Atwater, CA, 2019


Driving through the town,

Next to where the buildings end

And where the land becomes green with brown,

There are traces of sweat that drip down from the bodies that bend.


The hands have scars from the labor,

The workers know cries of pain,

But being able to rest is not something they favor

Because they’d lose a workday’s gain.


The workers begin to sigh

As they look down on their stained boots,

But there can be no tear from any eye

Because they are their family’s roots.


Most of the time they are tired,

But they continue to go back to the fields.

They cannot afford to be fired,

Since to their children, they are their shield.

-Maria G. Perez (William Blake’s “London”)

Laura Romero “The Field”

A Visual Portrayal of Grief

The second image titled “The Abbey in the Oakwood” by Caspar David Friedrich is a painting that bears resemblance to the words of the poem “We Are Seven” by William Wordsworth. In the painting, amongst the somber ruins of the church and the eerie illustration of fog (or perhaps morning dew), gravestones can be seen. It is clear that the abbey in the painting has been abandoned or it is broken down, and the state of the yard is unsettling. The gravestones reflect the two buried siblings of the little Maid mentioned in the poem. When the author asks the child about her siblings, she states that there are seven of them. The little Maid states,

“Two of us in the church-yard lie,

‘Beneath the church-yard tree”.

The painting includes many different graves, but it can be implied that two of the graves that are next to each other belong to the two deceased children. The subject of death is not a particularly happy subject, and the cold sentiment reflected in the poem enhances the feeling of loss that the mother must have gone through. The painting also includes many trees and a tree is mentioned by the child. When reading the poem, one can visualize the setting and the image by Friedrich adds a somber tone to the interpretation of the writing. When the author continues his conversation with the child, he tries to argue that there are only five siblings since two are deceased, but the child still considers them to be a pack of seven. Wordsworth writes,

“‘But they are dead; those two are dead!

‘Their spirits are in heaven!’

‘Twas throwing words away; for still

‘The little Maid would have her will,

And said, ‘Nay, we are seven!’”

The painting may be a reflection of an adult’s view of death and grief. The child in the poem is adamant on stating that there are seven siblings, as if the two deceased siblings were still alive. The author – being an adult – continues his argument with the child and he expresses his understanding of death. The little Maid represents a child’s innocence and how it is easier for them to recover from certain losses because they don’t quite fully understand the severity of the situation. On the other hand, the painting and it’s sorrowful, empty feel may be a representation of how an adult may grieve and how they have to deal with the consequences of loss to a bigger extent than a child. Children may be more accepting of death while adults often have a hard time letting people go. The sorrow, grief, and depression that arises within an adult after a great loss can be felt through the painting’s visualization. Therefore, the painting reflects Romanticism’s ability to trigger a memory within the reader/viewer and may lead them to contemplate the meaning of their own life. The painting is a possible reflection of what may go through an individual’s mind when they come across a poem that mentions a particular subject such as death in Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven”.

-Maria G. Perez

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

Rock is Poetry

Though at first it may seem that Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is nothing like romantic poetry, there are actually similarities between the two versions. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s original poem may be seen as a classic and interesting piece of work today, but during his time, Romantic language and poetry was frowned upon. During its origins, Romantic literature was seen as vulgar and it did not make sense to a lot of people. This draws a parallel to the rise of rock music. When rock emerged in the 1950s and 60s, it was also seen as vulgar and it ended up creating a type of social revolution. Iron Maiden’s version of Coleridge’s poem is not unlike romantic poetry because it still reflects the poem in the same manner as Coleridge did. The difference is that Iron Maiden’s version was modified to fit society during their time while Coleridge’s version reflect the writing during his time. The same message is given. The difference is in the manner in which it was delivered. Coleridge uses a beat within his poem so that the words could flow and be appealing to his readers. His poem consists of imagery from the “mist and snow” to the ship that was

“As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean”.

The language is also poetic and reflective of the 18th century. Similarly, Iron Maiden uses poetic language as the basis for the lyrics of the song. Iron Maiden adds modern originality to the original poem, but the band also quoted the poem in their lyrics when they sang,

“Day after day, day after day,

We stuck nor breath nor motion

As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean

Water, water everywhere and

All the boards did shrink

Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.”

