The Sun and Moon symbolize the competing influences on the Mariner’s journey and on the world. The two compete with each other, at times embodying the forces of both the natural and supernatural world. The sun is associated with blood, heat, dryness, and the thirst that ultimately kills the Sailors. It symbolizes both the majesty and the terror of the vast natural world, as it is described with sublime beauty and is also used to tell which direction the ship is traveling. The moon, as it is responsible for shaping the tides, symbolizes the supernatural and divine influences on nature. We can note that the ghostly ship of Death and Life-in-Death is superimposed over the sun, before the sun sets and is replaced by the moon. It is then by moonlight that the next stage of penance and the Mariner’s spiritual awakening take place. But it is this cyclic process and competition between the sun and moon that, together, symbolizes the unity of God’s creation, divine influence, and the cyclic process of sin, penance, and absolution that Christians experience.
The Sun and Moon Quotes in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.
Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.
O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware,
The selfsame moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.
This seraph-band, each waved his hand:
It was a heavenly sight!
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light;
This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
No voice did they impart –
No voice; but oh! the silence sank
Like music on my heart.