Wit: The Greatest Weapon or Biggest Weakness?

27 Jan

From the beginning of this scene, a reader is exposed to the already rapid development of Hamlet. In some essence, Hamlet has, in fact, fallen victim to a “witchcraft of wit”(a quality the ghost uses to describe Claudius) which he is able to utilize to persuade Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he is in fact crazy as Polonius, Claudius, and Gertrude hypothesize. What I find most intriguing, however, is that Hamlet’s wit is his greatest power and his greatest weakness. For example, on page 103, lines 330 to 334, Hamlet attempts to convince Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he is depressed. Nevertheless, Hamlet describes his depression by proclaiming the numerous beauties of nature and then stating that he no longer has the ability to appreciate them; where as, an actually depressed person would no longer be able to see the beauty in anything. Whether the characters catch it or not, Hamlet is undoubtably a genius when it comes to manipulation and ‘pretending to be crazy’. Nonetheless, by the end of the scene, Hamlet drafts an incredulous plan to decide the fate of Claudius through his expression to “The Murder of Gonzago” and one begins to see that Hamlet’s “witchcraft of wit” may be taking over him enough to actually drive himself insane. The question remains, however, whether or not Hamlet, as an avenger, is any better than Claudius, the murder.

-Taylor Pearson

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Scheherazade By Richard Siken

11 Jan

Scheherazade

 

Initially Scheherazade appeared to be the most ridiculously confusing poem that I had ever read. However, after I listened to the complex background story from Richard Siken himself, I was intrigued and fell in love with the poem. In the story Scheherazade is the daughter of the executioner. An ambitious king employs the executioner by deciding to marry a woman everyday and the following morning he beheads her so that he can marry another woman by the afternoon. This king’s life is encompassed by selfishness and faulty physical love. One day Scheherazade went to her father and asked him to set her up with the king. The next day, she was married to the king. However, when the king took her back to his master bedroom to take advantage of her, she struck a deal. She said that if she told him an amazing story, he would have to let her live. The king then responded that he would let her live for that night. After hearing the story, the king loved it enough to allow her to live another day. To everyone’s surprise, the king would hold Scheherazade at the point of death for a story every night but at the same time he would also be begging her for a story. Days turned into weeks and the king and Scheherazade fell in love, living happily ever after.

Siken certainly had a lot to live up to with his fourteen-line poem. Although this fourteen-line masterpiece is not a sonnet, Siken did succeed in conveying a message of a timeless tale of love. Beginning with an apostrophe, Siken poses as the king who is asking his lover to tell him multiple different stories about when they pulled bodies out of the lake, horses ran until they forgot they were horses, and rolled up in the carpet so they could dance.  Each aspect of the different dreams referred to an aspect of the color red and are all tied together by the aspect of the sliced apple. In turn, the apple refers to Adam and Eve and represents knowledge, temptation, and sin. In the end, the story has a happy ending but because every day begins like it is the first day of marriage, every story and every moment is a matter of life or death.

 

Dirty Valentine By Taylor Pearson

5 Jan

Dirty Valentine

 

There are so many things I’m not allowed to tell you,

Mother. You just don’t get it, my “boo”,

My love, my heart, what defines the entirety

Of my five long devoted years.

I cut each piece, licked it, felt it,

I put my love into it and I got nothing in return.

I marched on up and broke him the news

That his socks may be rocked off

If he took a peak inside of my little disaster.

Impatient, he took a look and whatever he saw

Was too much to bear. He swallowed my heart

And spat it back out. He swallowed my heart and

He threw it in the mud and said I had cooties.

Dirty, rotten valentine. Boys certainly are stupid.

Saying Your Name By Taylor Pearson

5 Jan

 

Saying Your Name

 

Names called out down the hall,

Down the stairs, and through your wooden door

Which you keep cracked along with

The closet, in defense against monsters.

You scream in your unconsciousness

Because you’re trapped in a fantasy.

But the darkness is your ally

Because the world we are in is much scarier.

Every once and a while I put

The monsters in their place

Because I am your hero in the night

And in the day. Saying your name gives me

A freight, nonetheless, especially when you

Do not answer because, little brother,

I am your protector.

 

 

 

 

Spiritualism and Realism: One Wants A Teller In A Time Like This By Gwendolyn Brooks

9 Dec

One wants A Teller In A Time Like This By Gwendolyn Brooks was a poem unique for its time. As a poet in the times of the Harlem Renaissance, Brooks companions’ poetry was often driven by the component of romanticism and realism, while also emphasizing “Black Power” in a time of oppression. As many poets also glorified the romantic engagements between black men and women and the over all structure of life at the time, Brooks took a different route that eventually led her to the forefront of the women’s rights movement in the 1960’s. Though Brooks incorporated an aspect of the Harlem Renaissance concept of realism, she took it to a whole another level.

