Rip Van Winkle – The Rest Is History

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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Whoever has made the journey to Merced has to remember Yosemite National Park. Located in the central Sierra Nevada of California, the park is a sight to behold with its features such as its waterfalls, sequoia groves, and granite cliffs. The tranquility and natural beauty make it a famous attraction that many come to see. Even with the change of every season, weather, and time, the park always manages to look absolutely divine if one were to wander through its trails.

Just a bit further away from Yosemite, if one was driving, one would be able to see a small city named Merced. The city is mainly filled by farmers since Merced is the fifth-top producing county in California so agriculture is a big part of the heart. It is this concentration of farmers that make the city be a conservative red town and so, it is here where our tale begins.

It was in that city and on one of the farms that a conservative, red farmer by the name of Brett Johnson. He, unlike his ancestors who for sane conservative figures, passionately agreed with a presidential figure who ran a campaign based on xenophobic, racists, and wall fantasies. He certainly was not a favorite among the people who lived in the city as he always tried to but into political conversations, trying to tell people about how they were being brainwashed by fake news alongside the deep state and the US government.
One day, after an afternoon of political arguments and discussions, Brett wanted to take a trip away from Merced and decided to go to Yosemite. It was in the national park that Brett took a walk through the trails walking deeper into the forests until the sky began to darken with rain clouds. Then he walked into a nearby cave and headed inside, trying to wait out the rain. A few minutes later, a band of drifters entered the cave. During their wait, the group offered Brett a cold drink and having finished his own supplies, he accepted. After finishing the drink, he began to tire and when he laid down to rest for a bit, he fell into a deep sleep.

Upon waking up, the cave was empty with only Brett inside, the rain had disappeared. Standing up to stretch, he noticed his joints felt stiff. Exiting the cave, he began to go back to Merced. Arriving at the city, he noticed how different it looked, the shops he saw every time he walked the streets changed and new stores had instead taken their place. Confused, he walked to his farm and was surprised to see it in decay. Entering the house, he saw it was empty and abandoned and become depressed. Walking back to the main part of town, he entered one of the shops and saw that the news was talking about the president’s speech, but instead of seeing a spray-tanned figure, the screen showed a Hispanic woman who was currently talking about her coming out story. Shocked, he asked the clerk his president and was met with a weird look as the clerk told him about how he was impeached during a time called the red drought alongside other prominent red figures like Barr, McConnell, Mnuchin to name a few. Asking for today’s date, Brett practically jumped out of his skin when he was answered with 20XX – 20 years had passed while he slept.


Review

For my creative project, I chose to modernize the tale of Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving. The reason for this is because I felt that the story would be the easiest to modernize and have it reflect the modern times of today. That’s the reason why I changed the story to take place in Merced since the town can be conservative. The story already has some political references in its plot since Rip Van Winkle, due to his sleep, missed out on the American Revolution and so missed the fact that America got out of Britain’s rule and began its own country and created its own form of government along with its new leaders. So it is because of these reasons that I decided that the political references that I wanted to mention in my imitation would be Trump and the conservative party. As I am on the left side of the spectrum, the event I wanted my Rip Van Winkle to miss would be Trump’s impeachment, along with other prominent conservatives. So just like Rip Van Winkle was a loyalist while everyone else supported was a colonist, my Rip Van Winkle, who I named Brett Johnson, was a conservative while the others were implied to be liberals and like Rip Van Winkle, Brett Johnson is on the wrong side of history.

But to review my writing, I think I could have added dialogue. My creative project is mostly details and general details, the point of view is from someone looking into Brett’s world. The thing that really restricted me was the word limit. At first, I thought that it was a lot to write about but it was once I started getting on a roll, I realized that the word limit was too short. I feel like I could have written more to further explain how much Brett lost while he was asleep but I had already reached the word limit. I still think I did a fair job but I do realize that there are things I could have bettered in my writing.

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The Forgotten Harp

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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The harp plays an important part in the history of the Gaelic as the last High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, was a great harp player which could explain the harp’s history. This history and the harp’s importance can be seen in its appearance in forms of art and literature such as poems. This is most apparent in Henry Derozio’s poem The Harp Of India.

