The new Land of Mexico

I was very happy, I know now, at home with my trophy wife and two kids. But one day I accepted an advantageous offer to be the driver of a Truck. I, as a diesel gas-guzzling American couldn’t turn down the offer to drive the roads built by taxes and fire guns freely in the Land of the Free. I bought a Truck on the 2nd day of March 2017, acquired some haul (burgers for a McDonalds in Texas) and set off on the Freedom trail on the 3rd. If I had learned my lesson of knowing when I was happy I would never have set out on this dreaded adventure.

The closer to Texas I got, the more misfortunes were beset upon me. After the third time that I was mugged driving through LA I was out of tires and began carrying my truck, fireman’s carry style. I made it all the way to Nevada, trading and making discoveries and inventions as I went but I was soon apprehended by the police for not having a Truck-carrying permit and thrown into a police van. I expected nothing less than to be murdered at the hands of these police but then I remembered that I was a white male, and would likely be let on my own way soon.

Upon the 3rd day of March one of the Policemen came into my van, and said “you’re going back to Mexico where you belong”. I told him that I was a white but the dark light of the van prevented me from being seen properly. They forced me into another van, drove several miles, and threw me out of the van in a totally new land, immediately turning tail and going back across the border to the US, and in so doing said their goodbyes.

In typical American fashion in a new land, I walked confidently knowing I was the true owner of the land regardless of who was there already. This land was covered with dust and sparse trees, and I walked carefully to not be surprised by any drug cartels. On the ground I saw strange tracks, feet that were spaced out very far from each other and then very close. At last I came upon the inhabitants of the land, a sight which disconcerted me greatly. I beheld a great number of people. The women among the group were all dancing and had long black hair, and the men simply sat and stared at my shimmering white skin. Never, in all my years, had I come upon a sight so disagreeable. Full of contempt, I attempted to go on my way when an ugly monster blocked my way. “Amigo,” he said, “necesito su libertad“. I drew my .45 from my leather-plated holster and, striking him, informed him that “Freedom ain’t optional. It’s coming for you no matter what”, as the US army materialized out of nowhere and liberated the poor people of Mexico.


To Mr(s). Editor,

This piece strictly adheres to the requirements sent out by your agency. It formally follows the conventions used in the fourth part, first chapter of Gulliver’s Travels. It adheres to the language – the story is set in the past tense, it depicts dread in the first paragraph, capture in the second, leaving the comfortable world in the third, and discovery and rescue in the fourth, just as Gulliver’s travels does. Furthermore, it uses similar diction – rather than contracting words like prevented, disconcerted, disagreeable, etc. as they are used in the text. This post also engages with the modern reader, it uses stereotypes like having a full family, being a proud American, and feeling superior to other cultures that are sure to be familiar to present readers. The artistry of this writing is like the source text, it is descriptive rather than poetic and metaphoric. The diction was carefully chosen so as not to remove that feeling of the narrative. Finally, the use of the medium to communicate the ridiculousness of American superiority was carefully chosen – it could not have been done by a poem about nationalism in playing a harp, for example. Thus, the parodied content matched the source.

The message of this imitation or parody was that the imperialism and believed superiority of Americans in other countries is ridiculous, and that the manliness inherent in American culture is ridiculous as well. There are many other messages within the poem, for example the arrest for not having a license for a fictitious mode of transportation criticizes the over-regulation of the American government concerning modes of transportation. The portrayal of the Mexicans was kept short because the message of the piece would possibly have been obscured by racist stereotypes, meaning it was not a stylistic choice but a question of prudence.


Joshua Jolly


The Second Mariner

On the swift ocean current calm,

With my hair flowing like the leaves of the Palms,

With a crew of over two hundred men,

Running about like wild pigs in a pen.


A thick fog begins to rise from the sea,

A very bad omen wouldn’t you agree?

With blocks of ice putting us to and fro,

A white-washed bird hovering low.


Could this be without a doubt,

The Mariner’s Rime come about?

But why here now, of any day,

Did the Mariner choose us to stay?


Centuries forth, with vessels of steel,

And an Iron Maiden giving repeal,

With no other thought, I raise my gun,

Three rounds fired for each of my sons.


As the snowy bird does fall on its head,

The pure white feathers now stained red,

The crew looks on in shock and awe,

The fog recedes and air turns raw.


At first the crew believes it’s a good sign,

But I know that darkness will come in time,

And as the stage does surely set,

Life and Death each one I’ve met.


As the angels arrive from the heavens,

This floating slot machine missed all sevens.

All my crew fell down dead,

With blood pooling beneath their heads.


