Dungeon Reprise

 The Dungeon Reprise


This is the place of opportunity?

The place that our fathers fought for

A beast now

They fought for this, sacrificed the blood that runs in their veins for this,

For the right to stand alone and empowered, our land is a beast

What has it become, telling its brother it hates him?

Looking at him, seeing himself, and turning away

Rearing its head to hate, to injustice,

Our land in unrecognizable, the face of every injustice committed,

Laid bare on the flesh of cheeks and spread across palms,

Every time dark skin was a crime, or the feminine, or love,

I know this wasn’t how it was supposed to be

But it’s cold, now, too late, too close to the end

The evil cuts our breath short, silences

Grinding shrieks are a world controlled by capitalism and fueled by fear

Afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of a veiled face but not a gun,

We are so afraid so angry

So we try to cover it up, so we blame, so we don’t look at each other

We are trapped,

 There is only justice through the pure

 the innocence of what cannot be blamed

the unblemished face of nature

 Nature, be like fire, burning away

 things that make this world a dungeon, set afire

 the darkness in our hearts

 the corrupt nature of our very being

 nature, pristine in its hearth, set atop as on pedestals

 to understand the deep connection of man as nature

 as pieces, as atoms, as roots and stardust

 as free flowing eternity is to escape our dungeon


-Cait Grabill


A letter to my readers,

My initial love of the poem “The Dungeon”, a lyrical ballad, came from the way in which it captured critically, a world of evil and corruption, but also almost in paradox, presented this solution of sorts. The beauty and perfection of nature as a sort of link to original man, and to a sort of savior and rebirth. I found this idea both inspiring and transcendent. Staring off, I knew I wanted to write a poem which gave nods to these themes outright. I wanted to give nod to the Romantic era theme which captured that disdain over the ever-growing industrialization poisoning the world, as well as that nostalgic admiration of nature. I wrote my poem with this theme in mind, but instead pointed by critique, at the injustice and inequality which hampers our world today, and how that incredible human link with nature, of us as a part of nature, is so transcendent that it surpasses the evils and transgressions of this world.

Stylistically, I did mimic the poem’s structure of 19 and 11 lines for the two stanzas respectively. I also noticed the lack of true and hard rhyme or structure. The lines flowed without barrier and is the message was meant to be hard hitting and direct. I wrote with the same sort of varying line length and wrote in a way that when read sounds less structured and more of an impassioned cry or prayer. I felt that this was what the original poem was intending to sound like. A sort of cry to the world and to nature. I also noted the use of alliteration in sounds, or first letters to add emphasis. As a nod to this, I also used alliteration but uses parallel sentence frames instead. By this I mean instead of saying “Smooth, Seared…” I used This … This…” I thought personally this would sound similar but give my poem a unique touch.

I also noticed the imagery in the first half of the poem being that critical, sort of personifies and complicated picture of the land, while the second became a sort of call for help to nature. The images in the first stanza were dark in comparison to the beautiful nature images in the second stanza. I mimicked this in my own version of this poem and created by own sort of personified “beast” and “savior” nature. I did intend also to keep my images also relating to the themes of evil, poverty, injustice, as the original poem did. I also tried to reflect the way in which the images are obscure but loaded with deeper context. I tried to highlight different issues in our society through subtle but daring images.

I felt overall that this project opened by eyes to the amount of detail it requires to craft a poem so striking and poignant. Every element points to a theme or to a larger image in a sort of totalitarian writing style. Every word is chosen so carefully and comes packed with little meaning that so differently can affect interpretation. This assignment has really exposed me to the tedious details that it takes to create this sort of art.


Harp Analysis

The Harp remains a symbol of Ireland as it so beautifully captures the simple strength and elegance of the country. Moore’s poem understands this through imagery that tells of Irelands own story.


The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness         5
  Have waken’d thy fondest, thy liveliest thrill;
But, so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness,
  That ev’n in thy mirth it will steal from thee still.


In these lines he captures a personified harp which is a stand in symbol for Ireland. “The warm lay of love” and “Light note of gladness” are these beautiful ethereal images of Ireland as peaceful. While there was a “deep sign of sadness” it seems he is saying Ireland has overcome this. To compare Ireland to a personified harp is interesting because harps, in history, are these beautiful in intruments generally played by beautiful girls, but the sound is light and almost quite haunting. It seems apt that thus beautiful country would “play” the notes of a haunted past or of darker times.


-cait grabill

Sacramento 2.o.1.7.



