Poor Sam

At the corner of Heartbreak Avenue, when the clouds overhead begin to clear,

There lies a girl sitting there, waiting for the bus every day for 3 years:

Poor Sam has passed by the stop and has never seen

In the silence of morning the splendid scene.

 

There’s a text of enchantment; what bothers him? He sees

The bloom of flowers and the budding of leaves on trees:

Spring has come, and with it, the couples too,

Holding hands and taking pictures, memories anew.

 

Cheesy coffee dates he views in the midst of the mall,

Remembering he enjoyed them too, when he was small,

He arrives at the movies, his favorite place to spend his time,

The only place he goes by himself, always a quarter past nine.

 

He looks upon the screen, and his heart in memories that have faded,

The couples look unhappy, the single ones are jaded,

Flowers begin to rot, the clouds begin to form,

The colors have gone dull, he didn’t wear a jacket for the storm.

Review:

The poem above is based on”Poor Susan” by Wordsworth, in an attempt to mimic the rhyme scheme of the original poem while also paying homage to the ideas of romanticism and bittersweet nostalgia. My rendition of “Poor Susan” is meant for the modern audience as well as the simplified version of Romanticism among the youth. The story tells of a man who is oblivious to the opportunities of love; he romanticizes couples and relationships due to theatrical representations of love but ultimately views a film and gets a text that changes his perspective. He starts to see the grim, the faults and imperfections within couples. It’s sort of a slap of reality that hits him in the end that he wasn’t prepared for. This choice was meant to speak to the values of young people in the 21st century who romanticize realtionships and idealize them to an unattainable standard.

-Daniel Corral

Advertisements

Solidarity within the Harp

Henry Derozio’s “Harp of India” signals an acknowledgement of Ireland’s rich cultural history of the harp; all the while showing solidarity with Ireland in the oppressive times of British colonization. Through a harp, Ireland symbolizes its cultural development and heritage. In India, the harp isn’t as widely spread and thus becomes more of a metaphor in that, just as it operates for Ireland, so too, does it convey the same sense of culture and belonging in a symbolic sense. This structured identity is complicated through Derozio’s poem, becoming a sonnet about the conflicting cultures of the self and how they translate to identity.

It’s important to note that Derozio was born in Calcutta, India and thus, grew up in a segregated town between rich and poor, white and colored, man and woman. We can see he addresses some the cultural hybridity in the line:

“O! many a hand more worthy far than mine”

The narrator’s self-doubt is highlighted here, even though they too, are a part of India through the last line “Harp of my country.” The fact that they think themselves unworthy echoes the loss of identity through the subjugation of India. We see this most explicitly through the harp’s description:

“Silence hath bound thee with her fatal chain;

Neglected, mute, and desolate art thou,

Like ruined monument on desert plain:”

Here, the harp doubles as the symbol of India as the chains of colonization while also being a metaphor of the narrator’s identity. It too, was muted and subjugated through the globalization of the English language. We see this through the poem’s Shakespearean form of a sonnet and use of English. Both coming from British culture, Derozio uses this to appeal to a wider audience; specifically, a British audience. In doing so, it speaks to the cultural hybridity of Indian people that have to grapple with conflicting sources of cultural, all the while making a space for themselves to be heard.

-Daniel Corral

San Diego, 2017

I decided on trying to mimic Wordsworth’s “London, 1802,” in terms of rhyme scheme and content. I allude to the recent election and prototypes of the wall that will be built just south of San Diego along the border. While Wordsworth is essentially romanticizing the past due to the current events in France, I do so similarly but not too idealistically. I also include some of my nostalgia for past, in terms of how simple it used to be before I grew up. Given our time isn’t exactly in the same situation, the election has affected the Hispanic community in various ways, springing deep fear for their safety, their economic security, and social representation. The murals I mention are that of Chicano Park, a park underneath some bridges in Downtown San Diego that has beautifully painted murals depicting Chicano culture and its most recent addition being a political image. I will attach pictures of the mural below as well as translations to look alongside the poem. As a Chicano myself, my poem displays my thoughts on recent events.

rdsgef

Youth. Scars of swing sets and sunsets in Spring,

Laughter lifts the likes of lonely people like me.

