Lines: Written on Nature’s Futile War Against Industrialism

Walking into the jungle of asphalt, faceless towers of steel overshadow the busybodies scurrying beneath them. The pavement is dull, as are the vapid gas-guzzlers that drudgingly drag themselves across it. Some wearisome clerk wipes the sweat from his brow as he hurries to catch a taxi down the street. He scurries past a woman worn with wrinkles and callouses who tightens her head scarf as she waits for the bus to take her to the bakery. Across the street, a man peddles his CDs to passerby’s and men and women say their “no thank you”’s or avoid his gaze altogether. They sidestep his advances, the way one arches their path when they spot vagrant lying against a building, smoke in hand, pleadingly asking for spare change, or the way a young woman moves to the opposite side when she sees a group of sagged-pant men whose eyes are glazed. They keep to themselves, with little regard for others, like ships that keep their distance from each other at sea afraid to bump. But if one moves past the corpses of indifference, the machine hum-drum, what would he come across?

From the rooftops of skyscrapers he can see just beyond the horizon; there, the body of blue comes down to kiss verdant fields. The wind dances through stalks of grass, and caresses the leaves. The flowers blossom and wither, their mortality renewing in a sublime cycle. A starling feeds its fledgling and the insects continue their everlasting symphony in a cacophonous song, rejoicing the new day. Here the Sun reigns with no interference. He casts himself against the sky’s canvas, creating a painting for all to see. He kisses the cheeks of Earth, commending her fair works, and with a timid smile she turns the seasons ‘round like the twirl of a gown. They dance together in a ceaseless waltz, the ephemeral gems of their love passing into the ground and sprouting from the ashes like a phoenix again and again. As the dome of the sky changes, for this season and the next, their love continues. Here where life begins and ends, the eternal lives. One day man’s castles will become dilapidated and crumble, a momentary blip in the books of time. But in its place a new one will rise, emulating the cycle nature first gave to us. With every passing year, Time watches anxiously for who will conquer whom.

And the one that watches from his tower,

Who knows that which lives in that sweet bower;

Surveys the land, for its rivers, trees, and valleys

Then nods with certain pride to his colleagues.

They will build a new cosmopolis out by that grove

By taking their machines to flatten and rove

In their vanity, their pride, and avarice

They ignorantly destroy without hint of malice.

The dance will end—Earth slave to her captors

Humiliated, barren, abused, and raptured.

And who will speak out against this plan,

When man cannot even speak out against man?

 

This creative project is inspired by the Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, as an amalgamation of several poems. The most prevalent poem that served as my inspiration were “Lines: Written in Early Spring”. I chose this poem in particular to serve as the basis for my hypertext because I was interested in the Romanticism of the poem and the lamentation of nature being eclipsed by man and more importantly, by man’s condition. In “Lines: Written in Early Spring”, the speaker of the poem gives a imagery laden account of nature, which I attempted to replicate in the second paragraph of my creative project. I thought an effusive description of nature and the personification of the sun, the earth, and the wind did justice to the poem, as the speaker writes, “To her fair works did Nature link” (line 9). In addition, the tone of the poem signifies a certain awe and reverence towards nature, but these feelings are overshadowed by a great impending doom: the speaker writes, “And much it griev’d my heart to think / What man has made of man” (lines 11-12). These lines served as the inspiration for the first paragraph of my prose in which the condition of man is described as cold, callous, and indifferent. Of course, this harkens back to the themes of Romanticism, as I juxtapose man vs. nature. The final portion of my creative project imitates the poetry structure head on: it analyzes man’s greed and laments the fact that no man can speak for nature, since man can barely speak on behalf of others. In a world where we scarcely care for the wellbeing of others, how can we expect that there be an effort waged for preserving nature? Overall, although I took many artistic liberties, I believe that I sufficiently took the main idea of “Lines: Written in Early Spring”, Romanticism, and depicted it in a refreshing take.

