Rime of the Young Reaper

The Rime of the Young Reaper [Rime of the Ancient Mariner]

Sailor went to sit down and relax down at the bar,

And listen to the old man’s tale,

His drunken eyes brightened under circular lens,

His skinny hand tightly gripped on his fifth ale.

 

He declares he was once a sheriff of sorts,

A man of law, nicknamed Grimm,

For all who crossed the law,

Would speak their last words to him.

 

One particular day, he says,

A young man moved into the house next door,

After an odd series of events,

The family of four was found dead on the floor.

 

The sheriff kindly greeted the man,

Who silently nodded at the welcome,

But never spoke, his lips only parted,

To whistle an odd hum.

 

So the young man and the sheriff lived along one another,

A friendly relation began, without needing to speak,

As it turned out the young man had sharp interest,

For the justice of authority he seemed to seek.

 

The young man accompanied the sheriff,

Later employed as his lawful companion,

Together in his patrol car they rode,

To catch all the criminals on the run.

 

Grimm one day was forced to fire,

One day he was forced to kill,

Rapist and murderer of three,

His bloodlust was yet to fill.

 

So Grimm did as he always did,

With the scum of the world in his sight,

Attempting to flee and continue his acts,

Grimm had to do what was right.

 

Once more, twice more, and yet another,

Soon the fiend fell under,

And his lifeless eyes rolled back,

Grimm had only began to wonder.

 

It was only now he noticed,

The young man next to him began to speak,

His eyes fixed upon the fatal wound,

That from which blood continued to leak.

 

Grimm asked if he was a being of faith,

A prayer is what he might be chanting,

But Grimm was wrong, and now in tears of the memory,

In sadness of the events that have led to his current ranting.

 

The young man denied Grimm’s judgement,

And told him nothing more than the following:

“I am only here to follow your acts,

All these lives to someone are oweing.”

 

“And who might that someone be?”

Grimm asked in confusion,

But the young man refused to continue,

And left the sheriff in exclusion.

 

A few days later, Grimm’s child fell sick,

A cancer, ravaging her poor life,

The family was devastated, drowned in tears,

But most of all, the sheriff’s wife.

 

The mother who had so happily birthed,

The first daughter, her first daughter,

But now illness had come to take away,

And her happiness was for death to slaughter.

 

The young man came to the sheriff’s home,

To leave his silent blessings with the girl,

Or at least, this is what the sheriff assumed,

For he trusted this man with his beloved daughter Pearl.

 

When the doctors came to give their final note,

The sheriff and his wife were torn apart,

With only weeks to share with little Pearl,

A girl whose life has only begun to start.

 

In her last days, the young man stayed by her side,

Murmuring his inaudible word,

Grimm had allowed it as a way to keep peace,

Until days later, he finally heard.

 

Grimm pushed away the young man,

Violently picking him from below,

What was it he heard?

“You can die now, no need to be slow.”

 

Grimm cried out in anger, what could this mean?

To which the young man answered, “I am the Reaper,”

For days and weeks your daughter has fought,

A war on illness that will never stop for her.”

 

Grimm paused, took a moment to see,

His daughters feeble hand straining to reach,

Their hands met and with a saddened look she said,

“Daddy, Reaper has a lot to teach.”

 

“He told me some people die because they are fools,

Others die because they were victims to fools,

But me, I’m special you see,

Now is my time to be free,

I’m in pain, it’s really bad,

But I’ll be ok soon, I love you Dad.”

 

The old man’s story was soon interrupted,

As his eyes widened and he grabbed his chest,

He fell to the floor and coughed and wheezed,

And soon fell dead to join his daughter’s rest.

 

The sailor looked around for help,

Only to see a young skinny man by the window,

But from his lips the sailor could swear,

He could hear hum ever so low.

 

“Lawful, evil, innocent and guilty,

All will be met with the end of a life so cruel,

Evil men can no longer act, young little girls no longer suffer,

I am your saint, your deaths are for me to rule.”