Henry Derozio’s poem was using the harp’s cultural history, which he assumes people will already know about, to really drive the point of how important the harp is. If one were to discuss the poem in a literal sense then the poem goes through a range of tones – from sad and gloomy to hopeful and positive – when talking about the harp. In the beginning, Derozio laments the decline of the harp’s usage/importance as it is being allowed to wither and be unstrung. He explains that the harp’s “music once was sweet” but that now no one is listening to it now. It’s being neglected like monuments. The poem ends hopefully as Derozio states that the harp will be used again and that its songs will be heard once more.

But if one were to look at what was happening during that time period, there is a different meaning to the poem. One interpretation is that the harp is supposed to signify India. Derozio is trying to explain how India is not being appreciated since under England’s rule, it will be forced to change to whatever the colonizers want. Their culture will be forgotten and all that will be left would be remains like how only monuments are left to represent the ancient civilizations. The hopeful tone at the end is his hope that Indian culture will stay alive if people remember it.

Living On The Skids

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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I wander thro’ each trash-filled road,
Near where the vagrant people rest.
And mark in every face that showed
Marks of dejection, marks of detest.

In every face of every person,
In every person’s talks of charity,
In every street, conditions worsen,
No sign of change or prosperity,

How the veterans panic
The user in withdrawal,
And everyone else frantic
Trying to keep or losing their moral

But thro’ midnight streets I see
How people try to sleep
Under awnings or against a tree
Before the street cleaner comes to sweep

Mirror Message

Tania De Lira-Miranda

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), The Abby in the Oakwood, 1808-1810

The art piece that most relates to one of the poems would be Caspar David Friedrich’s The Abbey in the Oakwood and William Wordsworth’s The Thorn. The reason for this is because of the painting’s setting – an old abbey surrounded by baren trees in what looks like a graveyard – and its dark and almost gloomy colors – match the tone of the poem which also carries a depressing atmosphere in its words.

Romanticism is about an expression of emotions which is definitely what happens in The Thorn. The Thorn first begins by describing a thorn that sits on a hilltop but then a character is introduced, Martha Ray, along with her history. She was to be married to someone named Stephen Hill but he left her someone else and it then turned out she was pregnant but the baby ends up dying – though the reason why is not explained. In the end, the baby is buried at the hilltop and this is where Martha goes to cry and mourn. The painting has a similar story as it depicts people walking into the abbey with a coffin. Both the poem and the painting depict a clear expression of emotions: the tragedy of death and the grief and gloominess that comes with it. The painting uses dark colors, it starts off with black almost filling up the bottom half before an almost creme color replaces it only for the painting to grow increasingly darker with gray and then black again in the corner. The poem has the same thing, it kind of starts off dark grows a bit lighter but then goes back to its gloomy start. So while the poem and painting aren’t related, the two go hand in hand because of its Romantic theme of emotion expression.

 

This Is Just A Tribute

Tania De Lira-Miranda

Image result for iron maiden rime of the ancient mariner

Romanticism, a very popular genre of both literature and art, is not what the name might suggest. The name seems to imply that the genre is about love and romance between characters and/or people. What the genre is really about is either one of two things. The first is about nature and how it should be revered due to its qualities and the second is about expressed emotion. So based on these two explanations about Romanticism, I would say that Iron Maiden’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is like Romantic poetry.

The Iron Maiden song can be considered a homage to the poem as it is basically a musical version of the poem. Using direct lines from the poem, the song has many instances of the rhythmic beat, and imagery. The poem has almost a sad and dark atmosphere surrounding it just like the story of the Mariner and the song follows this with its beat. In the beginning, the song almost has an upbeat but this changes as the beat and tempo become faster when the crew starts dying and then the tempo slows down like it’s leading up to the upbeat again when the song is about to end and when the plot talks about the wedding guest again. Another thing that makes the song be like Romantic poetry is the imagery it discusses. Since the song uses either uses direct quotes at times or references events that happened in the poem, the imagery the poem has is translated nicely to the song. An example of this would be “The naked hulk alongside came, / And the twain were casting dice; / ‘The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!’ / Quoth she, and whistles thrice” from the poem and “Death and she life in death / They throw their dice for the crew / She wins the mariner and he belongs to her now” from the song. Though using different words, Iron Maiden still has the same image behind these lyrics: Death won the lives of the Mariner’s crew members while Life-In-Death won the life of the Mariner and this is an important part of the poem as this is when the Mariner learns a lesson. By keeping the same images Samuel Taylor Coleridge was trying to convey, his messages can still be seen in the song even though it is through a different medium and in turn, this makes the song still be just as impactful as the poem was which is what Samuel Taylor Coleridge probably would have wanted.

