves the violation of hospitality and of gratitude . . . This factor of betrayal in the crime is reemphasized in PartV when one of the Spirits says that the bird had 'loved the man' who killed it" (p. 229). George Whalley, "The Mariner and the Alba- tross," in Coleridge: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Kathleen Coburn (Engle- wood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1967), pp. 32-50, sees the bird as "the symbol of Coleridge's creative imagination, his eagle" (p. 44). Knight claims that the slay- ing of the albatross "may correspond to the death of Christ in racial history"

(p. 85). For the anti-moralist, anti-symbolic view, see Earl Leslie Griggs, ed., The Rest of Coleridge (New York: Nelson, 1934), p. 687, who follows a long line of critics in asserting that "only the reader who cannot enjoy this journey into the realm of the supernatural finds it necessary to seek out a moral"; Stoll, "Symbolism in Coleridge," PMIdA 63, 3 (March 1948): 214-33; Edward E. Bostetter, "The Nightmare Miorld of The Ancient Mariner," also in Critical Essays, ed. Coburn, pp. 65-77, who regards the albatross as part of an "arbitrary exhibition of supernatural power" (p. 70); and Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (New York: Vintage, 1991), pp. 321-8, for whom "this albatross is the biggest red herring in poetry. Its only significance is as a vehicle of transgression" (p. 324). Frances Ferguson, "C,o1eridge and the Deluded Reader: 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,"' in


Post-Structuralist Readings ofEnglish Poetry, ed. Richard Machin and Christopher Norris (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1987), pp. 248-63, raises an astute point concerning the crime. She notes that "the notion of a man's hospitality toward a bird contains a rather anomalous and itself prideful assumption-that the bird is a visitor in the Mariner's domain" (p. 252).

25The traditional source for the albatross is, of course, William Wordsworth. This is the result almost singularly of Wordsworth himself, who in a prefatory note to "We Are Seven," composed around 1843, relates that "Much the great- est part of the story was Mr. Coleridge's invention; but certain parts I suggested; for example . . .I had been reading in Shelvocke's Voyages, a day or two before, that, while doubling Cape Horn, they frequently saw albatrosses in that lati- tude . . . 'Suppose,' said I, 'you represent him [the Mariner] as having killed one of these birds on entering the South Sea, and that the tutelary spirits of these regions take upon them to avenge the crime"' (as quoted in Lowes, p. 203). Coleridge, according to Thomas De Quincey, denied any debt to Shelvocke.

26Harold Bloom, "Introduction," in Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Rime ofthe Ancient Mariner (New York: Chelsea House, 1986), p. 2, interestingly places the Mariner in the "tradition whose dark ancestors include Cain, the Wandering Jew, and the Judas whose act of betrayal is portrayed as a desperate assertion of freedom." Conversely, Seamus Perry, "The Ancient Mariner Controversy," ChLB 92 (October 1995): 208-23,218, maintains that the "Mariner's shooting of the albatross is as unpremeditated and spontaneous as is his blessing of the water-snakes: one could not even claim the sin to be . . . Luciferan self-asser- tion."

27Mendilow, p. 72, suggests that in canto 30, Maestro Adamo "suffers thirst that cracks the tongue," and that "rivulets of water" tease him into a longing for "a drop of water." Boyd writes of the dropsied Adam, whose "bloated form" is "fill'd with wat'ry load," that with "Intense, eternal thirst his bowels burned." For his crime of fraud, ever is "the cooling drop refus'd" (30.8-10).

28Mendilow, p. 72, makes note of the Life-in-Death parallels, but his focus and interpretation differ significantly from my own. Arguments do exist for reading the figure Life-in-Death as a benevolent characterization. See, for instance, George Bellis, "The Fixed Crime of The Ancient Mariner," EIC 24, 3 (July 1974): 243-60, who writes, "whatever the look of the monster, 'Life-in- Death' does mean resurrection" (p. 246); Bodkin, pp. 26-88.

YgFor a consideration of the revisions that Coleridge undertook, see B. R. McElderry, Jr., "Coleridge's Revision of 'The Ancient Mariner,"' SP29, 1 (Janu- ary 1932): 68-94; more recently, see Jack Stillinger, "The Multiple Versions of Coleridge's Poems: How Many Mariners Did Coleridge Write?," SIR 31, 2 (Summer 1992): 127-46, who claims that at least eighteen different versions of the poem exist; and Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, ed. Martin Wrallen (New York: Station Hill, 1993), esp. pp. 93-144.

SuAs quoted in David S. Miall, "The Meaning of Dreams: Coleridge's Ambivalence," SIR 21, 1 (Spring 1982): 57-71, 70.

31Carl Wroodring, "The Mariner's Return," SIR 11, 4 (Fall 1972): 375-80,

375, writes insightfully that "The Ancient Mariner records a transgression of

boundaries, a desecration of nature, a descent into hell." Regarding the spiral-

ing motion of Dante's descent, see John Freccero's "Pilgrim in a Gyre," in

Dante: The Poetics of Conversion (Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1986), pp.


S'See Lowes, p. 232; Bloom, p. 1; Paglia, p. 324; Lectures, 2: 401.

3"s recently as 1973, Mario L. D'Avanzo ("Coleridge's Wedding-Guest

and Marriage-Feast: The Biblical Context," University of Windsor Revim 8, 1 [Fall

19721: 62-6, 62) has asserted that the "reason for Coleridge's choice of a

wedding guest as auditor and a wedding feast as a frame to 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' has never been explained or even probed." Lowes offers barely a suggestion (p. 499), and no critic has expansively linked the Guest with his avian predecessor, the visitant albatross. For the relationship between Guest and Mariner, see Ward Pafford, "Coleridge's Wedding-Guest," SP 60, 4 (October 1963): 618-26.

"Edgar Allan Poe, The Complete Tales and Poems ofEdgar Allan Poe (New York: Random House, 1975), p. 121. 331dectures,2: 400.

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