The poem starts with three young men walking together to a wedding. An elderly mariner with a grey beard and a glittering eye stopped one of the three young men. One of young men is transfixed by the ancient Mariner’s “glittering eye” and sat on a stone to listen to his strange tale.
He started narrating the story. The mariner said that they were given a warm send-off when they started their journey. The weather was clear and they sailed south for many days. The Mariner recalled that the voyage quickly darkened, as a giant storm rose up in the sea and chased the ship southward. It was extremely gold with ice everywhere. The wind also stopped.
But then there came an Albatross, a great sea bird. As it flew around the ship, the ice cracked and split and a wind from the south propelled the ship out of the frigid regions, into a foggy stretch of water. The Albatross was a symbol of good luck to the sailors. However one day a sailor killed the Albatross with his crossbow.
At first, the other sailors were angry with the Mariner for having killed the bird that made the breezes blow. But when the fog lifted soon afterward, the sailors decided that the bird had actually brought not the breeze but the fog. The other mariners said that he had done a good thing by killing the Albatross that brought mist and snow. Then, the breeze stopped blowing and the ocean thickened. The men had no water to drink now. The sailors blamed the Mariner for their plight and hung the dead Albatross around his neck like a cross.