The Rime of the Ancient Mariner | Study Guide

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner | Part 6 | Summary



The voices are still speaking about the ship and how it moves with wind or water. The Mariner wakes to find it is nighttime and the crew is gathered on the deck, staring at him. The ship sails on until it reaches a lighthouse in a harbor.

When the Mariner turns around, he sees the crew once more as dead bodies. This time he sees seraphs collecting the spirits of the crew. The Mariner hears the approaching Pilot and his son, and he also hears a Hermit singing and thinks that the Hermit will be able to help him expiate his sin of killing the Albatross.


The Voices continue their explanation, stating that the Moon and ocean are working together (along with the spirit) to steer the ship to port. Nature is working in harmony to get the Mariner where he needs to go to fulfill the next phase of his penance.

When the Mariner wakes from his trance, he realizes that he only received a respite from the curse as he once again sees the dead men staring at him. He loses the ability to pray again, and only manages to break the spell by observing the sublime beauty of nature surrounding him. Nature's beauty protects and elevates him, a uniquely Romantic idea. He is able to pray once more.

And he does pray as he realizes he has returned home—he prays to God that this isn't a dream. The spiritual spell ends with the angels departing the bodies and the natural world reasserting itself fully as the Pilot, the Pilot's Boy, and the Hermit approach the ship in a small boat. When the Mariner realizes that the Hermit is aboard, he realizes that the man, he hopes, can absolve him of the crime he committed when he killed the Albatross. His desire for confession, to "shrieve" his soul (that is, to shrive, or confess one's sins in order to be forgiven), marks the next phase of his penance.

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