A Beans Twist to Wordsworth’s: London, 1802

Pt. 1 – The frijoles: Los Angeles, 2019

Mamí! They should be steaming on this table:

La casa de la familia Serrano needed them: no exaggeration

With a sorry feeling: mouth, nose, and stomach,

La casa, the silence that fills the dinner table,

We all realize we are at loss,

Of happiness. We are selfish folks;

Oh! Please! Come back with the frijoles and place them on our table;

Give us garlic, dash of salt, minimal mashing, joy.

Your hands are the tools we are missing:

Your knowledge and measurement without physical tools:

So accurate, no one else can get it right

But you have left to cook for your Honduran mamí:  

It’s the goddess: in you

That will always remain

Translations: 

Mamí: mommy

La casa de la familia Serrano: The Serrano household 

frijoles: beans

Pt.2 – The Letter to Mamí

The frijoles are the signature in every Central American dish. They’re not talked about that much but if they’re missing, you know, everyone does. And if you stop to think about it too much, it ruins it, the whole meal is ruined. Emma Serrano, the queen of the refried beans. I hope you didn’t think it was just boiled beans I was talking about. That’s why they’re so special, because they’re refried beans. They first swim in garlic and then they’re sprinkled with salt. Through tired arms and hands, she mashes them. And no, a stirring machine would never do a better job. Their final state is one of perfection. They’re not liquid, but they’re also not mashed completely, they are the right consistency. You are still able to taste half of a whole bean in every mouthful. A machine could never do that. It’s her that we miss. Because the beans are there, uncooked. No one else dares, and quite frankly, no one else could come close. Our dinner table is not what it should be. The flowers that were once vibrant in the middle of the table have lost their color. The table cloth that once looked crispy in the perfect cream color is fading gradually. Maybe it’s because many days have passed and every meal gets more and more dull. We reach the point where everyone begins to think it’s not worth eating anymore. We are in a drought, in a drought of good food. We are quickly losing hope, letting go very fast of the possibility of wholesome food, of happiness. Please come back, for without you we have no beans, no hope; we are nothing. Emma, your magic was performed every time you served those beans with a meal. Your accuracy and consistency is what kept the beans alive. We need you back so our dinner table can come back to life. Oh, how we miss the times two weeks ago when we had freshly mashed beans on our dinner table. Two weeks in Honduras have lasted too long, for without you we are nothing. Please come back, for the sake of the frijoles, our stomachs, and us.

Review – A Letter to My Publisher, Patrick

Dear Patrick,

I am mimicking William Wordsworth’s sonnet, London, 1802. I hope you can let me know and give me insightful feedback on the way I focus on the exaggeration, need and importance in Wordsworth’s sonnet and the way I mirror that in my work. Reading London, 1802 shed light on the dramatic tone that the sonnet caries. I thought of the ways in which my family is specifically dramatic when we don’t have our food taste the way that we’re used to. The topic of beans is something that seemed comical enough to give Wordsworth’s sonnet the perfect twist to. Considering that the sonnet was short, I made the creative writing portion two parts. The first is taking Wordsworth’s sonnet and looking at the ways in which there is a vast amount of pleading for John Milton to come back to life. I mirrored that strategy (“Oh! Please! Come back with the frijoles!”) urging my mother to come back, except my sonnet was more exaggerating because I’m not asking my mom to come back from the dead like Wordsworth is. The exaggeration was taken to the next level since my mom has only been gone for two weeks. This I found kind of funny given that I wrote so much about missing the times when we had my mom and her beans just two weeks before. I am therefore trying to mirror Wordsworth’s way of establishing the need that England has for Milton, conveying they are completely lost if he doesn’t come back. The way I establish this need is in the second part of my approach, in my letter to my mom. This consists of me including words such as: “no hope, nothing, fading, dull, drought” as well as through imagery of the flowers and the table cloth covering the dinner table losing their color in order to depict the world that doesn’t involve her. Wordsworth is conveying an image of England as a dull place, in desperate need of help, and only Milton can fix that. He conveys the importance of Milton by including the fortunes he’s given England: “manners, virtue, freedom, power.” In the same way, only my mom, Emma, can make the beans that lead to my family’s happiness. I portray her importance by including her strongest characteristics: “knowledge, accuracy, consistency, magic.” Through the mirroring strategy of establishing the exaggerating tone, need and importance of my mother, I aim to make people laugh over how big of a deal beans are, while also conveying how important they actually are to my Central American family. I would appreciate any feedback on what other forms you suggest I focus on. As always, thank you for your time.

