SUMMARY OF PARTS Part the First: An old sailor meets three young gentlemen on their way to a wedding. He stops one of them to talk to him. The wedding guest can’t help but listen to the sailor’s story. He is almost hypnotised by the Ancient Mariner’s glittering eye.
The sailor tells the young man how his ship had set sail with a good wind and weather, heading south. The wedding guest hears music and laughter coming from the wedding, but he still can not pull himself away as the old sailor continues with his story.
The ship is driven by a storm towards the South Pole. The ship arrives in the South Pole, a land of ice and frightening noises. There are no living things in sight. They are trapped in the ice until a huge sea-bird, called an albatross, flies through the fog to the ship. The crew greet the bird with joy and hospitality.
The albatross proves to be good luck for the ship. The ice breaks and the ship is able to sail northwards through the fog and floating ice. The albatross stays with the ship.
The old sailor finally admits to the wedding guest that he then did a terrible thing … he shot the albatross!
Part the Second: The crew curse the ancient mariner for killing the bird which had brought them good luck and a breeze to help their journey. However, the fog then clears and the crew change their minds and praise the mariner for killing the albatross. They now believe that the bird’s death has brought them even better weather. This makes them accomplices to the mariner’s original crime of killing the albatross.
The good breeze continues and the ship continues its journey northwards. It enters the Pacific Ocean. Suddenly the breeze fails and the ship comes to a halt. Day after day, the ship is unable to make any progress under the hot sun.
The murder of the albatross begins to be avenged …
One of the many invisible spirits of the earth has followed them from the South Pole to punish them for their crime against the albatross. The crew are dying of thirst, they have run out of water and the ship is unable to move without a breeze.
The crew of the ship are very scared and try to throw the whole blame for the death of the albatross unto the ancient mariner. To show that he is the guilty one, they hang the dead albatross around his neck.
Part the Third: At last, the ancient mariner sees something far away on the horizon. As the speck on the horizon approaches, the ancient mariner realises it’s a ship. He is unable to tell the rest of the crew what he has seen because his throat is so dry. He bites his arm and drinks some of his own blood to moisten his throat and allow him to speak.
The crew are overjoyed when they hear the news! However, their joy is soon replaced by horror. The ship that approaches is no ordinary ship! It is sailing towards them without the help of the wind or tide!
As the ship gets closer, it becomes clear that there is something strange about it. It appears to be nothing more than the skeleton of a ship! The sunset can be seen clearly through the ship. The wooden ribs of the ship look like prison bars over the face of the setting sun.
There are only two figures on board this strange ship, a ghost woman and her friend, Death. The crew of this terrible ship are as strange and horrible as the ship itself!
Death and Life-in-Death (the ghostly woman) have been playing a game of dice for the souls of the mariner and his ship-mates. Life-in-death wins the soul of the ancient mariner.
Night falls suddenly, without warning. The ghostly ship disappears into the distance just as suddenly. The moon rises.
One by one, the ancient mariner’s shipmates drop down dead. Death had won their souls in the game of dice! Yet the ancient mariner remains alive, on board alone, as Life-in-Death begins her work on him.
Part the Fourth: The wedding guest, who is still listening to the mariner’s tale, suddenly becomes afraid that the ancient mariner is, in fact, the spirit of a dead man, speaking to him from beyond the grave! However, the ancient mariner reassures him that he is still very much alive. He carries on with the story of the terrible price he had to pay for his crime against the albatross.
He is left all alone with the dead bodies of his shipmates and the living, slimy creatures of the sea. He hates these creatures with all his heart. He thinks that it is wrong that the slimy creatures should live on, whilst all his shipmates lie dead. Although the crew are dead, their eyes look at him and curse him! He can not escape the curse of the dead!
The ancient mariner is desperately lonely. There is still no breeze so the ship can not move. The mariner looks up to the sky where the stars and the moon continue to journey across the heavens. He feels joy at their arrival in the night sky. In the moonlight, he watches God’s sea creatures, the water snakes. The ancient mariner sees their beauty and stops hating them. Instead of hating them, he blesses them in his heart, almost without realising that he does so. As a result, the spell begins to break and the albatross around his neck falls off.
Part the Fifth: Rain begins to fall and refreshes the ancient mariner. The ancient mariner hears strange sounds and sees weird things all around him. The weather and the sky are in uproar!
There is no wind, but the ship begins to move. The bodies of the crew come to life and man the ship. The bodies of the crew are NOT taken over by the spirits of the dead crew themselves or by evil spirits, but by angelic (good) spirits, sent by the guardian saint.
The spirit from the South Pole obeys the angelic spirits and carries the ship onwards, but he still wants revenge for the death of the albatross. The mariner passes out.
Some of the South Pole spirit’s demon friends talk about the long and heavy punishment that the mariner has faced so far. The ancient mariner wakes up to hear them talking about him and saying that he has even more punishment to face for his crime.
Part the Sixth: The mariner is put into a trance-like state by the angelic spirits because the boat is being driven northward faster than a human life could endure.
The mariner wakes up from his trance and his punishment begins afresh. The curse remains in the crew’s eyes. Finally, the curse is broken. The ship sails on in fine weather, with a swift breeze behind it.
At last the ancient mariner sees his home country. He is overjoyed! The angelic spirits leave the dead bodies of the crew and the corpses are left motionless on the deck. The angelic spirits appear as shining angels above the bodies of the crew.
A small boat approaches the mariner’s ship. On board are the Pilot of the boat, his boy and the good Hermit. The mariner hopes that the good hermit will be able to pardon him for his crime.
Part the Seventh: The small boat approaches the mariner’s ship. It’s occupants are amazed at the state of the ship.
Suddenly the ship sinks!
The Pilot and his boy are very frightened by the ancient mariner and think that he is the devil! The mariner rows them to the safety of land.
Once on dry land, the mariner begs the Hermit to pardon his sin. The Hermit asks the mariner who he is and suddenly, the ancient mariner feels a terrible need to tell his tale of doom and sorrow to the Hermit. He realises that this is to be his punishment for killing the albatross, he must wander the earth forever telling his terrible tale whenever the need comes over him.
The ancient mariner must teach others, through what he says and does, to love and protect God’s creatures.