Rust lines the lockers of a high-school sea,

To that transient tenderness, do I still cling.

Murals move my heart, still aching, still breaking,

Pausing, only to plead my principal plea:

Cease the construction, do not let it be,

He will not divide us, fists still shaking.

Barriers enclose, they do not protect,

Convicted citizens, families deported,

This is for you, a heartbroken ballad,

For the fearful, the exiled, the stolen,

And hatred for the treacherous architect.

Adulthood. Friends and family, never forgotten.

-Daniel Corral

Transient Beauty

In Théodore Gericault’s “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct,” we are presented to a scene where the sun is setting on the green plains and a river; among them, a castle and six curious figures seemingly delighting in the river’s refreshing coolness. In the distance, similar castles line the plains and form a picturesque sense of the quotidian. On further observation, I noticed the trees surrounding the scene have but little leaves on them, signaling the season to be Autumn. Coupled with the sunset, a bittersweet tone arises due to the end of summer, the end of the day, and the end of a season.

In relation to the Lyrical Ballads, “Two April Mornings” by Wordsworth encompasses the reflecting tone the painting conveys. I want to focus the attention on the two figures on the bottom of the painting, seeing as how the poem gives a few lines of conversation. It starts with someone asking Matthew, the second person, why he was sighing even though it was such a beautiful day. His reply:

“Yon cloud with that long purple cleft

Brings fresh into my mind

A day like this which I have left

Full thirty years behind.

 

And on that slope of springing corn

The self-same crimson hue

Fell from the sky that April morn,

The same which now I view!”

This reply I attribute to the figure sitting upon the rocks, watching the others play in the river and the surrounding clouds of dawn approach the scene. His remembrance of the day he “left behind” thirty years ago is indicative of a nostalgia he feels, but whether it is reflective or regretful, is not revealed. We later find that Matthew was thinking of his sister who has passed, and reflects on the ephemerality of life like the day; just as soon as it begins, the dawn quickly comes before you know it. Later in the poem, we are also told by the narrator that Matthew too, has died. He is described in his grave as clutching onto a wild apple tree in his hand, signaling his longing for the past. This reflective and nostalgic poem is very much Romantic in the sense that, it speaks of nature as relating to the soul of man. They share the same sense of transient beauty, much like a firework, traveling into the sky only to explode for some beautiful seconds until it’s gone forever.

-Daniel Corral

Shredding The High Seas with Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden’s rendition of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge encaptures a modern interpretation of the poem, in the form of metal music. Moving past text on a piece of paper, the melodic transposition of the poem into metal music is very intense in its purpose: Iron Maiden offers a unique perspective in which to interpret the poem by combining the senses (auditory and visual), which is a staple in Romanticism.

Direct references are paid to Coleridge’s poem, exemplifying a sense of responsibility the band has to the poem:

“Day after day, day after day,

we stuck nor breath nor motion

as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean

Water, water everywhere and

all the boards did shrink

Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.”

While the lyrics aren’t verbatim to the poem’s lines, it nonetheless follows the same idea as the original but highlights the imagery further. The image of a painting comes into play, calling forth thoughts of a paintbrush strokes, ever so harsh and careful as the sea itself. Furthermore, the structure of the song parallels that of a storm at sea; in between the heavy riffs and screaming vocals, we are taken to a calm interlude-mimicking the eye of the storm. In this interlude, we find shelter and are given the chance for self-reflection just as the mariner contemplates his fallen crew and the eeriness of the ghost ship.

The purpose of the poem’s rendition to music lies in the foundations of Romanticism itself. To be accessible to others, to both admire and fear nature, to overflow with emotions, to experience the world’s forces and its relations to the self. This I argue, is achieved through the song. Granted, many might not like metal or feel as though the song does justice to the poem, but anyone who listens to metal understands the genre’s important theme is to express raw emotion. In a sense, Coleridge captures that rawness of nature in the poem. Iron Maiden simply breathes life into it or rather, screams at it to wake up.