-Sara Nuila-Chae

 

 

 

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Borrowing the Harp

The Irish harp is a symbol of Irish nationalism and a beacon of independence and the Irish futile fight against cultural disintegration. In Henry Louis Vivian Derozio’s “The Harp of India” the symbol of the harp is appropriated for Indian nationalism. What is interesting about this utilization of the harp is that, although the harp is a symbol of peace, it does not hold the same historical significance to India as it does in Ireland. While Derozio takes the symbol and much of the same phrases from Irish poets, the meaning is ultimately less profound. This is largely due to the fact that Derozio does not use an Indian instrument to make his political point; he relies on a symbol used for another. The message however is not lost; in fact, it underscores a more poignant issue—Derozio must rely on Western symbols in order for the British to attach all the implications of the harp to India. This of course is made evident in the content of the poem. Derozio writes in effusive emotional imagery that India’s harp is “neglected, mute, and desolate”. While Derozio mimics many of the same themes of the forlorn harp that has been personified and silenced by an oppressive force, what separates Derozio’s piece from that of English poets is that Derozio recognizes the futile effort India’s culture and autonomy stands in the face of Industrial England: “Those hands are cold”. The majority of the poem laments this cause, but in the third to last line, an important vaulta appears: “but if thy notes divine, / May be by mortal wakened once again, / Harp of my country, let me strike the strain”. This notable phrase is an allusion to Thomas Moore’s “Dear Harp of my Country”, which like “Harp of India” features a vaulta a the conclusion in which the speaker claims that they have “wak’d” the harp. Likewise, Derozio has a call-to-arms in which he awakens the harp. This is not the only similarity between the two poems. It appears as though Derozio also used Moore’s lack of a set rhyme scheme, although unlike Moore, Derozio did use iambic pentameter, as opposed to iambic hexameter like Moore. Ultimately, Derozio appropriated many of the same themes, and the symbol of the poet Moore. This rather than speak to a lack of creativity speaks to the difficulty of being equated to other Western cultures. That is to say that rather than use an instrument of India’s own, Derozio had to ride on the coattails of another’s symbol (a Western symbol) in order to be taken seriously.

  • Sara Nuila-Chae

San Francisco, 2019

When one doth wander through the streets

Of downtown ‘Frisco, where the skyscrapers grow

And past each faceless tower I meet,

Faces of poverty, faces of woe.

 

Their hands are marked the blackest shade.

Their eyes, forlorn, and jaded.

Their skin, a callous bruised ugly bane

Their temple has been forsaken.

 

How sickly the homeless children appear

In contrast to the tech bourgeoise

Who peddle near the throng of queers

To appeal to one particular party.

 

But most thro’ darkened alleys I see

How the needy have lost the Russian roulette

And gathered in groups, I hear them plead

While they use the city as their toilet.

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Rhythm Schism

While Iron Maiden’s musical interpretation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” attempts to pay homage to the romantic poetry, in terms of poetic form, much is lost. Coleridge’s ballad utilizes a strict adherence to the iambic tetrameter/trimeter form, with ABAB rhyme scheme. The artistic liberty with which Iron Maiden renders the song, not only changes the rhythmic beat to stressed/unstressed/stressed (cretic trisyllabic foot(?)), but the rhyme scheme is sporadic or in some instances, completely absent. Evidently the song uses triplet musical rhythmic structure as the primary melody for the song, changing the disyllabic nature of the original poem.

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In addition to these dissimilarities, the song features a break down of three parts, paralleling the poem in terms of sections, but instead using them as an exposition of the beginning melody, an interlude, and finally a recapitulation of the melody and lyrics from the song’s exposition. This significantly augments the poem because in terms of structure, it is unchanging; Iron Maiden’s interpretive stance establishes a melody, moves into a morose instrumental interlude, and then reaffirms the introductory melody, though changing the lyrics and some musical elements.

