The Rime of the Modern Mariner is a recasting of Coleridge’s famous poem – now, though, the fantastical voyage is one of environmental disaster. Stranded in the North Pacific Gyre – a vast, hypoxic maelstrom
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it was amazing
Nick Hayes’ The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is in part based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” updated with an environmental theme. I found it in my local used bookstore, The Looking Glass, and it is a beautiful thing to behold. The first thing that strikes you is the two-colored art, expressive and bold and almost block print in the way of Hokusai (those waves) and others. Gorgeously illustrated. I was skeptical of the attempt to match the rhythm and rhyme of the o
The modern mariner’s story, told to a cynical, bottom-line businessman on a park bench in this version, happens on the eve of a divorce, and is much darker, at least initially. The mariner wants to get some whale bone, goes a-hunting for it on a large boat, shoots a bird that curses the enterprise, whereupon he sees the environmental disaster that the ocean has become. Much of the book is taken up with the detailing of what is found there in the sea, and perhaps this goes on a bit long, but in the end there is some hope. The point is that there are real consequences for out actions, in marriage and in sea. The businessman dismisses this, as do many of the reviewers of this book on Goodreads, who like the businessman largely dismissed this tale as preachy and too dark.
I found that ironic, and I just disagreed with it . I was around for the first Earth Day, and global consumption and neglect and hubris is destroying the planet at a pace we could only imagine 40 years ago. Almost even graphic novel I read lately is escapist superhero, or crime, or personal memoir, and almost completely ignores politics of any kind. “The hippies are gonna love this book,” one reviewer says. And I did, actually! A gorgeous drawn and colored, darkly prophetic or cautionary tale with a little hope in the that a few people (hippies, apparently!) might still intercede, but if it’s only a few aging hippies like myself, we are doomed. Now there’s a little preaching Nick would appreciate.
I admit I really don’t like the heavy rhyme scheme In Coleridge, either, though I get its connections to sea shanties and ghost tales), but I found Hayes’ writing to be admirable, an attempt to speak to the original and also meet the challenge of the quality of the original writing and haunted nature. Almost no one liked the writing, and I get that more so than the anti-environmental critiques, but I still give him points for his fine effort.
really liked it
It is sailing season, so books that have anything to do with boats and oceans jump higher on my reading pile.
This is a fun graphic novel. The poem is a wonderfully updated riff on Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I quickly read through on my first sitting, but now plan to slowly pour over the wonderful artwork.
did not like it
This modern take on Coleridge’s famous poem was tedious and repetitive. Despite the beautiful artwork, there are only so many ways to say, “Everything was covered in trash and it surprised me and then made me sad,” before a person gets tired of reading it. I had high hopes for this after reading other reviews (e.g. “Holding this exquisite book in your hands feels akin to a sacramental act.” -The Guardian) but quickly lost interest by Part 3 and nearly gave up on the book (which is unusual for me
I look forward to the author’s next attempt, for the illustrations were brilliant in both their representations and arrangement.