Lake County, 2017

For my poem, I decided to pull inspiration from William Blake’s “London.” However, I decided to take it a step further and not only use his poem as a source of inspiration, but also recycle some of his words themselves. This style of recycling an author’s words is coined “found poetry” and is a contemporary way to pay homage to both past and present authors. While some say found poetry isn’t truly found poetry unless every single word comes from the original author, I think what’s truly important is pulling out key words and phrases (like we often do in class when making our word clouds). The words and phrases I am recycling will appear in bold. This poem is also non-traditional because it is written as a prose poem, which is my favorite form of poetry. Furthermore, it’s in the second person, which is also a less commonly seen speaker perspective choice.

The place I have chosen to write about is Lake County, where I am from. It’s a tiny place with big problems, especially with people struggling in terms of alcohol, drugs, unemployment and welfare. For those of you that don’t know, I go home every other weekend and these are kind of the emotions I go through and the pressure I have from family to come back home, despite how awful it is there.

 

Lake County, 2017

You wander down uncharted streets, pot-hole riddled, like the faces you see flickering above the flame of lighters, hard at work boiling chemicals. It’s half past midnight and you’re in the bad part of town, but it could be 2pm on Main Street when you see the man covered in marks of weakness, who shrinks away from you in fear. You sigh. You know he was youthful, hopeful, like you once, but those days are gone for him, like so many of the others you pass by, plagued by the blights of missed opportunities.  It seems like everyone here bares marks of woe. Scratching away at scabbed faces, they stoop on the steps of churches, feet blackened, praying they don’t come down from the high before they can find another fix. You sigh. You know (like maybe they do too) that every fix is only temporary. Like this place. Like this time. Where reality is measured by the grade of meth coursing through their systems. Where paranoia plagues their minds, keeps them bound by the manacles of delusion. They don’t look you in the eyes. They can’t. Their blood runs cold. It flows slow, thick, and vile, like their voices as they echo through the empty palace of your heart. It appalls you. They appall you. You, so hardened, so coarse, have no heart for them. For the harlots. For the hypocrites. For the hapless hordes of people who remind you of who you never wanted to be. But you can’t deny where you’re from. Joined in marriage with the madness though you groomed yourself for better. Forever you bare the curse of acquaintance, of association. Their reflections show in your face as you stare into the lowly lake, poisonous and patronizing. The lake, so long forsaken, longs to love you, you who left to drown your sorrows elsewhere, in the pages of poetry and leaves of literature. In a school, so far, far, away. A place, they say, of harlots, of hypocrites, of the hapless hordes of people they say you’ll never be. Prodigal son, the lake cries, tears of mercury, of murky memories once your own, Know your place. Come home.

Elle Lammouchi

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The Intertwining of Universal Chance

romantic-image-3

For my response, I propose to look at The Monk by the Sea (1809), by artist Caspar David Friedrich, and The Idiot Boy, by William Wordsworth (1800). I chose these two completely at random because I truly believe that all interpretations have merit, especially those which you allow to develop sporadically. To explain further, romanticism seems to be all about blending. It’s kind of a hot mess or art and literature that’s overlapping and colliding with one another to form this beautiful Hodge-podge of “savage” “normalcy.” Why can’t a story about an idiot boy be poetic? Why can’t a monk standing all alone by the sea be romantic? I would argue that anything (really, anything) can be both poetic and romantic. Therefore, these pieces were chosen at random and their intertwining is simply by the elements of universal chance.

To accomplish this close reading, I would like to direct your attention to page 247, lines 288 – 306, which read:

“And now she’s high upon the down, / Ad she can see a mile of road, / “Oh, cruel! I’m almost three-score; / Such night as this was ne’er before / There’s not a single soul abroad.” / She listens, but she cannot hear / The foot of horse, the voice of man; / The streams with softest sound are flowing, / The grass you almost hear it growing / You hear it now if e’er you can. / The owlets through the long blue night / Are shouting to each other still: / Fond lovers, yet not quite hob nob, / They lengthen out the tremulous sob, / That echoes far from hill to hill. / Poor Betty now has lost all hope, / Her thoughts are bent on deadly sin; / A green-grown pond she just has pass’d, / And from the brink she hurries fast, / Lest she should drown herself therein.”

