Rime of the Ancient Examiner

Part I

It is an ancient examiner
And he stops one of three
By the long absent gaze and baggy eyes
Now where will they stop me?

The lecture hall doors are opened wide,
And I am next to speak;
The students are met, the exam is set:
I hear the quiet sobs.

He holds them with his elderly hand,
“there was a study guide” quoth he.
‘hold off! Don’t start, round sadistic fool!’
His hand dropt he.

He holds them with his glittering eye—
The anxious student stood still,
And listens like a three years child:
The examiner hath his will.

The quivering student sat on the chair:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed examiner.

The study room cheered, the library cheered,
Merrily did we drop
Below the lane, below the hill,
Below the new beginnings top.

The sun came up upon the left,
Out of the exam room came he!
And he stood dark, and on the right
Went down into the d.c.

Lower and lower everyday,
Till over the bridge at noon—
The miserable student here beat his breast
For he heard the tears monsoon.

The TA hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The nervous examinee.

The anxious student he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright eyed examiner.

And now the panic attack came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his breathtaking wings,
And drained brain chemicals along.

With sloping shoulders and dipping heads,
As who pursued with darkness and confusion
Still treads the shadow of his delusion,
And forward bends his head,
The hope not redeemed, loud roared the screams,
And towards quizlet aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wonderous cold:
And ice, ankle high, came floating by,
As blue as the blue and gold.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of A’s nor B’s were ken—
The fear was all between.

The stress was here, the stress was there,
The stress was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross a PALs boss,
Through the fog he came;
As if he had been a Christian soul,
We hailed him in God’s name.
He taught the material we ne’er had grasp,
And through the guide he flew.
The depression did split with a THC hit;
The mentor helped us through!

And a good quizlet sprung up behind;
The PALs boss did follow,
And every day, for food or an A,
Came to the examiner’s hollo!

In mist or cloud, on grass or shroud,
He perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog smoke white,
Glimmered the white moon shine.

‘God save thee, ancient professor!’
From the fiends that plague thee thus!—
Why look’st thou so?’—With my copy of the exam answers
I outsmarted the PALs boss.

My parody of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner focuses on the modern day pressures surrounding midterms and finals for a college student. I focused it at UC Merced because it is familiar to me. I made some very specific stylistic choices when creating my parody. The first choice I had to make was whether or not to translate it into modern language. I ended up deciding not to do that for two reasons; first, the original language is more dramatic and second I felt that it would really highlight the contrast between the struggles of the time periods. I even chose to leave some lines the same. If I thought the lines had no major impact on the plot and even worked for this time period, I left them alone to tie the time periods together by commonalities. The original poem is about a mariner who sets out to see, makes a stupid mistake, gets cursed, then comes back with the fear of God. In my parody, a bunch of nervous students are sitting in an exam room before an old bat of a professor. Before their exam, the professor stops to tell them the tale of a foolish student who stole the exam answers before the test. I chose to only do part one. This choice was made because the word count for the assignment is five hundred, and part one alone was five hundred words. It was also partly because it would have totaled to over a thousand words and the first part itself was enough to justify that this poem is literature of power. I can change the words and the situation of the original, but the moral at the end of the story remains the same for both version: if you look a gift horse in the mouth, karma will come back to kick your ass.

-Oliver Briggs

Hard Times

It is no secret that the harp is universally known as a symbol of the Irish. It is also no secret that the Irish have a very sad history. Before the Irish were seen as uncivilized, harps and their musicians were seen as high society status symbols. They were a keystone of society. The ballad The Harp that once through Tara’s Halls tells the sad story of how the harp went from being a sign of high status to outside society to being degraded along with the Irish race. The poem starts with the times when pubs would be filled with the melody of the harp and the people celebrating it. Then it takes us to the present to show us that this is no longer how it is. Now the harp is seen as a reminder of the suffering of their people. This is evident through the solemn tone. Originally, societies saw the harp and thought of it as a beautiful thing. Then, the world started to view the Irish people as barbaric. With the harp being associated with the Irish people, its status declined as theirs did. Traditionally, music of the harp was played for celebration and gathering to fill the room with joy. After the horrible suffering of the Irish, music of the harp has been transformed into tunes of despair. This is what the melody is talking about in the second part. The tale of how the Irish used to be filled with pride and have now been reduced to pain and suffering is truly heartbreaking. The melody is expressing this heartbreak through images of a broken harp and the broken melody that it now plays. It even shows us the worn out people that play the harp while associating it with the pain and hardships that their people have endured. One might also consider the way the author structured the melody. It is written with a diction that gives us small, but powerful glances into the lives of someone during that time period.

