The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner relates the experiences of a sailor who has returned from a long sea voyage. The mariner stops a man who is on the way to a wedding ceremony and begins to narrate a story. The wedding-guest's reaction turns from bemusement to impatience to fear to fascination as the mariner's story progresses, as can be seen in the language style: Coleridge uses narrative techniques such as personification and repetition to create a sense of danger, the supernatural, or serenity, depending on the mood in different parts of the poem. The mariner's tale begins with his ship departing on its journey.
"It is an ancient Mariner, and he stoppeth one of thee...." Although these ominous lines perennially instill fear of final exams and term papers in the minds of high school students and Romantic English majors, they're not often remembered by adults. Mason's reading of Coleridge's 1796 epic poem is at once hypnotic and stirring. The Academy Award nominated actor reads the chilling tale involving clashes with sea monsters, a boat swarming with zombies and a dice game with Death in an authoritative English accent. Like the ocean surrounding the Mariner's ship, his voice ebbs and flows with the imaginative poem's various heights. He quickly rattles off, "water, water, every where, and all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink" but gently whispers "And I had done an hellish thing, and it would work 'em woe: For all averred, I had killed the bird that made the breeze to blow." Coleridge (1772 1834), uses words to make the fantastical believable, and here, Mason brings those words vividly to life. A bonus track features Mason's animated reading of The Hunting of the Snark, an eight-canto poem by Lewis Carroll.
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