Lines: Written on Nature’s Futile War Against Industrialism

Walking into the jungle of asphalt, faceless towers of steel overshadow the busybodies scurrying beneath them. The pavement is dull, as are the vapid gas-guzzlers that drudgingly drag themselves across it. Some wearisome clerk wipes the sweat from his brow as he hurries to catch a taxi down the street. He scurries past a woman worn with wrinkles and callouses who tightens her head scarf as she waits for the bus to take her to the bakery. Across the street, a man peddles his CDs to passerby’s and men and women say their “no thank you”’s or avoid his gaze altogether. They sidestep his advances, the way one arches their path when they spot vagrant lying against a building, smoke in hand, pleadingly asking for spare change, or the way a young woman moves to the opposite side when she sees a group of sagged-pant men whose eyes are glazed. They keep to themselves, with little regard for others, like ships that keep their distance from each other at sea afraid to bump. But if one moves past the corpses of indifference, the machine hum-drum, what would he come across?

From the rooftops of skyscrapers he can see just beyond the horizon; there, the body of blue comes down to kiss verdant fields. The wind dances through stalks of grass, and caresses the leaves. The flowers blossom and wither, their mortality renewing in a sublime cycle. A starling feeds its fledgling and the insects continue their everlasting symphony in a cacophonous song, rejoicing the new day. Here the Sun reigns with no interference. He casts himself against the sky’s canvas, creating a painting for all to see. He kisses the cheeks of Earth, commending her fair works, and with a timid smile she turns the seasons ‘round like the twirl of a gown. They dance together in a ceaseless waltz, the ephemeral gems of their love passing into the ground and sprouting from the ashes like a phoenix again and again. As the dome of the sky changes, for this season and the next, their love continues. Here where life begins and ends, the eternal lives. One day man’s castles will become dilapidated and crumble, a momentary blip in the books of time. But in its place a new one will rise, emulating the cycle nature first gave to us. With every passing year, Time watches anxiously for who will conquer whom.

And the one that watches from his tower,

Who knows that which lives in that sweet bower;

Surveys the land, for its rivers, trees, and valleys

Then nods with certain pride to his colleagues.

They will build a new cosmopolis out by that grove

By taking their machines to flatten and rove

In their vanity, their pride, and avarice

They ignorantly destroy without hint of malice.

The dance will end—Earth slave to her captors

Humiliated, barren, abused, and raptured.

And who will speak out against this plan,

When man cannot even speak out against man?

 

This creative project is inspired by the Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, as an amalgamation of several poems. The most prevalent poem that served as my inspiration were “Lines: Written in Early Spring”. I chose this poem in particular to serve as the basis for my hypertext because I was interested in the Romanticism of the poem and the lamentation of nature being eclipsed by man and more importantly, by man’s condition. In “Lines: Written in Early Spring”, the speaker of the poem gives a imagery laden account of nature, which I attempted to replicate in the second paragraph of my creative project. I thought an effusive description of nature and the personification of the sun, the earth, and the wind did justice to the poem, as the speaker writes, “To her fair works did Nature link” (line 9). In addition, the tone of the poem signifies a certain awe and reverence towards nature, but these feelings are overshadowed by a great impending doom: the speaker writes, “And much it griev’d my heart to think / What man has made of man” (lines 11-12). These lines served as the inspiration for the first paragraph of my prose in which the condition of man is described as cold, callous, and indifferent. Of course, this harkens back to the themes of Romanticism, as I juxtapose man vs. nature. The final portion of my creative project imitates the poetry structure head on: it analyzes man’s greed and laments the fact that no man can speak for nature, since man can barely speak on behalf of others. In a world where we scarcely care for the wellbeing of others, how can we expect that there be an effort waged for preserving nature? Overall, although I took many artistic liberties, I believe that I sufficiently took the main idea of “Lines: Written in Early Spring”, Romanticism, and depicted it in a refreshing take.

-Sara Nuila-Chae

 

 

 

Advertisements

REJECT

A man from the stalking brown hills once told me;

“Rides the river an ocean of distance

‘Tween two banks in the grove that is a grotto

Down from the path’s turn at the path’s end.