In this section you can clearly see how this painting could be representing the scene depicted with “Poor Betty.” Firstly, Betty can see “a mile of road.” This implies that the world is still open, or stretched out in front of her. However, she remarks this sort of openness is actually mockingly “cruel” as there is “not a single soul abroad.” Not relying solely on her sight, “she listens” and yet she “cannot hear” any one either, further developing this sense of loneliness or isolation. Not only does she not hear “the voice of man,” but she also does not hear “the foot of horse.” This implies that not only is she removed from social society, but also the companionship of animals. Alas, she cannot even hear “grass” “growing,” even though in this moment of complete silence and isolation she should be able to “hear it now if e’er you can.” This depicts, like the painting, a further remove of loneliness and isolation. Just like in the image, even nature is barren and discomforting.

When at last Betty does hear something, it is the “shouting” of “owlets.” It’s interesting to note, she does not hear owls, but their younger, immature counterparts. This sets up the dynamic that even if Betty is able to reintegrate into society, she will be like a child, incapable of interacting in a mature and fully formed manner. This concept is continued in the lines “fond lovers, yet not quite hob nob.” This implies that the lovers are premature, not fully connected or familiar yet. Still, this implies distance, even between lovers, who should be the closest of companions and the cure to loneliness. The next sound heard is an imagined one of a sobbing so “tremulous” that it “echoes far from hill to hill.” This again points out the vastness of unoccupied space, as does the image, and drives home the singular nature of isolation.

In the final stanza, we find out what is the result of all this isolation: “Poor Betty now has lost all hope.” It goes on further to say, “Her thoughts are bent on deadly sin.” Although here, one may assume she is contemplating on past wrongs, it become obvious in the next few lines that her thoughts are actually “bent” towards a literally “deadly sin,” that of suicide. Just as in the image, Betty is faced with a “green-grown pond.” While in the poem, she “hurries fast” “from the brink,” the image captures the moment in which the decision to live has not yet been made. It captures the extreme levels of depression caused by isolation, and the desire to “drown herself therein.”

Like in the poem, the image seems to depict a very melancholy, almost inviting or accepting disposition. The lone monk and poor Betty do not seem frazzled, but calm, as though they have a deep-rooted desire “become one with nature” and thus leave behind the life of the living (the constraints and cruelty of society). In the painting, this idea of life and death being in balance, in a yin-yang type cycle, is depicted through the use of colors in the image. The monk’s head (or upper body) matches that of the sand (the lower portion of the image), whereas his robes match the water. This conveys the concept if only he would upend his life, and enter into death, then full unity could be achieved.

However, this concept of ultimate oneness, or inclusion through separation is such a terrifying thought not only for those living in the romantic era, but for people alive today that it’s not surprising that when confronted with the option of embracing death, poor Betty flees from the brink. The absoluteness of death, for many is a terrifying concept and I believes keeps many running in an endless cycle of desperation, past the brink, wishing perhaps to slip into the depths, but being too frighted and uncertain to drown themselves therein.

Elle Lammouchi

Paraiso

The painting by Theodore Gericault, “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct,” seems to be a near close depiction of William Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Written At a Small Distance From My House, and Sent by My Little Boy to the Person to Whom they are Addressed.”  It is as if Gericault’s paintbrush is taking direction from Wordsworth’s poetic expression.  

In the painting we see a vision of perfection through the depiction of a day filled with leisure and great weather.  There are several people swimming along the aqueduct, simply basking in what seems to be an air of peace.  Similarly, in the poem, Woodsworth’s first words are that it was a “mild day of March.”  The word “mild” meaning that the climate is neither too hot nor too cold, setting the tone for how one may feel tempered when reading the rest of the poem.  The same feeling is evoked fromt the painting, where the sun light’s casting against the landscape and buildings, indicates the hour of dusk, hence indicating that a mildness has taken over that part of the day.

There also seems to be a Utopian fantasy taking place in both the art piece and the poem, when Woodsworth says: “Love, now an Universal birth/from heart to heart is stealing/from earth to man/from man to earth/-it is the hour of feeling.”  Now, instead of looking at the art piece first, if the lines are read first, and the art piece is looked at thereafter, one will see that a perfect world has been projected.  The illusion that “love” has been born on a “universal” level, meaning that everyone and everything is exuding a perfect sense of happiness and love, is entirely the definition of a Paradise world.  In the picture we see men inside of the water, casually relaxing and enjoying the themselves. That part of the art piece could even literally have those words “From Earth to man, from man to Earth -It is the hour of feeling” placed in that specific spot on the painting.