I chose to write about Shelley’s poem because I love the way in which the lines are blunt and striking. He uses rounded vowels and sounds to form a flowing movement as he describes the town, causing there to be this effect of motion and movement, making the poem come to life. I like how it lines are complex and can each be deeply analyzed to find small themes within each. HE also is a master of alliteration and employs this beautifully. IN my own poem I wanted to capture and mimic that idea of using sound to reflect motion and the experience of being in a tone while also being politically meaningful.



Sacramento 2017



If you’ve ever taken the time to look at a spider web

And its long strands, reaching, intertwined,

Always looping and turning over itself,

Then you understand Sacramento

And its freeways

And most of it

Because it all

Is looped and turned

Too much in too little space

Too many people

Too many building

Too many roads

Too many housing

Too much life

But in it

In the mess of too much

is a city of movement?

of time on fast forward



but driving forward?



-Cait Grabill

Abbey vs. Gravesite


This painting firstly is by a German artist, Caspar David Friedrich, post the time of the Napoleonic invasion of Germany. To understand this period, one has to understand the disillusionment that came with post-war Germany. This painting reflects that deeply felt sentiment of a great nation crumbling and decaying. The oak trees in this painting, which also Oak trees are the national tree of Germany and should live for up to 600 years are rotting away in sort of symbolic rotting away of Germany. The abbey in the middle reflects the interest in spirituality of the time, as something great and longstanding of culture. It too, rots with the trees. The painting serves as sort of desperate and sad representation of the decay of Germany. Broader, it is the decay of civilization and life. As the center crumbles all life around it shrivels and dies, something great silently dies in this picture. This thematic expression and understanding can be applied to understanding other romantic themed pieces. The poem “We Are Seven” takes a sort of twisted innocent look at death as understood by a child. The young girl in the poem will not accept the death of her siblings but chooses to reinvent her own sort of definition in death. Her siblings are dead and yet she can interact with them.
“My stockings there I often knit,

My kerchief there I hem;

And there upon the ground I sit,

And sing a song to them. “


She goes on to be with them as if they were alive, making death seem something deeper than death, but more a second life just separate from our own world. Though dead, she believes her siblings still need to me spent time with and sung too. She literally sees that “better place” that people will say people go to. Applying the theme of decay that we understand in the painting as comparing the gravestone of siblings to the abbey, they decay in such different ways.  The abbey is alone and crumbling while the grave of the young girl’s siblings is green and she is always visiting. The memory site of these great lives are commemorated in such strikingly different ways that when compared it serves to only add deeper meaning. To the German painter, it is sad to see a great society crumble from within and the horizon is bleak, but to this innocent child the memory of life at all is cherished and even when gone, she will remember them as alive.


-Cait Grabill

Illustrative Technique as a Romantic Era Tool

Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is like romantic poetry in the way that it captures the very mission of romantic poetry. Our class mostly agreed that Romantic poetry aimed to invoke this deep and beautiful feeling in a mission to explore and understand human emotion. Iron maidens use of music and illustration certainly aids in evoking a deep and emotive meaning even beyond what the words of a poem can do, making it romantic-esque art in and of itself.



This pictures for me is incredible. The poem doesn’t come close to the fear created by this image. I am first, not the most imaginative reader, so conjuring up this image would be hard itself, but the even reading I don’t think most people get to this magnitude. This picture really takes someone’s interpretation and paints it clearly and gets across all the emotion that they felt reading and I see this as literally capturing the point of Romantic-era art. He drew what he felt when reading the poem. He got across this incredible display of emotion through art. The artist used both literal means of the picture but also techniques to get these images across. The green tone is associated with a sort of dark magic as it is commonly used in films. The way the creatures looms over the boat with a hand as big as the boat adds to his massive and intimidating size. The sharp rocks make the scene look rougher and “scarier” aka like a typical horror movie scene. The dark and swirling clouds leads to some black hole where god knows what lies and the albatross is a bright white in comparison to everything else, making it seem like the only good, and yet it is dead. The red in its eyes and the red blood coming from the bird are the same color and texture which, doesn’t scream “yay” and the people on the boat aren’t even visible so like they’re already screwed. The artist chose to emphasize that size difference so it seems like this thing could sneeze and that boat is lost forever.

The music also helped to boost the sort of terror and thrill that the poem describes. The music is high energy but also darker in a way that alludes to a foreboding sense of danger. The music itself causes chemical reactions in peoples; brains as they listen outright, forcing them to feel emotions as their nerves rise. This also becomes another way like romantic art, Iron Maiden’s rendition gets across this human emotion.

To Truly Understand Ignorance

This narrative is both powerful and striking in understanding the true depth and twisted nature of slavery. It is not enough to just say slavery is bad, and move on. It becomes one’s responsibility to understand its very nature and how it came to exist and remains.

