A Living, Breathing, (human??) Harp

Samantha Shapiro

The desire to “humanize” the harp motif in Sydney Owenson (Lady Morgan)’s poem, “The Irish Harp” is seen through the combination of the harpist to his harp; when assigning emotion and action ambiguously, Owenson furthers a belief of Irish singularity and identity by showing the resilience and combative nature of the Irish populace.

By making the Irish harp a human fighting figure, Owenson desires to add “strength in numbers” by teasing out the Irish people’s own unique usage of the harp to fight against British oppression. The harp is first conflated into the harpist when Owenson first introduces the poem in the first stanza, with her finishing: “Why has that song of sweetness died/Which Erin’s Harp alone can breathe?” (Owenson 1). When choosing to use words like “sleeps,” “breathe,” and “languish,” Owenson personifies the “Harp of Erin” and attributing these actions to make revolution a body and living entity based on her choice in personification (Owenson 1, 3). The harpist, in this sense, is like the Society of United Irishmen in their own conflation of the harp to their own political movement, in that referring to both the harp and their own rebellious organization, both are “new-strung and shall be heard;” with the usage of it making meaning purposely ambiguous and thus attributable to human organization (O’Donnell). Owenson introduces a a “sad bard!” or harpist, and “silent…[weeping] Harp” that drew from collective “Harp of Erin’s pride” and “love-sick anguish,” (Owenson 4, 1). Owenson here is using emotion to combine the harpist to his own instrument by mimicking action when choosing to state that “the minstrel breath’d” a lay as the “Harp of Erin” had, but also later on adding onto mimicry with “his Harp’s wild plaintive tones…Breath’d sadder sighs, heav’d deeper moans” but does so in a way open to interpretation as to who genuinely is alive there, and what voice is able to be spread (Owenson 6). The choice to end with the Bard singing while playing with his lyre, the spiritual and emotional tie to the “Harp of Erin,” has the significance of saying, “And Erin go brach he boldly sung.” calling back to patriotism and a desire of Irish identity in stark contrast to the earlier implemented British “Act of Union, in which shapes Irish relations and still are seen to this day.

Although her choice in context of the poem is to stick to a simple rhyme scheme of ABAB for 15 stanzas, she does so in a manner which brings forth elements of creative rebellion within her poetry’s lines. When choosing to italicize “Eve,” “bliss,” “sorrow,” “oppression,” “last,” “Erin’s,” “patriot hero’s tomb,” “he,” “dismay,” “terror,” “his,” “sadder,” “deeper, “despair,” and “Erin go brach” they become a large focus and develops the harp and bard as connected through each other through these important themes and figures – both of the two are the main personified characters with some of these traits and exemplify themes of revolution (Owenson). These stem from political unrest, given that during time period Britain had supported the Irish into a unionization with them. In intentional ambiguity and personification, Owenson gives an audience to the Irish break apart the Britain-forced Act of Union  — some issues stemming from this that continue to last onwards through modern years

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

“Mary Quite Contrary” by William Apess (BUTTON POETRY TRANSCRIPT)

My lady and sister in Christ, Mary,

We have a common enemy

It is a devil that lives in a bottle

It is no daemon or fairy

Lurks in every pantry

And turns the gentlest soul hostile

It is the color of my skin

And smells of exotic spices

The kind sold among the newly conquered dark isles

But it was your kin

Who turned this into one of our greatest vices

I dare not speak its name

For when I do there are folk who flitter

And pester even if told their efforts are in vain

By even he who has only little

It’s name is a hum

The devil’s hymn and chorus

When the cork is unplugged

There is a crowd that cheers,

“Oh please why don’t you join us!”

It’s name (he whispers softly)

Is rum

Mary, quite contrary

Does your story go

You paint a portrait of savage men

Who’d look for any excuse to strike a killing blow

And steal the brides of the white for the chief’s harem

Whilst they smoke pipes of tobacco

But oh, dear Mary did you also not partake?

