Creative Writing Project

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The Convict 2019

The warm light of the evening hit me from the side of my face;

–On the side of a hill I stood,

Happiness at the moment ever fleeting me while calm left my body

Through the freeness of my body there in the beauty of nature.

“Why must I leave from such safeness and calmness? Why must I seperate?”

My pained spirit spoke,

Agony struck me as I turned in, hope of fixing him fleeting,

The person in which laid in the cell; the convict; the victim

The thick beige walls showed the shadow of the victim

The victims prison being nothing but a dungeon in disguise

At this sight; I stay still

The outcast being failed by a criminal justice system; pity

His hair dark and not cared for; his back hunched,

His exhales turning into deep sighs,

His wallowing in the loss of his hope for the future

The impending doom of his life being over

Pity and sadness at this sight,

The body and mind dejected from care;

He notices me an anchor for a broken system

This hideous image lay in front me.

He withers emotionally, socially, and physically,

For he wishes he can change the past;

For his crime defines him, overwhelms him, he states

His views darken as for socially he is dead

From the group of those sentencing him,

To his dungeon he was lead by an atrocious malignancy,

All those that can soothe his pain not having the resources,

He lay his sorrows in a cold cell

But in his depression, he is consumed, in his mind he is stuck

His conscience his torture for he cannot bring appease to it,

In his agony he cannot reach tranquility,

His imprisonment being his life’s disease.

At night his soul cannot reach rest while these emotions press on his limbs,

The weight of these emotions being unbearable on his body,

For his sleep lacks actual rest with the memories of his crime haunting,

The wretchedness of the implications of his conviction waying on him

His chains being the walls that confine him and dull his future,

Cold-sweats beat on his skin trying to exude his crime

And terror strikes in his heart

He raises his eyes to meet mine; they sink in, deep into my soul,

A tear slides down his face;

Sorrow and silence is the only motions to occur

He proceeds to ask me why I am there

“Poor convict! In all reality, alone you are…

In comparison to you our states being completely different

For I the warden and you the convict; failed by a system

I am your brother and I share your sorrows”

Compassion fills me, but I cannot do anything by the nature of our roles,

My care cannot do anything, but if I were God it would,

If I had the resources to plant your future you would blossom

Review:

William Wordsworth’s “The Convict” is a political statement that tries to bring to light the injustices that come along with the criminal justice system and specifically; with issues regarding imprisonment. In my parody of his work, I attempted to conduct a contemporary approach in which the jailer observing the prisoner is sympathetic towards the prisoners situation due to him knowing that he cannot help the prisoner due to the failure of the structure of the criminal justice system. I wanted to focus on this subject matter due to the fact that back when this was published; this was a very politically controversial subject as it is now. Furthermore, it is one of my favorite poems from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s & William Wordsworth’s, “Lyrical Ballads 1798 and 1800” and its controversial nature I felt allowed me to communicate how a modern prisoner feels and experiences being imprisoned; but, as stated, with a more modern approach. This parody, like it’s mother poem, I wanted to be emotional by focusing on how Romanticism evokes emotion over reason traditionally, partnered with the employment of Romanticism’s concept of “senses over intellect (lecture notes #8).” What can be explained from my parody is that the jailer, like in the original, feels deep empathy for the jailed; but cannot do anything about the prisoners future and current state. All of this ultimately making the jailer feel trapped emotionally along with the prisoner due to him knowing how the system works by him also being a part of it. Wordsworth piece has notably been taking out of certain additions of the “Lyrical Ballads”; and it is one of the strongest pieces in the book. This being one of the biggest reason why I picked it; it’s controversial nature. This form of protest is powerful due to how it evokes loneliness, pain, and sorrow. With my parody I hope to evoke such emotions about the wrongdoings of the criminal justice system through the eyes of a warden and through a prisoner.
-Isabel P

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The Rime of the Stubborn Procrastinator

It is a stubborn procrastinator

Of course, he is up late

Beard overgrown, hair a mess he looks up

Why does he stay up so late, why take the bait.

