A Millennial’s Travels

I stumbled forwards for what I would estimate to be two miles; a fact which I lamented, as the day’s events did not resemble my daily horoscope in the slightest. I was extremely tired, and that, with the act of walking so great a distance, and the half glass of wine I indulged in just before the crash had lulled me into a lazy stupor. I lay down in the grass, which was very short and soft, and – despite this being the first time I sought respite outdoors in many a year – I felt completely at one with nature. Sleeping in the grass! What an experience. The pride of being a genuine outdoorsman led me into dreams, which were long and wonderful. I regret now losing my dream journal in the ship; it would have been wonderful to record these fantastical night visions in order to truly uncover something spectacular within myself on this great voyage into unknown territory.

When I awaked, it was just day-light.  I attempted to rise, but was not able to stir: for, as I happened to lie on my back, I found my arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side of the ground; and my hair, which was long and thick from the natural botanicals found in my cruelty-free all-natural shampoo and conditioner, tied down in the same manner. I looked upwards, and the sun began to grow hot, and the light offended my eyes, all conditions which, when I draw on my vast knowledge of sleep and mental health gained from reading the headline of an article once, prevented me from adequately reaching proper REM sleep.

In a little time I felt something moving on my left leg, which advancing gently forward over my breast, came almost up to my chin; when bending downward to confront the creature that so garishly ventured to touch me without asking consent, I perceived it to be a human creature not six inches high, with a bow and arrow in his hands, and a quiver at his back. As I readied myself to deliver my well-rehearsed rant on ballistic rights and how common sense laws and background checks would drastically reduce the number of bow-and-arrow-related deaths in the country, I felt at least forty more of the same kind (as I conjectured) following the first.

One of them, who was brave enough to venture forward and catch a glimpse of my face, cried out in a shrill but distinct voice: “It is a man!” but then I understand not what they meant. Had they, a strange and tiny people I had never been acquainted with before, really assume my gender? Without even the vaguest inquiry as to my preferred pronouns! At length, struggling to get loose, I had the fortune of breaking the strings, and wrench out the pegs that fastened my left arm to the ground; phallic symbols of hate that alerted me to the ominous yet obvious presence of the patriarchy.

I managed to loosen the strings that held down my hair on the left side, so that I was just able to turn my head about two inches. But the creatures ran off a second time, before I could seize them; whereupon there was a great shout in a very shrill accent, and after it ceased I heard one of them cry aloud Tolgo phonac; when in an instant I felt above a hundred arrows discharged on my left hand, which, pricked me like so many needles. I was unhurt, but I screamed in agony.


Here I am parodying the first chapter of Gulliver’s Travels. I chose this specific section of the novel simply because I saw a great deal of parody potential within (arguably) one of literature’s most iconic scenes. I applied the many stereotypes and behaviors that I personally find irritating about my generation to Gulliver, in order to call attention to the many bad habits and flawed ways of thinking that I feel plague the modern world. Swift uses a great deal of subtlety in his writing, slyly suggesting to the reader details such as Gulliver being an incompetent nuisance, or that the society that he is depicting is flawed. I tried my best to imitate this genius use of subtle language (however, my skills are nowhere near those of Swift), but more so to enhance the humor of the piece while simultaneously suggesting to the reader the flawed nature of the protagonist’s thinking. I understand that this parody may come off as somewhat cynical or vitriolic towards my peers, and – admittedly – I guess it is inspired from a place akin to distaste. I would be lying if I claimed that this was not the first idea that came into my mind when I thought about a subject to mock, as, again, I find some of the behaviors and lines of reasoning that seem to be ever-present within the minds of young people today somewhat flawed at the least, and dangerously unreasonable at most. My aim here is not to offend, merely to poke fun at the many humorously youth-driven ways of thinking that pervade the modern world. However, if someone were to take offense to anything written above, that would – in my opinion – make this parody both funnier and more relevant.