If one is to forgo the form and focus on the content of the song, I do not think it is a bad interpretation, and pays adequate honor to the poem in terms of tone, plot, lyrical speaker, and imagery. Much of the song’s lyrics takes verses verbatim, or abridges them for more palatable phrasing. That is to say that Iron Maiden changes the lyrics of the song to fit their musical rhythm and to speed up the plot in general. I actually enjoyed the cretic trisyllabic foot, paired with rhythm guitar riff triplets, because it added an element of anxiety within the tone of the song, which I believe best replicates the mood of the poem. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of metal, but I can appreciate the effort of the musicians that created the song, and it is clear to see why Metal remains one of the most progressive genres in terms of melodic phrasing and lyrical content.

  • Sara Nuila-Chae

Peter and Elijah in Equiano’s Narrative

In Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative, the Bible is used as an intertext to bolster his own credibility and posit himself as an equal amongst the predominately white European Christian population that would be critical of his narrative. In addition to this, Equiano utilizes architextual elements from the captivity narrative to parallel himself with other notable biblical figures, showing his readership who would have been familiar with these critical characters to hone in not only religious sentiments, but political propaganda as well. The passage in which Equiano describes his freedom exemplifies this acutely:

‘I glorified God in my heart, in whom I trusted.’ These words had been impressed on my mind from the very day I was forced from Deptford to the present hour, and I now saw them, as I thought, fulfilled and verified. My imagination was all rapture as I flew to the Register Office, and, in this respect, like the apostle Peter,[ U] (whose deliverance from prison was so sudden and extraordinary, that he thought he was in a vision) I could scarcely believe I was awake. Heavens! who could do justice to my feelings at this moment… My feet scarcely touched the ground, for they were winged with joy, and, like Elijah, as he rose to Heaven, they ‘were with lightning sped as I went on.’ (Kindle Locations 1860-1868).

If we are to juxtapose this with the book of Peter and that of Elijah, the parallelisms are conspicuous not only on the visible level, but indeed below that as well. Peter, the apostle was imprisoned by Herod and sentenced to death, but was able to escape by a miracle (an act of divine and purposeful intervention by God). Given a cursory glance, it may appear that the parallelism does not go so far: Equiano was also imprisoned by slavery and released; however, given a close reading, readers understand there is more to this allusion to Peter. Peter, like Equiano, endured many hardships and as a Christian, was persecuted for his beliefs of introducing the Gentiles and Jews to Christianity. This is important, because Equiano similarly was thrown into oppression because of racial prejudice and like Peter, advocated the blending of groups, albeit racial groups (as opposed to Peter’s advocacy of mixing religious groups). This serves as a defense against slavery: Equiano recognizes himself not only as Peter the unfairly imprisoned and God delivered, but also as Peter, the merging of groups and champion of eliminating prejudice. Elijah similarly serves a purpose within this passage. Although Elijah was not imprisoned like Peter, Elijah is taken up into heaven by God as a reward for being a devout follower. However, Elijah’s story goes deeper than this. The story of Elijah is a confrontation against oppression from the evil king Ahab, whom worships Baal (a false god) and is defeated with Elijah’s prayer. His steadfast faith is enough to convince the people of Israel to turn away from the king and Baal, and faith in the Jewish God is restored. Equiano’s narrative follows similar progressions. Throughout the narrative, we witness several testaments of his faith and against the system of slavery and prejudice, which can be compared with Baal. Indeed, Ahab is only the vehicle by which Baal is able to lead the Israelites astray; the white slave owners are the palpable executors of this ideology of oppression. In defeating Baal and Ahab, Elijah’s story contextualized in Equiano’s narrative is the call to arms advocating for the defeat of slavery and slave owners as well.

To an audience that was familiar with biblical stories and themes, this ideology and parallelism would not go unnoticed. In fact, it would likely serve as efficient propaganda given the obvious similarities. In accordance with other English literature at this time, religious allusions and symbolism were popular and had served for a driving force for social and political change. Although Equiano humbles himself as the beginning of his narrative, the comparisons to great figures like Peter and Elijah go deeper than references to freedom. He is situating himself as an apostle who has conquered against the roots of tyranny and will inspire the people to discard their prejudices—their Gentile prejudice—their Baals.

