The Weather in Our Emotions

Literature has played a huge part of America’s past. Through literature and specifically poetry, people have expressed their feelings, whether of jubilance or sorrow, which, in some way, has affected the history of this country. I will be comparing and contrasting the works of two poets, Ralph Waldo Emerson and James Russell Lowell. Emerson and Lowell both lived in regions of the United States that received an abundance of snow during the winter season, which shows in Emerson “The Snowstorm” and Lowell’s “The First Snowfall”. But even though in their poems, they wrote about snow, both poems are unique because they were written by poets with different life experiences and different points of view.

Emerson’s tone of his poem “The Snowstorm” is optimistic and positive, “the frolic architecture of the snow”, even though snow is usually an inconvenience for many people. Lowell uses “The First Snowfall” to mourn his daughter, resulting in a melancholy tone to his poem. He also expresses how natural events can remind of sorrow and help to heal it, “Flake by flake, healing in hiding/the scar that renewed our woe”.
Both Emerson and Lowell use figurative language in their poems, but Emerson uses personification and Lowell uses similes. Emerson personifies the snow as being an artist, shaping the surroundings and painting them white, “the fierce artificer/Curves his white bastions with a projected roof”. Lowell uses similes in his poem when describing the birds he sees, likening them to brown leaves, “and the sudden flurries of snow-birds/like brown leaves swirling by”.

Both poets use imagery to appeal to the senses, but the differences are that Emerson uses imagery to appeal to the sense of hearing when he describes the snowstorm as being “Announced by all the trumpets of the sky”. Emerson describes the snow as having a “swan-like form”, which causes the reader to visualize the white delicacy of the snow. Lowell uses imagery to help the reader understand what the father in the poem is feeling, “and thought of the leaden sky/that arched o’er our first great sorrow/when that mount was heaped so high”.
The different effects of their poems are a result of their personal lives. Emerson was part of the Transcendentalism literary movement, which may explain why his poem was nature-themed and optimistic. Lowell was in the category of Fireside poets, but also Romanticism, which explains how he expressed his feelings in his poem and related how nature can help to heal pain and sorrow.
The similarities between Emerson’s and Lowell’s lives are that they both attended Harvard University as teenagers and both became active abolitionists. At Harvard, they were both chosen as Class Poets. The differences between them are that Emerson was an average student, but Lowell was a poor student and couldn’t recite his original poem when he was elected class poet because he was suspended and was not allowed to participate.
In Lowell’s lifetime, he had lost three of his four children; the first three had died, but his last, Mabel, had lived. In his poem “The First Snowfall” he is remembering his first daughter’s burial.

An important point to remember is that even though some poets may come from the same regions and be a part of the same literary movement, doesn’t mean all of their poetry will be the same. People lead different lives and experience different things and expressed it differently in their poetry. Poetry expresses feelings, thoughts, and ideas, based on the author’s personal life experiences.

Compare/Contrast the Forms of a Mask

Have you ever seen the pictures of masks from ancient civilizations, such as Greece? In those times, actors in plays used to wear different masks to portray a certain emotion. Similarly, people use certain attitudes and expressions to mask or conceal, their true emotions. We have all hidden our emotions at one time or another. A person may portray a specific attitude, and people assume that quality or condition about that person when in reality, this is just a disguise. In many cases, things are not always as they seem, as in the poems “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson.

From the first line of “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the reader can see that there is a mask covering the true emotions of the people in the poem. Dunbar specifically points to the immense suffering of black people and the necessity of painting on a happy face as a survival tactic. He emphasizes that slaves, even though they may have seemed happy, they were suffering in reality. During his lifetime, Dunbar had certainly witnessed this period in history as one of the harshest for African-Americans. The poem cries out with the hurt that African-Americans have endured throughout history, “with torn and bleeding hearts we smile”, signifying that they were heartbroken but they smiled to hide, or mask, true emotions.
A person’s spirituality and faith in God can help them in the most painful, dreadful situations. In the lines “we smile, but, O great Christ, our cries/to thee from tortured souls arise”, it is evident that they depended on their God, and even when all else had failed, slaves could pray and feel that their God had heard them.

