Lines composed a few miles from UC Merced. May 7th, 2019

Two years have past; four terms, as long as

Four long years! Yet still I hear

The wind, blowing along the sunburnt grass

With the collective sloth of the cows — And again

Do I see the flat lands the mountains far,

That on this lifeless canvas dismay

Thoughts of social reclusion; and feel

The world with its emptiness abound

This day has arrived When I look back again

Here out under the piping valley sun, and view

The weathered streets, these deprived students, just kids.

Which at this moment, with their torn minds

Are wrapped in the stressful embrace, and lose themselves

‘Mid classrooms and halls. Again I observe

These students, hardly people anymore

Lost inside their work, Societal Obligations!

Inside the dormitory cave, where by the lamp

There exists a student. In the cave they study.

The student studies alone.

A slave.

                                                These twisted forms

Through a lasting presence, have belonged to me

As a canvas to a painter’s brush,

Still often in busy rooms amid the bustle

Of chattering peers, I am indebted,

Hours of exhaustion, senses numbed,

I feel in my bones, in my mind;

Perhaps even in my heart or my very being

Our feelings ripped apart, turned to dust

Disregarded thoughts and opinions,

That have no listeners, no impact

Until, the breathing stops

The blood stops running

And we are all lowered down, into the Earth.

The body dies and the spirit with it.

Never to be heard again, as if they even heard at all.

The end, and the joy of it.

With death brings light we cannot see

                                                                But this!

Is just an empty belief, yet, common! So common—

All throughout the many teachings of

Empty knowledge, empty beliefs, professed!

It hangs heavy on my heart—

How often I have turned to You

Oh Lord! Thou hopeless illusion

How often I turn to you!

Yet of all the people. I blame

You.

You did this.

    But now, with rays of disillusion,

I recognize poisoned thoughts

And perhaps, a somber confusion, or is this clarity?

Yet this mental picture still haunts me

Meanwhile I sit here, not only with this madness

Of the current pain, but with painful thoughts

That in this moment there is work then death. For what?

For the future, and that I fear.

I’ve changed so much, from the beginnings

Who am I now? Who are we?

Certainly not us.

I made it to these halls, and despite everlasting torment

I worked harder than ever, like the wind

Pushing against a mountain, fruitless

I walked across the campus, where the schedule dictated

Wherever I was led: Like a lost child, worthless

Running from fears, instead of chasing dreams

Getting caught and catching none. For now

I cannot envision what I used to be

Because when I am here, it is gone

Amid the ruins of distorted identities

If I should stand where all I can hear me

I say this.

Inside Me.

Inside Us.

Something is wrong.

This is my parody of Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth. Instead of the sense of tranquility and happiness described in the original poem, my parody flips that on its head and describes a sense of despair and chaos that many students, myself included feel at this particular time of year. The unorthodox style of romantic poetry interested me greatly when reading it. I particularly enjoy how it is not held back by the standard conventions which, while certainly valuable at times, can also limit creativity and ideas. I chose to emulate William Wordsworth’s somewhat unorthodox style that lacks the standard conventions of poetry. Because of this I felt Tintern Abbey was the perfect poem to emulate because of its complete lack and disregard of poetic structure. I feel like this matches the sense of disillusion I was trying to convey with the parody. Instead of a peaceful recluse of a church. There is instead the chaotic nature of a college campus filled with people all experiencing the same social tension and anxiety. The beginning of the poem stays close to the style of Wordsworth yet as it goes on it diverges. This was done purposefully, not only to separate it from the original but also to give off a sense of distortion. Many people begin a semester feeling hopeful and slowly become more and more anxious as it goes only. I tried to display the exact opposite of the hopeful emotion displayed in the original but at certain times went for the same sentiment, as it seemed appropriate in particular moments. Some short lines I elongated and some long lines I made shorter if I thought it added to the parody. To me parody is about a drastic shift in the message of something while at the same time keeping mostly the same style of the original, which is exactly what I hope I achieved here.

  • Evan Klang
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A Quiet Harp

The harp has much historical significance to the Irish people, it is tied to their history in a number of ways mainly tied to social change and the image of the harp was commonly linked to political, societal and cultural changes. The idea was that the harp in a way represented the voice of the Irish people which was exemplified by the motto of the Society of United Irishmen. This particular symbolization of the harp is what makes Henry Derozio’s poem “The Harp of India” so desolate yet hopeful.

Derozio’s poem speaks about a harp that remains unstrung and unplayed, it once played sweet music but now is silent. It seems obvious just from the work’s title and repeated use of personification that this harp represents India, more specifically the slow death of Indian culture taking place at the time. Take this passage for example.

