Metrical Fragments of the Irish Poet: Using Deviantart to add Owenson into The Irish Harp

Samantha Shapiro

Link: https://www.deviantart.com/wild-irish-fan/art/Metrical-Fragments-of-the-Irish-Poet-796873172

Metrical Fragments of the Irish Poet by wild-irish-fan

https://www.deviantart.com/wild-irish-fan/art/Poem-resized-796876053

References: https://pastebin.com/2DbQa5c0

https://archive.org/details/layofirishharpor00morg_0/page/n21


Artist’s Reflection (Review)

In my creative writing project, I wanted to use the modern practice of creating “original characters” or “OCs” (a Deviantart definition, very fitting) to fit Owenson into her poem, “The Irish Harp” and show a little bit of what I see constituting Owenson’s goal of inspiring the Irish and inciting passionate emotions while trying to give the Irish people a voice. This ended up being through reusing her poem and changing it to fit a more “Owenson-centric” focus and focusing on visual imagery to help provide more information in an easily accessible format.

I personally wanted to choose a multimedia physical piece to imitate a Deviantart uploader and/or user to convey a different take on Sydney Owenson’s poem, “The Irish Harp.” The use of Deviantart as a medium, in way, and creating an OC through it helped me to convey a more loose reinvention of Sydney Owenson’s poem by allowing me to establish different characters to help symbolize different elements of her readers are unable to see within her own poem – while the poem depicts a minstrel and his harp, Owenson herself, in my imitation, is placed within the central focus of a modern approach because as an “OC” of her work, she conveys themes of rebellion she chooses not to mention herself – with her playing a “faux Irish harp” in “parties of the English nobility,” among many other seemingly small societal choices.

The choice to use a mixed art format overpowers the minimal usage of “imitation” in the written poem (rewording, changing key words, and condensing) but instead stretching it to belong within other art pieces. I did this because I felt as though both a short poem and larger focus on different sketches and art styles would be more visually appealing to a modern audience, especially one on Deviantart. Also, some general familiarity in basic pen and pencil doodles helped; comics were inserted as filler for the background but have generally influenced by art style. The general form of my work is as a part within a whole, similar to how Owenson published her work into a collection of “Metrical Fragments,” but differs through the length of the poem and choice to use images to convey further meaning, making Owenson a part of her own literary world (figuratively) as she did herself by taking on the act of Glorvina, a character she created herself. Content-wise, my priority was to include Owenson into her own work to help share her voice as she does with the Irish facing oppression from the British in the 1800s, and add her own rebellious voice to reinforce her stance by making her another character within her poem. Although imitation is seen through the rewording of her poem, I chose to draw her as a harpist with a harp in order to show not only how a modern reader could further her work but also expand the choice in medium to better suit a more art-centric and passionate community.


I was also inspired by this video and her playing and posture!

 

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A Living, Breathing, (human??) Harp

Samantha Shapiro

The desire to “humanize” the harp motif in Sydney Owenson (Lady Morgan)’s poem, “The Irish Harp” is seen through the combination of the harpist to his harp; when assigning emotion and action ambiguously, Owenson furthers a belief of Irish singularity and identity by showing the resilience and combative nature of the Irish populace.

By making the Irish harp a human fighting figure, Owenson desires to add “strength in numbers” by teasing out the Irish people’s own unique usage of the harp to fight against British oppression. The harp is first conflated into the harpist when Owenson first introduces the poem in the first stanza, with her finishing: “Why has that song of sweetness died/Which Erin’s Harp alone can breathe?” (Owenson 1). When choosing to use words like “sleeps,” “breathe,” and “languish,” Owenson personifies the “Harp of Erin” and attributing these actions to make revolution a body and living entity based on her choice in personification (Owenson 1, 3). The harpist, in this sense, is like the Society of United Irishmen in their own conflation of the harp to their own political movement, in that referring to both the harp and their own rebellious organization, both are “new-strung and shall be heard;” with the usage of it making meaning purposely ambiguous and thus attributable to human organization (O’Donnell). Owenson introduces a a “sad bard!” or harpist, and “silent…[weeping] Harp” that drew from collective “Harp of Erin’s pride” and “love-sick anguish,” (Owenson 4, 1). Owenson here is using emotion to combine the harpist to his own instrument by mimicking action when choosing to state that “the minstrel breath’d” a lay as the “Harp of Erin” had, but also later on adding onto mimicry with “his Harp’s wild plaintive tones…Breath’d sadder sighs, heav’d deeper moans” but does so in a way open to interpretation as to who genuinely is alive there, and what voice is able to be spread (Owenson 6). The choice to end with the Bard singing while playing with his lyre, the spiritual and emotional tie to the “Harp of Erin,” has the significance of saying, “And Erin go brach he boldly sung.” calling back to patriotism and a desire of Irish identity in stark contrast to the earlier implemented British “Act of Union, in which shapes Irish relations and still are seen to this day.