-Daniel Corral

The Extended Roots of Slavery

Robert Cruikshank’s political cartoon, titled “John Bull taking a Clear View of the Negro Slavery in Question,” leads to a critique outside the realm of the slavery and anti-slavery binary in that, he highlights the greed of abolitionist’s who have an economic interest in upholding slavery. Ironically, this is emphasized through the sign that states, “Buy only East India Sugar, ‘Tis Sinful to buy any other True East India Sugar.” Superficially, the sign would make one believe that the sugar coming from East India isn’t produced by slaves. Although, if we take a look at the abolitionist’s back-pocket, we can clearly read the paper: “Invoice, I.E. Sugar.” This immediately shifts the intention of the sign as well as the morality of the so-called abolitionist; he is secretly in favor of slavery due to his economic interest and investment.

Taking a look at Equiano’s Narrative, he also identifies the economic ramifications of the abolition of slavery as well as the abolitionist’s ties to trade:

“If I am not misinformed, the manufacturing interest is equal, if not superior, to the landed interest, as to the value, for reasons which will soon appear. The abolition of slavery, so diabolical, will give a most rapid extension of manufactures, which is totally and diametrically opposite to what some interested people assert.” (212)

This is not to say Equiano was wholly moral in his critique of abolitionist’s, though his identification of problematic slavery extends beyond the question of human rights. Slavery was an extensive network of labor that supported the economy of the colonies and parts of Africa.

Thus, Cruikshank not only critiques these specific types of abolitionist’s, but he also brings to light the deep economic roots of the slave system; the economy runs and profits from slavery. Without it, it would collapse along with many people’s source of income and labor. Then, the question is asked: What will happen when slavery is abolished?

-Daniel Corral

The Mask of Stupidity

In Letter IX of Hartly House, we see Sophia informing her friend, Arabella, of the sights in Calcutta. In her description of The Writer’s Buildings, she highlights how struck she was at their prosperity, using the following quote to compare England to the East:

“Seek to be good, but aim not to be great; A woman’s noblest station is retreat; Her fairest virtues fly from public sight; Domestic worth, — that shuns too strong a light.” – George Lyttleton, 1st Baron Lyttleton

Sophia’s attempt to quote Lyttleton works in two ways; on the level of character and in reference to British norms. While Lyttleton’s quote refers to the enforced gender roles of England, Sophia uses the quote to compare English “sensibility” to the East’s lack of “ostentation.” Unknown to Sophia, she ironically misuses the quote to affirm her “depth” and “intellectual endowment” when it actually exemplifies her as the stereotypical, submissive woman. Thus, British normalization of gender roles are still upheld subconsciously through Sophia, granted she is somewhat naïve due to the fact she is only 16 years of age. Her obsessive quotes portray a vacillation of her nationalistic pride and position in England society; being both amazed by Calcutta and its décor while also subconsciously reinforcing the superiority of England.

Furthermore, the irony of the passage can be attributed to the author, Phebe Gibbes, as perhaps a commentary on the gender norms of England. Having released the book anonymously, it can be inferred that her sociopolitical critique had to be subtle; Sophia is an exemplary character in which to hide such commentary. Sophia wears the mask of stupidity to hide the subtle commentary of Gibbes.

-Daniel Corral

The Eurocentric Standardization of English

It is no secret that the context surrounding Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary is built from a nationalistic view of the English being superior in rank and class in comparison to those in foreign countries including Scotland, India, and the New World. Moreover, the Dictionary was used for further political purposes by standardizing the way in people speak, spell, and write. In doing so, one essentially creates a platform of a dominant ideological way of interpreting literature and writing it; such a dominant ideology was to be rooted in Johnson’s conservative Tory values.

Some of the traces of nationalistic pride and conquest lie in Johnson’s preface to the Dictionary, claiming that he is “doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths of Learning and Genius, [and] press forward to conquest and glory.” Immediately, it’s obvious he took it upon himself, as an Englishman, to be the one to pave the way for “enlightenment.” This is no surprise and he isn’t the first white European to think so. Although, what really is troubling is the fact he feels the need to “press forward to conquest and glory.” This desire to conquer what is assumed to be foreign lands is of no surprise either, yet to do so in the means of language has not been done on such a grand scale. It will be through the standardization of Johnson’s “English language” that he will politically have the power to enforce his own ideology upon foreign countries weaker than England. The submission of foreign lands would be granted willingly or unwillingly, as we see through Raja Rammohan Ray’s Address to His Excellency the Right Honourable William Pitt, Lord Amherst.

