Iron Maiden is a British heavy metal band known for their powerful music and meaningful lyrics. One of their most iconic songs is “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, which is based on the famous poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The song tells the story of a sailor who kills an albatross, which brings a curse upon his ship and crew. The lyrics are full of symbolism and metaphor, and they explore themes of guilt, redemption, and the power of nature.
The Story Behind the Song
The original poem “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1797, and it is considered one of the greatest works of English literature. The poem tells the story of an old sailor who stops a young man on his way to a wedding and tells him the tale of his cursed voyage. The sailor and his crew are sailing in the icy waters of the Antarctic when they encounter an albatross, which they shoot and kill. This act of senseless violence brings a curse upon the ship, and the crew begins to suffer from thirst and starvation.
As the story unfolds, the sailor realizes the magnitude of his crime and is haunted by the image of the dead albatross. He is eventually saved by a mysterious spirit, who teaches him the value of all living creatures and the power of forgiveness. The sailor returns to civilization and becomes a wandering storyteller, sharing his tale of redemption with anyone who will listen.
The Lyrics of the Song
The lyrics of “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” are divided into several sections, each of which corresponds to a different part of the story. The song begins with an ominous guitar riff and the haunting words “Hear the rime of the ancient mariner…”
The first section of the song describes the sailor’s cursed voyage and the killing of the albatross. The lyrics are full of vivid imagery and powerful metaphors, such as “Day after day, day after day, we stuck nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.”
The second section of the song focuses on the sailor’s guilt and remorse. He realizes the enormity of his crime and begs for forgiveness, but the curse continues to haunt him. The lyrics are full of emotion and intensity, with lines like “Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.”
The third section of the song introduces the mysterious spirit that saves the sailor. The lyrics are full of symbolism and mysticism, with references to angels, demons, and the power of nature. The lyrics also include a spoken word section, in which the sailor recounts his tale to the young man.
The Meaning of the Song
The lyrics of “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” are rich in meaning and symbolism. They explore themes of guilt, redemption, and the power of nature. The song is a cautionary tale about the consequences of senseless violence and the importance of respecting all living creatures.
The song also reflects Iron Maiden’s interest in history and literature. The band has always been known for their intelligent lyrics and their ability to tell stories through their music. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a perfect example of this, as it combines elements of poetry, mythology, and rock music to create a powerful and unforgettable song.
“Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is one of Iron Maiden’s most iconic songs, and for good reason. The lyrics are powerful and meaningful, and they explore themes that are still relevant today. The song is a testament to the band’s talent and creativity, and it remains a favorite among fans of heavy metal and rock music.