Although her choice in context of the poem is to stick to a simple rhyme scheme of ABAB for 15 stanzas, she does so in a manner which brings forth elements of creative rebellion within her poetry’s lines. When choosing to italicize “Eve,” “bliss,” “sorrow,” “oppression,” “last,” “Erin’s,” “patriot hero’s tomb,” “he,” “dismay,” “terror,” “his,” “sadder,” “deeper, “despair,” and “Erin go brach” they become a large focus and develops the harp and bard as connected through each other through these important themes and figures – both of the two are the main personified characters with some of these traits and exemplify themes of revolution (Owenson). These stem from political unrest, given that during time period Britain had supported the Irish into a unionization with them. In intentional ambiguity and personification, Owenson gives an audience to the Irish break apart the Britain-forced Act of Union  — some issues stemming from this that continue to last onwards through modern years

Merced, 2019: Turmoil within a Divided Nation

Samantha Shapiro

(UC) Merced, 2019 – Based on London, 1802 by William Wordsworth

From Project Gutenberg (1)

 

 

 

Wordsworth! thou are not living at this time:
Merced is in need of thee: she is a lost
In stagnant swamps: undrained, lied-to and double-crossed,
Wildfires, ignited populace at its prime,
Rain through student belief in a torrential shower
Of hopeful change. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up in your words, return to us again;
And expose the answers we seek through political power
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst art whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
And as you travelled on life’s common way,
Divided as us, though to impart
The questions that we have today.

Picture of Merced Main Street (2)

  1. Picture from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/47651/47651-h/47651-h.htm
  2. Picture from https://www.mercedmainstreet.com

 

Harmony and Grace in Romantic Landscapes – or not?

Samantha Shapiro

Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851).

Joseph Mallord William Turner’s (J. M. W. Turner/Turner) Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower (Buttermere Lake) develops a mysterious parallel with the structure of William Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Written with a pencil upon a stone in the wall of the House (an Out-house) on the Island at Grasmere” (or “The Island at Grasmere” for short), which reveals Romantic characteristics such as elements of the supernatural and ambiguity to enhance the reading of the poem. Through this, ambiguous language is highlighted in order to question deeply held perspectives on self-reflection.

Within the painting’s form, both the dichotomy of light and dark and choice in brush strokes in Turner painting Buttermere Lake showcases mysterious themes to help Wordsworth figuratively set the mood of his poetry on the poet’s journey to the island. The lighter tones in the middle of Turner’s painting contrasts interestingly with the dark elements, blending together in ripple-like strokes (1). The oil on the canvas paints a picture of a water-like sky in the middle section, blending them together yet at the same time, with the distinctness of the light, keeps the colors apart. The way Turner chose to paint the sky through mist-like strokes conveys a mysterious tone to the piece, which can be used a lens to see Wordsworth’s own “Poet” in his poem, “The Island at Grasmere,” when he traveled to a “Hermitage” – images of the man travelling to an abandoned shack on an island to find shelter, one where animals like lambs and heifers come for shelter on a “Pinnace, a small vagrant Barge” (92). All of these are capitalized, indicating them as proper nouns or at least important signifiers, making this appear to be more than what meets the eye: a “hypothetical” poet wouldn’t come here just for any reason. Not only this, but Turner’s choice to paint Buttermere Lake in this manner helps the reader to see the unique form of Wordsworth’s poetry – unlike previous choices to stick to rhyme and syntax, he chooses to write free-form starting on page 91, which indicates a different type of ambiguous, thoughtful mood, one with mysterious intention (why wouldn’t he just stick to rhyming throughout?). I see this choice as reversal, or commentary on the content within his poem – when he chooses to question critiquing aestheticism on page 91 with the section,

“Rude is this Edifice, and Thou hast seen

Buildings, albeit rude, that have maintain’d

Proportions more harmonious, and approach’d

To somewhat of a closer fellowship

With the ideal grace.” (pg 91)

it appears as though he already made up his mind on harmony and grace. This is seen with his refusal to use any of the traditional elements associated with standard rhyming poetry, with a train of thought narrative guiding him like the poet on the lake.