 

“I will take my leave, but soon you too shall grieve, as all men should.”

 

In writing my own creative work, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and write a ballad, something I have very little experience with. I tried telling a story while attending to the system of ABCB quatrains, and likewise involved death as the main subject of the poem. Just as Coleridge, there was a moment in which I broke from this system. I was heavily influenced by my own interpretation of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, one that was somber, saddening, and even intimidating – I felt unsettled by the tale. And as such, I tried to mimic that feeling whilst adding my own personal touch regarding the plot. Instead of the mariner spinning the tale, a sailor must listen to the words of a drunken sheriff, beginning off as odd and bewildering and later becoming more sentimental, dark.

What I did change about the ballad was how death and supernatural forces may be depicted, instead of massive powers capable of raising the dead, I aimed for a simpler rendition of death. My Reaper was simply a man that allowed the dead to cross the bridge from life to death, but at the same time I aimed to keep a certain abnormal air about death. Death is silent and ignored until things like illness or fatal injury comes, only then do we remember death, and only then does it begin to speak to us.

I wish I had more space to continue the ballad, and I think my inexperience may have been the most difficult part about its creation – I’m much more used to writing longer works, and feel that shorter creative assignments are my weakness. Even so, I’m somewhat pleased with how it ultimately came out. This story isn’t something meant to please or give a comforting ending: Grimm dies before he even finishes his tale, as the Reaper gifts him death as he pities the once prideful sheriff to reunite him with his daughter. It’s not a particularly happy ending, but death in itself is not a happy ending, and I think I accurately depicted my interpretation from what I felt from the original.

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Ireland’s Harp, A Beauty Silenced

In a world as vast and large as ours, with so many peoples and groups, it seems everyone desires some form of identity, a grounding sense that they belong to a specific place or group. For Ireland, however, the harp was something much more than just an identity. Struggling through prejudice and exclusion, the Irish were the silenced voices of Europe, particularly with the British. One of the highlighted issues for the Irish was their lack of voice, the absence of attention when an Irishman or woman spoke. Even so, there was a common ground that elevated the status of the Irish: the harp. Said harp became something more than just a beautiful form of music, a smooth and delicate piece of art. The harp became a symbol for the very silence the Irish were forced to go through – a hope that the beauty of the Irish would come to light, and be just as capable of being appreciated as the harp.

This reflection can be seen in Thomas Moore’s “Dear Harp of My Country”, where this metaphorical and literal sound, Ireland’s voice, is particularly relevant in the imagery the poet creates. Right from the first line, Moore says that the beloved harp was “[found] in darkness”. The harp is artfully crafted and is a pretty sight, but in the poem its image is not highlighted as the primary source of its beauty: sound. One cannot obviously see in the darkness, but the aspect of the harp that must have drawn the poet is its sound. From this, one can take that Moore indeed sees Ireland as beautiful, but is more concerned for a certain sound, a voice, to be heard, as it is how he found the harp in the first place. Sound is once again highlighted through the seventh line, with ”But, so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness”. The deep sigh of the harp can be imagined as the sigh of a country who has been ignored, a sigh of dismay and disappointment. This sigh, a specific sound, likewise continues the notion that the country is being silenced, a sigh is nothing to the surrounding nations.

Ultimately, one can argue about just how beautiful the harp or Ireland is, but this poem is not just about a cry for attention for a pretty sight of a country. Moore is discretely writing for both appreciation of Ireland and respect for its voice. Ireland is not just a pretty sight, the “Harp of [Irish] Country” is something that must be heard and respected accordingly, not just seen and silenced for its beauty. The harp is not just a symbol of pride, but likewise represents a voice, and that very voice has been silenced for too long.

