The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in popular culture

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Further information: Albatross (metaphor)
A statue of the Ancient Mariner with the albatross hung from his neck at Watchet Harbour, Somerset, England, unveiled in September 2003 as a tribute to Coleridge

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner has been referenced in various works of popular culture.

Literature[edit]

  • In Brian Keene's novel The Conqueror Worms, the character Salty mentions that it is bad luck to kill an albatross. The narrator, Teddy, also speaks of how "The Ancient Mariner was sent an albatross...Noah was sent a dove", while he himself was sent a crow.
  • In Anne Rice's novel Interview with the Vampire, Louis de Pointe du Lac quoted these lines when referring to Claudia: "Her lips were red, her looks were free, Her locks were yellow as gold: Her skin was as white as leprosy, The Night-mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she, Who thicks man's blood with cold".
  • In James M. Cain's crime novel Double Indemnity, Phyllis is described as the creature who came on board ship to shoot dice in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • The poem features prominently in the plot of Douglas Adams's novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. In the novel, the title character travels in time to interrupt Coleridge's work on his poem "Kubla Khan;" during his rambling dialogue intended to disrupt Coleridge from unintentionally encoding information from a ghost which could lead to the destruction of the human race, Dirk Gently's references to "Albert Ross," another character from the novel, are misheard by Coleridge as "albatross," which he says might have given him an idea for another poem he is working on, which he considers superior to a previous idea involving a meteor striking the Earth.
  • Throughout William S. Burroughs' most famous novel Naked Lunch, he references Coledridge's The Rime of the Ancient Sea Mariner paralleling the narrator of Naked Lunch (himself) to the wandering, cursed, judged, and ultimately doomed narrator of Coleridge’s epic poem "Gentle reader, I fain would spare you this, but my pen hath its will like the Ancient Mariner,”. Burroughs may have identified with the tale as it parallels his own tragic story in which he is believed to have accidentally shot his wife dead and then left the US to travel the world while sustaining his drug habit.
  • Gene Wolfe's science fiction novella, The Fifth Head of Cerberus, uses as its motto the lines: "When the ivy-tod is heavy with snow, / And the owlet whoops to the wolf below, / That eats the she-wolf's young".
  • In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, chapter Five, Victor Frankenstein quotes the lines: "Like one, that on a lonesome road / Doth walk in fear and dread / And, having once turned round, walks on / And turns no more his head / Because he knows a frightful fiend / Doth close behind him tread" (Penguin Popular Classic 1968 page 57, cited from Rime, 1817 edition). In the book's opening letters from Robert Walton to his sister, specifically Letter II, Walton explicitly mentions the poem by name and claims he "shall kill no albatross" on his journey.
  • In Clive Cussler's novel Iceberg, several references are made to the poem and it is quoted several times. The villain's company logo is the albatross. In another novel The Silent Sea, four lines from the poem are written on the page before the prologue.
  • In Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series, the Mariner is an ancient and powerful being. He claims his real name is Captain Tom Shelvocke, and he mentions accidentally shooting an albatross.
  • In Lights Out by Peter Abrahams, the protagonist Eddie Nye has memorised the poem during his 15 years in prison. He ponders many aspects of the poem as his own story unfolds. The plot of the novel reflects several aspects of the poem.
  • The poem is heavily referred to in the Connie Willis science fiction novel, Passage.
  • The poem plays a crucial role in W.W. Denslow's 1904 children's book, The Pearl and the Pumpkin.
  • The author Garry Kilworth, famous for the Welkin Weasels trilogy, was inspired by Coleridge for the entire trilogy. For example, when Sherriff Falshed is on the run from a dragonfly nymph, he quotes "A frightful fiend, did close behind him swish," and also in the third book the entire scene with Death is re-enacted with a walrus and a nebulous shadow, when the weasels pass their ghostly vessel.
  • In his poem "Snake", D.H. Lawrence compares the albatross in Ancient Mariner to the poem's subject, a snake
  • Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen includes a story within a story "Tales of the Black Freighter", which bears similarities to the poem through its supernatural themes and the tale of a mariner's impending doom.
  • Charles Baudelaire (who also translated E.A. Poe into French) revisits the scene with the albatross (see Dürer's illustration above), suggesting the poet is the albatross rather than the mariner. ("The Albatross", 1857, Flowers of Evil).
  • In Michael Morpurgo's novel Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner is featured heavily and key ideas from the poem are used in the novel.