Parallel to how important beats are to poems, a rhythmic beat is essential to the composition of any song and Iron Maiden does that. The song can be interpreted any way one chooses to connect with it and that it how poetry works as well. A poem (and a song) can be heard and read by multiple people, and it will hold a different meaning to each individual because of its deeper purpose. Songs and poems both go through the poetic process of conveying emotion from the listeners and ultimately, they will find a way to connect it with their consciousness. Each person interprets the subject of the writing in a different context, but they each contemplate the meaning in regards to their own life. There are different variations of romantic language integrated into modern literature. Similarly, rock and roll has had a lasting effect on the music industry since there are all types of music genres that originated from it and are used everywhere today. Rock music and poetry were both creations that were once rejected by many people, but they eventually began to have an impact on society and they became integrated with the changes of the times, thus, creating a lasting impact.

-Maria G. Perez

Quoting Literary History

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

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

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

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

-Shawn Pintor-Day

-No peace is given

—— No peace is given

To us enslav’d, but custody severe;

And stripes and aribtary punishment

Inflicted– What peace can we return?

But to our power, hostility and hate;

Untam’d reluctance, and revenge, though slow.

Yet ever plotting how the conqueror least

May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice

In doing what we most in suffering feel                     – Milton, Paradise Lost, 2.232-40

Olaudah Equiano published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, which included this quotation, among many other great English works. After buying his freedom, Equiano dedicated his life to the abolitionist movement in-order to stop the horrors he once faced. His autobiography is littered with references to great works, here is one.

Prior to quoting Milton, Equiano talks about the grave nature of torturing slaves. His mind can’t come to bear what kind of mindset it takes to punish another human like that. “And are ye not struck with shame and mortification, to see the partakers of your nature reduced so low? “ (103). Here in this, Equiano is hoping to reach his audience (in particular potential slave owners) and hoping to strike a chord. To plead with rationality, to not give into humans primordial instinct, but to be better than that. Equiano quotes Milton in order to communicate this feeling, of toxicity that the enslaved receive, and the slaver rejoices.

Equiano quotes many great works in his Narrative to give himself credibility, in-order to place him among the great works. Anyone that is enlightened to read a former-slaves autobiography, most likely knows about Homer, Milton, etc. Equiano hopes to captivate his audience, and wants them to extend an olive branch and cease all slavery oppression. As Thomas de Quincey talked about Literature of Power, Equiano wanted his work to be powerful as well. Now a powerful historic piece, The Interesting Narrative was in-depth look into the life of a former slave that English literature needed

-Robert Morales

 

Equiano’s Rhetorical Strategy

In his autobiographical work, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Equiano integrates a portion of Thomas Day’s “The Dying Negro” into his writing. “The Dying Negro” was an abolitionist poem published in 1773 that sought to express sentiment against the institution of slavery. Similarly, Olaudah Equiano’s slave narrative was another form of literary work that contributed to the abolitionist movement. While aboard a ship, Equiano has a frightening experience and states that “[he] called on death to relieve [him] from the horrors [he] felt and dreaded, that [he] might be in that place”. This statement reflects the fear that Equiano felt in that moment and how death felt like a better fate than whatever was to come after. Right after that statement, Equiano references Thomas Day’s poem and writes that he wished to be

“Where slaves are free, and men oppress no more.

Fool that I was, inur’d so long to pain,

To trust to hope, or dream of joy again.”

This part of the poem is mentioned by Equiano in order to demonstrate that he was able to draw parallels between other works of literature and his own life. Equiano longs to be free and live in a place where he could dream of joy, but he knows that because of his situation, it seems foolish. Equiano also continues to cite the poem and substitutes Day’s words stating

“No eye to mark their suff’rings with a tear;

No friend to comfort, and no hope to cheer:

Then, like the dull unpity’d brutes, repair

To stalls as wretched, and as coarse a fare;

Thank heaven one day of mis’ry was o’er,

Then sink to sleep, and wish to wake no more.”

