The Echo’s Creative Writing Workshop

The Echo: A Writing Forum is hosting a new online creative writing workshop!

Workshop participants will take turns submitting a creative writing piece for critique each week. All workshop pieces will be submitted online at The Echo: A Writing Forum (http://theliteratureclub.proboards.com/) in a password-protected board. Workshop participants will post at least one full, in-depth critique of the piece being workshopped.

To apply, submit 2 short pieces of prose or 4-5 poems and 3 in-depth critiques of other’s prose or poetry. Please see all workshop application guidelines and rules on The Echo: A Writing Forum at http://theliteratureclub.proboards.com/thread/1570/workshop-application-rules

The 1st round deadline is April 30th, 2016. After April 30th, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Email your application to echo.writingforum@gmail.com

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Patience for the World

Chorus
Sabali, sabali, sabali yonkontê.
Sabali, sabali, sabali kayi/kagni. (both mean “good”)
Ni kêra môgô…

Patience, patience, patience is worth everything.
Patience, patience, patience is good.
If you love someone…

The chorus is sung in Bambara which is the main language in Mali, Africa. The chorus is from another song, which is in Bambara and French, “Sabali” by Amadou and Mariam (Music video and lyrics). In “Patience” by Nas and Damian Marley, (Music video and lyrics) the chorus is sung by the original singer, Mariam. Both Amadou and Mariam are featured in the music video of “Patience.” The opening of the music video is dark, but I believe it is Mariam on the left and Amadou on the right both gesturing to the open door. Mariam and Amadou are beckoning us into the song and its world like wise statues enlightening us to the way the universe works. Mariam is featured every time she is singing the chorus and through her positioning over Nas and Damian and the light that surrounds she offers spiritual guidance. Amadou is featured again at 1:30 on either side of Mariam as the frontmost figurehead.

Verse 1
Instead of solving the problems we have here on Earth, such as world hunger, we are more concerned with developing technology to colonize other large rocks in space. We feed millions of pounds of corn and grain to cows and chickens to fatten them up so an average American can eat 270.7 lbs of meat per year (in 2007) that’s almost a pound per day. 
Instead, we could feed starving children with these crops, but that isn’t profitable. Just as we make money from gawking at animals in cages, churches receive donations from showcasing emancipated children. We think putting on a costume makes us a hero who can steal and destroy other histories and cultures, even desecrate the dead. The media shows bad news because they are the most sensational stories and since we see it all the time, we are desensitized to it. The Beast is capitalism and consumerism. Americans are only at home in their own country and there will be no where for them to go when the system collapses.

Verse 2
Socrates believed we were born with innate knowledge and learning was a process of remembering the knowledge rather than acquiring a new skill or new information. Damian is showing how blurry the line is between what is considered supernatural and what is true. Our superstitions are a way for us to explain the world in order to cope living in it, but they can also harm us by restricting our viewpoints. We often talk about things we do not know anything about and we either believe it’s true or we rely on the ignorance of our audience so that we are not questioned to back up what we are saying. I’ve written about this topic of ignorance in my own life in “A Student’s Perspective on Knowledge.” We have a stereotype that if you are in the education system, that you must be smart, but this is not true. There are both smart and dumb people in schools, which goes for every institution. Being in a school does not necessitate that you are smart, regardless of the prestigious brand you display on your chest and the test score you have. But it is ironic that in a place where learning should be taking place, there are people that are not learning.

Verse 3
Nas brings attention to religious scripture being written by people. As we have created language in which scripture is written, we have put ourselves under the trance of superstition. Nas points out the ridiculousness of superstitions by showing how a voodoo doll does not work. Even though we have universities and mass production to meet our sustenance needs of water, food, and shelter and to call ourselves civilized, we are not better than superstitious people because language in institutes, like religion and education, is the new spell that has control over us. Literally, we are soldiers going to war for the profit of monopolies on guns, bombs, and oil. We are also soldiers metaphorically in thought control by repeating what the media and government, played by corporations, tell us. Can we survive without capitalism and war when we have forgotten how to grow our own food and to have patience?

At 3:07 there are people riding seahorses on the pillars lined up on either side of Nas. I could not find what seahorses meant in Ancient Egypt, but in Ancient Europe they thought “the seahorse carried the souls of deceased sailors to the underworld,” which has an interesting connotation the the seahorse riders are should being carried away, perhaps our own souls. Seahorses are symbolic of “patience and contentment” (Seahorse symbolism).