Perspective and setting help to not only contextualize the painting’s location but also show similarities to the scenery and inspiration for “The Island of Grasmere” around Wordsworth. Turner’s Buttermere Lake and Wordsworth’s “The Island of Grasmere” both find their settings in England’s lake district, the two areas in question a quiet 47 minute drive from each other. Here, Turner’s Buttermere Lake appears to have a few houses in the background, similar to an image of Grasmere Lake’s island.

In this, the poem helps to contextualize the piece by showing everything but the house itself; the painting in showing the lake, town, and even person rowing on the lake, doesn’t show a clear view of where that person is going or coming from – a lake where abandoned sheep with an “unshorn…burthen of their wool Lie round him” in a hermit’s home. The two works are able to blend together to showcase elements surrounding the mysterious “Out-house) on the Island at Grasmere” and add depth to Wordsworth’s poetry by implying questioning even his own desire for “Creations lovely as the work of sleep, Fair sights, and visions of romantic joy.”

A New-Romantic Update to Romanticism Through Iron Maiden

Samantha Shapiro

(3) Gustave Dore

The Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is able to take from the Coleridge’s own poem and utilize an extremely alternative (read: conventionally different) approach reading of Romantic poetry: changing the context of the lyrics used helps to convey a unique viewing of poetry through a modern Romantic genre.

The focus of Iron Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (IMRotAM) differs vastly in context and audience due to different historical context, thus shifting how comparing between Iron Maiden and Coleridge’s take on Romantic poetry as a genre. When I refer to Romanticism, I intend on focusing on the period “from the late 18th to the mid-19th century” as referred to in the lecture notes for class. This isn’t the typical style of Romantic poetry, with IMRotAM differing in many aspects of Romantic characteristics such as a concrete interpretation of it being “a general exaltation of emotion over reason and of the senses over intellect.” However, many elements are retained from Romantic poetry, either through it being plagiarized or referenced in a new light, with their rendition,

Death and she life in death
They throw their dice for the crew
She wins the mariner and he belongs to her now
Then… crew one by one
They drop down dead, two hundred men
She… she, life in death
She lets him live, her chosen one

helping the listener understand context for further imagery taken straight from Coleridge:

“One after one by the star-dogged moon
Too quick for groan or sigh
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang
And cursed me with his eye
Four times fifty living men
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump
They dropped down one by one.”

Not only this, but in Romanticism itself, I don’t intend on calling heavy metal music itself Romantic music due to the difference in instruments used. While famous Romantic composers(1), including Berlioz, Brahms, Chopin, and Liszt, among many others, were known for their powerful, moving, and emotive pieces, most of them didn’t use the commonly heard electric guitars, bass guitars, and drum sets that are available to artists today, thus spurring a complete comparison. However, similarities to the two can be seen in both genres’ choices to use things such as imitative music,” (2) which Iron Maiden uses in vocal shifts and instrumental solos within the song to help set the mood and add emotion for the piece but also as a pause in story-telling, the lyrics resuming after almost a break in stanzas of poetry.

The Iron Maiden’s rendition of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner appears to change its shape through a shifted context – it being a song inherently changes how they use the material in order to sing (angrily grrr) their work to the listener. The characteristic of Romantic poetry, the “preoccupation with the genius, the hero, and the exceptional figure in general, and a focus on his/her passions and inner struggles” is the same – somewhat – due to ambiguity. The song opens with the lyric,

“Hear the rime of the ancient mariner
See his eye as he stops one of three
Mesmerizes one of the wedding guests
Stay here and listen to the nightmares of the sea”

which is similar to the opening itself of the Coleridge’s poem:

“It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?”

