Expect More

The Year 5 English Enrichment group have been working on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. As part of this unit of learning they have learnt, off-by-heart, some of the most famous stanzas from this extraordinary poem. The tale is told by an old, withered seafarer who is haunted by his memory of an extraordinary adventure. It is a story of human folly and its drastic, most sever consequences. The mariner pays a heavy debt for breaking the laws of nature. Once he disturbs the natural order he experiences a tortuous penance. His harrowing experiences almost break him, but he is released from his torment when he inadvertently discovers the beauty of all living things. His redemption has a price however. He must travel from place to place retelling his story to one in every three people that he encounters.

“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.”

Nobody who hears it will ever be the same again, but hopefully the listener will heed his eternal message:

“He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all.”

As well as reciting sections of the poem pupils have written four entries in the Ancient Mariner’s Diary (his logbook) expressing his thoughts and feelings at four critical points in his story.

The Ancient Mariner’s Diary

Entry 1
You will never believe it, but just when we thought that all was lost, an albatross glided through the dense, grey fog. Were our eyes playing tricks on us? The albatross majestically circled overhead and thus it appeared to split the ice. I could not have been more joyous. It was a feeling of happiness that I had forgotten since we started our bleak, miserable voyage. We shared our provisions with the bird – all that we could spare. We didn’t begrudge giving him the food, as he seemed like a guardian angel, sent down from heaven to ensure our safety.

Entry 2
What have I done? I have made a terrible mistake. It was a moment of madness. I acted on impulse and I wish I wasn’t such a good shot: I killed the albatross. As I gazed into the distance, I heard screaming and shouting from my shipmates. It was only then that I realised the dire consequences that would fall upon my shoulders. They cursed me, as the albatross was the only good omen we had seen ion this perilous journey. Right now, I am deeply regretting all that I have done. And I wish that I could turn back time.

Entry 3
Who would have thought that I would be the only survivor out of a crew of two hundred men? I was the one that brought everyone’s misfortune; yet I am spared. I am all alone. I have no-one to talk to, not even Him! I tried to pray for my soul to be spared, but He wasn’t there. God have mercy on my soul! All my shipmates are gone: the captain; the doctor; the cabin boy; the bos’n and all of the other fine deckhands that I travelled with to the ends of the Earth. What I wouldn’t give to see them all again.

Entry 4
I had to tell my story. I couldn’t go another second without telling another human soul of my perilous journey. To tell you the truth, I stopped a young man on his way to a wedding and whether or not he wanted to hear my tale, I told him. We spoke for much longer than I had anticipated. I hope that the wedding guest understood the importance of my tale. He certainly seemed to be captivated, almost like a three year old child listening to a fairy tale. Hopefully he will not make the dreadful mistakes that I made and he will love both man and bird and beast.

Here is how the children in this group, in 2017-18 (now in Year 6), recited the stanzas they learnt.