One of the students’ assignments was to pick two quotes to memorize; then, each quote was taken and elaborated on, with each student giving extended meanings and metaphors. While you can read more on our Web site, I wanted to share with you one student's submission (slightly edited to reduce the possibility of this newletter getting bounced as spam--the replaced words are in brackets).
“ ‘ Since then, at an uncertain hour, That agony returns: And till my ghastly tale is told, This heart within me burns.’ (lines 582-585)
“There are many different ways that people are drawn or attracted to others. Physical attraction is probably what most people would think of first, but that’s not really the kind of attraction I am referring to. Pain attracts individuals to each other. I am thinking of this in two ways. First, two people who have suffered (especially if it is in a similar way) find a sort of camaraderie within the emotional ache stored in each other’s heart and mind. It is almost refreshing to find someone who can give you more than pity – someone who knows what you’re going through. Second, sheltered, inexperienced, and possibly young people who haven’t felt or identified much (pain or otherwise) are drawn to someone who has experienced pain that is deep and transforming.
“This second way applies, I think, to the Wedding Guest who was compelled to hear the Mariner’s tale.
“The Mariner was left on earth to teach two classes of people:
those like the Wedding Guest, who have been sheltered from deep pain, and those who have experience. His soul is troubled during his travels when his role is unfulfilled when and how it should be. And his role is twofold: Teacher, to those who can learn life’s lessons from others’ life experiences; and Father/Big Brother, to those with pain, who haven’t yet drawn the right lesson from it.
“The Mariner’s lesson lives on, through each reading and re-reading of The Rime.”
“ ‘ Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.’ (lines 121-122)
“This related in my mind to love. (If you’ve never experienced the situation I’m going to describe, you might not understand.)
“Picture sitting (at some point in your life) on a bench at a park, on a seat at an [eatery], etc., where you can see a lot of people. Imagine (if you haven’t experienced it) being emotionally alone. People in your life don’t understand and/or show concern for the pain you’re experiencing. The only understanding comes from yourself, and that is mixed with self-hatred and loathing. Now picture all the people you’re seeing basking in the sunshine of love. Little children holding their parents’ hands and laughing; a young couple with their arms around each other, or even kissing; a person holding some happy [surprise], and going home to love.
“All this you see, but nothing you feel or know. And then you will understand: ‘Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.’”