 

Using John Milton

Tania De LiraMiranda

Olaudah Equiano’s, or how he was also known as Gustavus Vassa, autobiography where he talks about his life, his enslavement, and his work for his own freedom. In the autobiography, Equiano makes many references to other pieces of literature in order to help give evidence or support what he is trying to convey in his book. An example of a reference would be when he quotes “Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace/
And rest can rarely dwell. Hope never comes/ That comes to all, but torture without end / Still urges” which is not an exact quotation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. 

Equiano uses the Paradise Lost quote to describe how he feels when he sees Montserrat. And while most of Equiano quote of Milton is mostly correct, the change he makes can be seen as a big one. Paradise Lost says “Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can never dwell” while The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano has it written as “Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can rarely dwell.” The change from ‘can never dwell’ to ‘can rarely dwell’ is meaningful because Equiano is implying that there is less hope for him than there was for Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost. For Adam and Eve, peace and rest never rest for them so they are still able to experience those emotions at times but for Equiano, peace and rest pauses for him at times which goes to show how horrible enslavement was for him. Adam and Eve something wrong, they did the one thing they were explicitly told not to do, eat the forbidden fruit, the fruit of knowledge of good and evil while all Equiano did was be born with the ‘wrong skin tone’ which isn’t something that is technically wrong.

Equiano’s reference to Adam and Eve, which is a part of the Christian mythology since it comes from the Bible, shows how important theology was in literature. Religion plays a big part in why most people do things; they use it as an explanation on why they do the things they do. So by using it in his autobiography, Equiano is trying to appeal to people’s religious sense in order to get them to sympathsize and relate more to his writing and experiences.

Nosce Te Ipsum

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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English writer Alexander Pope is known for his satirical writing which includes his poem The Dunciad, which focuses on Dulness, a goddess whose parent is Chaos and Eternal Night. The book’s main focus on how Dulness wants to “destroy Order and Science” and in their place, bring about her Kingdom of the Dull by “connivance, weak resistance, or discouragement of Arts; such as Half-wits, tasteless Admirers, vain Pretenders, the Flatterers of Dunces, or the Patrons of them.” But not everyone enjoyed Pope’s satirical work as his work gained him many critics who expressed their distaste of him, as shown in the satirical print above (#2).

The print depicts Pope as a monkey, specifically an ape since further below, the artist/author calls him ‘an Ape of Jove’ and makes him out to be some hybrid of a monkey and a rodent, a jab at his Pott’s disease, and has him wear a papal tiara – which is a crown worn by the Catholic Church popes. The image provides insight on Pope’s works as it references them in order to mock him. The print’s title is Nosce Te Ipsum which is Latin for ‘know thyself’ and the artist/author even uses Pope’s own words in his print as “aw’d by no Shame…but moft the Beft” were Pope’s translation of The Iliad. The print does, however, help us better understand The Dunciad’s lines 36-40.

Watch'd both by Envy's and by Flatt'ry's eye: 17 
There to her heart sad Tragedy addrest
The dagger wont to pierce the Tyrant's breast;
But sober History restrain'd her rage,
And promis'd Vengeance on a barb'rous age

There is a common saying that goes ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ and in order to satirize something, one needs to imitate it. So by writing The Dunciad, it could be implied that Pope actually could like the hero genre as his work could be seen as both hating it yet still enjoying it. And for his critics, instead of outright attacking him, take a more subtle way to show their dislike to his work which parallels the lines of History holding in their rage

Satirizing the Captive Narrative Genre

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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Irish writer Jonathan Swift satirizes the captivity narrative in his book Gulliver’s Travels. The captivity narrative is almost a genre of literature where the main character is captured by the villains of the story who the main character considers uncultured/uncivilized. More often, these villains are usually the indigenous peoples in whatever country the story is taking place. An example of this is Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson where she details how she, along with other settlers of the  Massachusetts Bay Colony were taken captive by the Native Americans during King Philip’s War.  Swift’s satirization is apparent in Gulliver’s Travels‘ first chapter starting with “I lay down on the Grass…whereof I understood not one Syllable (23-25).”