“Neglected, mute, and desolate art thou,

Like ruined monument on desert plain”

The use of simile to compare the harp to a ruined monument is quite interesting. A monument implies there was some former glory to be remembered, yet it is ruined and lays in a desert, a place typically devoid of most life.  Despite the somber tone of the poem it does end on a more uplifting note suggesting India can recover from its current predicament if the Harp is awakened by the Indian people, if India awkends itself to its own culture and does not lose itself in its repeated attempts to emulate the British Empire.

Derozio’s poem complicates this era in Indian history, it seems as if he is on the side of Indian cultural perseverance and separation from Britain but people like him were viewed as radicals for wanting to preserve culture. This is likely due to the deep roots imbedded into India by Britain to instill this sense of inferiority to the point where wanting to preserve Indian culture was viewed as radical. This line describes Derozio’s disenfranchisement perfectly,

“Why doth the breeze sigh over thee in vain?”

The disillusionment is very apparent here. People simply disregard the heart and spirit of India at this point and all Derozio can do is wonder why and hope that someday it will change. Through his poetry Henry Derozio hopes to be that change, to be the one to finally make the Harp sing once more.

  • Evan Klang

United States: 2019

(A recreation of Percy Shelley’s “England in 1819”)

A corrupt, predatory, untrusted State

Politicians, the worst of us who walk unfazed

Through mass disapproval, tempting fate

Stormed through elections the way they were raised

A call to false patriotism, that could never wait

A hill to die on, narcissism craved

A nations motto gets left behind

Preach liberty bring destruction

As the blind lead the blind

The masses tired of dishonest seduction

Preaching the gospel and yet are misaligned

To the teachings that rebel against their unconscious mind

Yet still, a beast is rising completing its self-production

Realize now the lies or continue to live in corruption

  • Evan Klang

Breaking the Cycle

Death. Decay. Desolation. These are the first words that pop into mind when looking at The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich. The trees are solemn with no leaves, there are headstones lined disorderly below them. Yet there is hope and perhaps even beauty in this. There is light above the low dark fog and there is a cross among the stones. While the trees have no leaves, they appear to be standing resilient over the buried. Lastly the arch seems to be just a remnant of a cathedral but is referred to as an abbey in the painting’s title, it is still living in that respect as long as its purpose is not forgotten.

Similar emotions arise when reading through William Wordsworth’s We Are Seven. Both these works of art truly exemplify a very romantic view of death and the possibility of an afterlife. For instance in Wordsworth’s poem it is made apparent that two of the siblings have died and their remains are buried in the churchyard yet the little maid insists that they are still a group of seven which is shown in this stanza,

 “’How many are you, then,” said I,

 “if they two are in heaven?”

 Quick was the little Maid’s reply,

“O Master! We are seven.”’

This is a rejection of death itself, the idea that the dead never truly leave us after their time runs out. This can be compared to the painting in terms of the use of color. The lower regions of the painting are darker, the darkness is closer to the Earth where the dead are buried, but above the color shifts to a lighter yellow hue possibly symbolizing the spirits of the dead living on after they have left physically. The central abbey is in both the light and the darkness which in this case would be the little maid. She has a connection with both worlds exhibited in the painting. This maid has lost her siblings yet can still feel them just as much as she feels the five that are still with her in the moment. So, although an initial instinct when viewing Friedrich’s painting or reading Wordsworth’s poem may be to feel bewildered or even disturbed. Upon closer look both of these works represent the resilience of the human spirit and a hope to break the never-ending cycle of life and death.

  • Evan Klang

Romantic Riffs

Iron Maiden’s metal rendition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner is the epitome of romantic poetry brought to life. The song often emphasizes the lines of the poem giving them more impact, for instance “Then all averr’d, I had kill’d the bird that brought the fog and mist” from the play turns into “His shipmates cry against what he’s done… His shipmates blame bad luck on the mariner.” The original is quainter and more somber while Iron Maiden’s version is filled with anguish and raw emotion which especially is shown in Bruce Dickinson’s vocal performance. The true definition of romantic poetry is really up to interpretation but a popular interpretation is that romantic poetry is about raw emotion being put forth from the poet. The emotion shown in the Iron Maiden version of the poem is exactly like romantic poetry if we are going by that definition. Figurative language is strong throughout Coleridge’s work and resonates poignantly through Iron Maiden’s music video. One line that sticks out is “Day after day, day after day we stuck ne breath ne motion, As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.” This line is copied almost verbatim into Iron Maiden’s version which speaks to the power of the line, that it is still able to hold up today in almost its exact form and reach an entirely new audience, which, in a way is romantic poetry personified, it is being able to connect to people through the power of words. There is also a sort of “oomph” that Bruce Dickinson uses when singing the ending words such as “ship” or “stuck” that really illustrates the sense of hopelessness that Coleridge was conveying in the original work. The works both go hand in hand to spread romanticism in the world, and perhaps if Coleridge could see what Iron Maiden has done with his poetry, he would be rejoiced in that.