-Oliver Briggs


I wandered through chartered streets

near where the charted Fairfield canal does flow.

and mark in every face I meet

marks of stress, marks of depression.


In every cry of every man,

In every students cry for help,

In every voice: in every sob,

the mind deteriorating stress I hear


How the STEM majors cry

every professor laughs,

and the helpless TAs sigh

runs in tears down the financial aid office walls


But most through 2 am streets I hear

how the oblivious first years curse

blasts the incoming freshmen hope

and infects with depression the GPA average.


-Oliver Briggs

This painting looks like the lyrical ballad Love. The most obvious parallel is the ruins on the left side of the painting, the ballad begins with the speaker sitting next to some ruins. The ballad is about the speaker’s lover. He is telling her a story about a knight who is pining after this woman for many years. It was not until the knight saves her life that she wants to be with him. After he is finished with the story he holds his lover. The poem is very Romantic in its ideals of a knight who strays from society to save his damsel. The colors in the painting are those of a sunset, which sets a very romantic tone. The city I the painting is blurred, while the ruins are very distinct. Romanticism is very focused on unique qualities rather than conforming with society. Therefore the clarity of the ruins speaks to the Romanticism. It also aligns with the ballad because the lovers are isolated. Then there are the two people at the bottom of the painting. They are doing their own thing and minding their own business, much like those in the poem. I find it typical of the Romantic era because the people are dressed simple, not seeming concerned with anything monetary.

-Oliver Briggs

Long Live Rock and Roll

Since the beginning, rock and roll has been used as an outlet for the more complex emotions people keep locked inside as well as having lyrics that talk about the lifestyles normal society typically rejects. Literature from the Romantic era has strikingly similar characteristics to rock and roll. Poetry from the Romantic era is known to be about rebellious topics–like anti organized religion and things like that. The similarities between the subject matter of rock and roll and romantic poetry are undeniable. One specific poem from the Romantic era is Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This poem is about a Mariner who sails out to see with a crew and he kills a good omen bird. The crew is outraged and takes it upon themselves to punish him. Then members of the crew begin to “drop one by one.” The mariner is now cursed to be alive alone and continue living. He then prays to God for the curse to be broken. God grants him this and all of the crew members being to rise and create an army of the undead. Now the mariners bound to tell his story and spread God’s word for the rest of his existence. When Iron Maiden turned this poem into a rock song, they revolutionized the connection between rock and Romantic poetry. The tone of the poem is very vengeful and dark. I mean he is talking about death, curses, and bad omens. To represent that, Iron Maiden used images of skeletons with mystical powers that really brought the narrative of Coleridge’s poem to life. In the poem, most of the death references were metaphorical, but the way the band used images in the music video really brought the darkness forward. Basically, Iron Maiden made it very clear that this poem is from the Romantic era. The way they portrayed it made the poem’s rhythm very similar to that of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart; which is a poem that defines the poetry of this era.

-Oliver Briggs

The Good Christian

This captivity narrative is a true inside look into the horrors of slavery. In this narrative, Olaudah Equiano integrates quotes from many famous English works and the Bible. When he quotes a famous English work, he picks a certain section of that work that was meant to be applied to all men equally, but is not being taken seriously by society. In the first chapter, he uses this quote from the bible:

“who hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth[K]; and whose wisdom is not our wisdom, neither are our ways his ways”

This quotation is referencing when God created man. When God created humanity, he created them ALL in his image. This quote says that even though he did that, he left humans on this earth trusting them to act morally in his image. However, Equiano is using this quote to point out that humanity is failing at that right now. He is using the faith of his targeted readers to garner their sympathy and force them to open their eyes and take a look into their faulted societies. He knows that during this time period, a lot of laws and the structure of society itself are based on the moral teachings of their religion. In this passage, he points out an area of the Bible and basically says “what about this teaching?” This teaching of the Bible is very important because God gave his children the freedom of will and he expects them to act in his image. Equiano points out that God would never partake or support such a cruel practice as slavery. So, why are the people who pride themselves on their good Christian values participating in a practice that is basically the devil’s work.