Best,

Ruth Serrano

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The Magical Indian Harp

Magical Harp

Henry Derozio does an excellent job at being able to mix up the format of the sonnet he wrote, Harp of India. This disruption of the traditional format of the sonnet, to the “ababbabc…” pattern, provides the image of the large interruption of British rule in India. The decision to use the harp was something that was interesting given that the harp was taken from the Irish having trouble with the British. Instead, the harp is a beautiful instrument in itself, meaning that the music that people used to listen to would often be listening to something magical, which is why the association of the harp representing India is apparent. Derozio uses a reminiscent tone of the loss of India, the music that is no longer being heard: “Thy music once was sweet — who hears it now?”

Mary Louise O’Donnell comments that, the  symbolism behind why the Irish chose the harp was because they connected it to, “a fight to survive through regeneration and adaption in a changing society.” But, the ways in which it was conveyed in Derozio’s, Harp of India, is more of a reason why the message of, “it is time for change,” comes off so strong. This is shown with the last line of the sonnet where Derozio writes, “Harp of my country, let me strike the strain.” Derozio has faith that India will regain what it has lost and that one day, people will gather to listen to the beauty of the melodies it holds.

 

Ruth Serrano

Downtown, Los Angeles — The Pico Union Side

Image result for la adelita pico y unionI recreated the William Blake’s poem, London.

I am on the side with the Panaderia,
Near the Central American stores.
And through the window in the apartment a woman in her silla,
Is wondering if she should spend that last dollar on smores.

In every face of the four kids,
In every note from school.
In every sound of the empty lids,
The poverty proves to be no fool

How beautiful it must be to live on the other side
Every one to get a meal on their own,
And the best she can do is lie beside,
Runs back and forth to try to get another loan.

But that will only dig a deeper hole,
How times were before the invasion of the rich
Blasts of music and soul,
And now we’re left with a temporary stitch

 

Ruth Serrano

 

A Peaceful Space: Create Yours Today – An AD for Fathers

Given that romantic themes are surrounded by the focus on feelings, including inspiration and the use of imagination, William Woodsworth’s, “Anecdote For Fathers: Shewing How The Art of Lying May Be Taught,” fits in perfectly. There is encouragement and room for inspiration from the beginning, starting with the title, a story for fathers. From the very beginning, the setting becomes a journey involving a father and son and a glimpse of their relationship involving listening, appreciation and love. Through the repetition of the word, “thinking” (“To think, and think, and think again”), we are aware of the freedom to do so, as well as the creation of a vast place for possibilities. This is shown with the painting above, where the large amount of space lies between the water and mountains. In addition to the endless possibilities, there is a constant mentioning of words like, “pleasant.” Although the father was bringing up two different places throughout the poem, the space he was currently in with his son was a mixture of both Kilve and Liswyn farm: “pleasant, delightful, sweet.”

This painting precisely captures two people indulged in the space around them, that from our perspective they might seem small, but to them the space around them is a part of them. There is also a way in which this relationship process is accepted due to the delivery of the message through the poem. The ABAB rhyme scheme aligns perfectly with a melody in order to create this peaceful atmosphere where there is a lesson behind the song, but it’s so catchy, the listener doesn’t notice. Instead, they’re so busy enjoying the rhyme of the song and the love and appreciation coming from the father towards the son, that the listener is able to feel inspired to do the same. The darkness that takes over part of this space parallels to the uncertainty of the son who is not sure why he prefers his original home (Kilve) over where they are. But the light of the rainbow is part of the inspiration that the father is receiving from his son when he says, “…my heart/For better lord would seldom yearn,/Could I but teach the hundredth part/Of what from thee I learn.” Also, the fact that the rainbow is above and surpasses all the darkness is shown specifically when the father ends the poem with a conversation about how much he has learned from his son and the appreciation he has. This reassures the message that Woodsworth is trying to give throughout the whole poem, this relationship between father and son prevails through appreciation and love, and the listener can practice that.