May you have patience.

Gulliver’s Travels: The Influence of Editors and Publication

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift was first published in London in 1726. In over two centuries, hundreds of editions of this story have been published from full books to children’s stories. There have been over a dozen adaptations of Gulliver’s Travels for the screen as TV shows and films. This article concentrates on the publishing history of Gulliver’s Travels across two editions, the first in 1726 and the second in 1735, to show the conflicts between Jonathan Swift and his first publisher, Benjamin Motte. Within the span of a decade, there are large differences between the two editions, even when primarily looking at the use of illustrations.

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Figure 1, Courtesy of Eighteenth Century Collections

Gulliver’s Travels was first published in London in two volumes, priced at 2s. 6d. in 1726 by Benjamin Motte. The set up of the illustration as a portrait of Gulliver with a latin inscription gives an air of authenticity to Gulliver as a figure of authority as well as that he was a real person who would have his image drawn. Gulliver middle-aged or older, which gives him a sense that he has gained wisdom over the years. Gulliver is titled as a captain to give him authority, especially concerning travel over seas, as he has control over a ship. The Latin inscription “Compositum jus, fasque animi, sanctosque recessus Mentis, & incoctum generoso pectus honesto” means “The combination of the right and unjust, right mind, saints recesses of the soul, and the breast imbued with nobleness.” This inscription suggests that Gulliver embodies these righteous and saintly traits. If Gulliver is the honorable man he is portrayed to be, his account should be taken as true.

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Figure 2Courtesy of Eighteenth Century Collections

The title page does not feature Jonathan Swift’s name. Although the title does not say that the novel is written by Gulliver, by framing the title as Gulliver’s Travels the reader is lead to believe that since these travels are Gulliver’s experience they may be written by him as well. Publishing Gulliver’s Travels anonymously lends credence to the story and makes it appear authentic. The formatting of the title places great emphasis on “travels” and “world,” which makes the text appear as a documentary of Gulliver’s exploration. The subtitle serves to make the text appear scientific with the use of the words “method,” “observations,” and “explanatory notes” as scientists use the scientific method to prove a hypothesis by making observations and then explaining their results. Stating this text is “for public Benefit,” suggests that the journey and this account are done by Gulliver for the sake of increasing scientific knowledge and improving public welfare. That Gulliver was once a doctor gives him further credentials as an educated man as well as to show that he was in a profession of caring for people to support the idea of the text being for the public good.

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Figure 3Courtesy of Eighteenth Century Collections

The title (Figure 2) details that the top half of the illustration is a scene in Lilliput and the bottom half is Flimnap. The subjects of the illustration are people, nothing concerning fantasy. England had colonies in other nations and so the London public would have been aware that there were other people around the world. In showing a drawing of these other people, the text uses the existing colonization to show that it is plausible for Gulliver to be discovering new lands and people. This illustration adds to the tone of the book as a recording of scientific discovery because it is a drawing of Gulliver’s observations of the people in these remote nations. Since there is not a large amount of illustrations, the text does not have the tone of a children’s story where a primary source of the entertainment is derived from the pictures.

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Figure 4Courtesy of Eighteenth Century Collections

This first edition includes a poem by Mrs. Gulliver about her husband’s journey. The image banner at the top depicts two men with dogs traveling to a new city. Drawing this journey to distant lands as a hunting scene makes the text seem like an adventure. The man holding the dogs could be Gulliver because he is holding out a hand to the lounging man in an effort to stimulate him, the reader, to pursue reading Gulliver’s story. The title of the poem claims that this poem was found in an apartment, which suggests that this poem was not meant to be published and is therefore a raw, unblemished account. That the diary was open to this page reassures the reader that they should not feel embarrassed about reading this poem that was not intended for publication because the author did not attempt to hide it. Since the poem is not written by Gulliver, it provides a sense of authority to Gulliver’s story because it is evidence that someone else believes in his story. The poem being written by Gulliver’s wife, someone closely related to him, gives the text a personal feel, which makes the reader feel like they are privileged to have such a close and personal encounter with Gulliver’s life. Showing that Gulliver has a family, makes him into a person with human emotions and desires. While Gulliver is fleshed out into a person, pointing out that he is human also hints that he is fallible and, as his name alludes, gullible. This personal connection lends authority to Gulliver as there is someone other than himself who believes in his story. The poem is also a brief introduction to the novel because it mentions “Lilliput” and “Brobdingnag,” which are some of the places Gulliver visits.