Then Life looked down upon me,

Shook her head only to leave me be,

For then the nightmares soon began,

For me there was no promised land.


For years on hence I spread the tale,

Of Life and Death on wind and sail.

Not one soul dared turn an eye,

Not even daring a polite goodbye.


Now the curse has begun to fade,

I wish to end this escapade;

I want redemption for my sin,

The holy bird’s blood on my chin.


So further I travel every time,

Muttering the Ancient Mariner’s Rime,

Was I not the first to be cursed as such?

Coleridge has made me think as much.


As I walk once again in an inn,

I spot an old sailor speaking through the din,

Of a tale quite so similar to mine,

Almost fully, line by line.


No one listened to his tale but one,

Which was myself with a meal now done,

I spoke with him and asked his age,

He seemed to have lost count after each page.


The man wrote stories of his curse,

Like a woman obsesses of what’s in her purse.

He remembers the script, every word,

The passerby think he’s clearly absurd.


I tell him he’s not the only one with this fate,

Though I admit, I am a bit late,

He takes in every word I say,

Then nods his head and goes on his way.


Now here in the present day,

I speak to those who I may,

Where so few know the tale itself,

The Rime now on a dusty shelf.


Where it is no longer read,

So even now, my legend, dead;

But forever I continue my quest,

To get the penance that I request.


And soon enough or so I hear,

I will be free to ascend with family dear,

So now I bid thee a swift farewell,

As I spread my tale and wish all well.




This is a poem based off the thought of the events of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner repeating themselves in the current day. I used descriptive imagery of the time period, such as Iron Maiden and the boat the narrator traveling on being made of steel. Another difference is that the poem actually makes reference to the original work by Coleridge. The narrator appears to be following a different path, focusing on making sure others hear his story, though none truly listen. The sailor narrating the poem was based off my brother, who is currently in the US Navy.

Harp of Ireland

Since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the harp became synonymous with Irishness, an association most notable today in the Guinness Beer Company’s trademark logo (est. 1759).  For next Friday (4/28), students will write a blog post on the symbolic significance of the Irish harp in ONE of the three assigned poems for that week: Thomas Moore, Sydney Owenson, or Henry Derozio.  How do these poets use the cultural history of the harp to convey their nationalist message?  Explain how their poems extend, rewrite, or complicate this history. To help you answer this question, I’ve inserted a link to a scholarly website that traces the long and complex history of the Irish harp in Britain:



The poem by Thomas Moore “Harp of my country” utilizes the Harp as a form of Nationalistic Pride. When there is darkness Moore states he found the harp and thats symbolic of the Irish that are now controlled by the English. And in a way Moore is expressing his reminiscent outlook on the drastic changes that have come about as well. The Harp is the pride and  Joy of the Irish and now he feels as though it has been tainted by the foreigners that don’t really appreciate it which he expresses when he states ” Til touch’d by some hand less unworthy than mine” . This extends history in that it is drawing attention to the changing of the times. Where once the Harp took on a message of freedom and joy it is now the thing that keeps the Irish people bound to the English as almost a form of slavery. It is not used to express freedom and Joy but to entertain the new foreigners diminishing the original feelings the Harp once brought.  The Harp is something that had been mastered and specialized by the Gaelic people for many generations and now it is being glorified in a sense for the wrong reasons. Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.10.32 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.10.21 AM.png

Transcultural Harp?

Henry Derozio’s poem The Harp of India depicts an individual who is at their lowest point and ends with the hope of turning it around. While that is a general idea of the poem it actually goes beyond that if you consider the historical context. India, just like Ireland, had faced a multitude of challenges brought out by their colonizers. While enduring these attacks it made not only an individual but also a country silent. The title being a Harp symbolizes the lively melody so when Derozio suggests that there’s a silent country it represents silence in politics and culture. As stated, “Unstrung for ever, must thou there remain;/ Thy music once was sweet — who hears it now?” (2-3). The Harp is originally a symbol in Ireland to represent their fight for survival and adapting in a changing society. Since the poem brings up silence it may represent India not having their own sense of identity and having problems in standing out such as the melodies of a harp.


Having the perspective of silence in the poem suggests that the poem may both extend and complicate history. The issue that the poem meant to address was a country, India, being overrun by Europeans but can the same overshadowing occur with the Harp? While an excellent symbol for Irish identity it also does not directly come from India thus it complicates the history of where they derive their sense of identity. Within the extended history outlook the idea that finding a sense of identity may be challenging suggests that we don’t necessarily know how. We, just like the India people, have been conformed on what it right and wrong in society.