 

-William Fernandez

Fancy Suits of Los Angeles

A young boy wakes up to loud honking and cursing,

Gets up from the ground and tosses aside curtains,

Roaches flee and rats hide as the light comes in bursting,

Blind to the sight until he puts on his lens,

Smoggy, gray sky of Los Angeles, a new beginning,

Father told me to work hard, like the men in Mercedes-Benz,

Maybe he can finally fix the cracks in the ceiling.

 

Young man studies hard, just as he should be.

Study, mature, study, grow, you will be up there with time,

The men in fancy suits who seem so carefree,

A nice home with no roaches, oh how sublime.

 

Remember, young man, as a boy, one day you thought to see,

The world and Los Angeles do not care for thee.

Fancy suited men in Benz watch, an exhibit of poverty, speed away in a dime,

Believing all the brown boys could not speak, especially rhyme.

 

Who cares, who cares, if no one cares.

He will continue forward, with all the stares.

Because of the thousands and thousands of kids in his place,

He will not fail Father, the future he cannot face.

 

 

I honestly wasn’t sure what to particularly write about, so I simply dived into describing the environment in which me and my friends grew up. I initially planned to just delete all of it and restart because I had felt that I had not described Los Angeles, when it took me a moment to realize this was the very situation for many other people of the area. This is not a poem about just a life, ultimately it is about the unfortunate setting for many others, friends, acquaintances and myself included. I’m not attacking anyone upfront, unlike the Percy Shelley original, but I do feel I represent this conflict between an abusive noble class and a poor class emerging from Los Angeles, in a different position from that of England. In England, Percy Shelley angrily pointed his finger at the king and nobility, and yet here in Los Angeles many parents idealize the people that shame and ignore the poor’s existence: the upper class. The upper class still maintains a superior rendition of themselves, keeping away from the sites of poverty, imagery they wish to pretend is non-existent. Though not directly attacking them, I do feel like I criticize the system, just not in the urgent and rather explosive environment Shelley seems to describe. I feel like a slower pace, a less direct criticism, is more suitable, especially in an age where instead of wanting to overthrow nobility, many families would prefer to be up there too. I believe the center of the problem is not so much in directly trashing the upper class, but rather establishing and depicting the relationship between the two: this depiction aims to thus be more modern. Apart from that, I kept the ABABAB CDCD CCDD scheme with an extra portion of EEFF, the criticism of the upper class, and the depiction of a suffering lower class.

 

-William Fernandez

A Romantic Nihilism: A Beautiful World Doesn’t Care, and That’s OK

The world, specifically Earth, is a fairly, large place with various forms of life surrounding humans. Though humanity has taken hold as a major dominant species, the Earth and universe seemingly refuse to acknowledge any of this hierarchy when it comes to natural disaster and growth, floral and animal life will live or die regardless of one’s own existence, the universe will continue to unravel its timeline of events regardless of what single being such as us can do. Rather than to take this with fear and anxiety, one can instead note this with a calm, peaceful admiration of the beauty of life as it continues forward. This can be reflected in the work of “A Monk By the Sea”, crafted by Casper David Friedrich, and then further within the work of Wordsworth in “Michael, A Pastoral Poem”. In the poem, the rather sad but likely common tale of misfortune is spun whilst an atmosphere of flourishing nature surrounds the characters. The contrast between nature as a cool, careless force working beyond human interference can be seen in both works as a background, grounding a sad but real world for the people that live in it.

In the painting, the monk stands alone as a vast, dark blue ocean continues for what seems like forever, only met by an equally expansive bleak sky. One can simply say that this is a depressing atmosphere, with gray clouds, the abyss of the ocean ahead, the loneliness of the monk. However, the title and the image itself give way to a deeper interpretation, concerning the status of human life in comparison to that of the natural world. The ocean, be it dangerous and vast, is still home for countless species of marine life. A monk stares not into a gloomy, watery grave but rather a massive reserve for life. If it were any other man staring, one may find themselves falling deeply into an existential crisis when seeing such an abyss, but instead the title specifically notes the figure is a monk. A monk, a man of faith, is coming to terms with the vast emptiness of man surrounding him, but should more easily recognize the beauty of millions of lives swimming and crawling, existing, before him. This is a world that cares not for his faith, or his own body — it’s simply an ocean — and yet it is ever so powerful and great compared to his own vessel.