This element is lyrically done through ambiguity in lyrical writing for song. Through music as a medium, setting and mood are conflated together, and emotion seemingly put onto one character within the song can be as easily applied to the audience listening to “capture them” or further appeal to the listener. Music as a medium is drastically seen when Iron Maiden sings to the modern audience itself, choosing to use words like “we” to directly address the audience in

The mariner’s bound to tell of his story
To tell this tale wherever he goes
To teach God’s word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made

and the choice to ambiguously open with “Hear the rime of the ancient mariner” without attributing it to anyone but the modern audience by the end of the song. Based on these elements, IMRotAM can be comparable to Romanticism as a modern take of Romantic style poetry through characteristics of Romanticism combining itself with musical composition. 

  1. When I was looking up Romantic composers, I was really surprised to see Rachmaninoff and Beethoven included on the lists, I just wanted to focus on the typical Romantic composers. Super interesting and kinda freaky to see more modern and classical composers included.
  2. This link is a direct quote essentially of what I mean: https://books.google.com/books/content?id=8iUQAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA41&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U2eTTx2Io4bJ2w-0NV-pweOr8Wu7A&ci=85%2C138%2C745%2C1251&edge=0
  3. https://www.art.com/products/p28317615995-sa-i8627676/gustave-dore-rime-of-the-ancient-mariner.htm

Appealing to, Not Entertaining a Sympathetic Audience

In Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, the choice to reference Colley Cibber’s widely produced play Love’s Last Shift shows the influence of a drama piece, or theatrical play, using messages behind its genre in order to add morality into Equiano’s audience; seeing it as something they lack. He chooses to parallel Colley’s character of Sir William Wisewoud to not only take from a sympathetic characterization and apply it to his own situation, but to use this in such a way to highlight the disparities and abuse and incite a “good, moral, Christian” audience to feel incredulous for his own situation.

Love’s Last Shift is a sentimental comedy play, where in which the main characters  include “middle-class protagonists triumphantly overcom[ing] a series of moral trials.” A large focus of sentimental comedy is promoting morals over vices, appealing to “noble sentiments” by preaching a sort of moralistic behavior through a tragic, pitying type of comedy. Many of these sentimental comedy works show how men are able to be “reformed and set back on the path of virtue” through good deeds and esteemed morals (britannica.com).

In one particular scene, a short scene plays out where a conceited rake, Sir Novelty Fashion, receives a letter from a woman he has been flirting with, Narcissa, right in front of her father, Sir William Wisewoud. These caricatures are a side story of the main plot, where essentially, Sir Novelty Fashion is attempting to woo Narcissa while he already has a mistress (scandalous!!), all while mocking Narcissa’s father, who’s trying to play matchmaker for his daughter to marry an actual gentleman, Elder Worthy. When courting Narcissa, he only truly decided to go meet her and potentially engaging in promiscuous behavior to exact revenge on Sir William, to “have the pleasure of making” the relationship and his “exploits” public (page 41). He even goes on, inciting a provocation by taunting, “Hark you! wou’d not it nettle you damnably to hear my Son call you Grandfather?” (page 41). This kind of tone and attitude shows not only how childish and comedically immature Sir Novelty is, but to a sympathetic audience, pitying how Sir William has to grovel in submission, even oblige Sir Novelty as to not show a crack in his demeanor when his pride has been shattered. Sir William comes to the conclusion that in order to keep his patience (and have good morals), preaching that keeping a cool head is worthwhile by stating:

“How near are men to Brutes, when their unruly Passions break the Bounds of Reason? And of all Passions, Anger is the most violent, which often puts me in mind of that admirable