  • Shawn Pintor-Day

Harping on Symbolism

To Thomas Moore, the Irish symbol of the harp represented more than just nationalism and “Irishness”; to Moore, the harp was representative of hope, of hard work, of transcendence.

It is obvious that the symbol of the harp in Dear Harp of my Country is very close to the author’s heart; a sentiment made overtly apparent as the first two words of the title are literally “Dear Harp”. Throughout the course of the poem, Moore describes the harp as if it is some lost artifact, unearthed by him and ready to be handed down to “some hand less unworthy than mine”. This near-legendary status that the harp has been elevated to speaks volumes of Moore’s devotion to his country: the harp seems to be a source of pride and power, a deep sense of nationalism and ethics that Moore wields as a weapon (or, more fittingly, an instrument) against the evils of idleness and embitterment that plague those surrounding him.

Moreover, the poem concludes with Moore seeming to credit all of the “wild sweetness” that he describes in the middle portion of the poem to the harp. This cements the symbol of the harp as a literal instrument against melancholy and chaos, wielded by only those who are willing to put forth a great effort for themselves and their country.

-Shawn Pintor-Day


An edgy parody of William Blake’s London

I drive thro’ each charter’d street,

Near where the charter’d Creek does flow,

And mark in every face I meet,

Snapchat filters, hitting the Whoa

In every cry of every man

In every woman’s ear,

A tiny voice: a tattooed man,

No orchestral taste I hear

How the adolescents cry,

Attention not a dime,

And the hapless adults sigh,

Crocodile tears, on the timeline

But most thro’ midnight streams I hear

How the youthful dunces curse

Blasts the new-born viewer’s ear

Ignorance: with which the world bursts

-Shawn Pintor-Day

The Travels of an Old Man

This painting, titled Evening: landscape With an Aqueduct by the artist Theodore Gericault, provides a very accurate visual representation of the Poem “Old Man Traveling: Tranquility and Decay. A Sketch” by William Wordsworth.

The poem relates the posture and apparent attitude of the old man in his journey to see his son (a mariner) who resides in hospital. The man is described as “insensibly subdued” and possessing “mild composure” given by “long patience”.

The painting depicts not just the physical form of the narrator speaking to an old man (as it is described in the poem itself), but also possesses the calm, almost lackadaisically determined demeanor of the old man; the bright and bold yet unobtrusive and warm color pallet of the painting perfectly captures the description of the old man’s reserved bravery. Moreover, the subject of the painting, the river and bridge, brings to mind a journey, or a place one is only meant to pass through – Much like the suggestion within the poem that the old man has traveled from a far away place, roaming the hills and rivers of his own land in order to reach his son.

Overall, both the poema nd the painting possess a spirit of travel, and a sense of quiet determination masking the wisdom of age.

-Shawn Pintor-Day

The Power Ballad of the Modern Mariner

Iron Maiden’s rendition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is similar to romantic poetry in its voice, rhythm, and atmosphere.

Iron Maiden’s version of the classic poem is sung in the style characteristic of Heavy Metal from the 80’s/90’s, with the singer adopting somewhat of a bardic persona, regaling the reader with the story of an Ancient Mariner – not unlike the narrative voice the original author of the poem likely intended. Moreover, the purposeful diction of the words of the poem are brought to life with the bombastic, almost aggressive vocal stylings of the band.

The riffs behind the epic poem serve to heighten the experience and drama of the narrative, and make the poem come alive in a way Coleridge could likely have appreciated (if the shock of hearing metal music for the first time didn’t kill him, that is). The rhythm produced by the instruments also naturally allows the listener to appreciate the construction of the poem itself; by setting the words to music, the rhythm is made much clearer to the reader (or, in this case, listener) than it may have been without it – an important detail when reading romantic poetry, as the rhythm was often painstakingly crafted in each and every poem.

Even the very atmosphere and tone of the song oozes with the tragedy, triumph, and ominous tones of the original piece, each mood being brought to life in a different part of the song thanks to the chord progressions and tempo changes.