People are not always who they appear to be and people may seem to have it all but may be emotionally unstable. This statement basically summarizes the purpose of the poem “Richard Cory” by Robinson. In the poem, a man named Richard Cory appeared to have it all: good looks, a suave persona, and of respectable social status. In the first and third stanzas, Richard Cory is compared to a king or someone of high status. The people in the town admired him to the point where it was almost a shock when “he was always human when he talked”. The people looked up to him with envy to an extent, at what he had, “to make us wish that we were in his place”. Despite his apparent perfections, Richard Cory was still missing something in his life, because “one calm summer night,/Went home and put a bullet through his head”.

The difference in the two poems is in it’s focuses. In “We Wear the Mask” the focus was on black slaves and how they had to conceal their true emotions. The “mask” is a necessary survival procedure because no one could remediate this situation, and they had to rely on their faith in God to keep them going. In contrast, the people in “Richard Cory” never bothered to get to know Richard personally, so they just assumed he had a perfect life. Everyone was in awe and admiration of him, and he was in direct contrast to the people in the town. They were poorer, and may have gone hungry at times, whereas Richard Cory was the rich, graceful, well mannered gentleman who fluttered pulses when he talked and glittered when he walked.

Girl Power

We’re smart, we’re cool
We’re hot, we’re cold and when it comes to parties we’re out of control.
We can sing, dance, rap, write, we’re pish and posh but sometimes we fight
But when we do it’s for our rights, cuz we’re what the world needs
If we were gone the world would plead,
For us to come back, we probably wouldn’t go in a snap cuz we’re better than that, we know right from wrong cuz inside we’re strong
We were put on this world for a reason because it is where we belong!
We’re here to make a difference and we’re gonna do it with confidence
And with no help from Nikki or Rihanna cuz, they’re not the proper inspiration for the next generation.
We need to think fast and act quick with no hesitation. We must take matters into our own hands and start making out a plan, because we are girls and someday, somehow we’re going to make a serious change in the world.

– Sabira Rahman

The Other Half of Me

When I was a kid, things were going pretty fast
Didn’t realize it would soon be the past
Don’t ever think for a moment
That your life can’t change
It’s how much you matter to me that makes it worth the pain

I’ve been thinking of you so much lately.
Now would be when I need you the most in my life.
Nothing can change what was meant to be
I didn’t want to think about it, so I set it aside and moved on.

Sometimes I feel like it’s the end of the world
Then I realize it’s just for a while
I do miss you and sometimes I feel left out
When I hear people talking
And never mentioning your name

Is that the reason, why I hide inside?
Wanting to be normal
Wishing, I could change back time,
I’d have been grateful, though I was just a child

Now I’m practically all grown up
I realize why there’s been a hole inside of me
Things will get better, I know, if I just believe
They’ll never change and will never be the same.
Life and death, it’s all part of the plan.

By: Halimah Rosanally

Origin of Some Popular Nursery Rhymes

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

I have done research on the origin of some popular nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes are harmless, right? But more likely than not, the actual stories behind them are shockingly morbid and not really something you’d expect to be a rhyme for kids. And a lot of nursery rhymes came from historical events or situations. Some of the most popular ones came from British politics and were invented as a way of spreading gossip about royalty. The aforementioned nursery rhyme up
there sounds like it’s about a fat guy sitting on a wall, right? But actually, it was a cannon, commonly called Humpty Dumpty, used during the English Civil War. It was strategically placed on a wall of St. Mary’s Church in Colchester in East England by the Cavaliers, the Knights of Charles I of England. Colchester was laid to siege by the Parliament. A shot from a Parliamentary cannon succeeded in destroying the wall beneath Humpty Dumpty and caused it to tumble to the ground. The Cavaliers or ‘All the king’s men’ attempted to raise Humpty to another wall but it was so heavy that ‘All the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again’ and the town of Colchester fell to the Parliament after an 11-week siege. Another version of this rhyme is:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall.
Threescore men and threescore more,
Couldn’t put Humpty as he was before.