Or is the truth only relevant when it is easy to forsake?

Mary, quite contrary

Is the white man’s practice of exclusion

Though why complain to you?

Because it is clear that you don’t think it matters

If a black or Indian

man or woman

Adult or child

Or a follower of the son of the Virgin Mary

Will be pardoned from this exile

Or spends their lives dressed in rags and tatters

By Maria Nguyen Cruz

Taking Language: Its Complicated

The exchange between Rowlandson and the native Algonquians does complicate the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America. Looking at the way Rowlandson uses certain words from the Algonquian language it definitely suggests that there is more to the dynamic between Rowlandson and the natives. The cross-linguistic aspect of Rowlandson’s writing is surprising because it is at odds with the blatant racism in her writing. To accept Algonquian culture through its language makes me think that perhaps Rowlandson knew deep down that there were fewer differences than others would have her believe.

Not only does she adopt certain words that are related to family but the aspects of her story that relate to family are not as explicit as they could be. So perhaps in adopting some of the language it becomes inevitable that she would adopt some of the culture. This certainly complicates the history between the two groups because it suggests that despite all the tragedies there were situations in which people were not completely against each other.

By Diana Lara

Tomy’s Explorations

Tomy’s Exploration

Chapter 8

The blogger can relate to resemblance to the Moples. The perfectionism of the Bonobolopos.

My Master Bonobolopos implored me to visit the dry desert nests–from the little I understood with his body language– in order for me to observe the nature of the Moples for I did not see the resemblance to humans. Of course I could not pass up that opportunity for I as a blogger had the biggest opportunity of a lifetime to create a story that had never been written about outside my own universe. That is until I return back to my wifi connection. Moples lived in really disgusting desert conditions with dry heats and freezing temperature. They attacked each other, they seem to be like the way snowflakes live. Their screeches were daunting but they most of all they were shamed for being so wrinkly naked. They seem to divide each other, but my question was ‘for what if they all seem to hate each other equally.’ That made me think their form of communication was sort of similar, the screeches they made as they came out of their caves and began to interact with, it was somewhat comical to watch each other fight over unnecessary situations.
Upon my return from the Moples nesting grounds, I was able to convince my master Bonobolopo to have an interview on the daily lives of their culture. Unlike the Moples, my masters Bonobolopo body language came really easy and natural to learn. I had never noticed that each interaction was more personal and rarely was there any need for more than two people to communicate with each other. Although the body language was a bit slower, it was more efficient because a response would answer more than what was originally asked for with great ease. It was more difficult to translate the reason I was doing the interview, and what purpose it had for our human culture. The language has a more calm nature and the technology that they did have only served to warn each other of dangers and to help each other navigate through dangers instead of exasperate each other on the different views they had. This calm nature in their culture reflected in their interactions Whatever disagreement one had with the other person was gone before they would finish their thoughts because there was no noise disruption in the bonobolopo’s conversations from fear of looking like the Moples.
My first question for my Master Bonobolopo was why they did not try to conversate with speech. Which to my surprise, his reply was really simple ‘we do not use speech because communication is distorted in that form, such as the Moples schreech seem to get in the way of their comfort and create boundaries of oposition.’ For my master was correct, I had so much difficulty trying to find the correct sounds in my head to translate this much onto my word doc, even emojis were useless. He continued by explaining that they had studied the Moples and their discovery showed that they tend to prefer certain sounds and divided each other’s communities despite each of them despising each other anyways. He called speech a deformity in which any other creature used was would be doomed to destroy themselves.
He continue not noticing that he had answered several of other questions I had in mind. Like my second question, ‘why do you all not wear any clothing?’ to which his previous explanation manage to be answered. His reply went as so, ‘we don’t wear “clothing” which he referred to as fur, do to the fact that they had no word for clothing. His reasoning was because nature had already provided them with natural fur that covered every aspect of their body. Which he argued that if nature did not provide a group of species with the right equipment, then that society was meant to be chaotic and not peaceful. But I would disagree, if you primates want to place yourself in a pedestal of perfectionism that’s okay, but don’t tell me that your ways and your simple language is better than our most advanced form of communication because we have better form of living for everyone. This is Tomy’s Explorations and Those are my final notions.

