'Water, water, everywhere,Nor a drop to drink.'Coleridge, S. T. (1798, 1817) Rime of the Ancient Mariner
We may thirst for knowledge but not be able to use it, understand it or be sustained by it if it is tainted, like the becalmed sea water of our life's journey coming to a halt.
Coleridge's (1798, 1817) Rime of the Ancient Mariner , a ballad form which seems allegorical in nature, creates an air of ancient folklore passed down in the oral tradition, interpreted as heard and retold according to that interpretation. We can read it in many ways, even in modern times. As a debunking of eye-witnesses testimony or as a way to say what is past is past and whatever you learn from it will be your choice. That no matter how terrible the experience, what is important is what is learnt. And how our very reading of the poem itself is a choice, including what we take from it, what we understand by it and what we learn from it.
We can see it as a moral tale, a fable, a parable if that is what we choose to see. We can choose to see it as an entreaty to love and appreciate what you have, lest you lose it. To treat all 'creatures great and small' with the care. Or as a reminder that we will be borne down and burdened by the harm we do in life until we understand and change our ways. Or that we must not only learn from our experiences but be an example and teach others from them too.
Of course we could just see an albatross as an albatross. If we could do that maybe we wouldn't try to kill it as an ill omen much like we do to anything we fear. Perhaps we are being told, rather than killing the thing we fear, that we should kill the fear itself or we will continue to carry it about and see everything in its darkened hues. We read into our experience what we perceive to be true and then judge further experiences with prejudice to fuel our discrimination.
On our individual paths in life, to continue on, we must not keep looking over our shoulders in fear, but instead keep up the forward momentum knowing that it is not what we fear, that is following us but just fear itself, which we are instead leaving behind.
'Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.'
Coleridge, S. T. (1798, 1817) Rime of the Ancient Mariner