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Figure 5Courtesy of Eighteenth Century Collections

Like the opening title of the book, the title of this key emphasizes “travels,” which reiterates the text as a documentation of exploration. The title of this key emphasizes the words “observations” and “explanatory notes” to hone in on the scientific side introduced in the opening title page. The naming of this section as a “key” suggests that the secrets Gulliver discovered during his travels can be unlocked. This key also furthers the scientific tone by making the text seem as though it is so scientific, a key that explains the terms and content of the text is necessary for the layman to understand it. A map will have a key to explain the symbols on the map. As the text is about traveling, a map analogy is appropriate whereby the text itself is a map. Since Gulliver’s Travels is a satire, this idea that the reader needs additional help in order to understand the story and Swift’s intentions is a wink that the reader is so lazy or incapable as to need the contents of the story spelled out. Describing the key as a translation from Italian, allows for any mistakes made in the key to be excused away as poor translation instead of a matter of content. That the key was written by Corolini, someone other than Gulliver, shows that the text has been peer reviewed, and so is suitable for publication and should be taken as a legitimate scientific endeavor. There are five maps in total, two in the first volume and three in the second volume. The maps are documentation of the fictious lands in order to make them seem real.

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Figure 6Courtesy of Eighteenth Century Collections

In 1735, George Faulkner published four volumes of an entire collection of Jonathan Swift’s works with Gulliver’s Travels taking up the third volume. This edition is the first time Jonathan Swift’s name appears on Gulliver’s Travels. Like in the first edition, there is a portrait of Gulliver, but it is a new one. Gulliver appears younger, like he is in his prime, than in the first edition portrait, which suggests Swift wanted Gulliver to look capable of going on vigorous journeys. The Latin inscription “Splendide Mendax Hor” means “nobly untruthful.” The new inscription, instead of supporting Gulliver’s righteous, blatantly discredits the idea that the text is true; it does this softly with the use of “nobly,” as though Gulliver has faithfully been untruthful in order to get at the truth. This inscription signals that while the details of the story itself are not true, the themes of the story are.

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At the end of the third volume of the second edition, there is this letter written from Gulliver to his cousin Sympson. Swift, written through Gulliver, disowns the changes that were made to his manuscript in the first edition. The second edition does not have the Lilliput and Filmnap illustration (Figure 3), Mrs. Gulliver’s poem (Figure 4), or a key (Figure 5), which suggests that these were some of the additions made to the book by Motte that Swift did not approve of. Following this letter, there is another new addition, a letter from Mrs. Gulliver to Gulliver, who was, at the time the letter was written, staying with his cousin Sympson. Instead of the rosy and loving words that were expressed in Mrs. Gulliver’s poem in the first edition, this letter is a scathing rebuke of Gulliver’s inability to have any human contact with his wife and his children. This letter returns a personal touch to the book, but does so in a way that critiques Gulliver’s ability to transition from life abroad to life at home. This critique shows Gulliver is a human susceptible to flaws, and so his narrative can also have flaws. Regardless of the truthfulness of Gulliver’s tale, he has been changed by his experience, and so the purpose of Gulliver’s Travels is not to recount a factual story, but to cause a change of perspective in the reader.

3 Benefits of Being an English Major

1. So you’re going to be a teacher…
While English majors can teach, they can also go into journalism, law, medical, or business school, publishing, marketing, and more. Wherever there is English being written or spoken, the English major has you covered. Someone writes those instruction manuals on the new iPhone 6 you bought that you never read. Someone writes the scripts for the 30 second advertisement on YouTube that you have to watch in order to see the video. Someone writes the blurb about how yummy Honey Nut Cheerios are on the cereal box you buy from Ralphs. These are mundane things you take for granted, and they show that everywhere you look there is English.

2. So you read books…
When people think that all English majors do is read books, they make it seem like a confining occupation. In reality, it is the most liberating. I can talk about anything because we write books on everything. There are classic works, Beowulf, Paradise Lost, The History of Rasselas, Oliver Twist, and The Grapes of Wrath, but there is also the horror of H.P. Lovecraft, science of Philip K. Dick, and comedy of Douglas Adams. Having a solid literary foundation means you understand references, can link ideas, know psychology as character development and interaction, and see the same moral dilemmas recur century after century in new incarnations. The messages we see on technology, the environment, and philosophy in fiction can be applied to our real world lives.