Games[edit]

  • The videogame, Alpha Protocol, features a character known as Albatross. One of the dossier packages players can unlock for him states that he takes his name from the poem, which alludes to the vengeance he unleashes if hurt
  • In the online computer game Guild Wars the opening lines of NPC Samti Kohlreg's dialogue and the name of his quest reference the poem and the author.[1]
  • The Ancient Mariner appears as a rare miniature in the game Horrorclixs 2008 Nightmares set, carrying the soul of a dead sailor and a piece of the Albatross.
  • In the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, the flavor texts of the cards Scathe Zombies and Wall of Ice (both from the Limited Edition Alpha set) are quotes from the poem.[2][3]
  • In the Soulcalibur series of video games, the pirate Cervantes de Leon has a throw move named "Curse of the Ancient Mariner" (called "Rime of Ancient Mariner" in the Japanese version). Shura, a Japanese demon slayer appearing in Soulcalibur IV can also use the move, despite having no connection to mariners, the high seas or anything else mentioned in the poem- this is because she shares a moveset with Cervantes.
  • In the online computer game Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, in the city of Martok, there is an NPC (non-player character) Orc named Rolyat Leumas, the Ancient Seafarer of Martok. If the player questions him, he will tell the complete story of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, with minor modifications to make it appropriate to the game world. The character's name is "Samuel Taylor" spelled backward.
  • The online computer game, World of Warcraft, contains a quest named "Horn of the Ancient Mariner" as well as an obtainable weapon called the "Crossbow of the Albatross".
  • Fallout: New Vegas DLC "Lonesome Road" is significantly inspired by The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Part VI, stanza 11 which reads "Like one that on a lonesome road / Doth walk in fear and dread, / And having once turned round walks on, / And turns no more his head; / Because he knows a frightful fiend / Doth close behind him tread.”
  • Some game maps in Heroes of Might and Magic III contain floating bottles on the water, that give quotes from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner when inspected by a player's hero.
  • In Bioshock Infinite, the vigor (potion) "Undertow" is advertised by the vigor dispenser machine with the words "Ancient mariner, disperse the hated albatross with the vigor Undertow".
  • In Silent Hill: Downpour, there's a television set in the train conductor's living quarters. If the player changes the channel twice, an ominous voice can be heard reciting the lines "Alone, alone, all, all alone. Alone on a wide wide sea! And never a saint took pity on. My soul in agony."
  • In Dota 2, the hero Kunkka the Admiral quotes lines from the poem.

Comics[edit]

  • MAD Magazine #200 (July 1978) published "The Rime of the Modern Skateboarder", a full-length burlesque by Tom Koch and Don Martin.
  • In Marvel Comics' Marvel Universe:
    • Agent Pratt, a reoccurring nemesis of the character Hulk, habitually quotes from The Rime, and debates with Banner about exactly what the albatross symbolises.
    • Comic book author Bill Everett based his most famous character, the Namor the Sub-Mariner (a superhero), on this poem.[4] In Namor: The Sub-Mariner volume 1, number 44 (1993), an adapted version of the poem gets used by writer Glenn Herdling to tell a story about Namor himself.
  • Carl Barks' final ten-pager for Walt Disney's Comics and Stories in No. 312 (Sept. 1966) is a tale titled "The Not-so-Ancient Mariner". In it, the closing lines of the first part of Coleridge's poem ("Why look'st thou so?'—'With my crossbow/I shot the Albatross.") are quoted several times.
  • The pirate Brook from the manga One Piece has a similar background story to the rime.
  • Nick Hayes re-wrote the tale as a graphic novel The Rime of the Modern Mariner, re-theming it to ecology. (ISBN 978-0224090254, Random House UK, 22 Mar 2011, 336 pages)
  • The cartoonist Hunt Emerson produced a graphic novel, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, illustrating the poem, and featuring his usual quota of visual puns, gags and grotesque caricatures. The text, however, is essentially used verbatim.
  • In Hugo Pratt's "Corto Maltese / Una Ballata del Mare Salato", one of the protagonist, Cain, reads and declaims passages of the poem.

