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

The Mariner Told by Iron Maiden

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner told by the Iron Maiden version is very similar to Romantic Poetry because in many parts emotion over senses is evident in the song. Imagination is also used as a gateway to a transcendent experience. I believe that Iron Maiden brought justice to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner because it captures a few of the possible interpretations of the poem very well. It captures the theme of appreciating nature’s beauty and all of God’s creatures. In the original poem it says,

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.
the mariner at this point had killed the albatross for no apparent reason and had been cursed by his crew mates and by the heavens above. As put by the song, the albatross starts its vengeance. What we can take from these two excerpts from both versions is that the mariner is not able to pray until he learns the value and importance of nature’s beauty which he did not appreciate in the beginning. It’s evident because if he had loved God’s creatures and nature then he would have not shot the albatross at all. The song also talks about how the curse brings about a thirst for the mariner and it emphasizes it when they sing “And the thirst goes on and on for them and me.” I feel that this does the poem justice because the thirst that the mariner and the singer feels could be interpreted as a spiritual thirst because in the poem it says
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.
the mariner says they have an elfish light which bring about the thought of something magical or more spiritual. Especially since as soon as he appreciates the beauty he is allowed to pray which is spiritual, he is given  the ability to quench his spiritual thirst by praying.
I also feel that the mood and tempo shift around the 5 minute mark does justice to the poem because it reflects the Mariner’s tone changes in the poem as well. The song stays true to poem by using the same lines
One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.
I feel that Iron Maiden did a great job in depicting the Mariner as trapped or imprisoned. Iron Maiden takes this part slower than the rest of the song and takes care in having the audience hear the pain and anguish the Mariner feels as his crew mates curse him with their eyes but are able to die, something he can’t. Iron Maiden makes the Mariner sound like a prisoner with their two minutes of instrumental in the middle of the song mixed with the creaking of a boat. The mariner is a prisoner of the boat and his body. He is not allowed to die and have his soul leave his body like the other were allowed. Their souls shot out of their bodies just as the arrow shot through the albatross. In the song Iron Maiden  sings “With heart he blesses them God’s creatures all of them too” which further proves that their main interpretation is that you should love God’s creatures or suffer the consequences just as the mariner did.
I felt that Iron Maiden’s interpretation did justice because they focused mainly on one of the poems many themes and morals. All 7 parts of the poem had its own theme which were all interconnected. I also feel that the songs aggressive tone brought the poem to life even though when I read it I had imagined a more somber tone.
-Andres Quezada

Iron Maiden Music Transcendence Through “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” Melodic Poem

The rhythmic beat that Iron Maiden provides for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” with Electric guitars, bass, and drum kits make it like a form of Romantic poetry. This is because music, is something that is mostly associated with inspiration, and just like Romanticism, it shares the similar effects of transcendence. Although, one can’t say the same thing for the types of lyrics that Iron Maiden uses. Unlike Iron Maiden, Taylor Coleridge’s poem uses very archaic words, sometimes hard to understand what is truly going on in the story. In contrast, because Iron maiden does not use the archaic words and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” does; it can be considered to be a modern day Romantic poem, for the same definition we learned in class about Romanticism, and the poems target “low class” audience; Iron Maiden uses words that are use on the daily, paraphrasing the poem through music.

Despite the fact that Iron Maiden paraphrase the entire poem, instead of singing it all word for word, they also use stanzas that are present in the poem such in the case when they are stranded in the ocean with shortage of supplies “Water, water, every where,/ An all the boards did shrink;/ Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink” (ll 46-49). In both versions of the story, water is mentioned, a representation of nature as a whole possibly. This is because one: nature words relate back to the idea of Romanticism; and two: because nature can be understood the same even in two different time periods, it is the source of life. Iron Maiden, truly captures the essence of Romanticism not because they shift the story to the point that people are able to understand in an unarchaic language, but stays true to the part that the poem embodies the elements of Romanticism, nature.

The fact that the poetic devices seen in the poem are repetition and rhyme emphasizes a lyrical and much a like a melody constructed by words that create the same or similar sounds can be referred back to the way in which Iron Maiden adds a melodic sound that matches the gothic theme in the poem. The poem itself, encourages the form of music even with its poetic style that is present in nature “Sometimes a dropping from the sky/ I heard the sky-lark sing.” This constant use of birds keeps returning throughout the poem as spirits. The spirits is only represented by animals, but the communication of spirits and nature is only represented by sound animals make “And now ‘twas like all instruments;/ Now like a lonely flute;/ And now it is an angel’s song,/ That makes the heavens be mute” (ll 348-355). This part may represent the idea that Iron Maiden enjoy the art of music and embrace it as a way to transcend to a spiritual level without committing a crime against nature, the Mariner had to learn it the hard way that nature is possible to make music; therefore, as people are also a part of nature is possible to create music as well. Based on the Mariners experience in the ship, it is a tale of gratitude to nature that helps as a spirit to aid but it also takes on revenge if it is ever disturb.

Enrique Ramos