Music is poetry, and even the most unexpected musical artists can (and often do) imbue their work with the same beauty and elegance that the romantic poets did in their own.

-Shawn Pintor-Day

Quoting Literary History

Within his own autobiographical narrative, Olaudah Equiano occasionally emulates the style of (and quotes) famed authors such as Homer, Milton, or Cibber, often using these quotations during particularly influential sections of his narrative.

Equiano does not limit himself to quoting one genre, author, or style of work, and inserts literary allusions from every form of literature in his day. This is likely a symbolic choice, as Equiano invokes the words of well-respected (or at least well-known) writers and politicians as a way to appeal to the readers of his own work. He likely incites their wisdom and displays his knowledge of these powerful works of literature in order to gain credibility with his audience, while at the same time suggesting that the knowledge, insight, and wisdom of the art form of literature – of any kind – can be applied to the struggles of anyone and everyone.

The selection of these quotations may be Equiano’s way of subtly suggesting that language and literature has somewhat stagnated during this time; he intentionally quotes some of the most influential (and controversial) authors in order to highlight the lack of new ideas and perspectives during the time of his writing his narrative. Equiano bombards the reader with quote after quote, showing his audience the brilliance of past literature and subtly calling for a resurgence in the literary arts.

Olaudah Equiano has crafted a carefully-constructed piece of literature that has had the impact on modern literature that he urged his contemporaries to make.

-Shawn Pintor-Day

Criticizing Pope: Challenging a Master of Satire

Pope seems to be the subject of much criticism, literary and otherwise. His “bullies” often seem to attack his ego, illustrating him as a small, sexually impotent man, a hack writer, or, as in the case of this terrifying creature of mockery, a human rat.

Dunciad is a mock epic emulating the writing style of literary legends such as Homer, and within its dense and lengthy contents one finds a biting criticism of the English political system. This style of writing has likely led critics to produce images such as the one above in order to label Pope as a pretentious finger-pointer, labeling him as (as the picture suggests) nothing more than a rat thinking its political jargon is philosophy. The caption at the top of the image, reading “Know thyself” in Latin, is solid (if somewhat heavy-handed) evidence that his critics believed Pope to be a mere pretentious hack writer. It is lines such as these that make Pope a very large target for critics:

Not those alone who passive own her laws, [85]
But who, weak rebels, more advance her cause.
Whate’er of dunce in College or in Town
Sneers at another, in toupee or gown;
Whate’er of mungril no one class admits,
A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits

These biting criticisms of England and her people, did not fare all too well with a great deal of Englishman; surprisingly, it seems that most members of old English politicians and townsfolk did not appreciate being referred to as “dunces”.

The humor in Pope’s critic’s retaliation to his mock epic is somewhat subtle, but not entirely lost: rather than responding to Pope’s criticism and literary insults with elegance, class, and equally intelligent retort, the citizens of England chose instead to draw swift as a rat, and make jokes about the size of his manhood.

For how brutal and unforgiving Pope’s commentary on his countrymen were, he does seem to have the upper hand in the societal mud-slinging when it comes to style and tact.

-Shawn Pintor-Day

Exploring the Land of Satire: Mocking the Common Travel Narrative

(*Author’s Note: The pages and chapters I refer to in this post are contained within the Barnes and Noble Classics edition of the novel as it is the version of the narrative I already owned, and new books cost money – of which I have none)

In chapter , part , on page 37, Gulliver details his living and sleeping situation as such:

“Towards night, I got with some difficulty into my house, where I lay on the ground, and continued to do so about a fortnight; during which time the Emperor gave orders to have a bed prepared for me. Six hundred beds of the common measure were brought in carriages, and worked up in my house; an hundred and fifty of their beds sewn together made up the breadth and length, and these were four double, which however kept me but very indifferently from the hardness of the floor, that was of smooth stone. By the same computation they provided me with sheets, blankets, and coverlets, tolerable enough for one who had been so long enured to hardships as I.”