In Ray’s letter, he reduces thousands of years of Indian literature to “imaginary learning,” unfit to be taught anymore due to it “keep[ing] th[e] country in darkness.” I take Ray to be an example of the result of British conquest; someone who has submitted to their ruler and essentially brainwashed into believing such a discrepant power dynamic is justified. Retrospectively, we can see that Johnson set the precedent for an established and centralized form of English, which would be later superimposed upon foreign countries as an act of dominance more so, than as an act of fostering intellectual thought. Ironically, it funneled such thought into the limits of the British perspective, which is so counterintuitive to learning.

 

-Daniel Corral

Hypocrisy Within War

Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative is a prime example of an egocentric perspective of war from the colonies’ side. The continual characterization and dehumanization of the Natives as these “devils” who are testing her faith is absurdly ignorant of the same objectification the native people of the New World experienced. Just as Thomas’ post (https://english102literaturesurvey.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/a-city-upon-intolerance-and-genocide/) reveals:

“(Native) Infants were torn from their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone. Some were thrown into the river, and when the fathers and mothers endeavored to save them, the soldiers would not let them come on land but made both parents and children drown…”

It is principally this notion of blindness to the atrocities committed on the colonists’ side that shapes Rowlandson’s narrative to play the part of the victim, while the Native people play the part of the victimizers.

Of course, whether the narrative confirms or denies the intolerance and genocide of the New World lies solely within the interpretation of the reader. The ideal reader for Rowlandson’s essay would be other colonists and even British political figures that would use such a text to justify the conquering of the Native people. Whereas, the conscious socio-political thinker will identify the diction and structure of how it works to create an effect of empathy, while simultaneously being a propaganda piece; condemning the Natives further into “Otherness.”

Furthermore, it is undoubtedly a tragic event to occur to a human being; the loss of a child and enslavement for a year. Although, if we use John Locke’s The Second Treatise on Government, the question of her being in a state of war or a state of nature before her captivity took place is debatable. Personally, I argue that she was in a state of war to begin with. She is essentially a guest on the Native land and pushed the limits of her stay too far by encroaching on their property and murdering their people. Albeit, she didn’t do so directly, but even so, she is a part of the community of colonists that represent British imperialism in of itself. It’s tragic that she had to pay for it, but was inevitably bound to happen to someone, it just happened to be her.

-Daniel Corral

Contradiction Within The Royal Society

Thomas Prat’s essay, The History of the Royal Society of London, for the Improving of Natural Knowledge, focuses on the abandonment of eloquence in speech and writing in order to thrust the ideas within scientific knowledge into a much clearer and obvious light. Such alienation of language served as a fundamental idea at the start of The Royal Society’s establishment during the 17th century.

Taking a look at The Royal Society in the 21st century, the community is still active in it’s “mission” to progress the understanding and acquisition of scientific knowledge on a more massive scale. Specifically, listed under their “Priorities List” we find:

  • Promoting science and its benefits
  • Recognising excellence in science
  • Supporting outstanding science
  • Providing scientific advice for policy
  • Fostering international and global cooperation
  • Education and public engagement

While the first four bullet points include “science,” we can safely assume its core idea of empiricism is still relative. What becomes contradictory though, for the site, is its priority to “foster international and global cooperation.” How can such cooperation exist if the precise alienation of eloquence is thrust upon its explanations of the physical world? Or rather, at what point does language become “flowery” or “purely didactic”? There exists not a standard for simple language to advance one’s point. While the priorities don’t explicitly address the issue of language, the absence of the importance of plain language is still a problem, considering it was one of the early points enforced by The Royal Society in the time of founding such a scholarly community.

Furthermore, plain or in this case, “scientific” speech is only understood by those who study the field, thus rendering their global engagement limited to scientist and scholars. The limitation of language is such a backwards-thinking idea, you might as well require everyone to only speak in Latin or Greek; seeing as how the classics so heavily influenced the foundations of The Royal Society.

Therefore, true cooperation cannot exist if the language in one’s writings or speech is too “flowery” or “simple” for one another within the society. Arguments and even annoyance would ensue, taking into account if it held meetings with speeches and ceremonies of the sort. It would be a hilarious chaos.

-Daniel Corral