 

The classroom’ doors are spread wide open

My test is to be turned in

A line forms to turn in papers

The stubborn procrastinator walks in, his paper next of kin.

 

In his crusty, bloodshot eye he holds…

The rest of the class go about their day

No one notices, no one cares of the message he beholds

But you, you take a look into those eyes that have turned glazed

 

The student was excited, glee filled his eyes

One chapter ended and a new one was about to begin

School hasn’t  been a breeze for him, not so easy

Being brought up with good morals, patience and discipline.

 

Sacrifice and determination got him here from high school to university

He was no strangers to late nights, even then

A heavy curse inflicted on him, where all his work is done last second

And now the curse is back, it is here again.

 

The constant view into his eyes, piercing like mirrors

All of a sudden, you become him

And you remember all of the past events that led you there.

Clear as day, even at night, the picture is not so dim.

 

And now the RESEARCH – PAPER  came, and he

Was weak-willed he knew it was going to take a night long.

He was struck no desire to write anytime before the night before

And waited for the day to come along, how wrong.

 

The stubbornness was here, the stubbornness was there,

The stubbornness was all around:

It cracked and hissed, and growled and kissed

Like roots growing in the ground

 

With stubbornness breeds ignorance, and impotence

There is time for the gym, time for a few youtube videos

Even time for some video games, and Netflix

Look upon this throne of disruptions he bestows.

 

At length did cross a DISTRACTION for our little student

Through the nothingness it came out, reaching out towards them

As if it had been a hand trying to grab our little student

We cursed it, yet became enthralled by it’s over looming presence.

 

Our direction became misguided, our attention diverted from the research paper

Now it was going towards the DISTRACTION and we were falling headfirst

In our heads we knew that we would write the paper, just not now

First comes the distraction, then the paper, but now quench this thirst.

 

I was having fun, completely ignoring my paper.

It was always on my mind, leeching onto the back of my brain

I knew I had to stop soon, opportunities like this would be seldom

Sweat wiped my eyes, like rain

 

‘God save me, STUBBORN PROCRASTINATOR!

From the disruptions that plague universities

Why thou look anywhere else but myself?

I shot the DISTRACTION

 

I looked upon the ticking time

And my eyes darted from side to side

I looked upon my research paper

With nothing done I knew I was in for a ride

 

Yet I finished of course, on time.

I wear this curse on my neck

Its me in my prime

I need to look at myself, give myself a good check

Reflection: Like many others I assume, I wanted to modernize Wordsworth’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. I settled for my version to captivate not only a modern audience, but an immediate audience. This is a poem that many students, including myself can relate to. It has to deal with the typical university student who procrastinates their assignments last second.

I gave the ‘Stubborn Procrastinator’ a persona, I gave it a picture people can see. While many may not immediately want to be compared to someone as ugly as that, they will later see that they aren’t that different. I feel that if I gave the ‘Stubborn Procrastinator’ it gave the poem a sense of immediacy, and made it almost more intimate, There is a character we can connect the poem right from the beginning. There is another unspoken character who observes the procrastinator in the classroom, and not much is given about this character, because it’s supposed to be in the perspective of the reader. Just like the reader, this unspoken character looks at the ‘Stubborn Procrastinator’s” eyes and then observes their perspective. The whole point was to blur the lines between whose perspectives we were switching from and to. Both the unspoken person, and the ‘Stubborn Procrastinator” are supposed to be the same person. With, hopefully, the reader finding themselves part of it too. The poem was to highlight just the number of students who are indeed procrastinators themselves, and meant to highlight their struggles in the university setting. In a parody attempt there are stanzas that are very similar to Wordsworth’s own lines, in order to see the connection in both poems. This poem is a parody, the Albatross instead of leading towards clearer waters, instead leads our reader towards more distractions. And while death isn’t present, we know from Wordsworth Version that it is coming, and while it’s not here, time is the lurking danger. We know it’s bound to come, and it will always affect our protagonist in their journey to finish at the last second.