Saying,

He that strives not to Stem his Angers Tide,

Does a Mad Horse without a Bridle ride.” – page 42

This is seen referenced in Equiano’s work in order to parallel his and Sir William’s situations in order to garner sympathy. A large focus of this stems from Equiano praying for a sort of noble sentiments, where “resignation, that his will might be done; and the following two portions of his holy word” could lift his “born again Evangelical” spirit, and keep him from “taking the life of this wicked man” (Chapter XI). This, while notably tying into how sentimental comedy attempts to moralize noble sentiments and good deeds, when he references Love’s Last Shift, stating, “That he who cannot stem his anger’s tide/Doth a wild horse without a bridle ride” (Chapter XI). The physical abuse Equiano continues to endure throughout his journey, seen in this instance as Baker “[striking him] often, still keeping the fire in his hand for this wicked purpose” (Chapter XI). His hands, as once tied as he was “hung, without any crime committed…merely because [he] was a free man, and could not by the law get any redress from a white person” due to the degradation of African slaves and inherent racism linked to it, were tied again – his testimony and account of Baker’s exploitation and abuse “could not be admitted against a white” (Chapter XI). These two elements are used as parallels to Sir William’s ideals that one should be a master of their own temper, in that a “Fools power to provoke [one] beyond that Serenity of Temper” shouldn’t be stronger than one’s own belief in a personal moral compass (page 42). This is inherently tied to Equiano’s biblical allusions and his belief in providence and the “the good hand of God” to guide him and in a sense, save him when he’s unable to save himself (Chapter XI).

Promiscuity, the Absurdity, Normalized

Samantha Shapiro

Sexual actions “weaponized” against Pope, in a sense, bullying him.

Alexander Pope utilizes indirect trash-talking in his work (to put it lightly), The Dunciad, against John Durant Breval as a revenge against Breval’s “bullying” in written work against Pope but to also critique the typical noble as a way to bring to light sexual promiscuity.

This section of The Dunciad, Book 4 involves a “Whore, Pupil, and lac’d Governor from France,” the latter of which used as a parallel for Breval (272). Breval was a tutor that ventured throughout Europe, and eventually wrote a novel on his journeys. He eventually met a nun who fell in love with him on them, and the two went to Rome to get married; which Breval chose to cover up and not mention in his work (Dictionary of National Biography). This parallels the actions spoken by “th’attendant Orator,” where this governor is described more risque, with where he went, “the Stews (brothels) and Palace equally explor’d” (315). In choosing to make this more risque or adding more sexual overtness to the piece, Pope makes this piece absurd and at the same time comedic, characterizing Breval’s character further.

Pope also chooses specific ways of introducing characters in order to add comedic effect. He begins describing Breval’s character as a French governor, who “would have spoken, but the voice was drown’d / By the French horn, or by the op’ning hound” (278). This governor is not only comedically overshadowed by the noise around him, and as a way to “drown out” Breval’s critique. It paints a picture of Breval’s works, including the critique/mockery of Pope as dull, making this comedic cut showing how worthless the governor’s words even are. We see this comedic cut through the character of Paridel, introduced after the governor/Breval’s speech.

Ebenezer Cobham Brewer describes the connections of the Paridel of The Dunciad and his namesake from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene further in his Character Sketches of Romance, Fiction and the Drama, Volume 3. Brewer details The Faerie Queene’s Paridell as “an idle libertine;” a wealthy young nobleman who eloped with dame to quickly leave her afterwards.  Paridel is introduced in Pope’s work as subject to an “everlasting yawn confess[ing] / The Pains and Penalties of Idleness” (343-344). This helps to characterize, as described by Pope, a similar trope of noblemen throughout his time who “travell’d about for the same reason (read: sex)” (Footnote 93). Not only does this note trivialize the actions of Breval and his character, seducing nuns and going on sexual exploits throughout Europe pictured prior as extremely outlandish, but this also helps to further add to a goal in almost normalizing, or calling out others as hypocrites for their sexual focus. In trying to make a fool out of those who “wrong him,” Pope furthers pushing these “bullies” down to also excuse his own activities.

The Vices and Monkey Business in Babies

Samantha Shapiro

In a parallel similar to the usage of monkeys in painting subgenres depicted in the niche of Singeries, the monkey scene in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels serves to quite literally infantilize Lemuel Gulliver and further degrade him to satirize not only enlarge the world around him but to also highlight the absurdity of his own self-centered, egocentric world-view.