3. So you like writing papers…
Actually, I do, and writing essays means I am critically thinking about texts and putting together concepts. I think people dislike writing because it is hard, but you can’t escape from writing whether it be emails, resumes, or scholarship essays. Just because I like writing essays, doesn’t mean I think it’s easy, but I know the only way to get better is to practice. Writing is a way to organize your thoughts and ideas. Through writing, you can reach out to other people and start a discussion or spur someone to think or act in a different way. It is through reading and writing that we delve into all aspects of the things that matter the most to us with the world and human life.

A Student’s Prespective on Knowledge

This winter quarter at UCLA, I’ve been surprised by some of the little things my fellow classmates don’t know, such as that you can’t see Venus at night or that you can be a lawyer even with a criminal record. Maybe these sort of things aren’t common knowledge. But I’d think if you were going to bring up these topics, you’d at least know what you’re talking about.

The truth is we don’t need to know anything. We have smart phones in the palms of our hands and with a few taps we can find out anything. With the workings of a Google search interface for the mind, soon we may not even have to tap a touchscreen. Even a few professors at UCLA are saying, it’s not about what you know, but what you know how to do. Education should be about learning how to critically think and the application of skills rather than memorizing information. However, you need to have some foundational knowledge before you can apply it. Such as knowing basic math (like addition and multiplication) in order to use derivatives for a real world application, like finding the volume of a pool.

Patrick Deneen is heading for a similar distinction in his article “How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture.” Instead of math, Deneen is interested in history and culture. From reading Paradise Lost to knowing about Guy Fawkes, while these are easily googled, Deneen is concerned with students’ ignorance on these topics. How can you google these works and people if you haven’t heard of them?

There are two issues. One, we do not have the knowledge or what knowledge we do have is inaccurate yet we hold it to be true. Two, what knowledge we are applying is for practical purposes (knowing how much water is in the pool to apply the correct amount of chlorine), instead of greater implications (whether or not a pool should be built there, what the impact of the pool will be on the environment, how much water is being diverted from ecosystems for the maintenance of a pool).

For the second issue, one reason why people do not ask about the greater implications is that they simply don’t care. They’re building a pool in their back yard simply for their own enjoyment. Why should they care about anything else? While the specific practice may not be harmful in itself, the principle of being indifferent to others is.

It seems like a minor clarification that you can only see Venus in the few hours of morning and evening, but understanding this fact and why it is true gives you a spatial awareness of yourself on the planet you live on in relation to the greater universe.

21st Century Cures in “So We Beat Them”

Ed Shacklee’s “So We Beat Them” is a contemporary poem that questions the choice of punishment as a means to make people better. The continuous use of “one” makes these people distant, genderless, and inhuman. The use of “one” also makes it seem like the punishers only have one more person to fix before the utopia is found. The narrator does not tolerate any of the physical or mental differences other people have.

The first reference to food is when the narrator is shaping people like “pretzels” in order to make them fit a pre-determined box (l. 4). The “wire” can represent several objects, the barbed wire fences of prisons or the wires in braces to straighten teeth. The sounds of a “hammer” links to both an idea of metalwork, that these people must be fashioned into a different shape, and a judge’s hammer, declaring that a decision has been made.

Instead of sympathizing with the challenges these people face, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome are simplified into “hyper” and “tic” (l. 7). A “rolling pin” is used as a club, but the typical use of a rolling pin as way to roll out dough brings the idea that the narrator wants to flatten and straighten these people out (l. 8).

In the next stanza, “one lived in mother’s cellar” (l. 11). With the presence of “cell” within “cellar” and “mother” preceding and “eggs” following in the next two lines, is the notion of an embryo cell. Coming next to the “manacled” legs, the cell can also be a prison cell as the person is trapped by dependency in mother’s cellar (l. 14).  And “so we beat them in a mixing bowl till minds were scrambled eggs” is the most dramatic food line because it references thought control and eugenics (l. 13). These people are no longer individuals, but globs all mixed together. The imagery of multiple people becoming one shows that people are a like enough to be blended together, but the narrator is in control, and so it shows the control the narrator wields over the public.

The first three stanzas are each one sentence. The last two stanzas are a dramatic switch because they are linked together to make a long sentence, and then the final line is a short sentence. The fourth stanza shifts from physical and mental ailments to religion. The “ankh” is an Egyptian symbol of life, a cross with a handle (l. 18). The crucifix, the ankh, and the shepherd’s crook are all long objects that have been turned into weapons. A sword pointed towards the ground looks like a cross.