  • Robert Morales

809 Clinton St.

(Inspired by London 1802)

Rise up to the heart that beat on 809 Clinton St.

To the house that gave home to any soul that roamed

In and out of chaos,

Up and Down areas of lost.

These streets know too much of me from you.

Sirens, Street Lights, Concrete Rumbles grow in your rear view.

Rise up to the life that lived in 809 Clinton St.

To the stories it fostered and the love it breathed.

I wonder what happened to the children who played,

Who grew up and grew out, there’s not much else I can say.

There once was a street with a house, that was a home.

Now there’s just a street with drifting memories that touch my heart in the cold.

To walk by is to see a world frozen in time.

Long live the lives whom on 809 Clinton St. would shine.

-Angelica Costilla

 

Merced, 2019: Turmoil within a Divided Nation

Samantha Shapiro

(UC) Merced, 2019 – Based on London, 1802 by William Wordsworth

From Project Gutenberg (1)

 

 

 

Wordsworth! thou are not living at this time:
Merced is in need of thee: she is a lost
In stagnant swamps: undrained, lied-to and double-crossed,
Wildfires, ignited populace at its prime,
Rain through student belief in a torrential shower
Of hopeful change. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up in your words, return to us again;
And expose the answers we seek through political power
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst art whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
And as you travelled on life’s common way,
Divided as us, though to impart
The questions that we have today.

Picture of Merced Main Street (2)

  1. Picture from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/47651/47651-h/47651-h.htm
  2. Picture from https://www.mercedmainstreet.com

 

Atwater, CA, 2019


Driving through the town,

Next to where the buildings end

And where the land becomes green with brown,

There are traces of sweat that drip down from the bodies that bend.


The hands have scars from the labor,

The workers know cries of pain,

But being able to rest is not something they favor

Because they’d lose a workday’s gain.


The workers begin to sigh

As they look down on their stained boots,

But there can be no tear from any eye

Because they are their family’s roots.


Most of the time they are tired,

But they continue to go back to the fields.

They cannot afford to be fired,

Since to their children, they are their shield.

-Maria G. Perez (William Blake’s “London”)

Laura Romero “The Field”

Escaping Into the Sunset

The disregard of death in William Wordsworth’s “Lines Written Near Richmond, Upon the Thames, At Evening” demonstrates how this ballad is a prime example of the escape from human life the Romantics found in the natural world. The significance of the ballad can best be represented by Caspar David Friedrich’s painting “The Monk by the Sea”

The ballad is about how a “youthful bard” (I. Wordsworth 9), or poet, admires the setting Sun over the Thames River and how he is “heedless of the following gloom” (10) . He is so captivated by the beauty of the scene that he does not acknowledge the impending doom that the day and he, like other humans, will meet. He is so in awe of the scene that “He deems their colours shall endure (11). His reasons for this are the following, as expressed by the speaker.

“–And let him nurse his fond deceit,
And what if he must die in sorrow!
Who would not cherish dreams so sweet,
Though grief and pain may come to-morrow?” (13-6)

While the poet’s focus on doesn’t let him see the bigger picture, he doesn’t care and is rather happy with his ignorance. He might be deceiving himself by believing this scenery will always be there for people to admire, since everyone must die and no longer take in the view, but he would rather die happy with this image in his mind than worry about the pain death has prepared for him, when the time comes. By doing so, the poet escapes the treachery surrounding the concept of death and forgets the fear associated with it.

The poet also gives importance to the scenery because its preservation is crucial to the preservation of the general Romantic poet.