The combination of the perfect weather and the gentlemen’s’ sense of peace in Gericault’s painting goes quite well with Wordsworth last line when he says, “for this one day we’ll give to idleness.”  In other words, instead of carrying on with work, which is the daily protocol for survival, both painter and poet are saying that, instead, not worrying is the perfect way to enjoy life, and in that sense, the survival of one’s inner spirit is most important.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

 

Iron Maiden & Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Version vs Interpretation

The one way that Iron Maiden’s version of this poem is similar to Romantic Poetry is the way they are able to stimulate two senses at once through language, much like synesthesia. But my experience of reading the poem and listening to the song were so different I could not put the two together and say they were alike. The song was definitely enjoyable to listen to as it had its way of provoking certain emotions through the heavy metal music and images, but it is exactly that that I argue this song is really not like Romantic Poetry.

I read through Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” with such peace and quiet. This poem is a sub genre called Romantic Literature under the genre of Romanticism while the song can be placed under the sub genre of Romantic Music. It was all about myself as an individual when I was reading this poem. The words left me as the reader with endless interpretations based on my decision as a reader. Every emotion I felt through the poem was internal and I felt peace and quiet while reading scenes of terror and destruction, which doesn’t seem to coincide but it was pleasurable. An example among many examples from the poem that made me feel a sense of calmness is from Part 6 of the electronic version, “But why drives on that ship so fast, / Without or wave or wind?” The ship moving fast without wind or waves is like the ship is a ghost ship gliding through the undisturbed waters. It was like it didn’t even exist and all theses images were derived from my own imagination. Everything was more external with the song. It’s definitely an interpretation of the poem, but based on my experience of the poem, the song does not do it justice. Iron Maiden’s heavy metal music along with the singer’s voice of anger was expressive and emotional. I felt the emotions of the song, the terror and the unease of the singer. It was like these emotions were predetermined and the goal was to make me feel the same way. With the poem, there really was no sort of distractions that will provoke my senses as I read the poem. And that is, I think, the point of Romantic Poetry; to be in a state of peace and calmness while experiencing the weird and mysteriousness of the art inside of my head. The song limits out interpretations.

Edit- Iron Maiden’s song definitely fit into the Romantic era, just not under Romantic Poetry specifically as the prompt was asking. The challenge of comparing the song to the poem is there is components to the song, or music in general, that shifts the main focus away from the words. I find it a bit challenging to compare the sound of the guitar riff to a word. It may be easier if I were to compare Coleridge’s poem to another poem or a piece of literature.

-Van Vang

Nightmare on a Boat

As you search for purpose and reason in your life through the realms of academia and erudition, perhaps fervent scouring of the vast depths of philosophy and science have sapped the essence of your weary mind; it is now then, the time to embrace your unique soul and the boundaries of raw emotion to harness your latent aptitude. Romanticism embodies the feeling you get after finishing all of your finals or papers, an exuberant spark of joy, the exclamation mark, the incessant cry of a newborn, a declaration that emotion holds more meaning to the human experience than the infinitude of logic.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner takes you on a distortion of reality, an eventful mind-bending tale of confounding sequences. The journey that you embark upon while reading of the experience that the Ancient Mariner shares, encourages you to look beyond what you see, to listen to more than what you can hear. Your imagination is paramount and to neglect it would spell emptiness and suffering altogether. Coleridge’s poems tell us to live fruitfully and experience continuously, reinventing the norm and insinuating creation and originality. Centuries later, his tale of a nightmare at sea, would continue on.

Plug the amp, align your cymbals, tune your six-strings, where else but music lays the ultimate expression of individuality and freedom of spirit? Iron Maiden breathes horror, excitement, uncertainty, fear, and wisdom in their reinterpretation of the romantic classic. The phases of varying tempo in Iron Maiden’s version of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner express the development of emotion in the story. Repetition echoes the lament and suffering of the Mariner. The sudden intensity of the climax breathes raw emotion and absolute passion through persistent beats. Perhaps the spirit of Coleridge remains head-banging to this metal classic Although the song represents creative ingenuity, the powerful imagery of Coleridge’s Poem is unmatched through the metal reproduction.

The ominous feeling of grief and hopelessness captured by Samuel Taylor Coleridge can not be imitated. “The water, like a witch’s oils, Burnt green, and blue and white.” (30)The unusual coloring of the water signifies an abnormal otherworldly presence. The lines of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner induce spooking chills and a sense of uncertainty.

