When did this guitar of mine sleep?
When will this crocus bouquet bloom?
When, if there is no time to keep?
A song of cherished hope now spells out our concaving doom.
Such songs feel like lifetimes ago.
A collective sigh, one of mine
Cast down into the undertow.
A bittersweet collection of moss gathered overtime.
Without context, where is feeling?
Its origin is allusive
Yet our doubt is left in passing
Longing for a time that never existed is nestled within the impulsive.
A jest is made in the cold dark
So that it might not seem as bleak,
By proxy, nothing goes unmarked.
We are together laughing, sickened by the joy of grief
I cherish the ever-tranquil rain
So long as I’m not drenched by it
It recalls the absence of pain
Despite our separation, its presence dampens my windows, washing us both into the pit.
Through every nation this ran
Vicarious pipes of knowledge,
Which reach the sunken eyes of man
Every new experience brings us closer to an inviting edge.
Oh no, the stone sinks in deep waters
Somber, still, confused of its course
My guitar is damp and faltered
Dragged down by a stone so unclear in its source.
It sinks in a bland grey palette,
Of such a city-scape we dwell
Through rivers which run like faucets
In nature’s demented hell.
It falls into virtual planes
A social hub of loneliness,
Collective misery and rain
Within the dank depths comes the Loch Ness.
It sinks through silent moonlit nights
A bedroom drenched in a blue hue
Restless beds, stained in nurtured frights
Down the corridors of such streets, lined in blue.
Throughout the stone has fallen deep
No longer do I hear the song
No longer does my guitar weep
Instead I spin, tick an hour, and ask where it all went wrong.
How we feed that which we all give
Give what we repeat to ourselves
In bleeding sympathy, we live
From us who vicariously live in different realms.
My guitar is kept in storage
It gave me what I entrusted,
And now leaves me here to forage,
In this world which I feel is maladjusted.
Now I’m left with a droning tone,
That has found no place in any note
A dissonant tune, not alone.
It’s left under the table, covering our throats.
From darkness comes a crackling fire
Men and women of charred cinder
Guitars tossed into the pyre,
And our symphony of fire will not be hindered.
I chose to reimagine Sydney Owenson’s “Why Sleeps the Harp of Erin’s Pride” because it initially spoke to me. I had initially read the poem as a song of perseverance through oppressive times and the fangs that perseverance has. Having connections to the oppression of the Irish people by the English, I still believe this interpretation to be the most probable. Yet stripping the historical context, I took something different from it. Mainly the effects an oppressive environment has on a group of individuals within their social circle. This oppression isn’t exclusively cornered to the type that the Irish faced, rather oppression as a general concept.
I applied this to my generation, as I’ve seen, purely on anecdotal evidence, that my generation is much more pessimistic than others. Specifically, pessimistic about our society and its structures, all the way up to the school system itself; which carries a level of irony considering this was an assignment. And I’ve always found it interesting how my generation vents this deeply rooted frustration with our world. Firstly, I replaced the symbol of the harp with a guitar. Mostly because I felt this instrument symbolized the birth of our generation through the rise of rock and pop which popularized the guitar. Secondly, I wrote mostly in iambic tetrameter, with deviations at the end of each stanza. I did this as the original poem also wrote in this meter but with some deviations within it. I chose to leave my deviations at the end because I wanted to make those particular lines feel uncomfortable.
I began with discussing jokes, or “jests” in my generation. Meme culture isn’t only concerned with comedy, but it is a contextualization of our world, as ridiculous as that sounds. My generation is in love with dark humor, and those concerned with the struggles of living in this world and making fun of them. Comedy is a coping mechanism and this generation leans on that.
I also touched on social media and how we vicariously suffer as a result because of our exposure to so much information. Often, this information isn’t positive, and our mental health suffers for it as well as our hope for a prosperous future.
I begin the poem with a sentiment of longing towards my youth. Where such dark realities weren’t confronting me as they are in this time and my life like many others my age. Yet by the end I express that the guitar has been retired, and much like the Irish in the original poem, through oppression comes a fire. Whether because of pessimism or not, there is no doubt that my generation is very vocal about their frustrations with this world with a fiery energy.