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

Samantha Shapiro


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


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!


Necessary Darkness

I used Joseph William Turner’s work, Buttermere Lake : A Shower, as a lens for William Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven”. The painting is a very dark work with one single streak or center of light, which could be described as a rainbow. There is what seems to be a man on a boat in a vast lake, seeming to go toward the light. The poem tells of an encounter between what I would believe to be an older man and a young cottage girl. The conversation revolves around the number of siblings the girl has. When she divulges two have passed, the man states that there are only five than and she still adamantly states that in total there are seven. The first stanza of the poem begins quite shakily,

A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels it’s life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

In the painting we get a sense of mystery and trepidation of what is to come. Something very similar can be felt while reading the first stanza. The very first line is incomplete, almost like as if the narrator took a breath between stanzas. Was he convincing himself that the small child was not to be feared, that she was the light within the darkness that is death? I believe so, it almost seemed that the child left him in shock. He also described her as rustic and had very fair eyes. Much like the man in the boat, it almost seems that narrator took a moment to embrace the lightness the little maid had within her.
The poem is set in a graveyard, a place that can generally be considered dark and sad. Turner’s painting is quite dark, although not sad, it feels quite serious. The beacon of light, or rainbow is what seems to give the man in the boat a purpose and or hope; and it gives us the viewers a sense of tranquility.

Wordsworth’s poem is dark and serious, the little girl is physically alone, she has lost two of her siblings. Her mother is not present, she even foreshadows a possibility of her brother John having been murdered. Yet, her presence is light and happy, she seemingly embodies the ray of light that is in Turner’s art work. Although she is light, she has required of that darkness to be who she is, that is why she embraces her siblings and refers to them as being present. The light in Buttermere Lake would not be as beautiful or as valued if it was not surrrounded by the darkness in the painting.

Sabrina Vazquez

Love in Twilight

imageWhen I first witnessed the beauty of Théodore Gericault’s French painting “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct,” the first emotion I began to feel was love in twilight. The painting contrasts modes of darkness through the entering dark blue clouds as a bright light of sun begins to set, shining over the existence and relations between what appears to be one man and one woman. In this painting, one will find softness amongst rocky grounds, green amongst high mossy bridges, and heightening structures (trees, buildings, etc.) amongst low settling figures.  The painting is formatted in a way that appears almost as if given a peek into a secret world. It is angled off to the side, so that the viewer of the painting not only receives glance of the two people talking but also of the soft light in which shadows upon them and their atmosphere.

I feel as though “Love” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge can be greatly reflected within Gericault’s painting. The poem begins by describing a place of ruins with the speaker of the poem residing on rocks in which overlook moon lit darkness. While the painting isn’t necessarily lit in the moonlight yet, it represents a transitioning moment to the love and atmosphere Coleridge describes. In the poem, the speaker is having a conversation with his lover, relaying to her a story about a knight who experiences heart break. The knight remains heart broken until her saves a woman who in turn happens to fall in love with him.

Coleridge writes,

“’Twas partly love, and partly fear,

And partly ’twas a bashful art,

That I might rather feel, than see,

The swelling of her heart.”

This “love,” Coleridge speaks of is found in fear, in between rocky matters, and along tall mossy stakes, which is exactly what is captured in the painting.

-Angelica Costilla



A Spark of Light in a Sea of Darkness

The painting that I believe best resembles William Wordsworth’s poem, “We Are Seven,” would be Caspar David Friedrich’s painting, “The Monk by the Sea.” The girl in the poem is presented as a very lonely character, but tells the narrator multiple times that “How many? Seven in all,” and repeatedly states that her family consists of seven other people. Despite being separated from her siblings, with two of them dead, two at Conway, and two at sea, she insists that they are all together. I felt that the image of a monk standing by the sea and looking out at it represented the current state of the girl as a very isolated individual looking off towards the horizon and waiting for her family. The dark, cloudy horizon could be seen as representative of the death of her siblings, Jane and John. The mention from the girl that “Their graves are green, they may be seen,” may indicate not just that the graves are new, but that the poem is taking place in spring and given the details of the grass being dry when her sister Jane died and there was snow when her brother died, it can be assumed that they recently in autumn and winter. This detail of seasons could indicate that the girl could be the next in her family to die as the poem does describe her as,