  • Evan Klang

Prayer for Acceptance

Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative is littered with references from works of English literature, these quotes all serve to bolster his case for abolition by showing that Africans can be just as intelligent and well-read as Europeans. I would specifically like to focus on Equiano’s constant references to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. This specific passage stuck out to me

“With shudd’ring horror pale, and eyes aghast, they view their lamentable lot, and find No rest!”

                I believe Equiano is using this quote to speak to the miserable conditions that African slaves had to endure when being transported across continents. It is interesting that Paradise Lost is used to exemplify this due to the fact that the poem is entirely based upon Christian concepts. I believe that Equiano uses biblical references to show to the world that he too is a man of God just as much as those in Europe. It also sheds light on the fact that Olaudah Equiano was well educated despite being a slave for most of his life and able to understand famous works such as Milton which helps his case by shattering the stereotype that African’s are of an inherently lesser intellect because if they were then Equiano wouldn’t be able to understand a word of it. This verse also uses quite strong language, it is not explicit but phrases like “shudd’ring horror pale” and “No rest!” An eighteenth-century reader could potentially be moved by the passage and change their mindset regarding this issue specifically because of the language and the fact that the writer was of African descent.

               It seems that literature at this time had a certain stigma around it that associated it with intelligence and higher thought, perhaps because a large percentage of the population remained illiterate, so the fact that a black individual not only could read and understand famous English authors such as Milton but also sprinkle it throughout his narrative gave him an intellectual aura that he likely wouldn’t be able to achieve without his citations. Olaudah Equiano’s narrative really achieves his goal of creating a strong argument in favor of the abolishment of slavery by simply showing that people like him can be just as intelligent as people of European descent through the use of English literature.

  • Evan Klang

Papal Mockery

This image of Alexander Pope depicted as a man with a rat like body sitting upon a pedestal with the words “His Holiness and his Prime Minister” by his critics of his poem The Dunciad. This image is an act of bullying against Pope and a protest against the dullness that he diagnoses the population with having. The term rat is synonymous with traitor or liar which would be what the artist thinks Pope is. The word APE taken from Pope’s name shows the artists dehumanization of him and rejection of the idea that Pope speaks for things such as science. Pope writes of goddesses of things like logic, science, and wit, but the person who made the visual depiction of Pope clearly denies he is enlightened intellectually in any way.

                Pope is also depicted as visibly confused with his hand on his head as if he cannot understand or comprehend the large stack of books in front of him this implies that Pope is actually the embodiment of the dullness, he criticizes throughout his fourth book. This seems to be how the artist wanted the rat image to be interpreted because in a way it is the ultimate insult to Alexander Pope, it depicts him as an uneducated buffoon which is the exact thing, he is vehemently satirizing all throughout The Dunciad which is quite a great insult to Pope.

               One specific verse that may be referenced by this image on line 581 is” All my commands are easy, short, and full: My Sons! be proud, be selfish, and be dull. Guard my Prerogative, assert my Throne” The throne could be interpreted as the pedestal Pope sits upon and the crown could be mocking his name because of the similarity to a catholic pope’s hat or his use of the word “commands.” The printer clearly intended to disparage Pope’s views by using his own words against him and show his illegitimacy so the masses do not take his satire seriously.

Parable of the Captives

This passage from part 2, page 125, paragraph 3 of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels shows Gulliver’s thoughts on the king after he rejects his proposal of a gift of gunpowder.

“A strange effect of narrow principles and short views! that a prince possessed of every quality which procures veneration, love, and esteem; of strong parts, great wisdom, and profound learning, endowed with admirable talents for government, and almost adored by his subjects, should, from a nice unnecessary scruple, whereof in Europe we can have no conception, let slip an opportunity put into his hands, that would have made him absolute master of the lives, the liberties, and the fortunes of his people. Neither do I say this with the least intention to detract from the many virtues of that excellent king, whose character I am sensible will on this account be very much lessened in the opinion of an English reader; but I take this defect among them to have arisen from their ignorance, by not having hitherto reduced politics into a science, as the more acute wits of Europe have done.”