To understand firstly, one can examine the two warring sides which existed. Those who supported and did not support slavery. Looking at the dynamics between a narrative written by a former slave and a political cartoon drawn by a white man, one can begin to comprehend the different views each held, and their ideas, which can stand for both halves of the argument.


Equiano’s narrative begins with what seems him having to qualify himself almost to an overdone state. He assures he is moral and that what he writes in this memoir is all true. It struck me as odd to have seen this but then I realized that there is going to be anti-abolitionist people who have and will read this text and either willingly or subconsciously believe it to be fake and truly in their hearts believe slavery was not as bad as people have made the world to believe. Where do I get that notion? In the political cartoon “John Bull Taking a Clear View on the Negro Slavery Question” the artist satirizes the abolitionist’s stand against slavery. The cartoon features children signing petitions (in a way that makes it seem that those who sign are not truly valid voters or white men, to be honest), corrupt payments of people to support ending the sugar business that is fueled by slave power, and even alleged falsification of the reality of slavery (example: a poorly drawn picture showing sad Africans in front of an island of happy and peaceful Africans). The cartoon paints abolitionists as self-serving liars who ignore the poor in their own country. The outright disbelief shown in this cartoon represents the truly ignorant reality known to those who supported slavery. This doubt in the evil and wrongness of slavery is what forces Equiano to have to include an entire section promising what he writes his true and moral.

Against this view of a “false” slavery, Equiano’s narrative stands as a clear and real first-hand experience of the raw and emotional life led by slaves. He spares no detail in recounting the way he had felt being dehumanized and treated as less than human.

“O, ye nominal Christians! might not an African ask you, learned you this from your God, who says unto you, do unto all men as you would men should do unto you? Is it not enough that we are torn from our country and friends to toil for your luxury and lust of gain? Must every tender feeling be likewise sacrificed to your avarice? Are the dearest friends and relations, now rendered more dear by their separation from their kindred, still to be parted from each other, and thus prevented from cheering the gloom of slavery with the small comfort of being together and mingling their sufferings and sorrows? Why are parents to lose their children, brothers their sisters, or husbands their wives? Surely this is a new refinement in cruelty, which, while it has no advantage to atone for it, thus aggravates distress, and adds fresh horrors even to the wretchedness of slavery.”

Equiano recounts the way in which he wants to ask these white men essentially where are their morals? They claim to have God and yet have no mercy in tearing apart families and reducing men to animals. The questions hold back nothing in showing the decrepit and grotesque nature of the slave trade and those involved and lies bare any notion that they may be “exaggerating” in any way what it truly felt like to be owned by another human. Equiano’s narrative serves as proof and resistance against the euro-centric world that even when he’s free, even dead, and even 1000s of years later still tries to silence him and reduce his pain, tries to invalidate the evil and torture he suffered in hopes of easing the blame and guilt of the slave trade.

-Caitlyn (Cait) Grabill

The Elite English Language and The Root of Colonization

The language that Sophia speaks with, and her persona in and of itself seem to closely represent the ideology and status of the English Language. The way in which the language has its users feeling entitled and elite. From the way she attempts to ‘cleverly” insult her friend through her letters, clearly showing a sort of entitled complex, she has to “lower herself” in the beginning of the work to even begin to explain Calcutta to her friend. Sophia, getting the opportunity many girls don’t get, and clearly thinking so highly of herself because of it. She quotes literary works throughout to validate her “elite” and “broad” knowledge of literature. She quotes in one of her letters,


“Tis raging noon and vertical the sun,

Darts on the head direct its forceful beams;

O’er heaven and earth, far as the ranging eye,

Can sweep a dazzling deluge range’

Thompson certainly passed a certain part of his life under this meridian, so applicable are the above lines to my current situation…”


Thomson’s poem “A Summer’s Noon” is a perfect example of the sort of “high art” which came off of that period. It represents a sort of area of literature which is closed off to both those who speak English and are of higher class. Sophia quoting this is a perfect understanding of the elite status of the English language and how it becomes root of colonization and dehumanization of the native peoples.


-Cait Grabill

On This Week’s Episode of “A Dusty Book Won’t Let People LIVE”


The status of English was and it still remains for some reason to be quite high. Though it remains a language that borrows or steals rather, a messy collection of meanings and ideas from other languages it has become a sort of commodity. Around the world. English seems almost an equalizer of intelligence. When my boyfriend applied to come to this country, he was taken seriously because of his brilliant fluency of English and ability to pass as if he had been born here. He tells me that in China, understanding English is money and access. Their education system teaches them English, as to help them survive in an English-dominated world, that is unyielding in any sense. He explains it as, “learn English, or remain in China.” The world has for some reason accepted English as the standard, or more, the elite standard. Where else can I attribute this to then the elitist tone of the Johnson’s English Dictionary. I am quoting this from a source in which funny enough, are translated so I can understand them. It’s comical how outdated his “master elite dictionary has truly become”.