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Using Satire as Fodder for Satire

The satirical engraving of Colley Cibber pulling Alexander Pope off of a prostitute (image #1), which criticized Pope’s satirical works, is both a malicious attack on Pope’s physical appearance, but also the fodder which Pope likely used to parody and replicate for The Dunciad. The engraving features a noble Cibber “saving Pope” from a prostitute, likely a symbolization of disease and therefore poor writing. Cibber, in the description below the image, is said to have saved British poetry by this act, since Pope was known to satirize old texts. While the comic was likely intended to cause emotional distress, it may have given Pope many of the ideas he used in The Dunciad, a critique on writers who are dull and/or corrupt. It is also worthwhile to mention that Pope’s work was significantly influenced by the ongoing rift between the sciences and humanities, the latter of which was recently under attack by poor writers and corruption, something Pope likely took personal offense to. Cibber, one of Pope’s more successful enemies and Poet Laureate, attack one another satirically, Pope using some of the same elements from the engraving and replicating them in a carnival fashion.

For example, Cibber in The Dunciad, is given the role of Dulness’ son, the Queen of the Kingdom of Dull, and the enemy of the sciences and humanities. He has a nobility role in this topsy-turvy land, and similar to the engraving, which imbues him with the duty to pull Pope off the prostitute and save literature. He is tasked, along with Dulness, to imprison and destroy Science, Wit, Logic, Rhet’ric, etc., the personifications of themselves. It is clear from the engraving that Cibber is supposedly doing Pope a favor for the good of everyone else, and Pope interprets this too in The Dunciad, although flipping the meaning. Pope interprets it as chaotic and evil, writing that when Cibber and his legion of supporters (Dulness, clerk, etc.) have successfully eradicated all Enlightenment ideals, “thy dread Empire, CHAOS! Is restor’d…And Universal Darkness buries All”. Even the prostitute makes a significant appearance in both satirical works, both symbolizing a blight upon the world, although one in a negative connotation; in The Dunciad, as a positive one. It is important to recognize that the prostitute in the satirical engraving allows for a deformed Pope to perch “pertly on the Mount of Love” and thus be inflicted by poor writing. In The Dunciad, the prostitute’s role is the same, although instead of afflicting Pope, she is the harbinger for “Division”, giving scorn to the Muses of ancient Greece, and therefore Enlightenment ideals.

Based on these similar points, it is likely that Pope took the form of the satirical engraving meant to mock him and use it to mock his enemies. While not a direct hypertext, Pope incorporates many of the same elements such as pretention and blight, and the characters of Cibber and the prostitute. Seeing as Pope was a master of satire, it is not hard to fall under the assumption that Pope likely saw the engraving and utilized it for his own gain.

-Sara Nuila-Chae

 

A Test of Strength

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift satirizes a variety of topics, applying a comedic tone to his false narrative. In many ways, Swift’s novel takes popular elements from the captivity narrative. Although Swift forgoes the redemption by faith, they are several passages which appear to mimic the style and content that would have been seen in famous captivity narratives like Mary Rowlandson’s story of captivity by the Algonquians. One such instance, albeit significantly more boorish, is the scene is which Gulliver must relieve himself:

The best expedient I could think of, was to creep into my house, which I accordingly did; and shutting the gate after me, I went as far as the length of my chain would suffer, and discharged my body of that uneasy load.  But this was the only time I was ever guilty of so uncleanly an action; for which I cannot but hope the candid reader will give some allowance, after he has maturely and impartially considered my case, and the distress I was in…I would not have dwelt so long upon a circumstance that, perhaps, at first sight, may appear not very momentous, if I had not thought it necessary to justify my character, in point of cleanliness, to the world; which, I am told, some of my maligners have been pleased, upon this and other occasions, to call in question.