“A simple Child,

That lightly draws its breath,

And feels its life in every limb,

What should it know of death?”

suggesting that she is frail or weakened. Perhaps then the small sliver of the sun appearing over the clouds in Friedrich’s painting along with the darker colors fading off away from the shore could be seen as the light of heaven coming to claim her. The painting doesn’t provide a strong sense of sadness to me, but rather provides a sense of anticipation for what could be on the horizon as the storm starts to move away. Though the monk is seen alone on the sandy, rocky shoreline, it isn’t known what is behind him and what that environment looks like, similar to the reader not knowing what the girl’s life is like away from this church other than that she lives with her mother in a small cottage. Though both the girl and the monk have survived recent events in their lives, with seemingly very little left for each of them besides their faith, the question of what happens next remains unknown.

-Ryan Bucher

Friedrich’s Romantic Art

After reading The Mad Mother, one could say that there is plenty to interpret. After first reading through the ballad, readers may be confused as to what the purpose of the work is, and what the meaning behind it is.

After reading The Mad Mother myself, I decided that the ballad’s topic was the idea of death, and how one’s death could push someone to an undeniable state of grief so terrible as to classify that person as “crazy” or “mad.” A few of the stanzas that stood out to me were Stanzas 70, 83, 89-90, and 98-100. Certain phrases such as “How pale and wan it [her son] else would be” (Stanza 70) and “My little babe! thy lips are still” (Stanza 83) give off the imagery that the woman’s baby boy is deceased, and that she is carrying around his corpse due to the fact that she is unable to overcome the truth that her son is dead, as well as her husband. “We’ll find thy father in the wood” (Stanza 98) helps the reader to believe that the woman’s lover had passed away and been buried in the woods; however, in her mind, he has run away into the woods, and it is her job to find him in order to fix their family.

The painting by Caspar David Friedrich portrays a sense of loneliness, much like the feelings of this mother having lost her family and being unable to properly grieve about it. The twisting of the trees symbolizes the mother’s unclear mind, or “craziness” as one may put it, tangled between what’s real and what is not.

– Jody Omlin

A Variety and Similarity

The poem “The Thorn” by Wordsworth speaks of a secluded mountain area to which a lonely maiden goes at all times of day. Caspar David Friedrich’s “The Monk by the Sea” illustrates a scene similar to the one in the poem. Although the scene in this painting is lonesome, it’s beauty is clear. The sea, the fog, and the sky above speak to the audience of the vastness and beauty of the world. The lines “As if by hand of lady fair The work had woven been” present the same beauty in the poem’s mountain scene, and allude to the lone woman who visits the site. Despite all the beautiful colors and formations to be seen on the mountain, Martha Ray goes there to mourn. The monk in the painting, though not clearly mourning, is a serious figure. Far from blending into her environment as the monk does, however, Martha’s intentions are clear, as is her figure on the mountain. The scarlet cloak she wears and the drooping thorn she sits upon represent the blood and sadness of her situation. Her child, born alive or dead, is with her no longer, and Martha Ray can do nothing but cry out into the world, “O misery! O misery!” She is a single figure in a vast world, as the monk in the painting. Both present a mystery to the viewer. Why do these solitary beings seek out their own vast settings? The poem gives an answer that matches the dreary coloring of the painting. Death and abandonment have taken over Martha’s life for the past twenty two years, turning her from a “blithe and gay” young woman to one mad with grief. Perhaps she killed her baby, but perhaps not. Her setting, as that of the monk, is not one that bothers with such questions as why or what. Looking at the world, and appreciating the tree, the thorn, the pond, and the mound like a child’s grave is a simple reply to the rumors about Martha Ray. This poem, like the lonesome painting, can be read with a sadness, but it can also be seen as presenting a beautiful landscape. The purposes for nature are boundless, as are the ways to interpret a poem or a painting. The questions “The Thorn” and “The Monk by the Sea” leave in their audience’s minds will never be answered, but that is the point of art in the first place. Leaving the reader wondering and filled with a variety of emotions is a similarity these two works have. Those emotions and questions are so common in Romantic art, but nonetheless manage take hold of me whenever I witness them.