Instead of pearly gates, the modern day heaven is “beaches,” which is reminiscent of the desire to take vacations in tropical areas (l. 21). These people wear “uniforms” to show that they are devoid of any personality; they are like workers in a machine (l. 22). Instead of holy water, the modern day purification is “holy bleaches” where chemicals are valued for being able to kill 99.9% of germs (l. 22).

In the last stanza, there is no longer a “so” before “we beat them,” which is a change from a casual manner of talking about what is going on to a definitive action (l. 23). Line 24 suggests that the narrator only punished these people in order to bring them towards enlightenment. But all of this work is usurped by the last line.

The balm of Gilead was from a plant near the Jordan River believed to have healing properties. The term “serpent oil” refers to fraudulent health medicine (l. 25). During the medieval ages, leeches were used for bloodletting, which was a medicinal practice believed to cure most illnesses; they thought removing blood would remove the disease. In reality, people died from blood loss. Although bloodletting is no longer practiced, leeches are still used today, often on burns. While it seems like the balm, oil, and leeches should work to cure people that are different, in reality, they do not.

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Writing Forums to Blogs

I’m part of an online writing forum called The Echo. I joined in 2008 and have been on and off since then. Yesterday, I revisited it and saw how inactive it has become. It made me sad because I have so many fond memories of chatting, reading, and engaging with my peers’ feedback. We’d play word games, have holiday parties (my favorite was a Halloween party where we went virtual trick or treating with image candies to everyone’s “houses,” a thread with a drawing of their house), share in the troubles of school, the difficulties of writing, the good times of writing when ideas were flowing, and talk about favorite authors and books. Even though I’ve never met these people, they’re friends, and we made a community.

The Echo isn’t the only forum that has declined in activity. All of the small forums that I looked at were either closed or dead. So I suppose The Echo has faired much better than most. The only active forums I found were from big organizations such as Writer’s Digest. We’ve lost these online spaces for small communities. (At least for writing forums.)

Life happens. We get busy with school and work. We don’t have time. And I’m just as guilty of this. Now I’m rediscovering the online world of writing and reading. I started this blog to set a deadline for myself to write something every week. But I’m seeing how isolated we bloggers are in comparison to writing forums. It’s nice to have your own site to put up all of your works. You have control over the design and content. You can personalize and individualize it. It’s an online portfolio.

I’ve found blogs to be more about other people reading your blog rather than engaging with others. With so many blogs and so much content, how do you know where to begin? This is where I miss the community that a writing forum provides. With a writing forum, you don’t have to search for people, for stories to read, or for chat rooms to talk. Everything is already there for you in one place. And with a small writing forum, you’re not overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people and content.

Another feature I love about the writing forum, is the engagement with other people. When a member shares a story, we read it, write our thoughts, the author engages with our comments, asks questions. It’s a dialogue and from this interaction we build friendships. Though some forums now have this feature of the “like” button, we disabled it on The Echo because we didn’t want to move from commenting on threads to simply “liking” them. For blogs, instead of commenting, we “like” something. It’s quick and easy. Clicking this button is a way to signal that we’ve read it without spending the time to write something. The “like” button is passive participation. It’s a way to say we’re active without being committed.

In moving from writing forums to personal blogs, we’ve isolated ourselves and detached from tight-nit communities. We’re concentrated on meeting our deadline to write that new blog post. It’s all about our own work. Of course, it’s wonderful to receive attention, but what I’m missing the most from the writing forum is the community interaction. Although we can engage with others through our blogs, I’ve found it harder than on a writing forum. I hope that the small online community of writing forums will flourish again like it once did.

A Modern Proposal: Eating Horses to Cure Overpopulation in America

When I read Caty Enders’ article, “Why you really should (but really can’t) eat horsemeat,” I could not help but think of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” In response to the overpopulation in Ireland during the 1700s, Swift proposes that one-year old children should, “instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands.”¹ When put in perspective, the idea of eating children in order to solve the problem of overpopulation is ludicrous, which it was meant to be as “A Modest Proposal” is a satire and points to the greater causes of overpopulation.