Apen op School, David Teniers the Younger, 1660

The usage of monkeys to comment on human behavior isn’t a new idea; current idioms like ‘monkeying around’ and ‘monkey business’ find their roots from the “German *moneke or Middle Dutch *monnekijn” in the 17th and 18th centuries. A lot of the connotation has been focused more so on the light-hearted, playful and comedic nature of monkeys, but have an underlying way of degrading human behavior. In art, we can see this with singeries, a subgenre in paintings popularized in the 16th to 17th centuries, in which monkeys were depicted with human mannerisms and sophisticated etiquette. These monkeys typically carried themselves in high esteem, their dress usually in a middle- and upper-class European style to convey position in tunics, feathered hats, and at times, really cute boots; of which managed to paint a picture satirizing societal behavior or even the way noblemen of the time carried themselves.

Officers and Sergeants of the St George Civic Guard Company by Frans Hals, 1639

The actions of these monkeys were comedic and humanlike to show not only a form of “social satire” but in doing so, showed the vices of human lifestyle.

Monkeys Drinking and Smoking by David Teniers the Younger

Similarly, in Gulliver’s Travels, the monkey is used as a theme in the end of Chapter 5 to not only belittle Gulliver, but to also show the vice of the English egocentrism. From the beginning of the passage, the readers get a taste of the “greatest [terror] [he had] ever underwent in that kingdom[: a] monkey, who belonged to one of the clerks of the kitchen.” This absurd, yet at the same time entertaining premise starts off to begin satirizing the travel narrative through a situational use of irony. The entire scene itself is conveyed as an entertaining chase scene, the aforementioned monkey kidnapping him and sending the palace on a wild goose chase (or in this instance, a domesticated monkey chase). The monkey does so in a manner, alleged by Gulliver, confusing him for a “young one of his own species, by his often stroking [Gulliver’s] face very gently with his paw.” His phrasing, combined with the mentioning of a retreated path, a struggle, and a submission from Gulliver, add to a sense of infantilization or degradation, playing with a small kitten or young infant. This infantilization or degradation is used to break down Gulliver’s heightened egocentric view further and force him into this degraded position to highlight the inflated court mannerisms by turning it into a comedy. This is furthered with Gulliver remembering the monkey taking him up with his “right fore-foot and held [him] as a nurse does a child she is going to suckle,” to the purpose of Swift continuing an established nurse-child relationship theme but in doing so, dehumanizes the nurse to satirize and mock Gulliver’s position. In continuing to infantilize Gulliver, he is made a fool of for entertainment and compared to a baby monkey to further an absurdist mood.

Monkeys arresting a cat by Abraham Teniers

Blinded with Ignorance – A letter to Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

Samantha Shapiro

This “letter” is more of a reimagining of a direct response to Mary Rowlandson given what I believe to be Apess’s own perspective when writing his “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man,” using the same ideals to critique her almost martyr-like narrative.

Dear Mrs. Rowlandson,

After reading your narrative on , my thoughts were strangely empathetic yet harsh, understanding but critical. Your horrible situation, one of which involving Indians killing “women and children,” and later taking you hostage, letting you burn under the “scorching rays” of a blistering sun, regarding you “under the lash with hunger and fatigue.” I find myself horrified, reminded of actions done unto themselves: has degradation “not been heaped long enough upon the Indians?”

In this emotional, driven narrative, does it not escape you the situation that you not only have become complicit to, but have experienced firsthand? “And if so, can there not be a compromise; is it right to hold and promote prejudices? If not, why not put them all away? I mean here amongst those who are civilized. It may be that many are ignorant of the situation of many of my brethren…

Through your recounting, I am reminded, thus, of the many Indians before, their own trials and tribulations seen as an oversight by you, who, like the white men around you, “care not whether the Indians live or die; they are much imposed upon by their neighbors who have no principle.” As you had recounted, you took notice of the “strange providence of God in preserving the heathen,” noting the “many hundreds, old and young, some sick, and some lame; many had papooses at their backs,” but failing to see this forced degradation – your own home a candle to the towns and millions forced to “set their wigwams on fire” to escape the English army hunting them down.

This shows signs of your own ignorant perspective, one of which involving the superiority of the white man, and the rights and privileges inherent to those who are white.

I know that many [whites] say that they are willing, perhaps the majority of the people, that we should enjoy our rights and privileges as they do…I would ask you if you would like to be disenfranchised from all your rights, merely because your skin is white, and for no other crime? I’ll venture to say, these very characters who hold the skin to be such a barrier in the way, would be the first to cry out, injustice! awful injustice!