Slight slant to the earth rushes clear ink

In a clean stream, cleaves erosion and carves motion

Into the rock. Sun’s shimmer on the surging surface,

Life’s breathes in the whistle of the wind

As it whispers through the grasses along the banks.

In profile; a long visage set in sediment

Sits, watches the water, weathers it’s wails

With ears waxed wet lichen and eyes winnowed hollow

Under a furrowed brow tousled porous

And knotted by bloodless cool contempt.

Nose upturned; stratification’s projection.

Lips folded in union, their earthen sculptor

With marred hands marked melancholy’s wrinkle

Within time’s vista. Given life, binds vise

Around the boulder, and like a boulder

It gets older, never moving and ever never aging.

Stale tears of pale moss down flat cheeks defaced

By splinters and supplication, by tears

And by tears,” claimed he, “And on the bank opposite;

Mirrored in despair in the deadened river;

Wreathed in kin; a tree. A most crooked tree!

Leering twisted, a bark-bitten beauty

Whose bole, long ago, was bisected.

A pair of arms hang, over the edge,

Across the jumping span, over pellucidity

And above the brow of the immobile stone;

Like fluttering fingers flicking mockingly,

Like frigid spume from the turgid maelstrom below,

Like licentious lover’s lilt, that last lifting touch,     

Like dancing askance afore the fires over the hills;

Branches in broken precision, draping all light,

Brokered into the skein of a scattered weave.

Slits revealed through the net; the skin of the sun                 

Scintillating, burning bright as the days as the days drag on.”

But another man, from the same green grass hills, told me thus;

“You see I saw with these eyes of mine;

Some little stream in the seam of the earth,

Inside this side of a broken bride’s dream,

Down where the path leaves the path’s end.

Earth’s shivering wine ever flows a-shimmer, a fluid feast flush

With silver flower-buds forever unblossomed

And undulating under water unburdened

As unbroken water under un-needed bridges.

A valley extended to mortal arm’s full extension,
Where one foot afore another’s affectations

Quickly effect’s end of the vista’s affections.

From my vantage – during the cricket sung-adage

Of day’s repose, when shadow spreads as a shawl,

And the moon casts pale glares through sun’s glaring death-mask –

I did see a tree. A most bereaved tree!

Bowing to boughs full-leaved and leaning,

Bole trunkless, breastless, and pair-armed,

Bare as the cloudless night, white as a beech bleached lunar

On the grass-stalked banked beach. Verdant dawn far off

But not forgotten – Nothing, at all, forgotten

By the lover of the tree; the rock.

A stolid fellow despite his cocked, concave eye.

As solid as a spine yet spineless despite height,

Relenting on a whim to what he had given

To win the heart of his heartless mirror;

His sight and his everything, across the river

And over his brow – where, writ in the land,

She stands, touching that brow upon it’s furrow

With naught but a single breadthless branch

To breach the breathless breath between them –

And a single sliver of pale bark falls between them,

Landing upon the feast’s silver plate reflected there. Between them.

And between them…how much cheese they had!”

Monterey 2019

I wander thro’ the busy street of Cannery Row,

Near where the Pacific Ocean does flow.

And mark in every face I meet

Marks of happiness, marks of life.

 

In every step of every Man,

In every Infants curious voice,

In every voice; in every blink

The mind escaped far far away from reality.

 

How the Aquarium revealed the marine life

Every other wall made of see through glass

And the audience full attention taken

Runs through the pure amazement of the captivated sea life.

 

But most through Cannery Row I hear

The shops running and people commenting

Blasts high expectations for the next set of tourists

Who spreads the joys of world’s natural beauty.

-Dariana Lara

 

Symbolism In A Sad Bird

image

In his poem, “The Nightingale” Samuel Coleridge embedded themes such as innocence, the divinity of nature and impeccable imagery in order to establish the true sense of romanticism in his poem. In “The Nightingale” Coleridge’s narrator speaks amongst their companions and discusses the tale of bird, (nightingale) and how humans have began to associate the bird with melancholy feelings. The narrator however, defends the idea that nothing within nature could be melancholy because nature is divine and warming – therefore, humans should stop associating man made feelings to aspects of nature. The feelings, themes, and descriptions by Coleridge in this poem, therefore, led me to associate the poem with the visual of Théodore Gericault, Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct, 1818.

