Poetry Response #7

A Dream Within A Dream 
by Edgar Allan Poe
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow–
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand–
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep–while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Date of reading: October 30th
Main theme: loss, and the nature of reality
My response: 
I was really surprised by this poem because it seems to incorporate many complex elements into a relatively short piece of work. The author touches on the feelings of hurt and loss that he experienced from losing his wife, but there are also some metaphysical questions brought up, whether he meant to or not, and a lot of symbolism. However I think that this is a great way to express the poem because he no doubt felt a lot of anguish and turmoil after the passing away of his wife – and all his emotions were confused and mixed up.
The biggest hook for me in this poem was the ‘dream within a dream” part – what did he mean? A dream is something that is not real, and that we cannot control – a dream within that would be an even deeper level of non-real and uncontrollable. By saying that perhaps life is all just a dream within a dream, it kind of calls into question the nature of reality – is anything real? Do we have any control of our fate? How can we know?
But maybe his interpretation of that was something simpler, just that he feels like he can’t control his life very much, just like in a dream. The dream within that dream may be more specific, individual aspects of life – he uses the example of a tide, and says he can’t even stop a few grains of sand by being washed away by the “pitiless wave”. This is also symbolic of the passing of his wife – he couldn’t stop her from being “washed away” by death. Perhaps he wishes that life could be just a dream, because then it would mean that the loss of his wife isn’t real  – “Is it therefore the less gone?”
He may have used words such as “golden” and “grains of sand” to be symbolic of other things too – the great quality of a relationship, or the passing of time in a sand hour-glass – but I only found this out by reading other reviews online. To me, the feelings that really stand out are his deep missing of his wife – he wishes so desperately that she is back, he even accepts her beliefs that he thought were wrong before (“And, in parting from you now, / Thus much let me avow– / You are not wrong, who deem / That my days have been a dream”) – he now misses her so much, he wants back even the stuff he disagreed with in the relationship before, like different viewpoints.

Poetry Response #6

Still I Rise 
by Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Date of Reading: October 20th
Main Theme: prejudice and racism
My Response:
I think this poem is written in a very empowering tone, and it has to be, as it is the voice of many struggling African Americans during the 1900s. The anguish expressed in this poem most likely stems from the hard years of racism, prejudice, sharp societal distinctions, the loss of many close dance and activist friends, unsuccessful attempts at becoming a professional dancer (despite her great talent), and experiences with rape and prostitution. I feel that she is using an almost aggressive, or menacing tone with her repetition of “I rise”; determinedly directing a message to the people who wronged her, saying they cannot do anything to make her feel unvalued and unconfident because no matter what, she will continue to try. She goes on to describe how confident and determined she feels: “I walk like I’ve got oil wells / Pumping in my living room” and “I laugh like I’ve got gold mines / Diggin’ in my own back yard”, telling the readers that she knows her own value and she will show it to the world no matter how poorly others try to treat her. She is ultimately trying to give more hope and motivation to other people that were mistreated and submitted to prejudice like her, by setting an example for them to take charge of their own confidence and not let anyone else condition them into submittance. This is especially seen in one of the last lines of the poem: “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, / I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”
This poem strikes me as rather angry, as she is really vehemently making her point and almost shoving it onto her readers, but one can see that she feels a lot of love towards people of her culture and ethnicity, and she is just trying to make a good difference in the world.

Poetry Response #5

Life is Fine

By: Langston Hughes

I went down to the river,
I set down on the bank.
I tried to think but couldn’t,
So I jumped in and sank.

I came up once and hollered!
I came up twice and cried!
If that water hadn’t a-been so cold
I might’ve sunk and died.

But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!

I took the elevator
Sixteen floors above the ground.
I thought about my baby
And thought I would jump down.

I stood there and I hollered!
I stood there and I cried!
If it hadn’t a-been so high
I might’ve jumped and died.

But it was High up there! It was high!

So since I’m still here livin’,
I guess I will live on.
I could’ve died for love–
But for livin’ I was born

Though you may hear me holler,
And you may see me cry–
I’ll be dogged, sweet baby,
If you gonna see me die.

Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!

 

 

Date of reading: October 30th

Source: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/langston_hughes/poems/16946

Author: Langston Hughes

Main Theme: the value of life (and if it even has any)

My response:

I think this poem subtly yet accurately describes the struggling feelings of an African American who grew up in a very racial setting, in a multicultural family where not everyone gets treated the same, not to mention poor relationships with his parents. Hughes describes two situations in which he has wanted to die – the first one is “I set down on the bank / I tried to think but couldn’t / So I jumped in and sank”. I think this is describing the mental turmoil he felt, and how he could not think of any way to improve his situation. In the second half, he says, “I took the elevator / Sixteen floors above the ground. / I thought about my baby / And thought I would jump down.” I think in this section is saying that he wouldn’t want to see his children growing up in such a racial lifestyle, but at the same time he couldn’t get himself to let go and abandon them, because he could not jump down from the building. He describes how the water is so cold, and the building is so high, and that is why he cannot go through with suicide. I think this is saying that it would hurt too much for him to die, but it hurts too much to live for him to not think about dying. Thusly, he feels trapped, and the last line of the poem strikes me as rather satirical – he is desperately trying to convince himself that life is good, because he has to keep on living even if he feels it’s not worth it.