[7] “As language was at its beginning merely oral, all words of necessary or common use were spoken before they were written; and while they were unfixed by any visible signs, must have been spoken with great diversity, as we now observe those who cannot read to catch sounds imperfectly, and utter them negligently. When this wild and barbarous jargon was first reduced to an alphabet, every penman endeavored to express, as he could, the sounds which he was accustomed to pronounce or to receive, and vitiated in writing such words as were already vitiated in speech. The powers of the letters, when they were applied to a new language, must have been vague and unsettled, and therefore different hands would exhibit the same sound by different combinations.”

[8] “From this uncertain pronunciation arise in a great part the various dialects of the same country, which will always be observed to grow fewer, and less different, as books are multiplied; and from this arbitrary representation of sounds by letters, proceeds that diversity of spelling observable in the Saxon remains, and I suppose in the first books of every nation, which perplexes or destroys analogy, and produces anomalous formations, which, being once incorporated, can never be afterward dismissed or reformed.”



I don’t have the space here to go over the inadequate and equally vague and incorrect statements he makes here. But when one asks why is English so elite. See, example one. The pompous tone rings elitism loudly in phrases such as “barbarous jargon”. I UNDERSTAND IN FACT, that yes, language changes over time. But to reduce the speech which becomes relevant to people and places out of convenience or culture, to just misinformation or uneducated status is ridiculous. To ridicule a dialect because HE doesn’t understand it?? To be this sure of yourself, that YOUR English must be the BEST version is as ridiculous as the missionaries who swore their religion was best and by raiding and torturing villages they were spreading Jesus and “better life”. The ignorance is blinding, and let me tell you, this guy cannot see his feet.


The diversity of language, even between dialects is a beautiful and incredible mandala of the different forces and ideas which shape life around us. I will say “hella because I’m from Northern California”. I will use relevant language that connects me to the world around me and appreciate what connects others to their world. Language in not universal but subject to each and their own. A dusty dictionary of elitism can’t dictate that.









-Caitlyn Grabill



Do we really need another book about another white women? (spoiler: no)

At first read I wanted to be moved by Rowlandson’s harrowing life and the graphic and wrenching events which came to be her life. I truly did feel for the violence and suffering she was exposed to, but I the backdrop of her captivity, the society that surrounds her, silences my sympathy.  I can’t help but feel the obvious racist and imperialist, even elitist themes and ideology which invade her story. I cannot help but be hardened by the way in which she demonizes and dehumanizes the indigenous peoples. I cannot separate myself form hearing her story sound so similar to what happened to the indigenous peoples as the British attempt to take over their land. I understand how people will argue that this is just war, and its violence on both sides and, we should direct our anger towards violence itself, but I fail to see this as war. The British had no necessity to imperialize these peoples. Their own elitism and euro-centrism caused them too. This was never war, it was  an attack. And when the indigenous people fight back, and suddenly this single white woman faces a snippet of the violence her people have been committing for years and years, suddenly she can write a narrative calling them demons. I fail to find sympathy, it what truly becomes the price of imperialism. To come into another’s land, take their freedom and wreak havoc, it only follows natural order for those people to fight back.

I see this piece as an example of the consciousness and ideology of imperialist Britain. An example of the racism and elitism that poisoned this society. We can look to it to understand the ideology which has spurred generations of hate and intolerance. We can study it to study the racism that exists today, as so much of the systematic racism alive today finds its roots here, in the dehumanization and demonism of an entire race of people allowing for the hate and marginalization that exists, to move down generations and across regions until it has become today’s ignorance.

-Cait Grabill

Newton’s Own Gravitational Pull

The Royal Society is defined by the way in which they uphold the prestige and honor of science while continually bolstering and pushing for its advancements as they benefit the world. They describe their history and mission as the history and mission of modern science. The Royal society places all trust in science over even authority. The fellowship of these scientists believes and trusts in only true science to explain and advance the world.

So much of these ideals, which create a foundation for this fellowship seem inspired and even spurred by many of history’s greatest natural philosophers and physicians. Specifically, the ideas of the renowned Sir Isaac Newton can be traced into the Royal Society. Newton, who was a master in many fields and schools, is most famous for his theories on the laws of motion and universal gravitation. This was one of many theories which would aid our understanding for centuries and even today. The impact this man had on the entire world reaches what seems for The Royal Society to be the aim and mission of science. What Newton has done, seems to be what they aim to do. His strides, bold and against odds, trust science alone and push our society further into knowledge and understanding the world around us.


-Caitlyn Grabill