-Meredith Leonardo

Wordsworth and Nature

In the poem “Letters Written in Early Spring” by William Wordsworth and in the painting “Landscape with an Aqueduct” (1818) by Théodore Gericault we see the love for Nature reflected amongst the perceiver’s perception of Nature and overall landscape. As done by various Romantic poets and artists, the love for Nature overpowers. The need to honor and respect the planet manifests from the fellow artist’s appreciation and admiration for Mother Earth.

Wordsworth writes about the bird’s singing around him as he sits in a small woodland grove and states:

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?” (Wordsworth, 1798)

the repetition of the phrase “what man has made of man?” refers to the author continuously pondering mankind’s impact on Nature and humanity. The poet’s analysis of all mankind brings sadness. Possibly because the poet is realizing all the effects of greed and violence that initially stem from mankind’s fear of losing power or control. Mankind’s need for power and control has significantly influenced our relationship with Mother Earth. Collectively speaking, our relationship with Mother Earth is lacking.

The poet ponders the beauty of Nature and the “pleasure” found in the “breezy air” and the “budding twigs“. The poet is returning to his pure and innocent state of being a human – but with an immortal soul – and realizing we are far more connected to Mother Earth as her inhabitants than we’d like to think. A connection beyond what could consciously understand. We are all currently living on this planet, breathing the planet’s air and eating her naturally grown produce. We must extend eternal, unconditional love to the planet by physically spending time with Her. Only by spending time in Nature are we able to truly witness and observe the beauty, therapy and “pleasure” of Nature. Nature deserves to be loved. She deserves to have our undivided attention. Similar to the poet Wordsworth documenting his intimate moments with Nature in beautifully written Romantic verses.

The artist Théodore Gericault does a good job of documenting the beauty of Nature. Shining bright, purifying Sun rays over the mountains is illustrated overpowering the landscape. We could see two small individuals having a verbal exchange. This painting illuminates how small humans are compared to how big the Universe truly is. The human race is one small portion of All There Is and yet mankind has created so much unhealthy impact on the condition and physical state of Mother Earth.

  • Brianna Barajas


Finding the Romantic Silver Lining

By: Katherine Hernandez

The third painting, titled The Monk by the Sea, 1809, by Caspar David Friedrich, is one of the most famous paintings that has emerged from the Romantic period. This artwork represents many of the themes that are expressed during this period such as the portrayal of emotions, beauty in nature and the things that are beautifully unexplainable. One of the poems that resonate with the essence of this painting, in particular, is the poem Old Man Travelling by William Wordsworth. In the poem, the reader is invited to a world full of imagery that surrounds the old man, much like in the painting what engulfs the man is nature, rather than the man trying to make his peace in nature. One of the most interesting things about the painting I the fact that many people have different interpretations to it, just like poetry. Now, it is true that art is very subjective by nature, however there seems to be a distinction onto whether the man that is the painting is experiencing existentialism in the worst way possible or if the vastness of the world is what makes the painting so ambiguous and dark in the best way possible, just like in the poem.

In the poem, “[the] man does not move with pain but moves with thought.” Really emphasizes the feeling of ease that is dominating in the man’s demeanor. It shows cases ow despite his old age the sage wisdom that he carries from experiences is what keeps him going and what keeps his old heart at bay. This is also shown the poem explains how, “he is by nature led, to peace so perfect, that the young behold, with envy what the old man hardly feels.” This line allows us as readers to imagine the eased numbness that he carries with him in old age. By saying that nature is within him and that it is something to be envied it shows how the youth has yet a lot to live for and understand.

