Sarah always hated poetry in her classes.

The words always jumbled up together, making her want to bury her head in her arms and take a long, deep nap. Long enough to end that particular class, at least.

A loud slap on her plastic desk jarred her, and Sarah shoved herself upright to glare at the one who had rudely interrupted her quick nap. Standing over her was the familiar shape of the class’ A+ student, who was oh-so-perfect at almost everything; Jackson. “I know this class is a bit early, but I’m not sure that means it’s a good time to sleep whenever you’re feeling drowsy.” An easy grin slipped across his face as his attention jumped between Sarah’s blank face and the blank notes that sat in front of her.

“You say that every week, you know.”

“I know. Whatcha got, there?”

Around the duo, the other classmates chatted excitedly about the last poem they had read, called The Mad Mother. For Sarah, the poem had no other meaning than the tale of some crazy croon who stumbled around a forest… So why was everyone else so excited about it?

Jackson plopped down in front of her and held his hand out. “May I?” He asked, and wordlessly she handed over her book. He scanned his eyes through the text only once before laying it down between them, ready to explain.

“I just don’t understand. It’s a crazy woman, so what?”

Jackson chuckled. “That’s the point of poems; to hide meaning throughout its words. Look here.” He pointed to one of the stanzas. “This woman isn’t just crazy; she’s grieving. There’s plenty of examples that run through the poem that prove so, like ‘My little babe! Thy lips are still’. The child that you think she’s carrying is not alive, and she doesn’t understand how to cope with it. The father is probably also dead as well.”

Sarah sat there with her jaw dropped. “But how could you even think of that? Only from a few stanzas?” Another chuckle from Jackson as he leaned back in his seat, his eyes darting up towards the ceiling.

“For me, it’s all about perspective. This woman thinks her child is with her, but what do other people see around her? Does that make sense?”

“Ugh. That’s too difficult.”

You’re the difficult one here, you know.”

Sarah glances down at the poem in front of her once more. “You’re good at this, you know.”

“It’s based off of experience, not just intelligence, you know.”

Sarah glances at him just in time to see a sad smile flitter across his lips. Just as she opened her mouth to pop out another question, professor quickly announces the end of the class, and Jackson is packing away his belongings and rushing out the door.

——————————————————————-

I decided to use this creative writing project to really focus on my time in this class, as well as the idea of perception when it comes from one another. For this piece of writing, I was inspired by my own difficulty in reading the class’ poetry, since it was in such an old-fashioned language that I am not used to. The Mad Woman is a perfect example to use, since throughout this poem, the woman is seen as a crazy person who is obsessed with finding her husband in order to complete their family. However, with certain stanzas, it can be interpreted that her child is dead, and she is carrying around his carcass in grief, since she is alone and has no one to console her during this hard time in her life.

This is relatable to many, especially those who have lost someone close to them, such as a friend or family member. Without the help of others, one may lose themselves to grief, ending up in them appearing crazy as they try to find a way to accept their loss and continue on with their lives. The protagonist in the story above doesn’t understand that concept, or the concept of what others see versus what you may see. That’s the reason why poems are so influential; they can hide a story that you didn’t even realize was being told. The Rine of the Ancient Mariner is another great example, using metaphors and imagery in order to help the reader visualize the scene and actions throughout the poem, forcing the reader to create their own story as they interpret the poem in a way that they can properly understand.

-Jody Omlin

 

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A Symbol of Hope

The writer of Dear Harp of my Country, Thomas Moore, uses strong emphasis on the harp on order to bring attention to the hope that it symbolizes for himself and for his country, and even delves into the harp’s background connecting to Ireland;

“The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness; Have waken’d thy fondest, thy liveliest thrill”

This quote from the poem embodies the affect that the harp has had in Moore’s home country, focusing on how the harp uplifts those in their darkest times, and how the harp acts as a conductor for happiness with its tune.

-Jody Omlin

The Ole’ U.S. of A., 2019

In the chair of our home

Sits the man deemed as unworthy.

And down a narrow road,

One only finds no mercy.

For our home has fallen

Into the grasp of another

Controlled and utilized

For a purpose unworthy.

Aye, the road ahead

Shows a slight glow’a hope,

From the cries of the innocent

Who seek justice for those who don’t.

Yet as the nights grow longer

And the years as well,

Our home lies in shreds,

From the man who still dwells.

(This sucks as a poem, I am so sorry your eyes were cursed to read this. I just can’t write poetry.)

-Jody Omlin

Friedrich’s Romantic Art

After reading The Mad Mother, one could say that there is plenty to interpret. After first reading through the ballad, readers may be confused as to what the purpose of the work is, and what the meaning behind it is.

After reading The Mad Mother myself, I decided that the ballad’s topic was the idea of death, and how one’s death could push someone to an undeniable state of grief so terrible as to classify that person as “crazy” or “mad.” A few of the stanzas that stood out to me were Stanzas 70, 83, 89-90, and 98-100. Certain phrases such as “How pale and wan it [her son] else would be” (Stanza 70) and “My little babe! thy lips are still” (Stanza 83) give off the imagery that the woman’s baby boy is deceased, and that she is carrying around his corpse due to the fact that she is unable to overcome the truth that her son is dead, as well as her husband. “We’ll find thy father in the wood” (Stanza 98) helps the reader to believe that the woman’s lover had passed away and been buried in the woods; however, in her mind, he has run away into the woods, and it is her job to find him in order to fix their family.