 

Ruth Serrano

Against The Norm

It’s interesting to hear a song based on this story of curse and death that prevails. A heavy metal band such as Iron Maiden would usually be seen as a group of people who are singing very loudly, with a lot of passion. This passion is the same passion that drives the Mariner to continue telling the story, it seems as if this is what’s allowing him to survive, given that he remembers the look of the sailors who died one by one right in front of him. The purpose of his story is to make everyone remember to love what God has created, to take a look around Nature and embrace just that. Because this is the Mariner’s goal, the poem fits the category of Romantic poetry, in fact the Mariner becomes spiritual when speaking on the glory of God, it’s how he’s able to encourage others to seek him through Nature and to thank him for all he’s done.

Iron Maiden’s music is itself a part of Romantics because it often times would be seen as something outside of the “norm” for how it’s the opposite of calm. Specifically with the transitions that were noted in the telling of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” in terms of the different shifts in volume and beats used all throughout. The music’s escalates and has a shift when we encounter Death and Life in Death who are playing with the souls of the Mariner and sailors, trying to figure out their fate. This shift is something that goes against the norm, the balance that other (boring) music would have, which is the same thing that Romantic work does, it goes against the “order, calm, harmony, balance and rationality.” The art of heavy metal, through Iron Maiden even allows for an understanding of, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to become even more clear because of the story-telling manner. It begins and ends with lyrics along the lines of “on and on and on…” which implies that this story will live forever. The Mariner has told the story many times and he will continue to do so, but Iron Maiden also does that by prolonging the song. The song is 13+ minutes long, signifying how long this story would live in for which again goes against one set idea, just like Romantic poetry. And through Iron Maiden, a form of art, we were able to see the story unfold with all the right moments of intensity for what could happen next in the poem/song.

 

-Ruth Serrano

An Attempt to Provoke an Epiphany

In, Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, there is a tone of reasoning that carries throughout Equiano’s work. I focused specifically on the references to John Milton’s Paradise Lost and his constant references to God. Equiano writes describing the harsh circumstances that slavery has caused, then moves to the reasoning behind why slavery does not allow for peace in the world, and lands in a call to action for people to wake up and realize slavery is the biggest sin. The reference to Paradise Lost, “With shudd’ring horror pale, and eyes aghast, They view their lamentable lot and find, no rest” is being used to describe that death became a luxury to slaves. They could not even decide to kill themselves to avoid the suffering because they were to work until they died for the white man, they would never rest. Equiano furthers this by saying “…but torture without end still urges” (92). This suffering talked about that comes from sin in Paradise Lost is what Equiano is trying to use to show that slaves have no hope, they are stripped away from it at all times, with no break.