The short excerpt above depicts a sort of imitation adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. In particular, part 4, chapter 8 of Gulliver’s travel to the land of the Yahoo!’s and the Houyhnhnm’s. As Gulliver’s Travels is already a satire Tomy’s Exploration imitates but also satirizes the way in which the story undergoes. The most obvious way in which it is imitated is the way in which takes a person from the human society and places them in the middle of two opposing society that range from chaos to perfectionism.
Taking ideas from what seem to be a combination of naked mole rats as a comparison to create the “Moples” these semi representatives of the humans from the Bonobolopo’s point of view, but not from the Tomy’s perspective. Bonobolopo’s seem to be a society of bonobos society perspective but in terms of more domesticity, ethical, and polite. Although they are not too perfect themselves, the societies they live in are exemplified by the Tomy and her Master Bonobolopo. Tomy, changes their mind about the similarities the Moples and human have not once but twice this creates a satirical form. Because it mocks the way that no one will be willingly change their ways unless they stay in that society for a long period of time, and when Tomy rants about her blog towards the end that it is all okay but once she shifts her audience thanks to the internet that she will be returning to she shifts her focus of the social norms of the world she came to, because she knows she is guaranteed that return home.

Enrique Ramos

English the Language

Language is a very convoluted subject as it is already because it is the way in which people communicate with one another. However there are many different languages that scatter the world already that help to send a sort of miscommunications with others who cannot understand the same language. English for starters was thought to be the universal language back in the day, the superior race was to “educate” those who are unable to speak it. The thought of English being a tool of suppression for others has never really occurred to me. I though that it was a means to communicate and expel thoughts but by expelling thoughts, where do these thoughts go to? Do they just become stuck in someone else head or do they become a threat to the mind in which they are being placed in? The English language is a priority as it was then, it is now. When students go to school here in the United States, instruction is always given in English and never in the language of a foreigner say Spanish or Chinese or other. People are expected to know the English language because they are from this place where the norm is English. Any other form just becomes disregarded by the fact that they are . Although the idea was not bad in thye sense that they wanted people to be able to communicate with each other without there being a miscommunication, the miscommunication still happened. They used force and violence in order to “educate” and slowly stripped others of their individualism.

-Alexis Blanco

Whitewashing Learning

By 1835, when Macaulay’s Minute was sent to the English Parliament, the English vernacular carried with it science as well as the bible. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary helped accomplish this. It was a huge literary accomplishment: Language became a science. Just in time to save it from The Royal Society.

In English, the English found their science and their religion. But once Indian literature began to be interpreted and shared with Europe by orientalists, it posed a challenge to the English language, and the Status of English. Instead of learning and sharing knowledge with India, Macaulay advocates for a educational system that produces “-a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” (34).

The Status of the English improves, because of the production of ideologies that place the English in a dominant social category. How can Mecaulay suggest this, he doesn’t even know what he is talking about: ” I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic” (10). It is a good bureaucratic move that uplifts English voices, but feeds to the cycle of white supremacy. “Indian in blood and colour.” So basically the color of their skin and their culture is reduced so low and unmoral. It’s disgusting, and  I think it feeds to the contemporary idea of “professionalism” in this country today, a world that kneels to lighter complexion and steps on anything different.

  • Israel Alonso


English: the best in the West

Here were are centuries later, far from the beginnings of when the English language started.  So, how did it get started? Pretty much the way writers like Johnson, are being highly critical of.  A melting pot, so to speak of a language, consisting of French, Spanish, Latin and Greek.  But the issue with the language doesn’t stop there. Macaulay with an ethno/eurocentric, upholding of the English language, feels appalled that there is even a debate about the matter of incorporating the teaching of the English language; and there is Ray with the strong belief that certain studies should be added to the curriculum.