The most important stanzas in the poem however, I believe are the last ones in which the tone of the poem seems to change by the demeanor of the old man does not. It is here specifically where there is significant overlap when it comes to the terms of the painting. When the old man explains that his journey has led him to, “[his] son [who] is dying in an hospital.” He does not seem to quiver or show uneasiness at the idea of his son dying, which then creates the all circle of how the man understands that death is too a part of life, and much like the painting there is a sort of calmness in the overall pictures regardless of the fact that there are dark colors and eerier shadows, there is still some semblance of light that peaks through the shadows. There is a vast sea of the unknown that is at the full display to us and while to some of us, it might be an uneasy thing to grasp to others the grand vastness of it all brings peace through wisdom.


Rest In Peace


By ~ Amber Loper

On first inspection of Friedrich’s painting “The Abby in the Oakwood”, it is lifeless. The bristled tree’s dropped their last leaf years ago, the ground is lined with crooked graves in unkempt mounds. There’s a single wall of what used to be a church. It is a desolate, hopeless place, with even grimmer weather that never shines the sun. As adults, we can say we have experienced enough death to know what death looks like, but death doesn’t always mean “void of life”. In the poem “We Are Seven” by William Wordsworth, the child that the narrator speaks to would disagree with this initial interpretation of the picture. The word dead, would never cross her mind. Instead, she would see the last glinting beams of light as the sun sets beyond the horizon. Winter is in full swing as the cemetery grounds are blanketed in snow and the deciduous trees await spring to reunite with their leaves. Even from a religious aspect, this is no place of death, but a place of rest and rebirth.

And often after sun-set, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there

This portrait portrays what would be the perfect time for this little girl to eat her supper beside her two siblings beneath the court-yard tree. The child even says, “twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,/ And they are side by side”. This portrait could very well be the view from her mothers door towards her siblings. In a way, it can be interpreted as a portrait of the two siblings who are beneath the court-yard tree.

In true authoritarian manner, as an adult does towards children they deem “less-than”, the narrator believes a child of eight years old could not possibly know anything about death, and can’t wrap his/her head around the idea that a child can be dead, and yet very much alive at the same time. This painting captures this conundrum perfectly. At the right side of the painting, there is the faintest hue of yellow, a remnant of the sun just before its light descends below the horizon, a reminder that this is a time/place of rest, not death, and just as surely as the sun will rise again, this is not the end.

Breaking the Cycle

Death. Decay. Desolation. These are the first words that pop into mind when looking at The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich. The trees are solemn with no leaves, there are headstones lined disorderly below them. Yet there is hope and perhaps even beauty in this. There is light above the low dark fog and there is a cross among the stones. While the trees have no leaves, they appear to be standing resilient over the buried. Lastly the arch seems to be just a remnant of a cathedral but is referred to as an abbey in the painting’s title, it is still living in that respect as long as its purpose is not forgotten.

Similar emotions arise when reading through William Wordsworth’s We Are Seven. Both these works of art truly exemplify a very romantic view of death and the possibility of an afterlife. For instance in Wordsworth’s poem it is made apparent that two of the siblings have died and their remains are buried in the churchyard yet the little maid insists that they are still a group of seven which is shown in this stanza,

 “’How many are you, then,” said I,

 “if they two are in heaven?”

 Quick was the little Maid’s reply,

“O Master! We are seven.”’

This is a rejection of death itself, the idea that the dead never truly leave us after their time runs out. This can be compared to the painting in terms of the use of color. The lower regions of the painting are darker, the darkness is closer to the Earth where the dead are buried, but above the color shifts to a lighter yellow hue possibly symbolizing the spirits of the dead living on after they have left physically. The central abbey is in both the light and the darkness which in this case would be the little maid. She has a connection with both worlds exhibited in the painting. This maid has lost her siblings yet can still feel them just as much as she feels the five that are still with her in the moment. So, although an initial instinct when viewing Friedrich’s painting or reading Wordsworth’s poem may be to feel bewildered or even disturbed. Upon closer look both of these works represent the resilience of the human spirit and a hope to break the never-ending cycle of life and death.

  • Evan Klang