                In this passage Gulliver uses condescending tones regarding the king of Brobdingnag implying he is a fool for rejecting the gunpowder. He continues to express horror at this and notes that such an act of rejection for power would be seen as unheard of in Europe. There is paradox in this passage in that after the verbal barrage is finished Gulliver transitions into a defense of the king claiming he does not want to detract from his “many virtues” although intelligence is apparently not one of them according to Gulliver. What seems strange and fairy out of place is that a man so scientific and clinical that he documented his bowel movements and urination in detail just to maintain a display or accuracy in his travel log is the same man who equates politics to science, which is quite strange as it doesn’t seem at all relevant to the previous inquiries into the wit of the king, and also it is peculiar that Gulliver wouldn’t find the problems with equating science to politics as theories cannot be so easily tested without models which wouldn’t exist in nearly the same capacity in that time as they do today. The main theme I can take out of this passage is that to turn away something that will make you powerful is foolish which could speak to the cultural divide the Europeans, particularly the ones colonizing had against their subjects, there is also the sense of superiority Gulliver feels which speaks to the same divide in that the colonizers saw themselves as innately superior and more intellectual.

                All of this previously stated is a parodic attack on the captivity narrative. It is seen through the sense of superiority Gulliver has even when he has no power over has captor, not so different from how Mary Rowlandson acted while under the captivity of King Phillip’s Tribe. Both Rowlandson were treated considerably well by their captors but still exhibit an idea that they are both morally and intellectually “above” their captors. There is also another similarity as to how the two of them behave. Rowlandson doesn’t state whether or not she smoked with King Phillip whereas Gulliver leaves out whether he considers himself one of the “acute minds of Europe.” Perhaps the captives said this to maintain their personal modesty but the similarity is still interesting to note. It seems apparent that Swift used this passage among others to mock the captivity narrative that Mary Rowlandson so famously championed as well as the various travel logs of the time, Swift did not care for these genres so naturally he did what he did best and satirized them to pieces.

  • Evan Klang

A Misguided Attempt to Unify

As I have just reading Mary Rowlandson’s History of Captivity I saw fit to offer my thoughts as I feel quite strongly about this conflict having to do with the relations of the white man and the Indians that have pre inhabited this land. I see myself thinking that Ms. Rowlandson offers a more genuine view of the Indians of this land at least more so than her fellow settlers which seems strange, does it not? Considering her capture. I see this narrative as both helpful and harmful to the relations of these two peoples. For one Ms. Rowlandson seems at times fond of her captors even thinking of their leader King Phillip as a friend, yet uses foul language toward them at other times. The endearing terms she voices may strike a chord with the white reader and shed light on the fact that their discriminations run quite contrary to the teachings of the Lord, while Rowlandson’s at times prejudice language may have a reverse effect whether intended or not. It is my belief that one should commit fully to their values. If Ms. Rowlandson truly views these natives as among her friends then she should write abut them as such and veer away from language that would only cause more unrest. Rowlandson views herself as a woman of the Lord yet seems to struggle to view the natives of America as among her equal, is this not in direct violation of her Puritan beliefs? Rowlandson truly had an opportunity here to change the way a broad group of people think for better, which would only help both sides to unify, as all of humanity should be, at least those who seek to properly follow the teachings of the Lord they claim to follow. Alas I have said my piece and leave it in the hearts of my kindly reader to decide if they will heed it.

  • Evan Klang (Writing as William Apess)

Complicated Captivity

Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, referred to as The History of the Captivity paints a stark image of the general perception that European colonists had of the indigenous people of North America. It is my opinion that this narrative further complicated the history of tolerance against the indigenous peoples during English colonization. The reason I say this is because Rowlandson throughout the account is shown to have good relations with the leader of the tribe King Phillip, she appeared to have been treated kindly during her captivity and did not seem to display any sense of mental scarring from the incident at least from the words she wrote, however there is also the fact that she was kidnapped on a raid that resulted in the deaths of many and among those victims were children. To a neutral viewer this provides plenty of reason as to why there may be confusion on what to believe regarding intolerance toward natives. On one hand it was wrong for the English to settle on their lands but the resulting brutal raid would result in sympathy for the English, finally the good treatment of the captives creates even more confusion.

There also seemed to have been a growing amount of literature which focused on the divide between colonists and natives during this time period which can also been seen in last week’s reading, John Dryden’s play The Indian Emperor which displayed an antagonistic relationship between Spanish settlers and Aztecs particularly Cortez and Montezuma. I believe that this type of writing becoming more widespread could only hurt relations between colonists and natives and makes me wonder if that was the goal of some of these authors. Having famous writers such as Dryden speak on this divide but also sprinkle in confusing factor such as a romance plot between Cortez and Cydaria could further confuse audiences on what to believe. Because of various depictions of how European settlers and Native Americans interacted during colonial times Rowlandson’s account only serves to complicates matters further regarding this intense relationship between colonizer and colonized.

–  Evan Klang