By “demystifying” both men and the society, Brooks’ realism could often be mistaken as pessimism. Nonetheless, Brooks instills hope in her readers through poems like One Wants a Teller In A Time Like This. Even in a time plagued with discontent, Brooks is relatable to all walks of life who feel the same as her–lost. Her appeal to the masses does not, however, take away from her certainty as a poet.

Brooks’ poetry, often short and precise, is famous for embedding an aspect of the most actual and reliable being: G-d. “Be patient, time brings all good things” she says for “Love’s true, and triumphs; and G-d’s actual”. In this way, Brooks poems’ realism infers, ironically, the most spiritualism and effectively assert her role as one of the most audacious and renowned poets of the early 20th century.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at (Life through) a Blackbird

8 Dec

Even as one of Wallace Stevens most well-known poems, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird is often misunderstood. The classic imagery, metaphors, and personification enlighten the oddly interesting numerical structure of the poem; while also advocating many diverging messages to the reader.

From the beginning, Stevens paints a clear picture of the small eye of a blackbird among twenty snowy-mountains. In this way, he explores different characteristics of both himself and the blackbird including his “three minds, like a tree in which there are three blackbirds”. By using this form of imagery and description, he connects the reader to the life of a blackbird, while simultaneously personifying the black bird so it can be more relatable.

Nonetheless, Stevens’ poem is not one only about a blackbird. In the fourth stanza, he  proclaims that a “man and a woman and a blackbird are one”. Though neither creature is “one with each other”, Stevens argues for the necessary and proper unification between man and nature. Besides for unification, he also hints that man and the blackbird should work symbiotically and learn from each other.  In addition, Stevens states that “the blackbird is involved in what (he) knows” and that, in many ways, man has much more to learn from nature than the blackbird has to learn from man.

The Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird is similar to the many ways that a person can look at life. One can approach life with an open mind of curiosity or a closed mind of ignorance. Either way, like a blackbird, there is always more than one way to look at a situation. Likewise, a poem can be interpreted in hundreds of ways until the poet’s intentions are revealed. Even as one of the most famous poems of all time, Stevens words, though religiously repeated and admired for literary perfection, are not, in fact, completely understood.

A New and Old Response to The Fish

4 Dec

Between two completely different poets, I found interest, like them, in the topic of The Fish. While The Fish By Marianne Moore was written in the early 20th century, The Fish By Elizabeth Bishop was written in the mid ninetieth century. Though each poet graced an overlapping century, the topics of each of their poems take a different perspective on the topic of marine wildlife.

Moore’s poem was one big metaphor meant to teach her reader. By using specific word choice, personification, and hyperbolized prose, Moore conveys her complex message with clarity.  Though the poem possesses observations that any scuba diver could  observe , in reality, her poem is a critique of mankind.  Moore advocates for the effectiveness of marine life. The sea “can live on what can not revive– its youth. The sea grows old in it”. In some ways, the sea works exactly like its terrestrial counterpart, however, it’s diverging interactions and relationships make the ancient ecosystem timeless. Moore portrays a tone of envy and admiration in response to the ageless ocean.

In contrast, Elizabeth Bishop advocates a different message in her poem, The Fish. Just a couple decades younger, Bishop lives in a time period very different from her fish-intrigued companion. As America moved deeper into the 20th century, it developed a new approach to the surrounding wildlife. Questions arose about nature that could and could not be answered. Either way, admiration stepped down from its pedestal and let sympathy take its toll. Bishop utilizes countless similes, the replication of words for emphasis, and personification to convey her message. Unlike Moore’s poem, Bishop did not envy the marine life that she observed. She sympathized with it. The “tremendous fish” that she originally caught went from a meaningless midday catch to a compassionate companion. After looking “into his eyes” and admiring “his sullen face”, Bishop’s ends the poem with a profound message: “I let the fish go”.

In this way, Bishop and Moore differ in their approach to marine life. Moore admires the world that differs so much from her own, while, Bishop sympathizes with a creature so like herself. Even when gracing the same century, their difference in age among seems to be the driving factor in their approach to wildlife. Nonetheless, by utilizing similar techniques, their messages stand strong in response to the fish.