Maureen O'Donnell
Adjunct Professor of English

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

My love of this poem is truly attached to the love of my father. I came home from school during my junior year of high school and had to read the poem. I was surprised when my father asked what poem I was reading for school. I told him and he began to recite it. Apparently as a high school student, he had to memorize the entire poem as punishment. Anyone that knows the poem knows that it is lengthy poem. It has seven parts and over 100 stanzas. My father kept reciting as I read the text in my English textbook. It was an amazing feat. My father had spent four years in the US Navy right after high school. After that he had entered college, began a business career, married, and had children. He was almost 50 and could still recite the poem. By that time I read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, I had been reading and writing poetry pretty regularly. I wrote poetry anywhere I could. I wrote in the margins of my class notes, and on the napkins, the backs of envelopes. I even wrote a poem once in my head while on a five mile run. Upon returning to the school, I grabbed paper towel and wrote the poem down. It has always been a vital part of my life. When my father died prematurely at the age of 53, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” became a way for me to keep his memory alive. The poem allows me to connect to him.