Random “sweet” poetry

These are two poems I wrote while experimenting a bit with imagist poetry – feedback and suggestions for improvement are greatly appreeciated! 🙂

Inspirations:

Nectarous You

I tear my gaze away from the sea,

I see you watching me, and

I wonder what the world looks like through the jewels of your eyes.

If they were suspended from the sky,

Could they pretend to be stars, appearing only in night to shine?

If souls have material

Then yours would be of silk strands from the clouds in the milky way

A sweet, sugary galaxy

Caramelized stars, and a marzipan moon

Bursts of sweet citrus flavour.

We are all one in this galaxy

All a part of this sweet concoction

That makes up the world,

And you must be the perfect sugar-carved

Figurine that tops it off.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Sweet Galaxy

(Inspired in part by the poem Darkness by Lord Byron – with a much more cheerful and lighthearted approach)

Sweet galaxy, in my dream

Where the universe is a dessert,

Then galaxies must be the flavored pies

Where so many flavours spin into one

and create wonderful taste symphonies.

Marzipan constellations hover about,

Illuminated by a peppermint moon

And the citrus-flavoured light of the stars,

Reflecting off the caramel sun.

It turns and shines like a disco ball,

And you can dance beneath,

On the bending road of the milky way

A creamy path, swirled into our chocolate atmosphere

With the frozen shooting stars,

And pirouetting bright-coloured planets.

Dark holes, like the missing middle of a donut

Scattered all around with floating chocolate balls,

Fly and collide – crashing into our aromatic atmosphere.

On our planet earth – fudge brownie grounds,

With fondant buildings and trees

Lay vast metropolises of soft and hard candy structures

Developed by us, and quenching our hungry appetites;

Yet we live for them – the universe is vast and precious,

For us to salvage and conserve, while keeping us alive:

Sacred. And we – we are just decorations on the edge of the cake.

Attempt at Landscape imagist poem

Purpose: to describe the same landscape as I wrote in Unit 1 in the form of an imagist poem

Date written: October 29th

Both pieces were inspired by these photos (and my memories):

    

Storybook Switzerland

A picture right out of a storybook,

Perhaps told by a beloved grandparent

In a swiss house,

filled with the smell of truffle hot chocolate;

Like one of those in this landscape.

Cows populate the hills, marching on

Lush grass that dances lightly around,

Waving its blades of grass at many a passerby,

A weaving carpet of soft green waves.

Blob-like lakes, and blob-like clouds

Lay and hover above and below;

And you feel like you’re suspended in between,

Like one of those colored leaves

swaying in the brisk afternoon air;

Standing on this sturdy hill

That has an air of hiding underworld treasures inside.

Cozy houses, with sweet cozy families,

And even sweeter dinners being put on the table;

What may happen inside those cottages?

I can only guess, and listen to

What the fresh wind whispers,

With scents and echoes as its only words;

Carrying with it tales of delightful dinner stories

and children’s laughter from over the fence.

Is there any sadness in this land?

Only the cows can tell,

For they alone have been here all day,

Munching on the land’s leafy fur

Yet oblivious to the faraway mountain adventures.

First attempt at Imagist Poem

Inspired by this photo:

 

The Forest Majesty

Autumn forest;

So tall, vast, colorful;

Stretching out to all directions.

Branches reaching out,

trying to touch their neighbours.

Leaves giggling, suspended from these arms;

Whispering the land’s secrets;

With the wind’s prompt.

Rising so high above;

These trees could pose difficulties to

Even the most adventurous

Furry squirrels.

 

Leaves collect at their feet

Like a pool of tears marking

the transition into the deadness of winter,

Or a christmas tree, with

it’s own nature’s gifts.

They had fluttered down

Like graceful paper ballerinas

Waltzing with the wind,

Then settling onto the earth.

Now earth is the forest’s sky

An autumn carpet speckled with color

And the sky can finally see.

Children play in this colorful array

Unaware that in a few months

The tree will be iced,

and the ground as well,

Like a model put on display:

Stunningly beautiful,

but barely able to breathe;

And even less able to move

 

But up high,

Crowns of color remain still

suspended from the multiplying branches

Higher and higher

Until they form just a domed sea of blended colors

Hiding the sky from any visitors

To this seasonal temple.

A leaf empire;

stretching out to all directions,

then one by one,

descending down peacefully.

Sacred forest:

Now it rests,

Awaiting the first snowflakes

To wrap it up and turn it into

A fragile winter wonderland.

