O happy living things! No tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart. […]
Contextualise and comment on this passage saying why it is relevant in the development of the story.
This passage taken from the fourth part of Coleridge’s ballad The rhime of the ancient mariner is the old man’s storywhich he’s telling to the Wedding-guest. Some lines before he told him about the weary condition in which he found himself: he was totally alone, no living things around him, just slimy and disgusting creatures in the sea and the corpses of his fellows on the deck, looking at him with a curse in their eyes; he tried to pray but he couldn’t, and what succeeded to gush was just a cursed whisper. The heavy sign of his sin around his neck: the dead Albatross. Not even a saint took pity on him. But then, a radical change happens in the longest Coleridge’s comment: the light of the moon makes the ancient mariner see things for what they really are; in fact he can see no more slimy “things”, but water snakes which become more and more beautiful so that he couldn’t describe their brightness. It is interesting to notice how Coleridge chooses to use this particular animal, which from the Bible’s tradition is the symbol of the sin, to express the redemption of the mariner’s sin. The old man recognises in this upside-down change a divine presence, and, feeling loved, he starts to love too. This is the scream of joy of the redeemed man: redemption which will develops in the other parts of the ballad.