Michael and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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England of the 19th century as many other European countries has faced the worldwide problem of those times. The ordinary calendar of the 19th century was not the one which reflected cultural, historical, and poetical progress of the period. Romanticism as a literary movement emerged in England earlier than in other Western European countries. Romantic tendencies existed almost invisibly, without bursting on the surface. Nevertheless, the beginning of English Romanticism is usually associated with the book by Wordsworth and Coleridge, called "Lyrical Ballads" that appeared in 1798 and the preface to the publication that contained the main tasks of the new art (Akroyd, The Romantics).

Both authors have made the great contribution to the romantic literature and the poetic heritage. It is hard to compare their unique poetry, though there are some special features helping the reader to feel the peculiarities of each poem. Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner has all rights to bear the name of the best poetic creation among the BritishLakeSchool works. It reminds the size of the English folk ballads and gives a hint that the author wants the reader to sing it. No doubt, the poetic language creates a melody, but the meaning amazes even deeper. The poem is the lifetime story, rich in colours and emotions. Here, Coleridge’s poetical stream of the rime meets with the William Wordsworth’s excellent sense of the picture in his pastoral poem Michael. While reading the poem, Wordsworth can be called the English artist who is a consummate master of the landscape. The poet possessed an extraordinary gift to see the beauty of nature and the human inside and outside worlds through the eyes of an artist. We can observe it in the lines of his piece of writing:

If from the public way you turn your steps

Up the tumultuous brook of Greenhead Ghyll,

You will suppose that with an upright path

Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent

The pastoral mountains front you, face to face (Wordsworth, Michael).

Both authors seemed to be the opponents of the urban culture; they preferred to contact with the world directly through the nature. Nature is the greatest teacher for the poets. In their works, there are many mysteries connected with the nature, with the help of which the authors masterly moralize their works. The presence of piety and godliness in poems is also carefully masked in the deeply lyrical and simple poetry.

Authors are resemble each other not only in their writing manner, but also in the ability to describe people’s feelings in such a way that the reader can reveal the whole sense of the text. For instance, the old man, the hero of Coleridge’s poem, is doomed to suffer because of the sins he committed. In the seas, where the Byronic heroes are desperately fighting in battles and revel in love with beautiful nymphs and savages, he sees nothing but spirits who threaten and forgive. It is the story about the connection with the human visible and the spiritual world. In the strange sailor’s story, the reader can see a legend about the human contact with God and the mankind evolution before and after Christ. The ship voyage notes major steps in the spiritual development of humanity: people happily set off, but they are soon overtaken by the storm and are doomed to stay among the ice in a country where nothing is alive. Only after the exhausting torment and sincere regret, the destiny becomes gracious. Like the sinner having received the forgiveness of God, Coleridge emphasizes on the connection with the Bible having chosen the style which turns the poem into a parable. Desire to escape into the nature is a characteristic feature of romantic lyrics. It generates frequent topic of wandering romantics. Wandering is an escape from the oppressive reality and avid passion for the romantic movement of changes. Romantic poet hears the music with the help of the world's ear.

Wordsworth continues Coleridge’s social and moral theme in his Pastoral Poem. It has the same lyrical dramatic feature. In the middle of the story, there is the conflict and compromise between the father, Michael, and his son, Luke. Wordsworth had the desire to draw a man driven by two passions: the love to family and to the property. In his poetic work, the author gives the idea combined with expressive accurate descriptions highlighted by the power of feeling. He depicts the characters, their appearance, and the human soul with the perfect certainty and perception.

It is hard to say which piece of writing is better. Each one is an excellent example of the deep poetical thought. As for me, I would prefer to make the choice leaning on the storyline because the eternal problem of the human sins cannot but catch the reader’s attention as it has caught mine. The old man’s story is the story of the voyage, the romantic Odyssey of the lonely soul. The image of the old murderer can be the symbol of any repentant sinner. Since there is no man who would have lived the whole life without sins, this image can be applied to any person. The Ancient Mariner is still haunting the world telling the story of his crime to people. 

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