The juxtaposition of intense metal and image-inducing poetry enables us to understand the capacities of human imagination. Emotion can be represented in an endless number of ways. As Iron Maiden’s classic, of a romantic classic, lives on to entertain new audiences, we are reminded that imagination and individuality live on and on. I’m sure Coleridge would be proud, in some way.

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Thomas Pham

The Time of the Ancient Mariner–Life and Death

Originally, I wanted to say that Iron Maiden’s version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner was not romantic poetry because it’s not romantic in the sense that I’m used to things being romantic. I generally don’t listen to rock music, so I have that bias. However, trying to avoid that bias, in the preface of Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, they describe poetry as

“…the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science… In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs, in spite of things silently gone out of mind and things violently destroyed, the Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time. ”

Which made me realize that this is exactly what Iron Maiden’s version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner had. What better way to show “impassioned expression” than to yell like all the lyrics. And though you usually wouldn’t have this “epic and wicked” feeling in romantic pieces, Iron Maiden gives us both romance and wickedness in this song–a climate/mixture that is usually not the case (at least in my world). And most importantly, this song appears to have a definite impact on people even after all these years. So by default, I want to say that Iron Maiden’s song of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner is indeed like romantic poetry.

In terms of the lyrical and actual content of the song, we could look at the following,

“Death and she Life in Death,
They throw their dice for the crew
She wins the mariner and he belongs to her now.
Then, crew one by one
they drop down dead, two hundred men
She, she, Life in Death.
She lets him live, her chosen one.”

Generally, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner was about life and death, though they say it’s about God’s creations when you deduct religion, it’s about life and death–about how we should appreciate life, and the people that surround us because otherwise, life is kind of pointless, it’s upsetting, it’s lonely. And romantic poetry is generally about the love and appreciation people have for others or other things that fulfill their lives. Especially when you are out in the sea, the company of others is very important to your survival–to help you keep your sanity, which clearly didn’t happen for the Ancient Mariner. So though the Ancient Mariner was the chosen one, he was alone, so life was pointless for him then, the pity of others was not what he wanted when he was telling his story to the wedding guest, he wanted them to learn to appreciate the people that surround them, the way that he didn’t get to do.

 

-Luz Palacios

Snap. Crackle. Rock

 

 

The Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is like Romantic Poetry as the voice’s inflection and delivery brings the lyrics to a whole new lights.  Similarly to what the turn of Romantic Poetry created, is a sense of modernity -detaching from a traditional form of poetic speech and bringing it to a modern one.

The line “And now the Storm-Blast came and he was tyrannous and strong: he struck with his oe’r taking wings, and chased us South along,” when heard through Iron Maiden’s version definitely creates an imagery that otherwise could not be felt from just reading. Its as though one is experiencing the chaos of the undertaking and a thrill comes over as the shouting of the vocalists voice, along with the thick, loud and massive sound of the instruments used in the song.

In terms of the lyrics, the words “and now the Storm-Blast” is in syncopation with the blasting of the bass and electric guitars, as well as the drums, invoking even more the feeling of being in conjunction with the raging ocean’s waves and tide.  This is the same, incidentally, with what the purpose of poetry was supposed to cause, during the “turn.”

Just like this choice in music, that was looked down upon, Romantic Poetry too, was deemed as odd and almost bewitching, for, to many, it was almost spell like.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

Bewitched by the Lyrics

Iron maiden’s heavy metal version of the poem is like Romantic poetry because it is a musical form of powerful emotional expression.  The song’s genre kind of screams the lyrics out there forcing you to listen just as the Marinere is forcing the wedding guest to listen to the story, “The wedding guest stood still / And listens like a three year’s child; The Marinere hath his will / The wedding guest sate on a stone, / He cannot chuse but hear: / And thus spake on that ancyent man / The bright-eyed Marinere” (19-25). The is a rhyme scheme abcb defe, which is an alternative rhyme.  The rhyme scheme of “will” and “still” enhances the visual image of the wedding guest becoming unaware of his surroundings and being trapped to listen to this mysterious tale. The rhyme scheme serves also as an echo. In addition, the lyrics, and the music enhance the reader’s understanding of the poem. It paraphrases Coleridge’s poem really well.