The painting by Caspar David Friedrich portrays a sense of loneliness, much like the feelings of this mother having lost her family and being unable to properly grieve about it. The twisting of the trees symbolizes the mother’s unclear mind, or “craziness” as one may put it, tangled between what’s real and what is not.

– Jody Omlin

Romantic Poetry, Feat. Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden’s rock-and-role rendition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner keeps this piece of work as classic romantic poetry by keeping the original words and feeling enveloped into it. The song holds a lot of imagery, as well as metaphors to help the listener truly imagine the scene set by Coleridge’s poem.

While Iron Maiden had made the poem into a much more rough-sounding version of the original, it still kept the meaning as a romantic poem, focusing on the hardships of people’s lives instead of the happiness in them. The rock-and-roll version seemed to accentuate this pain that humans go through instead of dull it, as can be seen in the line “The many men, so beautiful! And they all dead did lie.”

Some students and other listeners may disagree that Iron Maiden’s version of Coleridge’s song keeps the poem as a piece of romantic poetry based on the tone that it sets; however, I believe that the deep vibe pulls listeners into this 13-minute song and helps them to imagine the poem in a stronger light.

-Jody Omlin

Oh NO, Not The Night

Throughout his narrative, titles as The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Equiano is forced to endure many hardships, which he reflects upon through many forms of writings by quoting parts of book that he had read, including but not limited to; the Bible, John Milton, and Colley Cibber. The one part in Equiano’s narrative that caught my attention instantly while reading it can be found on page 51 in the writing, with a quote from John Denham’s novel Cooper’s Hill, as he says;

“Thus I was like a hunted deer:

‘Ev’ry leaf and ev’ry whisp’ring breath

Convey’d a foe, and ev’ry foe a death.'”

In this part of the narrative, the reader is able to envision Equiano fearing his master and the punishment to come once he is to be found after “running back home” from them. This unbridled terror can be found as he explains in detail how every sound made him still, and “abandoned [him]self to despair” as night began to approach. (Equiano 51). Equaino is using these words in order to draw a conclusion towards what may be his death; or, at least, his symbolic death from fear over his master. When Equiano returns, he is quickly treated to before sold once more, now not seeming to fear the ones who were free, but learning from them until he himself could receive that same human right.

The reason why Equiano uses so many different kinds of texts throughout his narrative is because he wants to show his audience that he is educated, and can be trusted by his fellow men as an intelligent man. By quoting from the Bible, Equiano convinces his audience that he is a devote Christian, meaning that he, a man so holy and devoted to the Bible, could do no wrong! Just as any other Christian! (Please, note my sarcasm. I’m begging you.)

– Jody Omlin

“Ha, Ha, Mr. Pope!”

This image depicts Alexander Pope, Colley Cibber (the character from The Dunciad: Book 4), Edward Rich, and a woman who seems to portray a prostitute from that time period. The Dunciad was originally written to satirize Pope’s enemies, people that he had believed were too ignorant to understand his work. However, his enemies were not as dumb as he believed, and they retaliate with this image;

Pope visual satire

This image shows Cibber trying to pull Pope from the harlot on the bed, and peering through the wall is Rich. Cibber is desperate to get Pope away from the woman so that he may “save” him from sin, with Pope portrayed as a very small man, due to his physical disability during the time he was alive.

One of the quotes that had caught my attention and had pushed me to focus on image #1 was as follows;

“When lo! a Harlot form soft sliding by, 20  [45]

With mincing step, small voice, and languid eye;

Foreign her air, her robe’s discordant pride

In patch-work flutt’ring, and her head aside:

By singing Peers 21  up-held on either hand,

She tripp’d and laugh’d, too pretty much to stand; [50]

Cast on the prostrate Nine 22  a scornful look,

Then thus in quaint Recitativo 23 spoke.”

(Pope 45-52)

This quote focuses solely on the harlot, and makes her appear strong and more powerful than any man around her. Usually, prostitutes are seen as dirty, sinful, and diseased; however, with this scene, the harlot becomes a woman of pride and strength, unable to be stopped or controlled by any mere man. Having Pope on top of the woman shows that he is unafraid to step towards something seen as wrong in order to put his thoughts out there, with Rich standing as a watchman so that he may stand away from putting his opinions forward over the subject.

– Jody Omlin

A Match Made in… Well, A Match Made.