The use of this part of the poem highlights the misery that slaves faced and Equiano is able to verify Day’s words by attaching them to his own story. The fact that Thomas Day was white was significant because it meant that even white people knew that the actions taking place during that time by their fellow brethren was wrong. Using Day’s words is meaningful because literature was considered to be an important attribute of civilized and respected people. Equiano is demonstrating to the readers that just like any white man, he was able to read and write just like them – reducing the differences between them and suggesting that he was literate and trustworthy (just like the white man). Furthermore, Equiano is making it clear that he understands English literature perfectly and he is using it as a rhetorical strategy to bring the white readers to his side in order to ultimately make them agree that slavery should be abolished. Equiano continues with his narrative and once he reaches land, he continues to use Day’s words as a description of the thoughts he had when he saw those

“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.”

Thomas Day never experienced slavery himself, but the fact that he was able to depict the situation so vividly and accurately enough for Equiano to use his words to detail his own experience as a slave is significant. Therefore, Equiano is using Thomas Day’s literature in order to prove the point that even free, white males can relate to Equiano and feel his suffering without having to actually live through the same experience. Thus, compassion and sentiments opposing slavery do not have to be expressed by only those who have gone through the same circumstances. This allows Equiano to use his own slave narrative as a literature of power in order to move his readers and persuade them subconsciously to fight against slavery just like Equiano and Day.

-Maria G. Perez

Always a Critic…

By: Leena Maria Beddawi

In Alexander Pope’s The Dunciad is nothing short of what could be referred to as high-brow literature, where Pope looks down upon those who critically challenge his writing. This quote shows the attitude he had towards critiques in general, explaining that when all is said and done, they will have no page of their own, but the only words they will have will be seen through his work, through his eyes, and his ideas.

“Let standard authors thus, like trophies borne,

Appear more glorious as more hack’d and torn.

And you, my Critics! in the chequer’d shade,

Admire new light thro’ holes yourselves have made.

Leave not a foot of verse, a foot of stone,

A page, a grave, that they can call their own;

But spread, my sons, your glory thin or thick,

On passive paper, or on solid brick.”

I chose this photo because if you see this through the critics perspective, you can see the very Pope in which wrote the above quote, the egotistical, passive, and dismissive figurehead. He places himself above others, much like an actual religious figure, which is where the photo comes in, perfectly portraying these ideas of superiority which exudes from his writings.

image-1

We can see, with his physical appearance being made fun of, that he was very, at the very least, culturally well-known. Pope argues that most of the authors at his time were boring and similar, that he held his works of literature to a higher regard because they were not such works of redundant fiction.

He believes the critics of such fiction are even worse off than the writers of said fiction because they focus on an almost worship said literature.  I would even argue that this has a double meaning, being connected to the actual church and religious leaders being placed on higher pedestals by the very people who criticize and worship them all the same.

 

Swift’s Satirical Parallels

In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift satirizes Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. The satire begins in the first chapter, after Gulliver is shipwrecked onto a strange island. When he makes it to the island’s shore, he falls asleep, but when he awakes, he is bound by ropes. When he tries to break free from the bondage, he is shot with hundreds of tiny arrows and he “fell a groaning with Grief and Pain” (Swift 24). After Gulliver learns that it is best to remain calm and do as he is told, the people of Lilliput feed him “Baskets full of Meat” and drinks that “tasted like small Wine” (Swift 25-26). Because the people of Lilliput are small (around six inches), the amount of food they give to Gulliver is significant. Though he is supposedly their captive, they still feed him well and give him shelter. This resembles Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative because she is taken captive and is physically hurt during the act. However, after she begins to do as the native’s instruct, she is never harmed again and she is also given food. In one particular instance, Rowlandson is offered her peas and such when the native people were suffering from the same sense of starvation as her. The experience Gulliver has with the people of Lilliput reflect’s Rowlandson’s experience with the natives.

Furthermore, when he is explaining everything that occurred in writing, Gulliver integrates words from the Lilliput people. He mentions words such as “Borach Mivola”, “Hekina Degul”, “Peplom Selan”, and “Hurgo”. Though at first, he did not understand the meaning of those words, he eventually began to learn what some of those words meant. Gulliver states, “he cried out three times Langro Dehul san (these Words and the former were afterwards repeated and explained to me) (Swift 25). This reflects Mary Rowlandson’s writing in her captivity narrative because she also includes Native language words and she makes it clear that she learned the meaning of those words. Rowlandson created an unspoken bond with the Natives and despite her efforts to make it seem otherwise, Swift’s writing reflects her experience (in a more comical manner).