Aside from the obvious ridiculousness of the description of Gulliver’s living and sleeping conditions, this passage is an excellent satire of classic travel narratives and captivity narratives through Swift’s inclusion of subtle details. Primarily, the detail of our protagonist laying on the floor for a “fortnight” (a.k.a. two weeks) that Swift nonchalantly includes in his absurd description subtly mocks the works of Bacon and Rowlandson by playing up the suffering that Gulliver must have endured: a common tactic used in travel narratives to (hopefully) make the reader empathize with the author.

Moreover, the way this passage ends is both comical and a witty jab at author’s of the travel narratives Swift satirizes: Gulliver’s description of his living conditions concludes with the eponymous explorer relating to the reader that the conditions were horrible, yet her was able to tolerate them due to his familiarity with hardships. This line is especially aimed at works such as Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, in which the author often subtly attempts to convince the reader that they are of strong will – likely in the hopes of gaining a reputation as a brave, hardy explorer.

-Shawn Pintor-Day

On Captivity: A Letter to Ms. Mary Rowlandson

Dear Ms. Rowlandson,

The story of your captivity was all at once heart-wrenching and soul-sickening. While some may, and for admittedly good reason, feel for you for having undergone such a horrific experience with the death of your family and destruction of your estate, it seems from your rhetoric and blatant hateful attitude towards the people that housed and fed you that others may have developed a strong distaste of you for equally good reason.

Ms. Rowlandson, your disdain and hatred of the Native people’s of this land, given unto us by God, is all at once cruel and misguided. You denounce the Native man as human, and for what reason? The color of his skin? Is his hue the only determining factor in his civility and compassion for love? One would, after reading your account of the generously hospitable conditions which you were afforded, think not, and may in fact infer that the native man be closer to compassionate (and, because of this, closer to God) than any intruder upon this land who would scorn those who treat her as a friend.

The native people have suffered much; the Native man has dealt with unspeakable oppression, both of body and spirit, at the hands of settlers who seek only to destroy His ways and imprint upon the land their own doctrine of misguided “love” and White virtue.

Ms. Rowlandson, you are a child of God, learned in the ways of the Lord Jesus Christ, and because of this, I implore you: search deep within yourself for the wisdom of The Lord, let Him connect you with the brothers of the land you desire desperately enough to kill your brothers of spirit. Relinquish this hate burning in your soul, the hate that destroys the Native man, the hate that defines your actions, the hate that drives you further from the Love of God. Only then will you truly be free from your own spiritual captivity.

-Shawn Pintor-Day

Captivity is Complicated: How Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative Complicates Intolerance

Mary Rowlandson’s story of her own captivity at the hands of the Algonquian people create some moral complication between the author and her captors. First and foremost, Rowlandson definitely viewed the native people as “savages” and “barbarians”, as can be concluded from the opening of her narrative in which she described the burning of her home and the slaughtering of her family by the Algonquian people. She, along with many of her contemporaries, likely harbored little (if any) sympathy for the natives, viewing them as subhuman “uncivilized” creatures.

Things become somewhat complicated, however, after Rowlandson spends some time with her captors. While in the custody of the Algonquian people, Mary seems to be treated as a member of the tribe: she attempts to communicate with the wives of the small village, claims to have never been physically abused, and, as it is revealed later in the narrative, even gains the favor of “King Philip”. Obviously, these few acts of civility do not erase the settler’s past contentions with the native people. It does, however, prove that even someone such as Mary Rowlandson, who had her family slaughtered and her home pillaged by these supposed “savages”, can see them as at least somewhat civilized and hospitable human beings.

It is unfortunate that it took captivity and forced removal to allow even one settler to see the native Algonquian people in the way Rowlandson did, and even more unfortunate that only a very small percentage of the settlers were able to even contemplate their intolerance of the native people. If nothing else, Rowlandson’s captivity narrative serves to complicate (yet not entirely dispel) the settler’s ever-present intolerance of the native Algonquian tribe.

-Shawn Pintor-Day