Once Equiano realizes his master is not planning on letting him go free, he begins to realize that there was never going to be a deal for freedom. He was back in, “misery, stripes and chains” asking God to, “direct the stroke of death” on him before having to remain a slave (92). In referencing Paradise Lost, he’s also saying that Adam and Eve at least the privilege of deciding their future, but slaves couldn’t even jump off a boat without someone rescuing them only to prolong their death. Equiano then uses another biblical example and justifies Moses for killing in defense of a Hebrew slave because he stood up for those who were marginalized. He is giving people a chance to reflect and think about the sin they’re committing. However, Equiano is not attacking them, he is instead leveling the playing field by saying, “For I will not suppose that the dealers in slaves are born worse than other men-No” (102). He is saying they have the potential to be good people, to serve a God who “could never intend” to “violate the first natural right of mankind” and “give one man a dominion over his fellows” (102). He calls slave owners out and says, “You stupify them with stripes, and think it necessary to keep them in a state of ignorance; and yet you assert that they are incapable of learning” (103). He’s asking them to reconsider their ways, that they don’t make any sense because they’ve shown over and over again that they are resilient. He uses biblical references because he knows that slave owners use the bible to justify slavery, Equiano is saying that God doesn’t want that. If they learn to treat Black folks with respect and stop dehumanizing them, that they too will find the peace and happiness in God’s favor. Through the biblical references and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Equiano leads to suggesting that slavery end and that they be treated as human, as men, because if they did, “they would be faithful, honest, intelligent, and vigorous; and peace, prosperity and happiness would attend you” (103). He uses biblical references because he knows that slave owners use the bible to justify slavery, Equiano is saying that God doesn’t want that. If they learn to treat Black folks with respect and stop dehumanizing them, that they too will find the peace and happiness in God’s favor.

-Ruth Serrano

Hating Satire, Only To End Up Using It

Pope visual satire 2.jpg

Following Lecture Notes which heavily cleared up confusions in my head about Alexander Pope’s “The Dunciad”, we know that this specific picture that I chose to focus on, was used for some serious bullying of Pope. There was some literal bullying that went on in this image in terms of Pope’s actual physical condition. In his biography, we find that he was left “humpbacked and deformed” because of Tuberculosis (2600). In this image specifically, this rat/monkey figure of Pope has a particular huge bump on his back and he is leaning on something. Pope’s figure of a monkey mix also is being made fun of because of his reference in lines 18-19 of “The Dunciad, “In broad Effulgence all below reveal’d/(‘Tis thus aspiring Dulness ever shines).” He is referencing a monkey who when continuing to climb, exposes their bottom more and more. To make him a mix of monkey is to use his own example to describe him as making an ass of himself.  Playing again on his Tuberculosis, we also know that Pope couldn’t actually hold himself up due to his condition. And in his poem, he mentions that the satire style he is most criticized for is what’s actually making this all entertaining. He’s saying had it not been for my satire: “Had not her sister Satire held her head:” (42), then Thalia, the “Muse of Comedy” would be dead (41). But again, this is ironic because in this image, those that are criticizing him also have Pope’s figure holding his head.

However, this bullying was also rooted in the discrimination of Pope, who was: a Roman Catholic who could not, “vote or purchase land, attend public school/university, live within ten miles of London, hold public office, or openly practice his religion” (2599). He was treated significantly less than those around him and was seriously oppressed by those around him. This image was definitely a message to Pope to not just “Know thyself,” but also to remind him to know his place and realize that he is still the lowest of the poets, in the eyes of those who criticize him. 

 

-Ruth Serrano

The Ridiculous “Truth”

Based on what we’ve learned from the captivity novel and the characteristics tied to it, the singular story is extremely dramatized for the purpose of convincing the reader that the story is true. But, it becomes very obvious that Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, intends on going against what most would expect it to be. In reading, “A Letter From Captain Gulliver, To His Cousin Sympson,” we see that there was good reason for him to be upset about his credibility being questioned. Given that there were repetitive phrases regarding omitting information as to not “trouble” the reader (“Too many to trouble the reader with at this time”), it is safe to assume this was directly making fun of the length and depth that a captivity novel would go into. It also sounded a lot like Swift was saying, “let me not bore you as the reader by including all of this unnecessary information that captivity novels usually include to sound more dramatic and believable.” Aside from mimicking the tone of a captivity novel that is focusing on a story trying to prove the hardship of being kidnapped, Swift definitely was connecting more to the reader because he was making every situation something the reader would find strange. For example, the fact that there is so much mentioned about the way in which Natives were so organized down to their traditions and that they were protective but still kind. This acknowledgement that Natives were human and not savages is something that Mary Rowlandson did not do any of in her story. In the same way, he was shedding light on the ridiculous things most colonists would be scared of like when he brings up “death under his foot” or dying by their “reaping hook” which makes you think if you’re actually watching a pirate movie (Swift, 83). And because of that, Swift is blatantly mimicking the same tone only to allow the reader to realize that it’s all too absurd to be true. There’s also a lot of power in this novel because it gives the reader space to make their own assumptions about what they’re reading with a reminder that you should be able to question everything you read.

