Combination of Natural and Supernatural Elements in “The Rime of Ancient Mariner”
“In the ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Coleridge exercises an imaginative realism; however unnatural his events, they are formed from natural elements, and we believe in them” Discuss.
There is no limit for imagination. Any writer can go beyond reality and can write what he thinks perfect for his subject. A blend of imagination with natural events is perfect choice for a poet/writer to present an idea. Coleridge’s power of imagination is stronger than common poets. He combines natural elements with supernatural and with the mixture of these two, forms a story. The readers have no choice except to believe on the imagination of the poet. How strong the imagination of the poet is? It is none of our business but how he presents it, is worth mentioning. “The Rime of Ancient Mariner” is the story of a mariner, which deals with the supernatural events. S.T. Coleridge has converted a dream into a masterpiece. Such an idea of converting a dream into a poem must require supernatural elements. Supernaturalism is believed to be true but nature remains failed to prove it. Though it cannot be proved by nature yet it is true and believed if it is presented by writers like S.T. Coleridge. Briefly, in positive sense, supernaturalism is name of super powers but if it is being happening to a person unnaturally and unexpectedly then it is called evil spirits. Nevertheless, supernaturalism is against nature, therefore, it, exactly cannot be explained. While writing “The Rime of Ancient Mariner”, S.T. Coleridge has proved that mixture of romanticism and supernaturalism creates a wonderful story for the readers.
“The Rime of Ancient Mariner” is the story which though full of supernaturalism yet interesting. We find a lot of supernatural elements in the poem. It is firstly encountered, with the killing of Albatross. The fog and mist fade and for a moment weather becomes pleasing when Albatross is killed but soon thereafter, in order to revenge the guiltless Albatross, a wind follows the ship. Eventually the ship stops unexpectedly and it is the start of miserable life. Apart from it, there are also a lot of other incidents in the poem, which are relevant to supernaturalism. The ship of deads, which is moving without the favourble winds, ship’s appearance and sudden disappearance, two mysterious voices, the dice game between life and life-in-death and mariner as stake, the fire on the surface of water and above all the waking of deads; all these are supernatural elements in the poem, which are hard to believe for a layman.
These supernatural events are not at remote with natural world. The poem is masterpiece because of the combination of natural and unnatural elements. A wide world of supernaturalism has been painted in the poem but it always takes nature along with it. The detail, given by the poet is realistic and sensible. Sometimes, Coleridge’s skilful presentation is considered as super sensible instead of supernatural because readers can believe on them. The detail of every object is reasonable. It is imaginative and can be believed by imaginative minds. The art of storytelling with the hotchpotch of supernaturalism is extraordinarily presented by S.T. Coleridge in this poem. The scenery, which is created, is imaginative however; it is created from natural elements. Coleridge is deeply influenced by Wordsworth and his poetry is full of truthful nature pictures. The landscape, seascape and geography, in “The Ancient Mariner” is based on truth and none can deny it. Although the poet sometimes personifies nature with human qualities even then they are realistic and true to nature.
Supernaturalism and naturalism are blended together in a way that both these elements cannot be differentiated. No one, while reading the poem, can tell that where naturalism is ended and supernaturalism started. Moreover, they are presented so accurately that they seems to be closed to reality. The poet gives minute detail of every object and wins the confidence of the readers and then gradually discusses the supernatural events. He does not instantly starts exaggerating the story. It is because of this technique, he does not loss his credibility of storytelling. Supernatural events and natural events cannot be disconnected from each other. S.T. Coleridge, about his method of supernaturalism, writes in “Biographia Literaria”:-
“My endeavours were directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of constitute of poetic faith”
Most the poems of Coleridge are dramatic and he is considered better storyteller than many of the novelists. His storytelling method is more appreciated than his poetic genius. Hence, as a storyteller, he has to use such elements, which win confidence of the readers and create amusement for them. There is no allegation on the poet regarding supernaturalism because it is, most of the time, demand of subject to use such elements. His technique is confidence inspiring. He exaggerates his story but it is dramatic and hence believable by the readers.
Crux of the above discussion is that S. T. Coleridge is the poet of nature and a good storyteller. For the purpose of telling a story, he uses the technique of supernaturalism. Neither “The Ancient Mariner” is exaggerative story nor is it a fairy tale. The events, discussed in the poem are supernatural even then we believe on them because they are formed from natural elements. S.T. Coleridge, like Wordsworth, minutely observes nature and his poetry has extraordinary freshness in it. He converts average incidents into dramatic events, which are convincing. The natural scenery with the technique of personification becomes amazingly enjoyable. So far as the spirits, used in the poem, are concerned, there is always a spiritual insight in the poetry of S.T. Coleridge. The poem at the end is moral. There is horror, there is sin, there is repentance and at the end there is morality in the poem. The poem can never be disregarded as there is no flaw in it. Definitely, the poem has supernatural elements but they are so strongly connected with natural events that the readers are compelled to believe on them.