The captivity narrative focuses on the power imbalance between the captive and the captor. The captive is usually someone who is on the weaker side of the power scale, as most of the well-known captivity narrative story has the captive be a woman due to the stereotype that they are dainty while her captive is usually a man due to the stereotype of them being powerful. Swift turns this trope on its head as in his novel as the captive is a man named Lemuel Gulliver while his captors are the Lilliputians, six inches tall people. While there is a power imbalance in this captive-captor relationship, Gulliver is not the captor even though he is obviously way bigger and stronger than the Lilliputians. Swift is making fun of the captive narrative by having the stronger person be the one taken captive. He also pokes fun in the genre by changing the characteristics of the natives. In the captivity narrative genre, the natives are usually ‘uncivilized’ compared to the main characters but in Gulliver’s Travels the natives are just as civilized as Gulliver as they have their own society. Swift is changing the genre by not following the usual tropes that come with it.

Email Correspondence

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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Dear Mrs. Mary Rowlandson,

Though I do not want to dictate how you should feel toward the “Indians (Rowlandson)” as you call them in your memoir A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, though you should know that they should not be lumped together as each tribe is an independent community,  which include the Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Podunk, Narragansett, and the Nashaway, since what you went through is awful and I do feel sympathy for you, I feel like you are only looking through one perspective and do not make the effort to give the other side a chance.

Speaking to you as a religious man to a religious woman, God does not show judgment toward his creations. He “shows no favor to outward appearances but will judge righteousness (Apess 1079)” so I do not understand why you judge so harshly the Native Americans when your people are as not as innocent as they make themselves seem. You only focus on how the “murderous wretches went on, burning, and destroying (Rowlandson)” but you don’t talk about in reservations, my people are seduced and made to be prostitutes by white men, your people. You don’t talk about how my people’s home were also burned down and how they have also died. White men “are unfaithful and care not whether [we] live or die (Apess 1080)” but you don’t mention that in your book. Why do you only paint white people as the victims and the Native Americans as the villains in your story? Though it might not have been you who ordered or carried act the violent acts against my people, it was still done by your people and you should not have ignored that in your story since by mentioning it, would have changed the whole image you were trying to make in your story.

Thus, to try and tell my people’s story, I will be writing and publishing my own book to write about how the racial prejudices Native Americans face by white people. Expect a copy of it soon.

Sincerely,

William Apess

 

Depending On Whose Narrative

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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Though there are many people who believe that the first people who lived in the what is now known to be the United States were the Europeans, the first people were actually the Native Americans whose ancestors migrated there 40,000 to 17,000 years ago. But even so, the Europeans portrayed the natives as savage people who they had to defend against which led to bloodshed, war, and eventually the displacement and the decline of the natives. And even though the Europeans did a lot of damage to the natives, they do not consider that what they did was genocide to the Native Americans, instead, history is framed that what the Europeans did was a good thing and schools tend to gloss over the fact that so many Natives Americans died so that the Europeans can have their City Upon A Hill, which to them was to show the rest of the word how rightful living was supposed to look like.

Looking back in history and like Rowlandson said, the Native Americans might have burned down the settlers’ houses and killed and injured some settlers, the Europeans weren’t as innocent as they portrayed themselves to be. The Europeans committed many crimes against the Native Americans such as massacres, torture, and sexual abuse, to name a few. So while I may sympathize with Rowlandson about how her family was taken captive, injured and even died while in custody of the natives, the Native Americans suffered just as equally if not more due to the Europeans having more advanced weaponry and because of the diseases the Europeans brought to the Native Americans which killed many. But the losses of the Native Americans are not really known because they do not have their own written accounts of what happened during King Philip’s War. Because of the memoir, Mary Rowlandson wrote detailed all the things she went to when being held ransom, she helped, if unintentionally, the narrative that the natives were savage people who kidnapped women and children which led some of those people to die, people who read the memoir begin to develop a bad image of the Native Americans and because the natives do not have their own published account of what they went through, people take the side of the Europeans as they believe that the innocents ones in the war are the Europeans and that the Native Americans are the villains in this story.

So while I feel bad for Mary Rowlandson and wish that no one should have to experience being held captive and having some of their children die, the Native Americans also suffered great loses that might never be known because they didn’t have the power to tell their own story and narrative.