Military[edit]

  • Since 1978, the US Coast Guard has recognised the active duty member with the most accumulated time aboard its ships and an exemplary character as the "Ancient Mariner", as described in this document (pdf).
  • Posters at the Navy boot camp warn incoming sailors that some offences (such as those resulting in a Dishonorable Discharge), will follow a person after leaving the military, like an albatross hung around one's neck.[citation needed]

Music[edit]

  • "Rime of The Ancient Mariner" is a 13 and half-minute progressive epic from the British band Iron Maiden's 1984 album Powerslave, based on Coleridge's poem with many direct quotes. Written by the band's bass player, Steve Harris.
  • Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish makes a reference to the poem in the song "The Islander".
  • Progressive rock band Pink Floyd alludes to Coleridge's poem in the first verse of their song "Echoes".
  • Fleetwood Mac's hit song "Albatross" drew its title from the poem, as the composer Peter Green read the poem when he was at school. The album The Pious Bird of Good Omen, which includes "Albatross", has a cover that features a nun with an albatross, alluding to the symbology among sailors and Coleridge's poem.
  • Malvina Reynolds's song The Albatross is based on the poem and applies its moral to modern life.[5]
  • The album cover of Australian singer Sarah Blasko's album What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have was inspired by an illustration of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. A song from the album, "Queen of Apology", features the line "Truth, truth, everywhere, but not a drop to drink." The album also features a song titled "The Albatross".
  • The song "Good Morning Captain" from the album "Spiderland" by US underground rock band Slint is an adaptation of the poem.
  • Shane MacGowan of the Irish folk rock band The Pogues makes reference to "a minstrel... stoppeth one in three" in the song "Fiesta". The Pogues song "The Turkish Song of the Damned" is also based heavily on the poem, adopting the same meter and including many direct quotes and references.
  • The Flogging Molly song "Rebels of the Sacred Heart" has the line "the albatross hangin' round your neck is the cross you bear for your sins."
  • The band Corrosion of Conformity has a song called "Albatross", in which the lyricist warns the albatross away. The lyricist also states, "I believe the albatross is me".
  • David Bedford recorded a concept album The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in 1975. An experimental work, it consists of two parts of the poem set to music, and is similar in style to a dramatic reading of the poem.
  • The title track of pirate-themed rap group Captain Dan's second album, Rimes of the Hip-Hop Mariners, was a stylised retelling of the main events of the poem.
  • The band Liberty 5-3000 has a song entitled "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" which uses the direct text of the first two parts of the poem as lyrics set to original music.
  • The music video for the song "Living Hell" by the Tiger Lillies draws heavily on the poem, recreating themes such as the killing of the albatross.
  • The song 'Albatross' by Wild Beasts re-tells the story of the poem.
  • The song "Peep-Hole" by Guided by Voices, featured on their album Bee Thousand, contains the lyrics, "Give me the cost of the albatross / And wear it around your neck for size," in reference to the poem.
  • The lyrics to the song (In The Wake Of) The Swollen Goat by the band Clutch mentions having an "Albatross on your neck" in reference to the poem.
  • American punk band Alesana's song "Heavy Hangs the Albatross" is named in reference to the poem.
  • Hard rock band Chevelle's song "Face to the Floor" contains a reference to an albatross as a great weight dragging one downwards, much like that in the poem.
  • Italian progressive rock band Hostsonaten (Fabio Zuffanti of Finisterre)released "Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Part One" on AMS/VM2000 in 2012
  • The Big Wreck song Albatross alludes to the poem, particularly via the lyric "I'll wear the albatross for one more day".
  • "Bear's Vision of St. Agnes" by American indie band mewithoutYou includes the lyrics "you've worn me like an albatross / I've only slowed you down".
  • The British band 'Bastille' make direct use of the 'Albatross around your neck' in their hidden track 'The Weight of Living Part I' on their debut full length album 'Bad Blood'. Includes references to the shooting of the Albatross, and the sun used in the latter part of Coleridge's poem.