 

 

Here’s another:
Mary, Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

‘Mary’ is referring to Mary the first, daughter of Henry VIII. The Catholic Queen received quite a bad reputation during her short reign for executing Protestant loyalists. The garden in the rhyme is referring to the growth or a graveyard. Silver bells and cockle shells are believed to be euphemisms for instruments of torture. The ‘maids’ are slang for a beheading instrument called ‘The Maiden’ that came into common use before the guillotine.

Here’s another interesting one:
Ring around the roses
A pocketful of posies
Ashes, ashes
We all fall down.

Ring around a rosy is said to refer to the Great Plague of 1665. The plague caused a high fever and a rash in the form of a ring, hence the name. Putting herbs in the pockets of an ailing person in an attempt to freshen up the stale air was a common practice, thus the ‘pocketful of posies’. ‘Ashes, ashes’ is an American variation of the English version which is ‘Atishoo, atishoo’ or someone sneezing. Another version says it comes from the mass cremations that were done due to a number of bodies. Plague sufferers had a sneezing fit before they passed away, when ‘we all fall down’.

An innocent one is:
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water,
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
Up got Jack and home did trot, as fast as he could caper
He went to bed and bound his head
With vinegar and brown paper.

Jackals Jill, skipping up a hill, what could be more harmless than that? You’d never guess what this rhyme is really about. This nursery rhyme was started in France. Jack and Jill are said to be King Louis the 16th and Queen Marie Antoinette, a couple beheaded during the Reign of Terror in 1793.

This rhyme is surprisingly innocent:
Rock a bye baby on the treetop,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock.
When the branch breaks, the cradle will fall and down will come baby, cradle and all.

The correct name for this is actually Hush-a-bye baby. It comes from a Pilgrim boy in America witnessing Native American mothers suspending birch bark cradles from a tree thus allowing the wind to rock the baby to sleep.
(Honestly, I thought this rhyme had some malicious intent but I guess not.)

Doing this research was so interesting but there are so many nursery rhymes! But my main point is, we should be very careful of what we say and sing to our children because we never know what hidden meanings of these century-old nursery rhymes could be.

 

Quotes From Hamlet

(During the play Hamlet devised to torture his uncle’s conscience, the Player King who is playing Hamlet’s dead father is telling the Player Queen that her intentions will change when he is dead.)

But though we make the pledge we break the vow.
Our good intentions need a strong resolve:
Though sincere at first, they soon dissolve.
Like unripe fruit, they’re firm upon the tree
Until they mellow. Then they fall quite free.
Inevitably, we all soon forget
To pay ourselves what is a self-owed debt;
We lose our purpose when the blood’s not hot.
Both grief and joy, when felt in great excess,
Destroy the power to act or express.
Where joy is very great, grief shows its might:
Grief and joy exchange places for a reason slight.
This world is not forever; it’s not strange
That our true love should (with our fortunes) change.
It is a matter left for us to prove:
Does love decide our fate, or fate our love?
The great man in decline will lose his friend:
The rising man finds enmities all end.
It seems, therefore, that love on fortune tends;
The well-healed man will never want for friends;
Yet he who’s out of luck, in seeking aid,
Finds his false friend an enemy’s been made.
But tidily to end where I began:
So different are our wants with fates own plan,
That schemes and plots are always overthrown.
Our thoughts are ours; the outcome’s not our own.
—Player King, from Hamlet

Quotes From Hamlet

Advice Polonius gave his son Laertes before Laertes left for France.

Never say what you’re thinking nor put hasty thoughts to action. Be friendly but don’t cheapen yourself. Those friends who’ve proved themselves by experience, grasp them to your soul with bands of steel. But don’t offer the hand of friendship to every new-made, unproven, back slapping, acquaintance. Beware of starting a quarrel, but once involved, see that your opponent gets more than he bargained for. Hear all, but say little. Take everyone’s opinion but keep your own judgment to yourself. Dress well as you can afford but don’t go to extremes of fashion– good quality rather than loudness– because you can easily tell one by their style of clothes. Be neither a borrower nor a lender. A loan often loses both the money and the friend, and borrowing makes one spendthrift. Be consistent: as night follow day, surely you cannot deceive anyone.

—Polonius, from Hamlet