22

I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.

This is one of the last stanzas from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It describes how he was cursed to wander the earth, telling his story to whoever he meets.

Does he have to do that forever? The title of the poem does call him the "ancient" mariner. Is he cursed with immortality?

  • That seems right, but I'd have to reread the story – Philip Jan 19 '17 at 17:12
  • 1
    @Philip please do! Feel free to answer if you figure it out. – Riker Jan 19 '17 at 17:20
14

It seems so, yes.

After the game played between Death and Life-in-Death, in which the latter wins the soul of the Ancient Mariner while the former claims all his crewmates, the Mariner is left all alone upon the ship. He is driven to distraction by the corpses, but says he cannot die:

Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!
This body dropt not down.

[...]

And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.

[...]

Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.

-- Part IV

It's also worth noting that he goes at least a week without water ("Water, water, every where, / Nor any drop to drink" comes earlier, in Part II, and he only manages to drink at the start of Part V). This too suggests that he's supernaturally unable to die.

  • @amaranth I think it's actually significantly longer than a week, because they spend a long time in the doldrums before the whole Death/Life-in-Death thing and the deaths of the rest of the crew. But true: it's hard to be 100% sure. I only said "suggests" :-) – Rand al'Thor Jan 20 '17 at 16:29

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