Within the poem, the tale is spun of a man with great financial loss, but the story is not told before Wordsworth gives vibrant imagery of the rural life around him. The imagery introduces with, “Up the tumultuous brook of Green-head Gill, You will suppose that with an upright path / Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent / The pastoral Mountains front you, face to face. But, courage! for beside that boisterous Brook / The mountains have all open’d out themselves, / And made a hidden valley of their own” (lines 2-8). One may already feel overwhelmed by the mountains and the hidden valley, massive landscapes. Only after nature is noticed then, is the story tied back down to the theme of the tale, a place of “…utter solitude” (line 13). Throughout the poem, Wordsworth continuously continues unraveling Michael, the unfortunate shepherd, as his life seems to sink worse and worse with his only hope, his son, becoming seized by the city. It is notable that the urban atmosphere becomes something that draws further upon Michael’s misery, showing that the events of loss will happen even with the coordination and structure of human society. At the poem’s end, when Michael’s tale is concluded with a final dismissive look at the remnants of his hope of the sheep fold, nearby the image of “Beside the boisterous brook of Green-head Gill” (last line) remains. Taking the painting into account, I perceived Michael’s tale as the minimization of human misery, how despite what seemed to be the world crumbling down on poor Michael, the ultimate effect on the surrounding nature was minimal as a “boisterous brook” continues to flow on regardless. Instead of solely perceiving the poem as a tale of loss, seeing through the eyes of the monk upon the water’s edge would fail to find any major meaning in said loss. It’s sad, it hurts, but ultimately the world around Michael continues forward – there can be at least some peace in knowing the brook continues to cheerily rush, the mountains still tower over him, the valley still sits where it always had been.

There’s something beautiful and truly romantic then in the pastoral poem – when a man loses just about all his hope, he can at least be reassured mother nature cares not for his pain, and will continue to live its own life.

-William Fernandez

The Evolution of the Romantic: Transformation in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” through Iron Maiden

 

One is asked to compare a romantic poem of grief and somber death through the murder of nature to that of a song regarding the tale spun by a crazy old sailor of wicked punishment and the undead. Upon initial judgement, I recalled the sadness and ominous feeling I felt for the original mariner, in contrast to the weirded out feeling I got from the latter. Straight from the beginning, I got two completely different emotions – thus, by solely this I had initially concluded that the song did not succeed in continuing the original poem, not doing it the due justice due to the difference of ambience and atmosphere between the two. However, I took a moment to understand why Iron Maiden would pick up on the “Rime”, and if there really was something else romantic to the song. I definitely enjoyed it, just not in the same sense that I read the original from.

Then came the question: does that even matter? At first, I was leaning towards just saying yes and comparing the two, how the song twisted the original, “It is an ancient Mariner, And he stoppeth one of three. ‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye … May’st hear the merry din,” (Coleridge, lines 1-8) to a more intense “Mesmerizes one of the wedding guests, Stay here and listen to the nightmares of the sea” (I.M., lines 3-4). Right from the beginning, the song turned moments of curiosity and ominous fear to that of immediate danger, confusion, and terror, particularly notable by the changing of “merry din” directly jumping to “nightmares of the sea”. I restate – does that even matter? A past me said ‘Obviously! In order to do justice to something one must retain its original value, not by merely cloning it but rather by updating it for modernity whilst keeping the initial taste’. Then, I came to realize that I was looking in the wrong place. Granted, I had become aware that the song and the poem had now crossed genres, Iron Maiden crafted something not simply out of the void. They had not twisted the song as I previously thought, instead they had given it a chance for metamorphosis. It had become a completely different thing. Is it then right to deem judgement upon two different things?