In this crass scene, Gulliver describes how he unburdens himself with much humiliation. In this moment, he suspends the fourth-wall to address the reader directly to justify himself and make a case for including it in the narrative. Readers that know Mary Rowlandson’s narrative, may notice a similarity between the rhetoric employed in the scene between her and King Phillip in which he offers her a “stinking tobacco pipe”. During that scene, Rowlandson writes about the offer in a roundabout way and takes the opportunity to convince her readers that she is too civilized to smoke from the pipe she was once fond of in her youth: “I thank God, He has now given me power over it; surely there are many who may be better employed than to lie sucking on a stinking tobacco-pipe”. Rowlandson includes this to exert her superiority and buttress her character as a Christian woman. Similarly, Gulliver feels the need to write that “I would not have dwelt so long upon a circumstance…if I had not thought it necessary to justify my character…to the world; which I am told, some of my maligners…call in question”. Like Rowlandson, who would have been under the scrutiny of readers looking checking for hallmarks of a good Puritan woman, Gulliver satirizes this issue more pointedly, addressing critics as “maligners”.

This instance of justifying character, while meant to be a moment of tension calling into question the strength of the faith of the author is satirized into a strength of “cleanliness” (as evidenced by the life “necessary to justify my character, in point of cleanliness”). While not directly acting as a parody to Rowlandson’s narrative, it is clear that Swift is attempting to mock and imitate using base humor to play off the novel’s serious tone. The manner in which how seriously Gulliver writes his travels too is an additional point of mimicry, and combined with the outlandish content of the novel, makes for a hilarious and witty satirical novel.

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Twitter Spat to Mary Rowlandson

@MaryRowlandson001 Upon reading your narrative, I must place a few things before you. It has been made known that you are a devout #Christian. Now, it must be clear to you that we are all but the same judged under God. If so, why then are the Indians given degradation through the course of the text? Is it right to hold and promote prejudices? I would ask you if you would like to be Algonquin, displaced by white men, and forced to welter out their days under starvation and fear, simply because they are not white. There are times when desperate people must make desperate choices, when they have been forced to by another force. Now let me ask you, Mrs. Rowlandson, did they not bring you into their wigwams and soothe your fears? King Phillip certainly outstretched a hand of kindness, which you later rebuked as sinful. Is it a disgrace to accept such a gift of #tobacco, when many a New Englander would consider this a gift? If it is such a disgrace, to accept kindness because of the color of the person gifting, then you must see this deep prejudice. Is there not an inconsistency in your principle? You see then this stark contrast, if you believe only the white man is made in the image of God, and all others must be treated with disdain. But, I must acknowledge that it was clever to use only Old Testament verse within your narrative. The cunning omission allows you to deceive the reader that we are all the same under God. Is this not the message our Father brought to us? I will ask one question more. Can you treat us the way in which God himself endured on the cross, as pariahs to be murdered, deprived of their lawful rights? And to the point, I look at the white skin, with all its crime, and see the crimes written upon it and see no difference between the Romans who lashed our Father. While we strive to conduct ourselves in a manner true to the Spirit’s principles, I must mention “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”, the second of the commandments. Pray the Lord will wash the black heart of prejudice anew in #HolyBaptism, and there will be peace in my heart, and in the nation.

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Bridging Cross Culture through Domesticity in Mary Rowlandson’s “Narrative of Captivity”

Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative reaffirms many of the sentiments raised by John Winthrop, while at the same time revealing a sympathetic view of the Algonquin natives that captured her. While the narrative appears to ridicule the natives for their cruelty, murder, and above all, paganism, there are moments in which she is impacted by her time spent with them. John Winthrop’s ideology, as proposed by Thomas Pham, centers around enforcing Christian ideals and fiercely condemning those that go against it. He writes that Winthrop was a religious extremist, and that the Puritans were “religion-imbued fanatics” culpable of genocide. While Rowlandson’s narrative is certainly marked by overt religious themes, like John Dryden’s “The Indian Emperor”, there is a kernel of humanization amid her intolerance and disdain for them.