-Oliver Briggs

A Shot in the Dark


Alexander Pope took it upon himself to call out and criticize not only some very well known people, but society itself in this lengthy poem. The picture above is just one example of the backlash Pope received after publishing his epic poem. In the picture there is Pope with the body of a rat standing on a pedestal while leaning on a stack of his works. In the title he is referred to as a “hyper-critic and commentator” because in his poem he exposed a lot of people and criticized a lot of works, hence the artist gave Pope the body of a rat in the drawing. The artist may have felt that the Dunciad was Pope being condescending, so he put Pope on his pedestal. After all, the whole poem is about a world where people of a low intelligence are seen as the elite society. You may also notice the donkey, also known as the ass, creeping around the corner of the pedestal. Also, hanging from his ear is a letter to the publisher of a certain work. I am assuming this is calling Pope an ass for name dropping in his poem. Pope is seriously critiquing the values of humans. This is just one example of where that becomes very clear in the poem:

“We nobly take the high Priori Road, 113
And reason downward, till we doubt of God:
Make Nature still incroach upon his plan;
And shove him off as far as e’er we can:
Thrust some Mechanic Cause into his place;”

In this block, I believe he is saying that humans would sooner worship something as Ludacris as a machine before they would worship God. The whole point of Pope being facetious like this is to point out that the people of his time period are giving all these below average writers credit for work that is not really that good or in some cases stolen. Whoever drew this portrait was either one of the writers that Pope went after or someone of lower intelligence who felt personally attacked by Pope’s Dunciad.

-Oliver Briggs

Jumping Through Hoops

“This diversion is only practiced by those persons who are candidates for great employments, and high favour at court. They are trained in this art from their youth, and are not always of noble birth, or liberal education. When a great office is vacant, either by death or disgrace (which often happens,) five or six of those candidates petition the emperor to entertain his majesty and the court with a dance on the rope; and whoever jumps the highest, without falling, succeeds in the office.” (p1.ch3.pg2)

The story is told in the style of a travel log, meaning it is a first person narrative. In narratives like that of Rowlandson, it is typical to leave out personal emotion and tell the story in as dramatic a way as possible. Swift mocks this style by creating this outrageous, fictional place and writing about it with a dry tone, free of emotion. In this passage, he is satirizing his country’s government as well. He is observing these lower class people almost literally jumping through hoops just for a chance at getting a government job. The narrator is being completely objective in his telling about the situation. This objectivity carries a dual purpose–first, it is mocking narratives like Rowlandson’s where she talks about leaving behind the body of her child as if it were just a task on the to-do list, and second to make clear how desensitized an English citizen is to such common cruelty. The action of these people jumping the ropes is a parallel to the real world English government at that time. Swift makes Gulliver’s reactions dry and absent of emotion, but expects his readers to understand that in doing so, Swift himself is being ironic.

-Oliver Briggs

Those aren’t My Shoes

Apess: Let me ask you, Mary, what would Jesus do in your predicament?

Rowlandson: He would have no mercy on these savages, killers of children!

Apess: But would he not? When Jesus was being nailed to the cross, did he not beg his father to forgive the people, for they knew not what they were doing? What would you do in their shoes? After all, your people did strike first in this war.

Rowlandson: Those people do not know or look up to the good lord. Denying the existence of God is a sin punishable by damnation. Certainly they will be damned if not first for the children the slaughtered–

Apess: And what of the children men like your husband killed? Does having white skin mean the lord gives you a pass on murder?

Rowlandson: These barbarians live uncivilized and without religion. We are trying to show them how to live properly.

Apess: If you were merely showing them how to live, then why make them slaves rather than treating them as equals. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the lord, regardless of the color of their skin. These people are ignorant to the word of the lord, as you were when you were straight from your mother’s womb. Can they be expected to worship a God they have not heard of?

Rowlandson: We have spoke to them the word of our lo–

Apess: In a language they understand?

Rowlandson: They refuse to listen–

Apess: Would you be able to listen with a gun to your head, being yelled at in a language you have never heard?

Rowlandson: …

Apess: …

Rowlandson: …

-Oliver Briggs

What to Expect

The answer to the question, “Do moments of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, and cross-religious exchange between Rowlandson and her native Algonquian captors confirm, contradict, or complicate the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America?” is very complicated. If someone were to read this with no background knowledge, the answer to that question would be it contradicts the history because the Algonquians are very nasty to their prisoners a lot of the time. However, with the background knowledge that it was Rowlandson’s people who started the war with the Algonquians, it then confirms the history. In the story the Indians kill her children, throw her bible, and say nasty things to her. Although, not every Indian she encounters treats her like dirt. When considering this question, we must not forget that her people are the ones that slaughtered the Indians first. Now they are angry and seeking revenge, so it is understandable why they treat her the way they do. We see this as well in Dryden’s play when the Indians are minding their own business and suddenly these people show up and tell them they must bow to a king they have never met. They do not just roll over to it in that play either. In Rowland’s piece, she is also very hostile to the Indigenous people because they killed her people, and I doubt the narrator is aware that her people started the war she is now prisoner of. In conclusion, I think the answer to the question is that it complicates the history of intolerance because in every war there comes a point where you are no longer fighting for some bigger cause, but rather for survival.

-Oliver Briggs