– Kristy Frausto

Life without Nature leads to Despair

The poem I chose to interpret is Last of The Flock by Wordsworth and Buttermere Lake, A Shower by Turner. One thing I noticed in the poem was that in the first few stanzas the readers are introduced to the shepherd and how he got his sheep, but in the final stanzas we see how he lost his sheep. And it seemed to be like a cycle because he gained sheep and then lost them. While looking at the painting and the white rainbow, I started to see the Ying-Yang symbol because on the side with the white light everything is light and on the bottom portion it is so much darker. I also chose the image because there is a lonesome man in the lake away from civilization and in the poem it reads, “My pride was tamed, and in our grief
I of the Parish asked relief. ”

I believed it was fitting because the shepherd went to town to ask for help but received none and so the man must feel as if society and the people have abandoned him. The poem also reads “And oft was moved to flee from home,
And hide my head where wild beasts roam.”

I also believe this is fitting because the man is in the lake all alone. It seems that he has no home just like the man from poem and all he has is what he carries in his boat just as the man in the poem only has his dead sheep.

The poem also has the sheep represent nature and as the man loses his sheep he loses his nature in the same sense. This loss causes the shepherd to be driven mad as evident from the lines, “Alas! it was an evil time;
God cursed me in my sore distress;”

The shepherd believed he was being cursed since he was losing his sheep, but when he gained his sheep, the poem was more light. In the beginning of the poem he had gained his sheep, had gotten married, his sheep were flourishing, and he had kids. As soon as he lost his sheep, he lost his livelihood, his house, his love for his children seemed to dwindle. In the painting if you start from the top half its light, it depicts clouds sunlight seems to be coming through, but as you start to move downward the image gets heavier and darker. The clouds become mountains and the colors become darker. I believe that one of the messages of the poem was that with the loss of nature comes despair, and the image goes well with this message because it depicts a man all alone.

-Andres Quezada

A New Beginning

Joseph William Turner’s Buttermere Lake: A Shower, there is a dark ambiance to the painting, yet at the same time it is so bright. As I like to think about it the extremely dark blues and blacks is contrasted to what looks like a bright rainbow. In The Tables Turned, I was reminded of this painting in the third and fourth stanza Woodsworth writes


“Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:

Come, hear the woodland Linnet,

How sweet his music; on my life

There’s more of wisdom in it.


And hark! how blithe the Throstle sings!
And he is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.”

In Turner’s painting, two individuals look like they are traveling by boat towards a lit up city, but are being guided by nature(rainbow and water). In the poem we are told to abandon books and let nature guide us to new knowledge and experience, hence “Let Nature be your teacher”. The misty mountains surround an opening towards the middle of the painting, it looks like a very light blue as if there is more to discover out in the world. Besides reading and looking at books, why not go out into nature and let it guide you to new wonders?

Although the painting is extremely dark, there is an endless feeling of hope. Even in the darkest of places there will always be a bright light at the end of the tunnel.


-Viviana Ojeda



A Beautiful World of Ethereal Places and Ephemereal Wonders

Their colors are distinct as those of the sun and regularly and obviously blended, though less vivid, fine specimens may be found any night at the foot of the upper Yosemite fall, glowing gloriously amid the gloomy shadows and thundering waters, whenever there is plenty of moonlight and spray.

– John Muir

Dear my fellow venerable peers and aspiring scholars, I present to you a plea.

Awaken your slumbering reverence of nature within. This world that we share asks for our appreciation now more than ever. The strength of a movement is determined by the collection of the will of its individuals. Wordsworth intuitively composed his poetry at a time of boiling industrial forthcoming, but do not hesitate to relate its antiquity to the pertinence it has in a world of modern environmental peril. Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads is as contemporary to our present problematic endeavors with Earth as you could possibly imagine. Their words continue to speak for a voiceless mother Earth, the most beautiful of all planets we have ever encountered. As students of the University of California, Merced, we are granted an opportunity to embrace a pioneering spirit that has fueled and characterized the United States of America for centuries. Considering our proximity to the greatest wilderness of them all, Yosemite, we are living embodiments of Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis, which spoke to the roaring passion for Western expansion and human inquisitiveness. Go forth and revel within the temples of awful (awe-inspiring) natural wonder, avoid the temptation and distractions of modernity, as they serve no true purpose to your free-spirited soul.

