Wordsworth of the Modern Day: America, 2017

A Modern imitation of Wordsworth’s poem:

Jefferson! Your declaration has turned against you:

America needs your return; She has become the home of political unrest.

Of corrupted shores: rebellion, terrorism, and insanity,

Seaside, the great country of freedom,

Has revoked her own former glory

Of Democracy. We are our own demise;

Please! Rise from the grave, return to life;

And return us to Freedom, Liberty, and Democracy.

Your writings like a guiding sign, and long forgotten:

You once had a voice that lead to our country’s liberation:

Clear as a cloudless sky, open, unyielding,

So did you wish for this fate,

In regretful acceptance; and yet your heart

At the destruction did not sway.


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! http://www.yosemitehikes.com/hikes.htm

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

Not just a language, but a state of mind

The status of the English language has changed drastically since the time of Samuel John’s Dictionary (1755) to Macaulay’s and Ray’s call for English language education in India in the sense that the English language now is no longer just a language, but a ‘state of mind’. The English language at first was sloppy, but through time it became the language of the Western hemisphere and of development.

The English language plays a vital role in American and British identity. Although, the American accent sounds very different from a British accent, the colonists may have changed the English language to distinguish it from the British, but they also kept it as a reminder of something to strive for. The English language is what gave America a culture of democracy, freedom, and liberty that they had not had before.

In class (3/3/2017), we discussed a thesis about Johnson, Macaulay, and Ray and how it can be improvised. The example thesis stated that Johnson, Macaulay, and Ray considered the English language as an imperialist language which is a language that would rule other cultures. This not a bad idea, but there’s more to that. English has evolved so much that it is no longer just a language, but a ‘state of mind’. When the British colonists invaded other lands they didn’t just leave behind their language, but culture and ideas. They left their trademark, and this trademark brought forth ideas into developing nations. The English language also helped the British because now they had some common ground with the natives. For instance, India has elections and is far more democratic than its neighboring Arab nations that use Arab as the official language yet are far less democratic and less developed. Another example, is Canada and the U.S. are leaders of the free world, and both were territories of Britain whereas Mexico belonged to Spain. Spain took from Mexico yet never gave them nothing in return whereas Britain gave the U.S. ideas and enlightenment.

-Benjamin Montes

Genocide in America

Mary Rowland’s life story goes to show the intolerance and genocide of America. It was not until her family was at stake that she realized the wrong in genocide. If that had not happened to her family would she have come to realize this? This shows how colonizers did not care about the mass murders they were doing or the territory they were invading until it became personal to them. This is basically a history of America, no one cares about the harm they cause until it comes back to them.

John Locke would not have agreed with the occurrences in Mary Rowland’s captivity narrative because he believed “all men may be held back from invading the rights of others and from harming one another, and so that the law of nature that aims at the peace and preservation of all mankind may be obeyed.”

-Natalia Alvarado

War, Slavery and Genocide Is A Necessary Evil

Mary Rowlandson’s life story and experiences with Native Americans confirms the history of intolerance and genocide central to the English colonization of eastern North America. John Locke thought that slavery was an outcome from war, but Locke still felt that all men ought to be free, regardless of the outcome of a war. Locke felt that the only way a person can be a slave is through his own will. However, if that was the case then there would be no slaves. But what is interesting about John Locke is tht when he was discussing basic human rights such as freedom and liberty, ‘free men’ were considered to be only white men since that was all John Locke knew. John Locke’s only meant for the ‘free men’ to apply only to white men because that was all he knew. Therefore, his arguments for slavery are weak, and many think that he is either for it or against it or just a hypocrite. However, I feel that Locke understood that slavery was a part of life, and those who were superior would control the weak.

No human wants to be born a slave, or give up his divine human rights to his conquerors. However, this is a price people have to pay. I don’t condone slavery and war, but I understand that it is as natural part of human civilization. Today, slavery is still going on and I don’t see any outrage? How do you think technology (cellphones and laptops), food (farming and labor), and resources are produced. Third world countries are in slaved so that Western countries can triumph. John Locke believed that in order to secure some freedoms, we also have to give some up. Therefore, if we want capitalism and productivity to flow someone has to be a slave, and someone has to be manipulated. It’s a cruel world, but it has to happen.

During class many students were taken back when asked a question regarding Rowlandson and her children? A majority felt that Rowlandson was in the right because she was a mother, and the natives were in the wrong because the idea that anybody could harm a mother and her children is cold-hearted. However, if killing children is so cold hearted why didn’t the colonists say to themselves, “hey maybe we should stop expanding and settle with what we have built rather than continuing our destruction, and maybe that will stop these atrocities from happening”. The reason that the colonists didn’t feel anything for Rowlandson’s pain is because they also understood that price of war and genocide. The colonists also understood that as evil as the idea of children dying at the hands of savages was, it was a small price to pay for conquest of North America.