In saying this, there is evidence of cross-cultural and cross-linguistic exchange between herself and the Algonquians which is evident in the domestic sphere of the text. As noted, Rowlandson adopts many Algoquian native words like “squaw”, “sannup”, “papoose”, and “wigwham” (all home-based terms). As a Puritan woman, which would have been condemned to a life of domesticity, such words allowed her to enter in Algonquian society, effectively demonstrating not only a cross-cultural, but cross-linguistic exchange. In addition to this, much of Rowlandson’s narrative strictly focuses on her interactions between “squaws” and life living in a “wigwam” performing duties like making clothing or food, or gathering food and items for her master. At one point, the kindness of the natives in the domestic sphere touches her: they bury her child for her, give her food, and they allow her to meet with her children occasionally Although perhaps not intentional, Rowlandson’s account of these things humanizes the Algonquians; Rowlandson can still perform her duties as a Puritan woman in a culture completely different than her own. This serves to complicate the narrative of intolerance against indigenous people during English colonization of eastern North America, and Rowlandson herself, at the conclusion of the narrative attempts to dispel many of the assumptions and myths surrounding the Algonquian’s writing that they were not heavy drinkers, not all of them were cruel, and that they were a starving group of people trying to care for their own. Indeed, Rowlandson’s narrative, though dripping with racism and piety, shows that her own preconceptions about the Algonquian’s were not always warranted a stark contrast to the pious and villainous John Dryden Thomas Pham describes.

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Analyzing Love & Honor in Relation to British Imperialism

Love and honor are the two dominant themes of John Dryden’s “The Indian Emperor”. Dryden juxtaposes the two in competition with one another, with honor as the more preferred. The conclusion of the play merely echoes this sentiment with the impossible union between love and honor: Cortez and Cydaria are never married. However, this impossible union is also expressed throughout the play through the various romances. The love triangle exemplified by Guyomar, Alibech, and Odmar not only serves as a foil to the primary romance, but also as a vehicle for the ideological agenda of the play. In fact, while it might be easier to consider Cortez’s various diatribes on honor and love, I believe the conversations between Guyomar, Alibech, and Odmar, although less conspicuous, deserve attention.

In fact, it is in the conversation between Guyomar and Alibech, that readers learn that the greater exaltation lies in honor. Guyomar, after defending the country while his brother fled to protect Alibech, remarks that “Her country she did to her self prefer, Him who fought best, not who defended her…Your aiding her, your Country did betray, I aiding him, did her Commands obey” (26). Guyomar’s selfless nationalism is more greatly preferred by Alibech to Odmar’s love, which she chastises as a “common Love” (26). Indeed, she proposes that “Guyomar’s was greater” (26), because she reveres the nation more than conventional acts of love. Later in play, Guyomar argues with Alibech that he cannot submit to her command to betray the nation, because even though a king might rule ignorantly, “But Kings by free Consent their Kingdoms take, Strict as those sacred Ties which Nuptials make; And whate’er Faults in Princes time reveal, None can be Judge, where can be no Appeal” (41). This quote is telling not only in the weighing of love and honor, but as a subliminal discourse for the Restoration. This propaganda not only instills a strong sense of nationhood, but additionally, fealty to the crown, which was recently restored back in Britain. The phrase, “But Kings by free Consent their Kingdoms take” especially buttresses the notion of loyalty to the monarchy. It is in Alibech’s reply, that the message is driven in: conflicted, she criticizes honor, lamenting, “Fantastick Honour, thou hast fram’d a Toil thy self, to make thy Love thy Virtue’s Spoil” (43). Here Alibech recognizes that love cannot outmatch honor, because it only serves to “spoil” one’s virtue. In fact, Odmar’s love for Alibech, devoid of honor, is the cause of ruin for the country, just as Montezuma’s love for Almeria causes the war in the first place, and Almeria’s love for Cortez drives her to suicide. Love without honor becomes a source of tragedy in the play, and it is up to the honor of Cortez and Guyomar to salvage what is left.

Love and honor are regarded throughout the play as separate entities, and the marriage of the two is a betrayal of the ideological framework Dryden so carefully lays out. Dryden’s allegiance to nationalism and more succinctly, British imperialism, has no room for follies like love, which the natives foolishly worship in the play. The propaganda at the conclusion of the play is clear: the nation comes first, to conquer, and subdue with virtue the tempestuous passions of the conquered.

 

– Sara Nuila-Chae