In the novel “Gulliver’s Travels”, Jonathan Swift satirizes Rowlandson’s captivity narrative very heavily, which can be seen right at the start in Part One, Chapter One. When Gulliver is first fund by the people of Lilliput, he is tied down and unable to move. When waking up to this discovery, he is “in the utmost Astonishment, and roared so loud, that they all ran back in a Fright” (Swift 23). Of course, Gulliver is confused and upset with being unable to move, and he automatically struggles from his capture for freedom. In return, the people of Lilliput shoot arrows into his body, which he does not feel, and his hand, which “pricked me like so many needles” (Swift 24). This is the first and last time that Gulliver is harmed by his capturers, similar to Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, with “the bullets flying thick, one went through [her] side” (Rowlandson 8). Despite being tied down and taken as a prisoner, however, Gulliver is still treated very well, and is given food and wine. Rowlandson had been treated similarly; after being captured, she was never harmed again, was given food, and was even paid to make clothes for some of the “savages” who captured her. The only notable difference between Gulliver and Rowlandson is the idea that Gulliver wished to harm the people of Lilliput after being fed, when he imagines that he could “seize Forty or Fifty of the first that came in my reach, and dash them against the Ground” (Swift 26). Also, while Gulliver thought of the people of Lilliput as decent creatures, Rowlandson continued to see her capturers as only mere savages, monsters who took her from her home with no reason to do so.

– Jody Omlin

Tea For Two

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Mary Rowlandson nervously glanced at the clock on the wall, drumming her perfectly manicured nails against the mahogany surface of the table. He was already twelve minutes late, and she was worried he’d never arrive.

Finally, the tea shop’s door swung open to reveal a stressed-looking William Apess, his usually neat hair mussed. He huffed slightly before scanning his eyes around the room, his gaze quickly landing on Mary. He immediately made his way to her, a frustrated look on his face.

Mary smiled nervously. “Good morning, Mr.Apess. I hope you bring good news?” In his hand, he held the mass of papers that made up Mary’s newest novel, one that she had titled as The Narrative of the Captivity. 

“Good news? No, not good news at all; in fact, I’m disappointed.” He threw the manuscript onto the table, then plopped down on the chair across from her. “I mean, what were you thinking, Mary? Do you even realize what your so-called book is portraying?”

Mary frowned. “Yes, it’s about the brave journey of a Christian woman who has suffered greatly at the hands of savages, who-”

William slammed his palm down on the table, earning a few glares from the other customers around them. “Do you realize how racist you sound? ‘Savages’? I didn’t even take this to the publisher. After I read it myself, how could I? Do you even realize that these ‘savages’ you claim are also people? Just because they have different beliefs than you doesn’t make them devils, for God’s sake!”

“But William, this is more tha just a story; this really happened to me! People need to know that-”

“Mary, shut up and listen to me, please. Think of all of the people you’ve pointed your fingers at, how they’d react to something like this. You’re right, there are bad people in the world, but the people who wrote about? That’s not them.” He sighed, then shoved himself up from the chair that he had taken a seat in only moments before, his frown deeper than before and his eyebrows pulled down. “Mary, I’m honestly scared for you. One day, you’re going to get yourself killed with this way of thinking. Please, I’m begging you, reevaluate your way of thinking before it’s too late for even me to save you.”

– Jody Omlin

Mary Was The Little Lamb

Throughout her narrative, Mary Rowlandson is faced with captivity, poor meals, and the multiple losses of loved family, friends, and her home. However, in her words, Mary did not seem to hate these “savages” as much as she claimed.

As mentioned before in Monday’s class, Mary uses an abundance of words that were more familiar with the indigenous people over the Englishmen. Such words include “squaw”, “sannup”, and “papoose”. By using these words, Mary shows the familiarity that she had grown when being held captive by the natives. She also mentions the abundance of kindness shown to her; however, she does not say this outright in the text. Instead, she mentions the actions directed towards her, mostly from older natives or squaws, as well as King Philip himself as he paid Mary in exchange for handcrafted clothes (The Eighth Remove), and gives her food and water for a bath (The Nineteenth Remove). There is obviously a strong connection for King Philip, as shown in the final Remove, when Philip was the only native who voted against sending Mary back to her husband. This action shows the growth between Mary, and English woman, and King Philip, an indigenous man. In some ways, this complicates the history of intolerance against indigenous people, because we see a strong sense of communication between Mary and the natives, despite her not wanting to admit it.

Although there was tension between her and some of the people, a majority of the time, it seemed as though Mary was never truly in danger, and always had someone there to support her, even though it wasn’t the support that she desperately wanted, which was the support and aid from a fellow Christian like herself. In the text, Mary if given a place to stay warm, food to fill her belly, and gets paid for her services. In a way, it seems as though Mary had slowly become a part of this indigenous group. While she was still considered an outsider and a slave to her mistress and master, Mary had been able to successfully combine herself into this lifestyle without too much hassle, which follows up with the claim that her interactions between the indigenous peoples and herself complicates history a bit, which shows the strong distaste between the groups. Mary does indeed voice her ideas of the natives to her audience; however, her actions go against her words, which makes me assume that Mary herself was unsure on how to proceed with the emotions that rose up for these people. I believe that she used God as her pawn, as a way to escape scrutiny from her fellow Englishmen by saying “It was God who lifted my spirits”, when in reality, Mary was fearful to show that she had grown somewhat attached to these indigenous people. Not attached in the way you may think, mind you, but in a way that may have Mary thinking back to a point in time with King Philip or one of the many natives that helped her when she needed it.

-Jody Omlin