It appears as though you, once disenfranchised yourself, choose to be blind to the plight of your so-called “captors,” ones you see, but do not truly see, as ones who “[mourn] (with their black faces) for their own losses, yet triumphed and rejoiced in their inhumane, and many times devilish cruelty to the English.” This only shows the inherent prejudice behind your mask of understanding, one marred with ignorance. Do you look upon these actions of these so-called devils without knowing the crimes of the English terrorizing them?

I see us both as having differing beliefs in God, one to me: “the maker and preserver both of the white man and the Indian, whose abilities are the same,” and all of us judged under God, who judges righteousness over the “outward appearance.” On a foundational basis, you have no belief that these Indians around you, albeit captors, would murder you sooner than keep you safe. This preconceived notion, you yourself alone in the world, “no Christian soul near,” and somehow surviving the danger of these “hellish heathens,” marks a deep belief, one that judgement should be passed upon those in a manner as concrete as the very depth of their skin. In seeing more of your perspective, your closing ideals, I understand and sympathize, yet remain critically opposed to your own, perhaps repressed, ideals on white superiority.

  • William Apess

Recurring Intolerance Occurring with Violence

Samantha Shapiro

War, violence, and power all play a large role in both the reinforcement of and complicating of recurrent intolerant behavior during King Philip’s War against the indigenous people. This is conveyed through the actions of both the native Algonquins and English colonizers through Rowlandson’s narrative, where they help to establish a change seen when comparing prior depictions such as John Dryden’s The Indian Emperour, or the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards.

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative focuses on violence when detailing her interactions with the native Algonquins, which reinforces intolerance against the native American indigenous people. Rowlandson’s narrative opens up with her recounting of the horror she faced in the Lancaster Raid of 1675; in which it was “the dreadful hour come…often heard of in time of war” where she recounts: “from all which places they shot against the house, so that the bullets seemed to fly like hail; quickly they wounded one man among us, then another, and then a third” (Rowlandson). Her recounting paints a terrifying picture of violent raiders and victims “wallowing in their blood,” one where war and violence plays a large role in shaping the narrative and dynamic between her captors and herself as a captive slave. This helps to reinforce the idea of intolerance against the natives through her choice of language in the introduction, seeing the Wampanoag as a “company of hell-hounds,” demons, and “infidels.”

However, there remains a large shift in this narrative, complicating the recurrent intolerant behavior, partly due to the close relationship developed between Mary Rowlandson and King Philip. This development begins to complicate the recurrent intolerant behavior due to the absence of violence — for a narrative piece taking place during King Philip’s (own) War, there’s a surprising lack of violence seen when the two are together, and it can be argued that the two leave on seemingly friendly terms, given the circumstances. In the Eighth Remove, she  seemingly hides a close moment establishing a relationship with Metacom, offering her a smoke from a tobacco-pipe. In this context, his offering of a smoke with a ceremonial pipe could imply his intention “to make a ceremonial commitment, or to seal a covenant or treaty” (wikipedia.org). Rowlandson’s lack of response reinforces the idea that something may have occurred with the way she later recounts Metacom in The Twentieth Remove, where he “then Philip…called [her] to him, and asked [her] what I would give him, to tell [her] some good news, and speak a good word for [her]…[she] thanked him for his love,” he then afterwards opposing her leaving and going home to her husband. Her cross-cultural exchange, sharing a pipe with King Philip and eventual cross-cultural relationship established with Metacom helps to show a different outlook on the seemingly hardened intolerance; violence and bloodshed help to perpetuate a continuation of intolerance and mistreatment of the native Wampanoag.

Massasoit (father of Metacom) and governor John Carver smoking a peace pipe in Plymouth in 1621

This “cross-cultural exchange” with Rowlandson and the native Algonquins can be compared to the conquest of the native Aztecs in Dryden’s The Indian Emperour, where the cross-cultural exchange, or more explicit conquest, shows other signs of exchange with the development of a romantic subplot between many of the major European conquistadors and the native Aztec women. Power is highlighted, however, in a propaganda-based fashion in order to establish a domineering power over not only the “lesser natives” but also women, which we see power in the form of an almost romanticized version of violence.