While they all have different stances, and pitches when it comes to schools of thought, what they do have in common is that they disregard the afterthought of this way of thinking.  In other words, a set group of people’s way of reading, speaking, and thinking will cease to exist and, therefore, putting an end to a culture. Another common theme between all of them is that they have automatically taken on this authority, as if they all have the credibility to do so.

We have Johnson, who feels as though he has been divinely sent to correct such a mess of an entanglement, and the irony is is as he speaks ill of others forms of communication by referring to it as “jargon,” he himself, is going against the very claim he is arguing about -using specific words that most likely did not belong to his ancestral line.

Macaulay, felt that it was only through English that education could be properly transferred, and this attitude has is not far behind us..  It is still quite prevalent, and even in so much as to say that many of us whom are bilingual, have been told, directly or not, that if we choose to speak a foreign language (whatever that means), then we ought to “go back to” our “country.”

And finally, Roy, who while with what I believe had the best intentions, still intervened on the natural state of  learning in India, where the natives could have evolved with their own unique identities.

Essentially what we are looking at is the repeated act of unsolicited interference, and a lack of reciprocity when it came to learning new thoughts.  It was merely one sided teaching!

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

Image result for ethnocentrism comic


Cleaning a mess, to make a mess

**I will come back to this**

“insert quote we discussed in discussion here”

Samuel Johnson attempted to create a “pure” language that had structure because he thought that it was unorganized, and unclear what the meanings of words were–people were beginning to forget meanings, hence the “adultering” of the language. He believed that there was potential for the English language to become a sophisticated language, which was not going to be possible with the commerce that was going on. Again, he wanted to purify the English language.

“The Sanscrit language, so difficult that almost…”

While Ray wanted to use English to educate the Indians because he believed that their language was prohibiting them from learning about other things such as philosophy and such. Whereas the English language was easy to learn, which made it easier and gave them more time to learn about other topics–which is more ideal than spendings a lifetime simply learning a language. So English is efficient, according to Ray,

“Why then is it necessary to pay people to learn Sanscrit and Arabic? Evidently because it is universally felt that the Sanscrit and Arabic are languages the knowledge of which does not compensate for the trouble of acquiring them. On all such subjects the state of the market is the detective test.”

Macaulay supports Ray’s vision, by pointing out the absurdity about how the people/students learning Sanscrit have to be paid because it is like too much work to just learn the language.

With that being said, while Johnson wants to purify the language and keep it within a certain type of people, but his organizing of it made it an efficient language, which was easier to share and pass on to other cultures to simplify their lives. So though Macaulay and Ray don’t have the intention to make the English language have another language mixture, that’s kind of what they are doing. They are sort of “de-purifying” English.

**I will come back to this**

-Luz Palacios

Hierarchy in English

The way the English dictionary came about is really interesting. Reading the importance of the dictionary through Johnson, Macaulay, and Ray’s readings displays the history of the English words.

I really appreciated the video because it gave a short summary of the English language and how it has evolved overtime with discoveries of new words. When seeing the video it made me wonder whether the dictionary was truly created as a resource for spelling and definitions, or if it was created to establish English as a hierarchy among other languages and cultures. The way the English language was created was by taking words from other languages and making it their own. The English language is a great example of colonialism. They looked down upon other languages and made it to themselves to improve their language by turning some of their words to English, because after all anything English is automatically proven to be better, or so they thought.

Johnson mentions that many English words are derived from French and Latin, yet he deems English superior when it comes to other languages when it is not even its on language. He mentions in the preface that words in English are not made up, but are rather taken from other words and “improved” because”the former was thought inadequate” (6). Johnson believed the English language was better than every other language, yet ironically many words were derived from other languages.

-Natalia Alvarado