It is right. But not where I was looking. If one looks to the song directly in comparison to the Rime, then one will find themselves in conflict when noting the changes made, despite attempts to pay homage to the original in the middle of the song. One must recall then, what kind of literature this is: romantic. Romantics who dared to speak against logic and rationality, to feel more than to think. This song definitely aims to make one feel something, and although the ultimate result of said thing was different from the original, it indeed goes through the same process of being felt just as the Rime was. Now, I still hold my judgement that the song and the poem have very different tastes, their feelings are vastly different when I first heard/read them. However, Iron Maiden has not tried to just bring an original Rime to the present – they interpreted it a certain way, and wished to spread this new transformed song. By all means of emotion, the song does justice not to the poem itself, but rather to its feeling, its purpose, and to the Romantics that once spoke against the same logic based judgement I began imposing between the two. I will simply say this: the poem and the song are definitely different in my opinion; however, the song still captures the original context and subject matter, all it does is simply make you feel a different way about it. That in itself is the most romantic way to bring back a great English treasure, and in earlier stated words in the class: romantics would probably be headbanging to this too.

 

-William Fernandez

The Bad Middle Route: Equiano’s Grave Mistake

“Slavery is bad”, is something one is tempted to slap onto a work regarding the exposure of the cruelties of the slave trade and its participants. With a grand chunk of the text focused on depicting this unjust treatment, something slips by the text uneasily, perhaps by the conscious effort of Equiano. The freeman turns out to have owned slaves, but there is a bigger argument to be discussed rather than the simple labeling of Equiano as a hypocrite. Looking deeper, one must analyze particularly why the writer who clearly wrote his story to criticize slavery chose to include his own partaking of the same sin. It could be his simple desire to be honest, but clearly he defends his act using the same rhetoric as his white counterparts, this idea that he treats them well enough for them not to be just slaves but rather like family. There are definite holes in his argument here, especially when he selects the best slaves of “[his] own countrymen” (PDF, 138). It shows a bias for certain men, even hinting that he classifies men at different levels, just as the European owners would. But why is this relevant then? The idea can be expanded upon through the given political cartoon—

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Here one can slowly see that this work is one not blatantly screeching that slavery is good, but rather taking a stance that the abolitionist movement is exaggerating their arguments. This is specifically highlighted by the man covering the telescope with what seems to be inhumane treatment of slaves, from the happy, peaceful sight of seemingly lazy foreigners across the sea. Sadly, this is fed via the same rhetoric that Equiano is supporting by buying slaves and further by being selective with them. The suggestion that there is a right way to be slaves is the exact argument the picture is making: the ideal that if slaves are being treated ok there is no reason to worry. Equiano’s argument is problematic, specifically due to this. If he had simply said this was out of compassion, out of direct empathy, this would have been taken a different way; however, it is the fact that he declares these men above the others and the fact that he tries to defend his purchase by saying he’ll treat them right gives the impression that he wouldn’t be concerned with slavery if it was practiced in the manner of his country or through his methods. Quite the problem there, Equiano, quite the problem. It’s not mere hypocrisy at work here, rather a whole new spectrum: defining what is slavery then. What if men worked as indentured servants? Workers? Interns? Where would Equiano draw the line for black men of today’s age?

One can assume then, Equiano is speaking against slavery to a certain degree – hinting at a justification in a certain case under the right circumstances. One cannot thus merely state that he is completely for abolition, nor can one simply state that he is a complete hypocrite because this entire work is aimed to call an action against the widely practiced injustices. It is important to listen to these in-between arguments, and sometimes indeed it’s a bit questionable to take a neutral route. What to take from Equiano, is that if you wish to take a side, you have to stay firm to it, otherwise you will receive harsh criticism, as seen by the heavy amount of backlash he has received from my fellow classmates.

