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Ballad Form In The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

1289 words - 5 pages

Some Readers think the ballad form limits their interest in The Ancient Mariner. What is your view of Coleridge's use of this form? In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Coleridge employs the ballad form to contrast the traditional with the exotic through this he forms a poem full of supernatural elements that is easily accessible. The ballad form was a typical form of medieval poetry that was revived by the Romantics as it symbolised a form representative of an idealised past. It is also associated with specific traits such as simple language conveying a profound message which the Ancient Mariner utilises effectively. The structure of the lyrical ballad contributes to the expression themes in the poem but it is actually manipulated by Coleridge to add emphasis, intensity and horror. The poem is enhanced by it being a ballad, not limited as conventional aspects are subverted to present a deep insight into the mariner's psyche that is riddled with guilt and terror. One may feel the poem is limited by the ballad form due to its rigidity and structure, four line stanzas, regular rhythm and rhyme scheme give it a certain order. However rather than this limiting the poem it allows Coleridge to manipulate it by the inclusion of five and six line stanzas that remove the poem from the traditional form. The regularity of the ballad also allows these regular stanzas to carry great importance which is why they are used to convey the supernatural and exotic parts of the story that require more of the reader's attention . Such as stanzas 10 and 11 in Part III that introduces the idea of Death and Life in Death ,and the collection of four extended stanzas in Part IV which show a contrast to the mariner's previous state of mind and contain the core message of redemption through love 'A sprig of love gushed from my heart/ And I blessed them unaware'. The instability Coleridge inflicts upon the form contributes to its meaning as it reflects the instability of the poem with regards to the defining it as a Christian poem or a criticism of Christianity. The rhyme scheme associated with the ballad is A B C B and although the stanzas do take this form ,internal rhyme is used as well such as in Part I 'the ice did split with a thunder fit'. This is done throughout the poem to create suspense, tension and rhythm which helps the reader become involved in the mariner's thoughts and emotions. In the Ancient Mariner the scene is set in the past shown by the use of archaic language and the use of the medieval ballad form. The setting in the past allows the reader a certain detachment and perspective from the poem that makes what occurs more plausible. Being set in the past it gives it a whole new dimension for the reader as what is being discussed is profound and complicated and requires distance to comprehend it. The use of the past shows progression and gaining of knowledge through mistakes by being able to reflect in retrospect, which is a...

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