The music dramatizes the danger which occurs within the poem, “The albatross begins with its vengeance / A terrible curse a thirst has begun / His shipmates blame bad luck on the Mariner / About his neck the dead bird is hung.” The ‘s’ sound in the end of the words “albatross,” “begins,” and “its” creates a hissing sound as well as the ‘s’ sound in “curse” and “thirst”. You can particularly hear that the word vengeance is stressed. The alliteration of “blame” and “bad” emphasizes the seriousness of this crime. The satanic crime to kill the bird leads to the crew dying one by one in the ship.

Later on, the song surprisingly begins to slow down and you can hear the creaking of the ship in 5:35, which enhances the eerie effect of the poem.

-Ana Diaz-Galvan

Iron Maiden and Coleridge: Transcending Genre

Samuel Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” has been cycled over the years as an epitome of the Romantic era, where the natural world and love was valued high as a response to the changing industrial world that seemed to dull these sensations. However, Coleridge’s poem seems to have appealed to a metal band like Iron Maiden as an important source of inspiration. Metal usually does not seem to be in the same category as romantic, but this is usually because the way metal is perceived, especially by those that are not familiar with metal. I am not so familiar with metal myself, so from my vantage point, I can see how the specific hard, fast-paced metal sound of Iron Maiden gives them the characteristic of industry—and anything but the valuing of the natural world. In the band’s song of the same name, there is a moment when the sound softens up for spoken lyrics to be said:

“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
four times fifty living men
(and I heard nor sigh nor groan)
with heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
they dropped down one by one.”

This is directly taken from the poem toward the end of part III, and it almost seems as if the band excuses themselves by choosing to include the poem section without the fast-paced music in the background. However, even so, when put in the context of a metal song, the dark sensory details and imagery have taken on another sensibility. Much like the ballads and the folklore of any society, reinterpretations are the lifeblood of having folkloric art. In this sense, the Iron Maiden song is another reinterpretation that has given the poem another genre altogether with the same material though. When the poem utilized the description of Death and Life-in-Death in the 10-11 stanzas of part III, the audience obviously will think spooky:

“Are those her ribs through which the Sun

Did peer, as through a grate?

And is that Woman all her crew?

Is that a DEATH? and are there two?

Is DEATH that woman’s mate?

 

Her lips were red, her looks were free,

Her locks were yellow as gold:

Her skin was as white as leprosy,

The Night-mare Life-in-Death was she,

Who thicks man’s blood with cold.”

However, the poem gives it a more spectral tone while the song utilizes a lot of the same language but different delivery. As I mentioned earlier, the poem has transcended a different genre through the interpretation done by Iron Maiden. In Iron Maiden’s use of the death-related imagery, the audience is captivated more by the confrontational style of the song since it is basically yelled and aggressive in its delivery. The song however, bears the burden of illegitimacy since some could say it is a rip-off of the poem, but I believe the different characteristics of the song give it a different style, but still valid modernization of the material/language.

 

–Cesar R

Metal Rock and Poetry

After listening to Iron Maiden’s version of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, I believe that it does a good job at portraying the poetry. At first, I did not enjoy listening to Iron Maiden because I am not into their genre of music. It is difficult to define romantic poetry as one certain thing. Heavy metal can be seen as another form of romantic poetry. It portrays emotions and feelings in a different way.

The heavy metal rock music went along with the poem when it introduced the men and the Mariner to a frigid land that was covered in “mist and snow” where the snow “cracked and growled, and roared and howled”. The music brought to life of the uncertainty the men and the Mariner were going through. The loudness of rock portrayed their surrounding and the environment they were in. The snowy condition was described well because the way the snow roared and howled is paired well with the loudness and heaviness of rock. The transition of heavy metal rock to soft, creepy sounding music led to the slow foreshadowing of the men being cursed.

“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.

Four times fifty living men,

(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)

With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,

They dropped down one by one.”

At the 5:52 mark in the song, he goes off course and reads a part of the poem instead. I feel that by doing this, there is a sense of connectivity to the actual poem even if that part lasted for less than a minute. After the two verses were read in the song, there is a two minute gap before the singing starts again. This silence lets us process what has just happened. The men have just been cursed. When the singer said “they dropped down one by one” and leaves us hanging with only music, we wait in anticipation wondering what’s going to happen next. It causes our minds to think of scenarios that are to come after. And when he starts to sing again, we come to realize that the curse still lives on.

-Naomi Van