Many Americans consider eating horses just as ridiculous, but why? One reason, which Enders addresses, is speciesism. Americans are appalled at the idea of eating horses because they have a sentiment attached to this species. Horses are a symbol of the pioneering spirit of America. Americans do not have qualms over eating meat. It is only certain types of meat that are socially acceptable, such as cattle. In 2014, the total beef consumption in the United States was 24.1 billion pounds.²

Horses were “re-introduced to the Americas beginning with Columbus’ second trip to the New World in 1493.”³ Horses had lived in North America before, but “died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago.”4 Although it is difficult to determine with certainty the cause for prehistoric horses becoming extinct in North America, a leading possibility is over-hunting by humans.5 If prehistoric horses were killed off by humans, the current proposal to eat horses may mirror history in which the result was overkill. Horses can be considered a native species because they had lived in North America before the Spaniards brought over horses. But horses can also be an invasive species because they were re-introduced to North America by the Spaniards. If the cause for prehistoric horse extinction was humans, would this wrong be fixed by people bringing horses to North America?

The ecosystem works by having checks and balances on populations of species. When prey species become over-abundant, predator species can keep them in check. Wild horses have predators such as coyotes and mountain lions, but these predators often focus on foals.6, 7 Even then, foal kills are considered uncommon because horses are large mammals with powerful legs that are further protected by living in herds.

There are laws in place to protect and control the population of wild horses. One objective of wild horse population is control is to protect the environment. If we are so desirous to protect the environment, why are there no laws to control the population of people?

Although there are not enough predators to check the population of wild horses, another check for population growth is resources. Ender’s article makes it seem like wild horses dying from starvation due to depleted resources is unnatural and should be prevented by human intervention. It is natural for populations to decline when resources have been depleted. Why do people think they should be puppet masters of nature?

  1. Swift, Jonathon. “A Modest Proposal.” Accessed on February 27, 2016, http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html.
  2. “Statistics & Information.” United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Accessed February 27, 2016, http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal-products/cattle-beef/statistics-information.aspx.
  3. E. K. Conant, R. Juras and E. G. Cothran. “A microsatellite analysis of five Colonial Spanish horse populations of the southeastern United States.” Animal Genetics (2012). Accessed February 27, 2016, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2011.02210.x
  4. Jay F. Kirkpatrick and Patricia M. Fazio. “The Surprising History of America’s Wild Horses.” Live Science (2008). Accessed on February 27, 2016, http://www.livescience.com/9589-surprising-history-america-wild-horses.html.
  5. Paul L. Koch and Anthony D. Barnosky. “Late Quaternary Extinctions: State of the Debate.” Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics (2006). Accessed February 27, 2016,  http://ecolsys.annualreviews/10.2307/annurev.ecolsys.34.011802.300.
  6. Joel Berger and Rebecca Rudman. “Predation and Interactions between Coyotes and Feral Horse Foals.” Journal of Mammalogy (1985). Accessed on February 27, 2016, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1381261.
  7. John W. Turner Jr., Michael L. Wolfe, and Jay F. Kirkpatrick. “Seasonal mountain lion predation on a feral horse population.” The Southwestern Nationalist (2001). Accessed February 27, 2016, http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/pdf/10.1139/z92-132.

Herbert’s Optimism in Doom

In Herbert’s “Doomsday,” the first line of every stanza, “Come away,” serves as a calling for all the souls to return to their bodies and come to judgment day. The repetition of “Come away” makes the calling insistent and steady. The only time there is a comma after “Come away,” is on the first line, which is interesting because the subsequent line says to “Make no delay” and a comma provides a pause, a delay (Herbert, 289, ll. 1-2). This pause shows that it takes a moment for the souls to respond to the calling. After this first instance, there are no commas after the first line of the stanzas and so no pause or delay of the souls rising for judgment day.

The “dust to rise” symbolizes the resurrection where the ashes of bodies are being risen for judgment day (l. 3). With the irritation of the eyes in the next line, it is also literal dust being kicked up. The “thy trumpet” is God heralding the souls to judgment day (l. 10). Only this music will cure the soul’s “pains” because it is when the soul will finally know whether it is going to heaven or hell (l. 12).

The “lesson” the souls may have learned is to confess in order to be forgiven (l. 18). When “thy flock doth stray,” it means some souls will be too happy to be back on earth, or know that their judgment will not be good, that they will run away (l. 20). Some souls will be lost when they return to their bodies as the “winds” will scatter their ashes (l. 21). The “friend” could be both fellow ashes as well as living people that will be smothered by the amount of ashes rising (l. 22). The word “vapors” is initially reminiscent of a smell, such as the stink of dead bodies, but it is made concrete into a “plague,” showing that the ashes have become like a plague of locusts (l. 23-4). The “public woe” makes it clear that living people will be extremely bothered by the clouds of ashes being risen (l. 24).

