“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”*

*Muhammad Ali

Francis Bickmore writes of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ (1798), on the website of the Scottish Poetry Library:

“…Without the Mariner there could have been no Dr Seuss: the ‘bright-eyed’, enigmatic mariner was ancestor to the Lorax surely, and Seuss could easily have penned such lines as ‘When looking westward, I beheld/ A something in the sky.’ It seems to me Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is also the Mariner replayed as gleeful child power fantasy. Like those two twentieth century geniuses, Coleridge takes us on a journey of the imagination floating on currents of dream logic, the subconscious, and steered by pure delight in language. It cries to be read aloud, and the visions come to life in synesthetic surround sound. Take the ice the ship encounters: first it floats by ‘mast-high’ and ‘green as emerald’, before morphing into a floating prison:

‘And through the drifts the snowy clifts

Did send a dismal sheen :

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken–

The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,

The ice was all around :

It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a swound!’

As a listening experience, Coleridge delights in repetition and rhyme: ‘Alone, alone, all, all alone, / Alone on a wide wide sea!’ or ‘the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky / Lay like a load on my weary eye’, not to mention the famous torturous quandary: ‘Water, water, every where, / And all the boards did shrink; / Water, water, every where, / Nor any drop to drink.’ “

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