In the first stanza of his poem, Coleridge states, “Come, we will rest on this old mossy bridge. You see the glimmer of the stream beneath, but hear no murmuring: it flows silently, o’er its soft bed of verdure.” (78) Immediately these lines directed my thought and focus to Gericault’s image because of the stillness, warm, and peaceful feelings the description arouses in the reader. Although it was for the obvious reason that Coleridge states that a stream glimmers beneath “an old mossy bridge,” I also think the imagery that he incorporates leads the reader to envision something such as the Aqueduct painting.

Aside from the initial description of a similar setting, Coleridge goes on to say that the nightingale should share in nature’s immortality and be considered to make all of nature lovelier rather than melancholy and ultimately, be loved in the same manner nature is loved. Coleridge however, states that this idea will not be possible and because, “…youths and maidens most poetical who lose the deep’ning twilights of the spring in ball-rooms and hot theatres…” (79) With this idea, I believe Coleridge is saying that as people begin to spend more time indoors (like ballrooms and theatres) they begin to lose appreciation and love for nature and the joyous things it has to offer – and will not get to experience nature’s loveliness if they keep choosing to entertain themselves indoors. That is why in the image, I believe the vibrant colors, the serenity if offers, and the humans we see interacting with nature near the bottom indicate the hope Coleridge has for humans and nature. I believe Théodore Gericault’s painting reflects the image Coleridge is trying to depict of nature and how it creates a peaceful atmosphere and needs to be relished in. I even imagined that the people we could see relishing in nature near the bottom of the image could be what the narrator and his companions looked like during the time they were having the conversation that the poem presents.

Nearing the end of the poem Coleridge introduces the idea that a nightingale could represent innocence as he describes how his young son enjoys the soothing and calming characteristics that the nightingale holds. Cloredige says that he has taught his son to have an appreciation for nature and that de “deem[s] it wise to make him nature’s playmate.” (81) The closing lines state, “But if that heaven should give me life, his childhood shall grow up familiar with these songs, that with the night he may associate Joy!” (81) By associating his child and the nightingale – even mentioning his son’s childhood – Coleridge presents the idea that the nightingale can act as an innocent aspect of nature as it makes his son joyous and calm. And that is what I think the people could also represent in the image, they are holding onto their innocence by enjoying and playing in nature. Overall, I think many of the elements and themes presented in “The Nightingale” could be associated and related to Théodore Gericault’s image “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct, 1818.” even though they might not present themselves so easily or are not discovered at first glance – however, they both end up representing the divinity and soothing elements that Coleridge tries to present in his poem regarding nature. 

  • Beverly Miranda-Galindo

Peak Emo Hours: The Dungeon Near Buttermere Lake

The Dungeon illustrates how people who are cast into imprisonment are subject to losing themselves in the despair of the whole situation. For a poem that is so ominously titled however it speaks to hope and some sort of salvation from the ever looming darkness that one would find within a dungeon. This hopeful salvation comes from looking beyond the confinements of the dungeon and looking towards the outside world with the hope for something brighter and beautiful that lies just beyond reach. That outside world will be what the anguished prisoner will need so that “his angry spirit [be] healed and harmonized by the benignant touch of love and beauty” (Wordsworth lines 29-30) and be restored to who he used to be.

The use of the word “beauty” in this context is debateable because if one were to use it a larger sense and replaced “beauty” with “Nature” then the lines become clearer. They paint a far more clear picture of the romanticism people were capitalizing on and let the reader know that ultimately what will save you from the darkness is this beautiful force of Nature. A Nature that is beautiful and loving and gives off feminine energy in waves. It is a powerful force that one can only begin to understand but that is certainly the kind of force someone needs to truly make an attempt to escape the darkness of a dungeon.