Spoken word recordings[edit]

Film[edit]

  • In the 1951 film Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, the story draws as much from the Ancient Mariner legend as it does from the Flying Dutchman legend. The main character, believing his wife unfaithful, kills her and is sentenced to death. At his trial, he blasphemes by proclaiming Heaven a lie and asking that if he be mistaken, that Heaven do what it pleases with his soul. Instead of being executed, the man is condemned to sail the oceans of the world for eternity and becomes literally unable to die, until he can find a woman who loves him enough to die for him. Every seven years, he may search for her on land for six months. The ship's crew consists entirely of ghosts, and a bloody white bird resembling an albatross flies overhead.
  • In the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World an attempt is made to shoot an albatross which leads to negative results.
  • In The Men Who Stare at Goats, Clooney's character asks McGregor's character if he ever heard the poem about the sailor who had to wear the dead seagull around his neck. He is referencing The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • In the 1999 film Noah's Ark, a group of sceptics mock Noah's warnings of the flood, while the land suffers drought, with a chorus of "Water, Water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink.".
  • In the 1985 film Out of Africa Denys Finch-Hatton quotes from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner as he washes Karen's hair. She says "you're skipping verses" and he replies "Well, I leave out the dull parts".
  • The poem is extensively featured in the film Pandaemonium, which is based on the early lives of Coleridge, Dorothy Wordsworth and William Wordsworth.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean films contain many parallels to the epic poem, including life and death playing dice for the souls of men (the game Liar's Dice), Calypso (as Tia Dalma's true form), smelly slimy creatures (Davy Jones' crew), the "frost and the cold", and even "water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink" when the characters are at sea and out of drinking water.
  • In the 1996 Ridley Scott film White Squall, the Ocean Academy's ship is christened the Albatross; the ship's captain Christopher Sheldon makes mention of the albatross being a very good omen which "embodied the spirits of lost sailors." "Only bad luck if you kill one," he added.
  • Raúl daSilva produced and directed a critically acclaimed six-time international prizewinning visualisation of the epic poem, titled Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1975) using the work of illustrators of the past two centuries who attempted to bring life to the epic. Sir Michael Redgrave, who once taught the poem as a schoolmaster, narrates it. The film also includes a biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and how he came to write the poem.
  • Ken Russell directed a film about Coleridge, called The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, in 1978 for British Granada Television.
  • The original Sherlock Holmes film series (starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson) contained a film titled The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, released in 1939, in which Holmes' nemesis, Professor Moriarty (played by George Zucco) creates a series of murder threats to draw Holmes' attention away from his real plan. These diversionary plots all revolve around a series of drawings which depict a man with an albatross around his neck. Throughout the film, Holmes makes references to lines from Coleridge's work.
  • In Richard O'Brien's Shock Treatment, the character Betty Hapschatt recites the entire poem to Judge Oliver Wright who, along with an entire theatre of people, has fallen asleep by its closing lines. When the lights are turned back on, the security guard Vance threateningly presents her with a dead white bird.
  • Larry Jordan directed a short film that features animations of Gustave Dore's engravings and Orson Welles as the narrator of the poem, along with sound effects (the albatross, the sea, etc.).
  • In 1998, BBC produced The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as a 57-minute made-for-TV movie with Films for Humanities and the Sciences (FHS) that features Paul McGann as both Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Ancient Mariner. The film was directed by Juliet May and produced by Anne Brogan.
  • In Serenity, The Operative refers to River Tam as an albatross, causing Malcolm Reynolds to reply: "Way I remember it, albatross was a ship's good luck, 'til some idiot killed it." he then assures Inara: "Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint."
  • In the 1983 film Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone Wolff (Peter Strauss) quotes the "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink" line while walking across a dried up lakebed, explaining to Nikki (Molly Ringwald) that it's from "the first poem you learn in Highschool"
  • In the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as the group is entering the room where Wonka is developing "fizzy-lifting drinks" Wonka says, "Bubbles, bubbles, every where, but not a drop to drink."
  • In the 1986 B movie Never Too Young to Die, Velvet Von Ragner (Gene Simmons) gloats "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink" as he explains his plan to poison the city's water supply.
  • In the 1980 movie The Fog, the quote "like an albatross around the neck" can be heard on the record cassette in the lighthouse where Stevie Lane (Adrienne Barbeau) works. Just before that a wooden piece with the word "Dane" explodes when the quote "6 Must Die" appears magically written in it.
  • In the film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's novel The Rum Diary, Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is found reading and contemplating the poem.
  • In the 2012 film Ice Age 4 Sid the sloth bemoans the lack of drinking water whilst adrift on the ocean with "Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink!"