Wordsworth and Coleridge have me lost in a world of beauty and pain. Romanticism speaks to me like a siren-wailing fire truck calls to a lonesome canine to howl incessantly. I’m enamored by this imaginative prose, delicate as a rose, insinuating thoughts of philosophical scorn, like an unforgiving thorn. I have literally and figuratively lost myself in the forests of the Sierra Nevada, blanketed by chilling darkness, but it was then, that I had ever felt more alive. I was young then, and my eyes scrambled in the twilight in fear of black bears. I know now, that these lovable bears in comparison to fearsome grizzlies of the north or population dwindling from receding landscapes of polar bears, are not to be feared. Fresh mountain wind,  towering sequoias revived me from my past loathsome troubles that lay insidious within my mind for so long. The landscapes of this breathtaking mountain range lay etched in my thoughts even with my eyes closed, and are now ingrained in me for the rest of my existence.

The painting “Buttermere Lake: A Shower”, instills moody thoughts in a gloomy overcast. I initially see a bleak landscape of melancholy, that speaks of a desolate past. The rainbow from the painting reminds me of Lower Yosemite Fall’s moonbows. We are within 2 hours of North America’s tallest waterfall. An exciting thought to contemplate itself. I look within these dark clouds of anguish and uncertainty, however, and I find hope. Just as I once lost my wallet and my keys in Yosemite and panicked for my life, I would eventually calm down and see that they were exactly where I had placed, underneath a pile of my belongings. There is always hope even in death and absolute remorse. Even if you cannot see it, there is always light somewhere within or somewhere far beyond the twilight zone. It is only in darkness that light truly shines. Be courageous in the face of overwhelming odds. Fight on until your last dying breath, and submit to no oppressive force. I reference another poem that carries my sentiments. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” – Dylan Thomas

Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower exhibited 1798 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Joseph William Turner’s painting carries multiple aspects of Romanticism within its frame. It is an encapsulation of the feelings and emotions of The Lyrical Ballads. Expostulation and Reply discusses enjoying nature even if its morals and lessons taught are not as direct as a lecture of philosophy or a laboratory session of science.

"You look round on your Mother Earth,
          As if she for no purpose bore you; 
          As if you were her first-born birth,
          And none had lived before you!"

William is expostulated by Matthew. Why does he seem to mindless observe the world with his mind adrift in solitary rumination?

"Nor less I deem that there are Powers
          Which of themselves our minds impress;
          That we can feed this mind of ours
          In a wise passiveness.

William explains his penchant for wonderful Mother Earth. He feels that he assimilates notions of patience and lessons of wisdom in the stillness of meditation and deep contemplation.

Landscapes like the one Turner paints and the ones that you can come across after hiking to a viewpoint are so powerful, that you can’t help but lay speechless. I recall the times I’ve been such amazing views like Glacier Point and Angel’s Landing, and I sat startled and comforted by the immense grandeur for hours.

I make one last reference to another one of Wordsworth’s poems. I ask that you consider your lifestyle and your attachments to materials, just like Wordsworth attempts to convey the contempt of materialism. A life is meant to be fulfilled with experience, and not meaningless objects.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers

The World is Too Much With Us

William Wordsworth

Earth day is on April 22. Also, National Park Week is April 15-23. On April 15 and 16 and again on April 22 and 23 you can visit any national park in the country free of charge. As the heavy snowfall from this year’s dramatic winter begins to recede in the Sierra Nevada, I encourage you to take part in experiencing our world within its raw natural boundaries, rather than dwelling within unsatisfying cities. The following link is a website that has been instrumental in my transition from childhood to young adulthood. It has guided me with a knowledgeable content of incredible hikes in Yosemite and also carries a comedic and informative style of prose. Check it out!

One last note. Last winter I explored Zion National Park, and after embarking on a notoriously scary but enjoyable hike, I found a drone sitting atop Angel’s Landing. Flying drones are strictly prohibited in these National Parks, and I felt obligated to find the owner before a ranger confiscated it. I’ve been looking for the owner ever since. After a considerable amount of time debating with myself internally over ethical matters, I decided to examine the footage of nature. I was absolutely blown away, and I feel compelled to share. I hope that everyone has the desire to embark on their own expeditions. I recommend the HD setting for enhanced theatrics.



Thomas Pham

Looking into the Distance

Caspar David Friedrich, The Monk by the Sea, can be described in the poem “Expostulation and Reply”. In the Monk by the Sea, I see someone standing on a large surface staring off into the distance in a misty, gloomy surrounding. In the background, I see fog or mountains engulfing the man. In a way, this painting shows someone soul-searching by spending time surrounded by nature.

In the first four lines of the poem, it states

“Why William, on that old grey stone,

“Thus for the length of half a day,

“Why William, sit you thus alone,

“And dream your time away?