-Benjamin Montes

Mary Rowlandson: a hollywood superstar

The reason that the recurring theme of our literature thus far has been of “mass killing, pillaging, and conquest of indigenous peoples,” is because this is the history of our nation. Albeit, not the one the education system wants us to know, but our history nonetheless. Surely, it causes some to react—the way literature does—as it creates this uncomfortable verbal battlefield with justifications for genocides and heavy worded disagreements against it. However, this is essential for educating one another; I look at Mary Rowlandson’s didactic narrative as a way to educate those unable to sympathize for the indigenous people (choosing to ignore the clearly overarching racist tones).

Perhaps through Mary’s narration of her captivity, the people unable to relate to the mass murdering of the indigenous populace, can finally accept the disgusting truth (or sentiment at least) of this nation’s past. By writing about her captivity, she gives insight to the horrors and savagery of the events occurring in a genocide. It’s through her that the caucasian (with eurocentric tendencies) can relate to; one person, that is, that they can envision through the first-person narrative, the true terror of an invasion. One person’s viewpoint (first-person) vs. a mass populace viewpoint (those wiped out due to colonialism: voiceless). Sounding familiar? Mary serves as the “pleasant familiar face” in this text, in the same way that Hollywood uses a white familiar, friendly face. The message is being conveyed still, that genocide is bad, but how would an elitist, white-european feel when watching a screen above them filled with indigenous people? Nothing appeals to them, at least in the simplest sense of familiarity.


–Just an empty thought on how Mary’s narrative compares to cinema, I’ll return to it on Friday–


Daniel Lizaola Loepz

Divide of classes; dividing love

In John Dryden’s “The Indian Emperour, or the Conquest of Mexico,” is the precursor to the repetitious cycle of division of classes, and inability to embark on relationships based on a difference of ethnicity, nationality, race, and specifically religion.  Dryden, essentially, captures the Romeo and Juliet-esque tragic love story that is occurring amidst the two empires -that of the Aztecs and the imperialists.  In imagining what this theatrical portrayal must have been like for the onlookers, it can be concluded that although many spectators where there for social status purposes, some must have been able to have taken some sort of introspective experience from the play.

In addition, the twist is that Dryden’s attempt at exposing such a political and nationalistic divide, should have resonated even louder within the confines of that theater.  The theater, consisting of a diversity that has been broken up into categories, literally based on their seating.

The whole spectacle rings true still today.  There are publishers of every sort: singers, poets, songwriters, bloggers, playwrights, filmmakers and directors, attempting to raise an awareness towards an important social issue.  For example, social media outlets of today, whether it be the news, or facebook, or twitter, carries a plethora of information intended to show us the breakdown that is occurring within the nationalistic part of our society.  The lack of solidarity, and unity is similar to what Dryden’s point of view is.  We have seen footage after footage, of people yelling others for speaking a language other than English, thus exposing the xenophobia that many feel.

Dryden’s work is a work of modernity, campaigning for the notion to rid of old ways and ideals that only seem to stifle the growth of a nation.  Similarly, that is the case with today.  Ironically, we seem to be going backwards.  Love and the ability to combine beliefes does not seem to be the resolution at the moment.

-Maricela Martinez

John Dryden’s The Indian Emperour and Emperor Trump

John Dryden’s The Indian Emperour, is not Catholic Spain’s conquest of Mexico. This play is anti-Catholic Britain’s manifesto (or vision) of what the British are able to achieve in the New World, and is the embodiment of everything that the Restoration period is about. This ties in with Donald Trump’s campaign MAGA and the movement to put U.S. interests first, and globalism second.

John Dryden, very much like President Donald J. Trump, used nationalism (us vs. them mentality) and gave his audience what they wanted to hear. Can you imagine what would happen if Dryden brought up interracial marriage by making Cortez and Cydaria come together? The audience would be not approve. Therefore, in this play, Dryden had to portray Conquistador Hernan Cortez as a heroic knight who carries his pride, honor, and loyalty in all aspects of his life. A man would show compassion to the natives, but would never turn his back on his king. In a sense, Dryden made Cortez appear as Britain. Meanwhile, Francisco Pizarro is greedy, and punishes natives all for the sense of gold, and this is made out to be Spain. Pizarro uses the name of Catholicism to get away with these atrocities. Translate this play to today’s time, and we have a modern day Trump election campaign. In order for Trump to get support, he had to rally up his followers by feeding them what they wanted to hear. Trump, by using nationalism, became controversial and showed no sympathy for immigrants, and other minorities the same way Dryden showed no compassion to Catholic conquistadors in Mexico. Dryden wanted to create a document that would give others a reason to support exploring the new world. Trump gave his supporters a reason to follow his ideals. Just how building a wall and protecting U.S. interest’s will make America great again, exploring and expanding to the Americas would make Britain great again.

Although, Dryden didn’t support Catholic Spain, he understood what they were going for. Dryden understood that Spain viewed the natives as humans, but at the same time as misguided savages who needed to be saved by Christ. Dryden wanted the British to use the same method, and convince the British people that it was their Christian duty to explore the New World and treat the natives so viciously. This is the reason why Dryden creates doubt and confusion in the relationship between natives and the Conquistadores.