 

-William Fernandez

English Literature & Status: A Display through Gibbes’s Hartly House

English literature was just starting to become a primary symbol of status, one that served as a trophy of sorts, not simply regarding material wealth but rather one of intelligence. Sophia Goldburn seems to follow this social drive to constantly reference and allude to others’ works, on some occasions as a method of validation and reinforcement. Though Phebe Gibbes’s was concerned with extinguishing a bias against indigenous Indians in her work of Hartly House, there is still a typical sense of the scholarly English(wo)man, Sophia seems to represent the very expectations of what an intellectual should be, familiar with so much literature of their homeland.

This desire for an outside source as light manner of validating her statement, can be seen through a certain passage on page 68, where she uses Rev. Edward Young’s satirical work, Love of Fame…, to add emphasis to a warning. This warning is one she gives to her friend whom will see a rise in status through marriage, and though Sophia congratulates her, she uses the following as a summary of why she shouldn’t be too interested in her newly found material gain: “Can wealth give happiness ?—look round and see – What gay distress. what splendid misery!” (68). Through the short lines, Sophia can give this warning against using luxury as a main tool towards happiness, that though indeed wealth does bring “gay” and “splendid” gifts, “misery” and “distress” will still lie in the background, tainting these pleasures if unanswered through more personal, genuine means. This essentially leads to this notion of remaining modest, of fulfilling one’s emptiness through more righteous means rather than to simply fill it with materialistic worth. Sophia could have just as easily said something similar on her own, but she didn’t and continues this pattern of reference towards older works, notably only after she generates her statement, just as if she were using it as a conclusive validation for her claims.

Phebe Gibbes seems to use this to showcase two major aspects of the English literature of her time. The first regards this necessity to quote everything from classic and popular texts, to prove one’s intellectual worth through the worth of another, more renowned person. There seems to be this odd notion of a chain of reference, authors quote older, more known authors, who do the same, and even those continue to do the same. It doesn’t seem to be a criticism, rather more of a display. There is something different about Sophia, which brings me to the second aspect that Gibbes has portrayed. It is the fact that Sophia is a woman citing and referencing herself just as an educated man would, displaying herself just as capable of having the same library of literary expertise as any man could. Although the Hartly House aimed to clear the air of Indian bias, it still displayed what English literature was for its time: a source of evidence, a work capable of serving as a validator, and ultimately, as proof of one’s intellect.

-William Fernandez

Right and Wrong Defined: The English Language & Johnson

Language is a thing that by nature is free, the art of communication and writing allows anyone the chance to open their minds, to illustrate complex and simple ideas to their peers. At the same time, that freedom makes dehumanization difficult by bonding two beings through communication, a chance for empathy between individuals even with completely different backgrounds. Suppose, however, one imposed rules, regulations upon language. In doing so, one immediately establishes a right and wrong, a superior and inferior use of the language. All Johnson had to do was define what he deemed was the pure English (obviously what he and his peers used) and what was weak, messy, and useless forms of the language in order to give him a chance to speak his superiority over them. The Dictionary project had its good parts, but unfortunately would mark a major milestone for dividing classes, creating a hierarchy for the English language, allowing people to have a source to refer to when lowering the type of language of a different person. What it essentially came down to were the elitists receiving another shot to speak of their class, rhythm, their elegant use, whilst at the same time establishing and ‘us vs. them’ scenario against the more ‘barbaric’ use of the language. This is something that even occurs today, traced in history with the rather forceful push for English, specifically a proper one, to be spoken even in countries like India, where the language had no reason to dominate said area. More modern examples hold certain structural frames as superior in writing classes, and it’s no surprise these frames were made by the classic ‘white male scholar’. It is important however, to trace the major milestone in which led to this ideology that established into the English language, one that seems to hold criticism and the separation of ‘good and bad’ works so desperately.