“Glide gently, thus forever glide,
O Thames! That other bards may see
As lovely visions by thy side
As now, fair river! come to me.
Oh glide, fair stream! for ever so;
Thy quiet soul on all bestowing,
’Till all our minds for ever flow,
As thy deep waters now are flowing” (17-24)

The poet calls to the river to continue existing and maintain its beauty so other poets can view such a scenery as he is experiencing at the moment. If the peaceful river continues to flow, the minds of poets will also flow with ideas for poems and more poetry will be produced. This fragment of the natural world “bestows” upon poets the necessary emotions to move them and be able to create art. The poem goes on to say:

“That in thy water may be seen
The image of the poet’s heart,
How bright, how solemn, how serene!” (26-8)

This means that the poet is inseparable from this location and he belongs the. The river has all the soothing qualities that helps such poets craft their work, and seek “refuge from [the] distress” (31) of their daily lives.

Despite the ecstasy the poet is in and the beauty of the nature present, death is still present. In the very beginning, a boat is seen floating into the sunset.

“While, facing thus the crimson west
The boat her silent path pursues!
And see how dark the backward stream” (4-6).

Sunsets brings the day to an end, just as how death brings a person’s life to an end. Therefore, since the boat is facing the sunset and moving towards it, just as the poet also looks at the Sun right “in front” (1) of him, the boat and the poet are confronted with the end, or death and face it head on. The “dark…backward stream,” which are the ripples the boat leaves behind as it moves forward, is “dark” because the east, where the boat is coming from, is getting darker as the sun sinks on the west side. More importantly, the darkness follows the boat Similarly the poet’s hopes that the light of the sunset will continue are crushed and the daylight meets its end as “The evening darkness gathers round” (39). Night begins to settle, swallowing any light that gives life to the Thames River and the poet.

In terms of what I thought was “missing” from the piece was the presence of a person on the boat. Wordsworth didn’t really give indication that the boat floating towards the sunset with “oar[s] suspended” (34) was being steered by anyone. I know that when writing about scenery, Romantics focused on its natural components and isolated nature from human society and influence. The absence of a rower may be a result of this move to ignore all that is human and center the poem around nature instead. If the boat is unmanned, however, it can represent how people turn into nothing as they approach their end; their souls simply drift away. Either way, human existence is seen as insignificant in both and the same distress the Romantics tried to avoid in their life and works is communicated in this lyrical ballad.

Based on my reading of the ballad, I ultimately decided that Caspar David Friedrich’s “The Monk by the Sea” best reflected the ballad as a painting. While Théodore Gericault’s “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct” did have a better sunset, I think Friedrich’s painting embodied more of the emotions expressed in the ballad, and which were common in Romantic poetry. The Romantics, like the poet in this ballad depict being in nature almost like a religious experience. The monk in the painting represents the poet and Romantics reflecting on the nature in front of them and having an awakening. The monk’s solitude on the landscape I found connected to the poet’s state of contemplation and of the loneliness that awaits. Whether there are any other people around or not, the poet views the sunset over the Thames as a very individual, focused experience. In both the painting and the ballad, it is just a man and nature. The monk’s loneliness is also reminiscent of the boat on the water, which was all alone in the middle of a large, magnificent view, as is the case here. Although there is no vibrant sunset like the one described in the ballad, you can see a faint orange in the clouds. It gives a more pessimistic, but realistic, perspective of the ballad. While the poet escapes from the death that surrounds him by focusing on beauty, the painting centers the gloom and shows how it’s inescapable. People can escape to nature and escape from the fear of death, but they cannot escape death.

-Wendy Gutierrez

Lonely

Romanticism relies on the spirituality and mystery that is evoked by nature itself (lecture notes #8). Both the paintings that we are presented with to choose from, and the book Lyrical Ballads 1798 and 1800 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, present Romanticism at its height of introduction and it’s evocation of Romanticisms attributes of culture, nature, emotions, the author’s voice, and various other attributes attributed to Romanticism.