The last stanza shows a large shift from the first stanza, where the action was gradually beginning, to asking God to “Help our decay” (l. 26). This line is calling for an acceleration in action. It can literally mean the decay of dead bodies, which the “parceled out” ashes all over the world would help support (l. 28). However, it could also mean the decay of people’s souls. That Herbert used “Man” instead of dust or bodies, suggests there is something not right with mankind itself (l. 27). It seems mankind’s soul has been split apart because there are different religions all over the world.

If the narrator is speaking about the decay of people’s souls, then the last two lines make more sense as a recognition that people are not united to one religion and that God is ultimately praiseworthy because He will take all of them anyway. If not, the last two lines seem to be abruptly ended because the narrator says how the souls being risen are “broken,” yet God will be praised (l. 29). There is all this confusion going on with souls trying to find their bodies and with the ashes of different people being all mixed together, which makes this judgment day chaotic and disorderly. Yet, the narrator is not questioning this mayhem, but instead has faith in God’s plan.

Herbert, George. “Doomsday.” Seventeenth Century British Poetry. Ed. John P. Rumrich and Gregory Chaplin. New York: Norton, 2006. 289. Print.

Donne’s Garden of Misery

Donne’s “Twickenham Garden” plays with references to the Garden of Eden and imagery of liquids, such as tears and wine, to illustrate the conflict the narrator is under by loving a married woman. Since Twickenham Garden was the “home of Lucy, Countess of Bedford, Donne’s patroness and friend,” the unattainable woman that the narrator loves in the poem is Lucy (Rumrich and Chaplin 29). The poem starts with “sighs” and “tears,” which can be both the signs of the coming spring with wind and rain, as well as the narrator’s own lamentation (Donne 29, l. 1). Donne uses “spring” as both the season and a body of water (29, l. 2). Spring is a happy season because it is the time of the fresh plant life, which is also the time of the narrator discovering his love for Lucy. As a body of water, the spring is the source of the water for a river or creek. The narrator is searching for the source of his unhappiness.

The narrator relates the Garden of Eden to Twickenham Garden by calling it “True Paradise,” because like in the story of Adam and Eve where Satan comes to destroy their bliss, a woeful character, the narrator himself, has come to the garden (30, l. 9). The narrator wishes the garden was frozen in “winter” so that the happiness of the garden would not torment him (30, l. 10). In relation to winter, it would have been better for the narrator’s love to be perpetually frozen, and for the rains of spring to not have bloomed his love, because it will always be unrequited. The narrator returns to the imagery of tears by wishing he was a “stone fountain weeping” (30, l. 18). The stone is an inanimate object and thus cannot feel yet is attributed with the action of crying, which is an expression of sadness. This juxtaposition serves to allude that even if the narrator was a “senseless piece,” he would not be able to get rid of his grief over his unrequited love (30, l. 14). Donne uses “senseless” as both not having physical senses, thus not being able to feel pain, and not having any sense or intelligence as to what is going on, being aware that the narrator loves this woman and not being able to do anything about it (30, l. 14).

In using “crystal vials,” the narrator associates his tears with being an alchemical solution to test the trueness of another’s love (30, l. 19). The narrator is elevating his love as the highest standard of true love by which all other loves should be compared. When the narrator says, “hearts do not in eyes shine,” he is saying that one cannot tell if someone’s love is true by looking in their eyes (30, l. 23). By discrediting another possible test of looking into one’s eyes into the window of their soul, the narrator is selling his tears as there is no other gain to be received from his love. Wine is made from fermented grapes, and so in the narrator saying his tears are “love’s wine” shows that his sorrow has festered by being unable to have his love fulfilled (30, l. 20). It is process to create wine, and the same applies to the creation of his tears. Since he has labored in producing his tears, he makes uses of them by selling them in vials. The narrator’s love is unrequited because Lucy is faithful to her husband as “none is true but she” (30, l. 26). Where other women would be unfaithful and have an affair with the narrator, his love is made more painful by Lucy’s trueness.

Donne, John. “Twickenham Garden.” Seventeenth Century British Poetry. Ed. John P. Rumrich and Gregory Chaplin. New York: Norton, 2006. 29-30. Print.