There are many hints that Samuel Johnson supports this class split, noted by his selected description of the diverse, growing status of English for the time. A language fed by a variety is one that invites everyone to contribute, and this is exactly what Johnson would call “defects” (page 3, paragraph 2). In particular, one passage highlights his disdain for a mixed language, noting that if English did not separate its pronunciation and diction from other languages it would be considered the following: “barbari[ic]”, “ignora[nt]”, “vulgar”, “weakly followed”, and it goes on throughout the course of the Preface. Johnson even declares that the continued variety of the language is representative of “authours differ in their care and skill” hinting at the fact that there is indeed a split between a “good and bad” use of English, with some better than authors.

Though cleaning up English sounded like it would have good intent, it is important to note that the lust for classes, a desirable distinction between ‘us and them’ was a definite drive for Johnson in his creation of the dictionary, one that has definitely maintained its grasp to push the current ‘scholarly’ English as a superior language. Today we still see this separation, particularly in the college atmosphere, where there is a ‘right’ way to write above others (no surprise what kinds of people set these), where broken speech of English automatically translates to some people as stupidity, where in some cases one can only find the literature of the white, educated male highlighted, when certain groups of people call out and attack others when a language other than English is used (this notion of, we live in America, speak English etc. etc.). Sadly it all traces back to this intent drive to make English a more independent, selective tool. First English would be separated from its diversity, to purge common and multiculturalism within it, then this pure version of the language would be held above all, as the dominant form of communication. English was and still is, a beautiful language indeed, if one embraces its diverse roots. If not, it becomes yet another weapon to cultivate separation and dehumanization, and it all traces back to this.

 

-William Fernandez

Language: An Abandoned Blessing

Society is and has always been, so long as we remain human, mortal beings with emotion, imperfect and yet ever so synchronized. It bends and twists accordingly with the ideals of the present mindsets of the time, reflecting upon its flaws and still keeping together the sanctuary of human civilization, or at least it feels as if it seems controlled within a world of random, unjust natural and unnatural occurrences. Then criticism is offered to this society, as it has always been, and for the moment, most would comfortably reject those ideals and sit in their unchanging paradise like cogs in a machine. Gulliver’s Travels then, presents here something so absurd it makes sense, something one cannot merely dismiss. What if, what if – horses, intelligent horses, lived a more close-knit society, a more philosophically pleasing lifestyle, a more just view of an individual’s purpose? It’s comedic to say, but Swift uses that attention and proves that this may very well be possible (the form of society, that is). Then one must face certain insecurities and doubts of the very society that holds us together and sane, and there’s no better way to do it than with a bunch of horses.

Two things in unison enlighten the reader of natural human failures of communication, providing an ideal and the unfortunate manipulation of language to favor unjust motives. The Houyhnhnms are a species eager to communicate, and have shown signs in attempts to do so even with the most brutish creatures. The Yahoos, as described in Chapter 3 of the 4th part, are unteachable and completely savage, but in their description the Houyhnhnms have shown that there have indeed been attempts to communicate, their astonishment at Gulliver’s intelligence can only be in reference to a struggle previously ensued with the Yahoos. In short, this shows that despite the appearance of the Yahoos, the Houyhnhnms have definitely attempted to communicate, and more so, they seem to be more welcoming to them regardless than say a certain other “civilized” society that instead chose to butcher the native peoples. It likewise shows the importance of communicate to the Houyhnhnms, they are eager to do so thoroughly and clearly, which brings the following point established in Chapter 4 of the same part of the book, when Gulliver introduces the concept of lying, which only confuses the Houyhnhnms, something “worse than Ignorance” (221).

