THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER is never out of fashion. It is a poem of so many elements, and its appeal is wide and permanent. It is a mariner’s tale of strange adventure, it is an encounter between an old man and a young wedding-guest, it is the presentation of a whole flow of unexpected forces, presences and wonders. It suggests some of the difficulties of our human nature — the desire to explore and encounter the terrors and wonders that might be discovered while circumnavigating the earth; the proneness to sudden and irrational actions — with catastrophic results; our simultaneous and deep desire to come home, and belong to a world of community, family and wedding festivity. It is a poem that hints that we may cause deep disturbance if we think of the universe with an insistence of our supremacy over all natural things. It is a poem about solitude and suffering, questions of crime and punishment; and its landscape, as powerful as it is vast, ranges immense distances — from the sun, moon and stars to the Pacific and Polar seas, and what lies above and beneath them. Its landscape is also as gentle and intimate as the sound of skylarks, or of a brook hidden in the sleeping woods of June. The poem is quite the most musical and haunting in the English language.

— Robert Woof (1997)