“The Daemon-Lover” influence on “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Almost all works of art and literature are based on or at least inspired by other works of art and literature.  This is especially common in the romantic period of literature. One example is how Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” compares to the old folk song “The Daemon-lover”. While many of the themes in the works are similar, such as the theme, there are some things that are vastly different.

“The Daemon-Lover” is a song about a woman who is waiting for her husband, who is a sailor, to return from his long voyage.  Her husband finally returns and convinces the woman to sail away with him. Once they are out at sea, the husband reveals that he is actually a daemon, who is making the trip torturous.  This compares to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a tale about a man warning someone about a mistake he made in his life.  He tells a story about him as a young man, going on a voyage. He explains how when at sea, he shot an albatross, which is a bad omen, leading to the death of the entire crew and destruction of the ship.  Both of the stories have a type of supernatural element to them.

“The Daemon-lover” and ”The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” are similar in a variety of ways.  You can clearly see how Coleridge was inspired by “The Daemon-Lover”. Both of the stories have the majority of the plot take place at sea.  This matches the dark and eerie theme of the two stories. An example of this is when “The Daemon-Lover” says “The clouds grew dark, and the wind grew loud, / And levin° fill’d her e’e / And waesome wail’d the snaw-white sprites / Upon the gurlie° sea” (Lines 69-72).  Furthermore, the daemon converses with the woman before revealing that he is actually a daemon and plans to take the woman’s soul. He turns the sea and sky into a dark bottomless pit, which is what many people view the ocean as.  This is built on when the song says, “Upon the slimy sea / About, about, in reel and rout / The death-fires danced at night; / The water, like a witch’s oil, / Burnt green, and blue, and white” (Lines 126-130). Coleridge uses imagery in the lyrics to depict the ocean as this dark colored abyss and the sky as this haunting entity.  Coleridge more than takes his fair amount of inspiration from “The Daemon-Lover”.

Though they are very similar, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “The Daemon-Lover” have their fair share of differences.  The message of two stories is one of the biggest differences. “The Daemon-Lover” teaches about how you shouldn’t dive head first into the unknown, while “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” teaches about teaching others from your own mistakes in life so they don’t repeat them.  In “The Daemon-Lover”, the woman makes a grave mistake by going out to sea without thinking it through. In “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, the mariner is telling a wedding guest about the mistake he made of killing the albatross, and how it caused the catastrophe that killed the rest of the crew and destroyed the entire ship, leaving only him.  These stories are very similar, but they were written with different meanings to them.

Works Cited

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Romantic Period. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. W. W. Norton, 2017. pp. 448-64.

“The Daemon-lover.” The Norton Anthology of British Literature: The Romantic Period. 10th ed. Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor. W. W. Norton, 2017. pp. 37-39.

One thought on ““The Daemon-Lover” influence on “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

  1. Landon I agree with you on many of your points. I see the similarities of both tales taking place at sea and both having supernatural aspects to each story. The Daemon-lover with the daemon of course and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner with the albatross and its curse. I also see the difference that one is supposed to be a story and the other is a story to teach you a lesson. However, I don’t know whether it was your selection of words or if I did not catch it but I believe because the tales took place at sea that itself also created a dark and eerie element.

    Like

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