Here, Matthew can be heard asking William why he is spending all his time outside and day-dreaming all by himself. Matthew does not understand the beauty of nature and doesn’t like that William is just spending his time gazing into the distance. In The Monk by the Sea, we can see that there stands a person looking into the distance; absorbing in the beauty of nature. Matthew continues to question William and asks him “Where are your books? that light bequeath’d”. He questions why he would rather daydream than go read a book and learn something instead. Matthew is expostulating and kept telling William that he shouldn’t be doing what he is doing because he is wasting his time. But, William states that we can all learn something by looking at nature. Going back to the painting, the person staring off into the distance could have been just like William. That person and William was enlightened by the beauty of our surrounding. The fog or whiteness of the painting shows that light is shining on the person and could be foreshadowing of the enlightenment that someone goes through.

William finally replies to Matthew and tells him that “Our bodies feel, where’er they be/Against, or with our will”. We cannot stop ourselves from wanting what our body craves for and that is the knowledge learned from nature not through books.

-Naomi Van

Shall we headbang at the Sea?

Iron Maiden’s rendition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is part of Romantic Poetry.  As we spoke about in the beginning of the week Coleridge describes good poetry as a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”, and I think this is exactly what is experienced in Iron Maiden’s rendition. Heavy Metal is no different from romantic poetry, it just may seen so because of the sound of the music. Heavy Metals musical roots have came from the classical, blues and slave music just to name a few. Heavy metal is definitely different than from other genres of music and can be easily tucked under the bed.

In the eleventh stanza of Coleridge’s poem he writes,

“And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he

Was tyrannous and strong:

He struck with his o’ertaking wings,

And chased us south along”

The storm is described as tyrannous and strong, and it is equivalent to the musical aspects of Iron Maiden’s interpretation. It is a strong overpower of feelings, the  electric guitar, heavy drum beats, and high vocals creates and atmosphere where strong feelings are produced. This is the first time I have interacted with this song, and it did stir up emotions. We cannot easily dismiss this song as not being part of romantic poetry because it isn’t just a recitation of the same poem. Rather it is an interpretation from the poem that brings a new life to the descriptions of chaos and sounds.

Viviana Ojeda


Iron Maiden and Romantic Poetry

When listening to Iron Maidens heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” the first thing I notice is the tone of the speaker and the similarity of to Romantic Poetry. In Romantic Poetry it seems that emotion or experiences is meant to be expressed over actually just simply stating something and so the tone in Iron Maidens brings to life the feeling of Coleridges poem. It’s crazy and kind of scary but it also doesn’t need as much words to explain which is why he does a brief introduction and then lots of guitar music. You can feel rather than rely on actual words of the chaotic song which ties into the poem such as

“And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he

Was tyrannous and strong:

He struck with his o’ertaking wings,

And chased us south along.


With sloping masts and dipping prow,

As who pursued with yell and blow

Still treads the shadow of his foe,

And forward bends his head,

The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,

And southward aye we fled.”


The song is causing the audience to truly feel the chase and really helps to bring to not necessarily life but feeling of this chase.  The length of the song as well really portrays as well the epic and almost spiritual ties in nature, the song really captures the nature and ambiance of the poem.  Especially at the tone shift at around 5 minutes into the song when it goes from super fast and heavy music to slow and dream like and you can hear the creaking of what most likely is the shape. The voice is sage like and it adds to the effectiveness of capturing the romanticist qualities of the original poem because the music alone is capturing the melancholy and appreaciation of the natural ocean settting before restarting the song but this time in a different almost upbeat tone compared to the creepy beginning. The silence is more impactful than the actual words which makes the song more effective and tie into the idea of romantic poetry. This also captures the Romantic qualities of the supernatural with the eerie sounds and feelings of being chased. The words in the actual poem by Coleridge are conveying this through flow like words and descriptive words such as

“With sloping masts and dipping prow,

As who pursued with yell and blow

Still treads the shadow of his foe,”

Really conveying the eerie supernatural factor that Iron Maiden really plays up throughout the song. The ‘shadow of his foe’ is creepy and most likely unwanted. Especially since this has all started as an initial tale by a creepy old man at a wedding and even as you read the actual poem the person who was grabbed was probably thinking ‘omg when will this story end’ and even while listening to the song by Iron Maiden I think at times the audience at some points are thinking the same thing. The ships going fast as they are trace by something yelling is the vivid imagery that can be enhanced by Iron Maidens quick and fast beat song. The calmness before this also juxtaposes the chaos that comes after and I think that really ties into the songs transitional shift where it gets calmer as well. Thus also adding to the eerie supernatural feel as everything seems to be calm but in the song odd noises are heard with a creepy narrator and in the poem odd things are described.



-Haley Halsey