-Benjamin Montes

“City Upon a Hill”: A Utopia for its Time

I can see in John Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity” how it may have been considered some kind of manifesto for a utopia in England in those times. Unlike today, Winthrop would not exclude the presence of a god from his rhetoric. Back then, to talk about “Justice and Mercy” meant that one was talking about the natural laws of man. However, the laws of man really mean the laws that have been given by a Judaeo-Christian God. It was not that they were trying to be tyrannically Christian, virtue really was synonymous with this idea of a God–one could not exist without the other. Although today this rhetoric is typically attributed to the far-right fundamentalist realm of politics, in Winthrop’s time this was revolutionary in the face of the vastly dominant Roman Catholic religion.

Winthrop was an advocate of people having the right to interpret the Bible for themselves. One specific part of Winthrop’s essay that doesn’t sound like the far-right fundamentalists of today, is when he alludes to the biblical idea that people should treat others how they would like to be treated and the idea that people should love their enemies. Whether this is wrong or not is a different question, but it puts into perspective how many ways the Bible was interpreted, which rings true today on how the Constitution is interpreted in different ways. Although we try to be much more secular now, Winthrop hints to something foreshadowing that represents the status quo of religion in our country. Winthrop advocates for religious freedom, and even goes as far as to say there should be peace “between Christians and others.” This reflects our country today where we advocate for religious freedom, but “other” any other religion. By othering any other religion, we mark our citizens as second-class, as if to say Christianity is the official language, so to speak, of our country. A subtlety like this encourages the ideas of “Justice and Mercy” to be filtered through–not the Bible–but those wielding the power to say “this is how it should be interpreted.” Unfortunately, this does not usually represent the country fairly. Furthermore, the problem with Christian rhetoric it often becomes cliche and it makes for empty promises. One example of the cliche that it could become would be the overused language of getting “tougher on crime.” What this means on the surface area is that criminals will get longer sentences and communities will be policed more–overall, this means justice, but this idea of justice is outdated and it usually distracts the public with seeing more arrests as a way of saying this policing is working. However, no one ever stops to question if sentences are fair or if there is a method of rehabilitation/education that could help rid communities of crime. People are more focused on “Justice” because it is an attractive pillar of Christianity.

The legacy of ” A city upon a hill”


John Winthrop, the first leader of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and devout Puritan, wrote A Modell of Christian Charity, to facilitate the development of a strong community, as he and many other puritan settlers were on their way to the new land on the ship Arabella. In his sermon he discusses how the colonist should treat each other in order to ensure the survival of the new colony as well as listing the three reasons for differentiation of rank in society. He notes that firstly, God demonstrates his wisdom in creating different ranks of man, each rank is meant to respect each other, and lastly it brings mankind closer together so that through love and respect we can also depend on one another. To finish his sermon, he states “For wee must consider that wee shall be as a city upon a hill”, meaning that the colony must follow those three guidelines in order for the community to survive because they will be watched by outsiders and if they fail as a community they will have failed God and their beliefs. Winthrop intended for the community to lead by example with Puritan beliefs, due to him and many other Puritans not being able to live under Charles I, who was against the Puritan ideology. Winthrop wanted each class to work together and be able to rely on one another for a properly functioning community, but today we have conflicts amongst majority of Americans in regards to beliefs, gender conformity, politics, and many more. In some regards the “city upon the hill” is still in tact in that America is still one of the leading countries for opportunity and equality, and in some aspects Winthrop was expressing a faith in American Nationalism that would predate the founding of the United States in 1776 which in a sense gave way to the idea of our first amendment. The key difference being that Winthrop was enforcing Puritan ideals and today we focus on a separation of church and state although religion does come up a lot in politics. John Milton on the other hand had different intentions on the meaning of “a city upon the hill” in his speech given to Parliament in 1644, he titled it AREOPAGITICA, in reference to the speech given to the ancient counsel of Athens in regards to the diminished power of the Aeropagus counsel, elders of the community, that would meet on top of a hill. Milton referenced the City on the hill to demonstrate just like the Aeropagus lost rights from the council, people elected from the community, the English people lost their rights when parliament put restrictions on literature. Both Winthrop and Milton are similar in their use of a “city upon a hill” to demonstrate the importance of freedom but they differ on what it means to be that city on the hill. Winthrop means to lead by example with puritan beliefs while Milton means to demonstrate the effects of restriction on their freedom, but they both are stressing the importance of freedom and respect of different ideas which in most aspects is still held in todays world although it is not always as effective as some may wish it to be.  The recent Women’s march that began in the united states was a movement seen all around the world, demonstrating just how important America is to the rest of the world. Marches were seen across the globe in support of women’s rights, although here in America women have more rights than many other women across the globe. The point being that America is still a “city upon the hill” in that across the globe we as a nation have influences everywhere. What happens in America is discussed globally whether that be good or bad. With such a powerful country and an emphasis on freedom of speech and equality, America is constantly in the spotlight and scrutinized for everything that happens as a nation. For example, the election of Trump is globally talked about and has many other governments not only responding on social media in response to Trumps winning the election but also taking political matters into their own hands to support international efforts that trump has just attempted to stop funding for. America will always be “the city upon the hill” I think because with such a powerful country that is so different and so free compared to most other places in the world, we will always be scrutinized for being essentially the symbol of freedom.