 

Satire: What a wonderful world

Date written (finished): October 2nd

Target Audience: people in industrialized countries

Possible place of publication: a newspaper or journal

Inspiration: Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal 

Goal: To employ satirical elements correctly to evoke emotions and realizations in readers that will lead to positive action

Satire: What a Wonderful World

It is apparent that our industrial world is becoming more and more developed by the day; but strangely, one thing that doesn’t seem to be progressing with it is our stress burden. I honestly can’t see where this is coming from. Our old lives used to be without the commodities to take care of, no schedules to keep up with, houses or cars to maintain, or bills to pay… just think how boring that must have been! There was nothing to gnaw our nails over, to tear our hair out for; people just lived with a greater sense of peace, dealing with only the basic and natural problems, and experiencing the world directly, with their nails still in good shape and their hair unmarred. Now, in our modern world, we have timetables and to-do lists, new technology to routinely update, money to save, items to buy, and meetings to make – all things that make life much more well spent and effectively a better quality than living with nature.

Of course, this improvement couldn’t have happened overnight. At some point, when we were still pretty much cave people, we started making basic tools to aid ourselves in everyday activities; hunting, gathering food, dealing with predators and socializing among ourselves- and then I suppose we got lazier and lazier, because we didn’t stop where we had enough, but we wanted even more. More space, more material, more attributes – that is all that matters, right? We built bigger villages, which grew to towns, then cities, then huge metropolises, and eventually to deal with all these necessities of survival we started making things like cars and schedules and electronics and newer and newer technology in general. And that’s not all! Today we also have the pleasure of maintaining a bunch of luxuries such as plumbing, electricity, air

conditioning and heating, water, grocery shopping for food and water, and of course travel vehicles, because somehow nature forgot to include these dearly needed items in its plan when it created the world. Then people created jobs so we could all partake in making money for these wonderful and life-necessary products in a fair and equal way, for everyone to share the same utilities based on what they deserve to gain.

Technology, starting out originally with a purpose of allowing us to discover and do more, eventually grew into something even better; selfish, personal entertainment. Computers are now so accessible, people have the luxury of staring at them all day instead of being out in the world and truly living their lives. Natural resources started being used to make items like plastic statues or cheap picture frames so that we have something easily breakable and of low-quality to clutter our shelves with – no one can argue with that these precious resources are put to a most optimal use.

Then at some point in this evolution, our planet started experiencing some ill-fated changes; in forms such as global warming and air or water pollution, not to mention the bizarre and unexplainable evolvements such as the poor and starving in Africa – and we humans in developed countries are so kind, we make a fleeting effort to help stop these problems, sometimes. We make posters to hang up on the walls, donate a few coins to charity, make some tearful speeches about how our planet and species are suffering; and that is just such a big help that we may then feel guilt-free to toss it out of our heads and stop worrying about it. After all, if the problem is out of sight, it can’t really be that big of a deal.

Some are saying that perhaps we can stop our production of useless knickknacks and toys that fall apart after one use as well as our development of products for our almost overwhelmed

sense of entertainment, to focus our energy and resources on helping these tortured souls. Seriously, what kidders. It is perfectly reasonable for richer people in developed countries to worry about what flavor of ice cream to get, and what brand of shirt to buy, rather than give a care about whether or not people across the seas even have anything to eat or wear. In fact, it’s what a lot of North America has been doing all these years.

Even if a few polar ice caps are melting and a couple wild animal species may be dying off, what really matters is that we are able to use factories to mass produce all these things to fill up our houses, because wouldn’t they look so devastatingly empty without them? Another thing: cars, even if they may emit some ominous looking clouds into the sky, are just so much better for us to use than our own feet, even if the bus stop is just beside our house and it’s effectively a 5 minute walk- who still uses their legs? It’s so “yesterday”.

So it’s perfectly okay for us to leave our TV babbling in the living room when we’re not there and the light on in our bedroom when we’re not there, because the house would be so much happier and less lonely without it, and the ghosts that secretly inhabit our homes would really enjoy it too. Besides, it’s not like these things are in any way related to any of the fore-said problems, so who are we to worry about them anyways? Those third world and planetary issues only deserve so much of our care.

Any stress that exists in our world, whether it be on our planet or on those fabled starving kids or people at war, is not anywhere close to the importance of our further comfort materialistic evolution, and our most beloved philosophy: “Don’t worry: just have fun!”

And I must say, we have developed our world wonderfully over the centuries. We have everything we need; we have built ourselves a vast realm of huge metropolises, vehicles,

schedules, timetables, to-do lists, bills, jobs, shopping, maintaining fixing, planning, and remembering – strangely, some people find this too much to deal with. I guess it could be possible to try to change our consumerism so it causes us less anxiety and helps those fabled starving children too… But no need, society has solved these problems that it itself has made with even better solutions; people can now spend even more money and time on de-stressing things such as aromatherapy, yoga, dance, spas, exercise, massages, electronic agendas, and more new and improved technology, because that is the most important thing people need in our world.

The previous solutions are just so much better than trying to revert back to our old ways (or find a compromise for all), so it makes perfect sense to try to solve a problem with the same things that caused it in the first place. Let there be no doubt; the planet is there just to serve us and be at our disposal. It’s not like we need to take care of it to survive. If it is having environmental problems, well that is just its problem, too bad so sad, because we are the supreme beings that deserve to exploit everything else.

In conclusion, and taking a look at everything in retrospect, I can say I am truly happy and grateful for where we have gotten ourselves and other living beings in society. Everyone, give yourselves a nice pat on the back!