Television[edit]

  • In the "Super Trivia" episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Master Shake says to both Meatwad and Frylock that they're "albacores around my neck" like "the Rime of the Marinade." which Frylock corrects by replying "that's Albatross!"
  • In The Ice Dream, an irreverent Australian talk show covering the 2002 Winter Olympics, the hosts said that a curse had been put on Australia's Winter Olympic team after Cedric Sloane skewered a seagull in a cross-country skiing event at the Oslo Winter Olympics, which could only be lifted by the team winning a gold medal.
  • A portion of the poem was recited by Wonder Woman as the body of the Viking Prince and his longship were sent into the Sun, during the Justice League Unlimited episode: "To Another Shore", at the same time that the Martian Manhunter leaves the Watchtower.
  • A 1952 Looney Tunes short is titled "Water, Water Every Hare".
  • In episode 92 of Pokémon, "Stage Fight", a trainer aboard a ship recites the opening stanza of the ballad to her Raichu.
  • In the third to last episode of the Australian television series SeaChange, Max compares the failure of his relationship with Laura to the Mariner shooting down the Albatross. This episode is entitled "Love in the Time of Coleridge".
  • In the episode of the Simpsons entitled "Boy Scoutz 'N the Hood", Homer incorrectly recalls the verse "Water, water, everywhere, so let's all have a drink" as rationale for drinking seawater while stranded at sea.
  • In episode XLV of Samurai Jack, "The Scotsman Saves Jack," the characters encounter a sailor who tries to recite for them his harrowing tale. The Scotsman is uninterested, but is convinced to at least hear the name of his story, which is revealed to be "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."
  • Monty Python performed a sketch (Series 1, Episode 13, Albatross) which figured John Cleese as a cinema usherette with a tray hung around her neck containing an albatross instead of the more normal chock ices.
  • In the Firefly episode "Objects in Space", the character River Tam (Summer Glau) was nicknamed "Albatross" and in Serenity was subsequently referred to as an albatross by the Operative.
  • At the end of the SeaQuest DSV episode "Hide and Seek", Roy Scheider can be heard reciting one of the last stanzas of this poem over the closing scene.
  • In the episode of Only Fools and Horses, "Sleeping Dogs Lie" Rodney remarks regarding his Uncle Albert "I've said it before, I'll say it again: that man's a right Jonah. I reckon that when he boarded his last ship, the crew shot an albatross for luck."

Sports[edit]

  • Baseball pitcher Diego Segui, who was pitching for the Seattle Mariners at the age of 40, was tagged by sportswriters as "The Ancient Mariner". Twenty years later, Jamie Moyer inherited the nickname.
  • In baseball, a catcher or fielder who misses many balls may jeeringly get called an "Ancient Mariner" due to the famous opening line of the poem: "It is an ancient mariner. And he stoppeth one of three."

References[edit]