One of today's lessons was on the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", part six of it, to be precise. I preferred not to go into too much detail with my student as far as metaphors and allegories are concerned and only outlined the 'plot' , which is quite complex in its own right.
Coming across the figures of the Pilot, the Pilot's Boy and the Hermit I was unable to give him and myself a satisfactory interpretation, though. What are they, sentinels, symbols for ordinary people, parts of Coleridge's personal mythology? Hard to say...
Indeed, atonement and retribution, or rather eternal punishment. I'm sure Mr Coleridge will forgive me wherever he is now, but I doubt he could foresee the impact his poem would have on entire generations or evaluate the true complexity of it with a clear mind.
It is a journey of physical and mental suffering and punishment. The Ancient Mariner was rescued in part 6 by the Pilot, the Pilot's boy and the Hermit, however, he didn't feel normal again only when he told the Hermit (in part 6) about his tale.
All the other parts are spent in paying for his error of killing the Albatross. It is a story of retribution.
I love the last part of the poem in which the Ancient Mariner says that the best way to become close to God is to respect all God's creatures "He prayeth best, who loveth best..."
I think it is a very interesting lesson because Samuel T. Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a very interesting poem. Imagination is what characterizes the poem (angels, ghosts, slimy creatures, serpents, etc).