With these two key ideas taken into account, one can assume the sheer value of fair, even communication for the Houyhnhnms, where something even as trivial as lying is something to be condemned and useless. Looking further, it jabs at the fact that humans can do many things with language, and yet we choose not to do so. People ignore each other, fail to pick up on the concept of empathy, lie without remorse, all of which have become norms in just about every first world society in some aspect or another. Things can be settled with fair discussion, understanding can bond peoples despite major differences, it can spark and further advance human ideologies and theories, instead we may as well be the Yahoos. Though we are capable of communicating, we essentially butcher the lines of communication, assuming things of each other, casting judgement and ignoring the other’s words. When one thinks truly of the power of language, one realizes that so many things within society today are horribly unnecessary, with simply applying the use of empathy and fair communication. Instead, apathy, inequality, deception, and dehumanization is birthed where clear communication dies, and unfortunately the norm set is that it seems to be completely fine to do so, to disconnect and forget the relationships we form as if they meant nothing, to spew hatred upon a differing group for merely having differing ideas, where lying and twisting the truth to achieve a motive is much more important than clear representation of oneself. It would be a beautiful world, one where people actually cared to listen to each other completely despite disagreement, where conflict is settled in educated courts, where our fellow beings are treated equally with respect, all on the basis and appreciation of communication. It seems like an inflated subject, ultimately coming from a bunch of horses, but think of it: as humans, as intellectual beings capable of communication, so many events of misunderstanding occur, so many instances of dehumanization allow violence and apathy to strike. If we had the motivation to seek to communicate more, rather than to isolate ourselves, if we opened up to speak with even people we perceived as “savage”, we would learn to appreciate the differences more. Or one could laugh, muttering “what silly horse people”, close the book and forget. We can continue to lie, cut people off without a second thought, to judge those whom we have not understood, just like a Yahoo would.

-William Fernandez

Apathy Is The World’s Saddest Tragedy

Everything in this world has a consequence, a leading action that will directly result in an effect. Sometimes, this will stack further and further, feeding a butterfly effect that may erupt into something completely disastrous and chaotic – a perfect example of this is portrayed with Metacom, otherwise known as King Philip, and his bloody retribution against the colonists threatening his own people. Granted, it was the butchering and discrimination against the native peoples that began this horrid series of events, an innocent civilization disturbed by Europeans with no regard or respect for native blood. Blood for blood, eye for an eye, the Wampanogs had dealt with enough and decided to trade equal blows with the colonists.

Mary Rowlandson is one of the unfortunate individuals caught in the mess, detailing her unique captivity story. There was a beautiful opportunity in the horrid bloodshed in the death of her family, to describe and empathize, but the chance was seized and instead plagued with spiteful, close-minded words. What happened to her is a tragedy nonetheless, the entire colonization of the Americas is the nation’s worst tragedy for both sides; however, to ignore the initial aggression that sparked the Wampanog’s vengeance is unjust and downright stupid. If one chooses to ignore the details preceding Rowlandson’s capture, one is then blind to the cruel but justified fuel of hatred that triggered the native peoples to react in such a manner. It is easy to judge a people when one is not considerate of the desperation, of the pressure Metacom dealt with, of the sadness of watching his own men and women succumb to a lower life thanks to greedy individuals whom thought a mere document could rightfully steal land from any indigenous body. Ultimately, Mary Rowlandson missed an opportunity to empathize, to come to terms with the loss of her family with the loss of the native families. Such blindness is just as expected of the kinds of people Metacom wished to seek revenge against. Apathy is one of the most horrific human traits the mind can attain, and sadly this is the case for Rowlandson and many others who considered the natives as nothing more than a bunch of savages. By no means was the bloodshed a good event, none of it was – however, Rowlandson has unfortunately only helped prove exactly what kinds of people Metacom was dealing with. One may note that whilst a part of the hatred and dehumanizing language was towards the people who just slaughtered her family, it is quite easy to tell she is likewise taking this as an opportunity to speak ill of the natives, to reduce them further to nothing with her words. The loss of this mother may be sad indeed, but the biggest tragedy here, is the sheer lack of empathy that led to the slaughter in the first place.

-William Fernandez