The last image is the one I chose to analyze in conjunction with The Dungeon because it simultaneously shows the darkness and the brightness that exists in the poem. Looking at the image one views a brilliant shining city in the distance and sees two figures making the arduous journey towards it. Similarly to the prisoner in the poem who needs to move towards to light in order to be healed of his anguish. Not only that but the city in the distance is also beautiful and clearly out of reach once more. So perhaps healing is entirely possible but it will come with time and patience. The healing is something along the lines of “thou pourest on him thy soft influences, thy sunny hues, fair forms, and breathing sweets.” That shining city seems like the kind of place where there is warmth and sweetness abound that a cold prisoner might truly benefit from. It also seems like a city that is representative of Nature, of love, of beauty. Something otherworldly that has the potential to save our lonely cold prisoner.

By Diana Lara.

 

 

Reminiscence of Nature and Death

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

Image result for Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), The Abbey in the Oakwood, 1808-1810

 

When one first looks at this picture, we see the sun setting or maybe it raising. There is a sort of loneliness and darkness. Both are expressed by the remnants of what looked like a building and a seemingly black fog. This is an Abby with lone oaks that have passed along the years. However, it can also be seen as fragments of the past and even the future.  The lyrical balled, “The Fountain: A Conversation,” by Willam Wordsworth expresses a nature as a mirror to ourselves and our own conditions (p. 353). The balled’s tone could be interpreted as melancholic. The first couple of stanzas refer to a time of youth when Wordsworth would lay with his friend Matthew, and talk openly about nature. The imitation of sounding like the gurgling lake and “witty rhymes.” He continues to express how, touched as a child he was, by nature his heart stirred and he yearned for the same sound in the present time.

Moreover, he changes his reminiscent childhood memories to the decaying of the body and the wiser mind. He says, “mourn less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind,” the crucial perspective is what is left behind. In other words, Wordsworth is not concerned about the physical and even mental decline of aging. He is more concerned over the people he cares about when he goes away. Nature continues freely, but within society, man is oppressed and even obligated to hide behind the masks of happiness. Therefore, I interpreted this piece as a sort of acceptance of life coming to an end and enjoying the moments and memories with loved ones. Just like this picture, it once was a place that was bright with flourishing oak trees and chirping birds. But, just like everything there is always change that occurs, and nothing lasts forever. However, we can admire the memories of nature as it continues to change.

— Karla Garcia Barrera

How NOT to Destroy Nature with Romance

“Lines Written in Early Spring” although brief, encapsulates a broad aspect of the romantic movement in the final two lines of the first stanza with the narrator’s claim that while reclining in a grove, “In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts bring sad thoughts to mind”. With the final two lines of the subsequent stanza echoing “And much it griev’d my heart to think what man has made of man”, an emphasis on the picturesque nature that is the grove is accompanied by a bittersweet lamentation of what man’s impact on the natural landscape is. The idea that “pleasant thoughts bring sad thoughts to mind” is possibly rooted in the narrator’s anxieties at the capacity for man to manipulate nature and the conflict that may arise from it. When examining the poem through the lens of the painting Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct, made by Théodore Gericault in 1818, during the romantic movement, we are exposed to a unique perspective. The colors are muted with old ruin like structures blocking the primary source of light from the sun, and this in itself can present a bleak introspection on how humanity eventually succumbs to nature with the roots encapsulating and attempting to reabsorb the old structures. Although prominent, this is not the center focus of the painting. Rather the focus is the aqueduct itself, and although the palette is muted, the aqueduct is bathed in a bright hue and has a strange warmth to it. The setting itself is tranquil and serene, which actually represents an integral aspect of romanticism; that the movement itself is not centered entirely upon the conflict between humans and nature, but it also encapsulates how humans can responsibly enjoy nature. The aqueduct, although somewhat obstructive, does not disturb the tranquility of the scene. The aqueduct, a product made by man that represents what the narrator grieves about, a work of man that has the capacity to distort or even destroy nature, can actually survive harmoniously in tandem with nature as opposed to being in direct contrast to it.