“The Convict” by William Wordsworth portrays these notions employed by romanticism like the mysteriousness of nature and author’s voice. In this case; the painting Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), The Abby in the Oakwood, 1808-1810 demonstrates aspects of romanticism through it’s own imagery and it’s possible relation to the poem. The poem is a poem of a Convicts need, and dream, of redemption that he may not necessarily have in this; their time of anguish. The poem opes with

“–On the slope a mountain I stood,

While the joy that precedes the calm season of rest

Rang loud through the meadow and wood (1-4)”

Interpreting this into the painting the convict being on a mountain, we can see the loudness describes through the poetic piece through the destruction of nature depicted in the painting. This evoking loneliness, mysteriousness, and destruction through the poetic piece and through the painting. The painting is like the poetry, with eery emotions being actively evoked, the imagery provided by both supports this. The painting shows this through the gate being alone, nature seemingly destroyed through the tree, also the lack of grass, and the employment of a broken building. In the poem it can be related to the image, and it evokes these emotions, through these direct stanzas for example:

“The thick-ribbed walls that o’ershadow the gate

Resound; and the dungeons unfold:

I pause; and at length, through the glimmering grate,

The outcast of pity behold (5-8).”

,In relation to the this imagery above by Friedrich, we can relate it to these stanzas due to the fact that we can see the solaceness through the description of the gate, and the wall. This in relation to evoking loneliness through the mysticism of nature through it’s seeming destruction of nature itself through the image. This being evoked through the stanzas by the “grate” due to its evocation of loneliness of the convict who is in awe of their loneliness in the meadows and woods. Their depiction of a dungeon as they relate to being a pitiful outcast can be translates to how the image evokes pity, sadness, and the destruction of nature. This can be further demonstrates by these last stanzas:

“When from the dark synod, or blood-reeking field,

To his chamber the monarchs is led,

All soothers of sense their soft virtue shall yield,

And quietness pillow his head (25-28).”

The field presented through the image can be imagined by the reader of this poem, or interpreter of the piece and image, as a lonesome and a possibly blood ridden field. In relation to these stanzas this image depicts loneliness, in which the convict can relate to, through the dark colors, imagery that is just dead trees, dead nature, and that of a destroyed building which stands a gate. This imagery adding to the sense of lost that the convict feels through their pain through aspects of romanticism that relied both on the mysticism of nature and authors voice. This being obvious in the poem and in the image. Lastly, all of this imagery can serve for the pain that the convict feels in wanting to desperately redeem himself through all of his loneliness and angish due to how sad, and lonely, the imagery is.

— Isabel P

Garcia Gave me all the Answers. I did Nothing

Caspar David Friedrich’s painting The Abbey in the Oakwood is ominous, there is death in both nature and humanity, and the architecture looks dilapidated and frightening. The colors are just an awful, depressing shade and the dilapidated structure looks separated from the outside world. I compare this to Wordsworth’s poem The Convict. I read this as Wordsworth being highly against the conventions of prison, as prison is death and destruction of the soul.

The poem does not at all paint prison as a haven. Lines 13 -16 read, “His black matted head on his shoulder I bent, / And deep is the sigh of his breath, / And with stedfast dejection his eyes are intent/ On the fetters that link him to death”. The convict here is trapped as stated by the fetters but is also is next to death. By linked with the chains, the convict is also linked to death. The poem also points out that, “His bones are consumed, and his life-blood is dried” (l. 21). Again, there is reference to death, specifically pointing out that death is inevitable. There is no hint to life after prison or some sort of spiritual rejuvenation or correction for the convict, only death. There is a reference to a better alternative for convicts other than the systematic grouping of a dead-end life sentence. The last two lines read, “My care, if the arm of the mighty were mine, / Would plant thee where yet thou might’st blossom again” (ll. 51-52). According to the footnotes, the “blossoming again” is in reference to sending prisoners away rather than placing them in prison. The poem is explicit about prison being life draining and dead-end, but there seems to be virtue in being sent away to start again. There is no place for the darkness that is prison, but there is greatness to be experienced outside of inevitable death.