 

-Ruth Serrano

Questions Answered For Mary

Dear A Magazine For the Empowerment of Indigenous People,

I would like for my response to go right next to Mary Rowlandson’s “Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.” My response goes as follows:

Mary, I wish you were alive so I could get the chance to ask you these things face to face, because your reaction would be everything. You were captured by Indians and were immediately scared to be in their care; was it because of the idea that you’d been sold that they were savages and not human enough? Or was it because you felt like it was proper violent retaliation for the invasion that your own people were responsible for? Maybe you had heard stories that you would often ignore (since you had no reason to care, living the lavish life you described losing while in captivity) and now were extremely relevant because you realized it was your turn to feel some of the same pain. At least you weren’t left to be one of their prostitutes, that would’ve been terrible, but not unfamiliar as that was in your people’s style. And I know, towards the end you believed it to be some sort of divine journey to help you appreciate your wifely duties that sometimes you’d complain about, or the peace that these savages you say, stole from you. But, you see; that’s where I’d have to disagree. God loves me and it has nothing to do with my skin, or the fact that I am mixed, but because of my principles. And I’m also sure, since God is omniscient, he knows that these principles didn’t come from the Indians who captured you. They started from your people and this was just a fight back. And I know that at some point you realized they weren’t the savages you described them to be, and for your own benefit you decided to keep them as savages incapable of doing what your holy body could do. And you were right, they were incapable of robbing a nation almost of their whole Continent, and murdering their women and children, and then depriving them of their rights…even ’till this day. And in the end, there is one success story here and I am an example. My ancestors didn’t have the common education your people did, but we had principles and heart and because of that, I am now able to clearly tell you that you were wrong. You and all your people, were wrong.

Sincerely,

William Apess

 

– Ruth Serrano

Mary Rowlandson’s Journey of Confusion

John Winthrop left behind the ideals that genocide and sexism were all in the name of religion. In fact, it’s the reason why many crimes that have happened in America throughout history, have been committed and tried to be justified through history books. Something interesting that Thomas Pham’s post mentioned was genocidal intent. This is something that was always a part of the plan; colonists wanted to take the land they felt belonged to them by divine right, while converting everyone to Christianity and if there was someone who didn’t want to have their home and beliefs raided, then they deserved to die. Mary Rowlandson mentions, “I have seen the extreme vanity of this world: one hour I have been in health, and wealthy, wanting nothing. But the next hour in sickness and wounds, and death, having nothing but sorrow and affliction.” But, this is what the Algonquian must’ve been feeling themselves because they knew there was genocidal intent; which is why I believe they responded the way the same way they were shown.

This emphasis on religion, specifically Christianity is seen in Mary Rowlandson’s “Narrative of the Captivity & Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.” She would constantly mention: “no Christian friend near me” or “no Christian soul” was around her to help her. She explicitly stated that she wanted help from someone only if they were Christian. But, later in the narrative we see that cross-religion definitely created some confusion for her, as well as for those reading at the time. We talked in class about the fact that Rowlandson couldn’t seem to nice to the Algonquian people, but in some parts, she couldn’t help it. There’s a part in the narrative where the Natives came back from Sadbury and one of them told her they had just killed “two English men at Sadbury” (Rowlandson, 38). But, in the next paragraph she says, “Yea, instead of that, he many times refreshed me,” along with, “they would always give me something,” describing it as something she will always remember as, “sweet, pleasant, and delightful relish” (Rowlandson, 39). This definitely complicates the situation because it shows that Algonquian people were not just “ravenous beasts” as she described them in the beginning and even towards the end, they were people too. Despite the fact that they had killed her people, she was beginning to see beyond that. I can only imagine the frowns on people’s faces when they came across this part, thinking there was no way that they could be human too.