-Kevin Martinez

Nature’s Healing

Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower exhibited 1798 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N00460

Joseph William Turner’s painting made me think about Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Nightingale.” Though the majority of the painting is dark, the light that is coming through goes along with the poem. The poem, although it talks about the melancholy stereotype of nightingales, the speaker claims that nightingales bring light if one allows them to. Just like the Romantic period, the speaker of the poem and the painting itself embraces the beauty of nature. In the poem, the speaker declares that many people claim that the songs of nightingales are melancholy. The speaker goes on to say that instead of projecting one’s sadness onto nature, one can see the beauty in it, but only with a clear mind. I agree with the speaker of the poem because of personal experience. Sometimes, when I’m upset, I like to be alone and though I find myself in the presence of nature, I tend to overlook it. The speaker is implying that if one takes the time to observe nature and forget about life’s hardships and worries just for a while, nature has the ability to heal. Another implication that the speaker makes is that we often forget about nature. We allow life to take over and therefore, look and walk past the beauty that surrounds us. Why do we allow for life to take over? The speaker of the poem believes that it is because we do not take the time to be alone and simply take in the beauty of nature, but it is also because we take it for granted. We think that the trees and lakes we have always passed by as a child will still be there when we are adults, but more often than not, these childhood trees and lakes have long been replaced with buildings. It is not until we realize what is gone that we begin to realize we should have taken the time to slow down, stop by, or simply reflect.

Charise Cating

Improving Lyrical Ballads

Iron Maiden’s version of the ballad evokes similar sensational imagery as Coleridge’s original version in addition to retaining the same themes revolving around the conflict between humanity and nature. This is successfully done in spite of the notable gaps of lyrics detailing the tumultuous sea voyage in the original. Structurally, the two are not too dissimilar, as they are both composed of almost exclusively four to six line stanzas, and the heavy metal version emulates the gap between stanzas and parts with lyrical pauses in favor of solely playing a melody. In addition, due to the innate rhyme scheme of ballads and the traditional denotation that they are passed down orally from person to person, the heavy metal version in certain senses not only presents the poem in a traditional fashion because of its accompanying musical components but because it is a translation designed to be expressed orally as opposed to read, it improves upon the medium.

The primary distinguishing factor between the two versions are the lyrics themselves. The Iron Maiden version simplifies the lyrics slightly in favor of using a more contemporary form of English which is more easily palpable to modern audiences regardless of whether they have higher education or not. This lyrical simplification is no degradation however, rather it is possible that because the themes and literary power of the work are still present, (if slightly muted by having slightly less of it) the song version is a literature of power. It provides an important and meaningful message in an easily accessible package. The tone of the musical version also amplifies the aspects of romanticism in the work, because music conveys powerful emotions in ways that words are incapable of conveying. A rapid tempo mirrors the tumultuous nature of the sea voyage, while a slower melodic pause mirrors the deep introspection of the lyrical speaker.

-Kevin Martinez

Poetry meets Iron Maiden

When I first started listening to Iron Maiden’s song of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” I didn’t think that the beat or rhythm matched the beat of the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem. As I listened deeper into the song I realized that the beat of the music does go in fact with the poem, and it actually contributed to helping me understand the poem more clearly. When I first read the poem I read it with sort of a dark gloomy mood, since the story itself is pretty haunting. The song however begins with more of an upbeat rock rhythm, sort of creating a form suspense to help direct the story that is being told within the poem. The poem is about a mariner who tells the story of his ship voyage to a random wedding guest, in hopes of spreading his story to get people to appreciate nature. The story is basically about the mariner who kills a special bird “ the albatross”, with not much valid reason and is forced to pay the crime of his actions. In the song the beat remains the same up until to the point where the mariner is confronted by another ship that puts a curse on him, basically killing all of the men on the ship besides him. The beat of the music begins to slow down when the men of the ship are brought back to life, and basically begin haunting the mariner for his disgrace amongst nature. The pictures within the video at that moment present a sinking ship, zombies, etc,. As soon as the mariner begins to find appreciation of nature (with the sea creatures) the music begins to move at a faster pace creating more of an uplifting mood. By the end of the song the beat returns to the same that it was in the beginning, which matches with the ending of the story because his story seems to have impacted the wedding guest because he is no longer concerned about the wedding. He is described as becoming “sadder and wiser” by the end of the poem. I do think that the song is like romantic poetry because the beat of the music matches with the pace of the poem, and the images shown in the video relate to the events going on in the story (sinking ship, zombies, the colors, etc,.).

-Dariana Lara