Gulliver is taken to meet the leader of the people – the same way that Rowlandson was taken to meet King Philip. Gulliver becomes more amicable with the people of Lilliput even though he is considered to be their captive because they do not exactly mistreat him. Gulliver sees the people as strange because of their physical features and that is parallel to the way that Mary Rowlandson (and white colonists) saw the Natives – as otherworldly. The parallels continue throughout the novel, but in this specific part, there is much similarity between Rowlandson’s writing and Swift’s fictional tale.

-Maria G. Perez

A System of Convenient Truths

By: Leena Maria Beddawi

Something which may come as a surprise while going through Mary Rowlandson’s narrative piece about her time in Algonquian captivity, are the many ways in which the native people and herself get along, even with her being an English colonizer, she was treated with humanity and even made relationships with some of the natives themselves. The narrative itself acts as a journal of her time in captivity, and this becomes one of the few examples of an “accurately” portrayed relationship which goes beyond the war in which the Algonquian people found themselves in with the English colonizers, due to their abhorrent lack of respect and dignity.

Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation. The question, in brief, is…this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.”

― Noam Chomsky

However, that being said, the themes of genocide and sexism raised in Thomas Pham’s earlier blog post portrays almost entirely too well the reality in which we are in today, where the ignorance, misconstruction, or a purely imaginative version of history is easier for future generations to digest, therefore the watered down versions are given platforms to explain the past, and a whole generation of people are remembering and learning history based on entirely false accusations. This was how the American public would grapple with the many atrocities they placed onto innocent people, and how we currently allow ourselves in the age of technology to believe falsehoods because they are simply easier to deal with. Going to war with another group of people merely for something as quintessentially useless as power and land is the history of the world post-Anthropocene.

No matter how much easier it is to paint a perfectly sweet story about the” city upon a hill”, corroborated by evidence among the likes of Mary Rowlandson’s narrative, the history itself should not be erased, glossed over, or romanticized. As depicted in Dryden and Winthrop’s pieces as well, we see this manufactured folksy image reappear as if to show just how tolerant the natives were upon getting colonized, this is unsurprisingly a complete exaggeration of the facts which accurately define how Indigenous and English colonials treated one another. more people saw the success the false narrative genre was receiving and capitalized on said phenomenon. What is equally as successful is the number of counternarratives we see today which push past the propaganda like this and tell a story earnestly and honestly, but this “accuracy” has sadly become so muddled, most of it is subjective, but we believe what we want to believe, nonetheless.

 

Racism and the Dream of Imperialism

In John Dryden’s The Indian Emperour, Cydaria and Cortez are not united explicitly and surely it is by no mistake. Though the play focuses on the dilemma of having to choose between love and honor, external factors during the time in which the play was written serve as motives behind the missing union. As mentioned in a biography about John Dryden in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Dryden was a subjected poet who wrote in a manner that would reflect the political turmoil occurring during his time. Considering this, Dryden may have not brought the two characters within the play together because such a union was unlikely. Racism and aristocratic ideals were abundant at the time as well and so the idea that an “honorable” Spaniard would be united with a foreign native would’ve been seen as an unacceptable union. By not marrying Cydaria, Dryden demonstrates that Cortez inexplicitly chose his country over love and during the play, Cydaria even states “What is this Honour that does love controul?”. Though the play explores the theme of love, racism and dreams about a successful empire were present in England. The material of the play itself was not paid attention to as much because the whole act was a large form of propaganda that sold the idea of creating an empire without carrying out the same violence as the Spaniards. The play was written during the Restoration Era and was presented to an audience that still feared the forced conversion to Catholicism. Since Montezuma resisted the conversion to Catholicism, it gives the same idea to the public; forceful conversion to Catholicism would bring chaos and two people of different religions weren’t meant to be united. A purpose of the theatre was to promote unity amongst the viewers to furthermore support the monarch (whom John Dryden supported), demonstrating how the play was designed carefully and skillfully to promote certain ideas to the public and so, by not uniting Cortez with his love, Dryden, therefore, presents his doubts about that union.

-Maria G. Perez