This relates to the painting as there is a clear presence of death in the painting. The dark tones in the painting reflect how prison is depicted. The graves and the church that are shown give an understanding of death, but also life after death or away from death that a convict being sent to Australia could possibly experience. The sentence that a person would receive would be a death sentence but having the opportunity to start over is a new beginning.

—Joseph Rojas

Mirror Message

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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

The art piece that most relates to one of the poems would be Caspar David Friedrich’s The Abbey in the Oakwood and William Wordsworth’s The Thorn. The reason for this is because of the painting’s setting – an old abbey surrounded by baren trees in what looks like a graveyard – and its dark and almost gloomy colors – match the tone of the poem which also carries a depressing atmosphere in its words.

Romanticism is about an expression of emotions which is definitely what happens in The Thorn. The Thorn first begins by describing a thorn that sits on a hilltop but then a character is introduced, Martha Ray, along with her history. She was to be married to someone named Stephen Hill but he left her someone else and it then turned out she was pregnant but the baby ends up dying – though the reason why is not explained. In the end, the baby is buried at the hilltop and this is where Martha goes to cry and mourn. The painting has a similar story as it depicts people walking into the abbey with a coffin. Both the poem and the painting depict a clear expression of emotions: the tragedy of death and the grief and gloominess that comes with it. The painting uses dark colors, it starts off with black almost filling up the bottom half before an almost creme color replaces it only for the painting to grow increasingly darker with gray and then black again in the corner. The poem has the same thing, it kind of starts off dark grows a bit lighter but then goes back to its gloomy start. So while the poem and painting aren’t related, the two go hand in hand because of its Romantic theme of emotion expression.

 

Shadows of Guilt

romantic-image-1

Esther Quintanilla

I imagined the painting “Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct”, by Théodore Gericault, while reading the ballad “The Convict”, by William Woodsworth. The opening lines of the poem alone are enough to make the connection:

The glory of evening was spread through the west;

On the slope of a mountain I stood,

While the joy that precedes the calm season of rest

Rang loud through the meadow and wood.

The painting is awfully breathtaking; there’s a glorious castle on the side of a mountain with a drawbridge connecting it to the rest of civilization. In the left corner, you can see the sunset beautifully taking place, giving a brilliant glow to the tree and drawbridge a beautiful aura. Contrasting this is the top right corner, where there are, what seems to be, storm clouds forming or the darkness of the night settling in. There are two men presented in the painting, one who appears to be a begar and another is offering help. While neither are featured in “The Convict”, because they’re both outside and free, it gives a good visual to the idea of the two men in the poem could be. Additionally, the man who is offering help parallels Woodsworth in the poem, who is visiting a convict because of his guilt. I would consider this painting to be romantic because of the way that it beautifies and personifies the sunset. Emotions are also a key element in this painting because while you are in awe of the sunset that is being presented before you, there is a period of night and darkness that is waiting to take over. The mystery of the night, as well as the beauty of the sunset, are used to add romantic elements to this artwork.

The poem, in simple terms, is about, who presumably is Woodsworth, who is visiting a lonely convict who is imprisoned inside a beautiful mountain because he feels guilty that he’s captive and wants to set him free. This poem exemplifies romanticism because it is deeply rooted in powerful emotions. From the description of the convict, “His bones are consumed, and his life-blood is dried,//With wishes the past to undo;//And his crime, through the pains that o’erwhelm him, descried,//Still blackens and grown on his view,”, to the great guilt that Woodsworth feels toward the convict, a man that he doesn’t even know the name of, “Poor victim! No idle intruder has stood//With o’erweening complacence our state to compare, //But one, whose first wish is the wish to be good,//Is come as a brother thy sorrows to share.” The powerful emotions, the regret of the convict and the remorse that Woodsworth feels for him is more than enough to constitute this poem as romantic.