Coleridge vs. Robinson
Both poems make a point to stress loneliness. Robinson’s poem seems to be addressing the reader more in a universal way, which is in keeping with the typical female writer of the time. The characters in Robinson’s poem do not have any names, thus enhancing this universality of the piece. The first line of the poem inserts the reader into the scene without any address or notice, “Upon a lonely beach,” and a theme that exists for both writers becomes apparent—that of loneliness.(see poem) Robinson does not harp on it as Coleridge does. For him, it seems to be a personal fear that haunts him, as do many other things throughout the poem. (see poem) For Robinson, though, the “lonely desert beach” is the setting and not explicitly given to the reader as a personal fear, however an interpretation as such is not out of the question. She just does not get as personal with the reader in her language. One could imagine implanting themselves into the role of the wedding guest, and engaging in discourse with the mariner. Isolation exists in both these poems through loneliness. For Coleridge it is the earlier mentioned “fear at my heart,” and for Robinson it could be due to her failing health at the time she wrote this poem. Nonetheless, both seem to grapple with the consequences of isolation on one’s identity.
Robinson’s poem is more to the point. There are no messengers involved in the portrayal of her story. It only takes her four stanzas to set up the scene for what she is viewing, and five to tell it. Coleridge is much more long winded, but not in a bad way. He sets up the scene of the story telling, to set up the scene of the murder, to set up the scene of the outcome.
Coleridge includes more gendered terms. For him the ship, moon, and spectre are all female; and the sun and storm are gendered male. In other contexts, Nature is referred to as a controlling force, but in this poem, the focus is on specific aspects of nature, and Nature as an entity is not mentioned. What are the implications in doing this? It is unclear if Nature holds a female or male gender for Coleridge, but assuming it does the female is the still responsible for all of the destruction that comes upon the Mariner; however, she would also be responsible for restoring his deplorable state.
Coleridge’s poem seems to hold much more detail perhaps because of the sheer length difference between the two poems. Robinson’s seems to be giving a fast recap of an event. This would, on the surface go against the claims of the time that women writers focused more on details, but I think that this distinction lies in what the two were describing. Supposedly, Robinson describes a scene she bore witness to in The Haunted Beach, and what she chooses to describe in detail are the realistic qualities to the scene instead of being fixated on the supernatural and unreal. She gives the exact number of gashes on the murdered mariner’s head (see poem), and describes the...