So many decisions led up to this point in my life. My choice to go to engineering school, realizing it wasn’t my shtick. Deciding to pursue art, finding a wealth of money problems to bar any real success.
Then I found music. Just a hobby at youth, my love for music blossomed into a burning passion for the audible art. It didn’t pay well, only slightly better than the artist gig, but it gave me an opportunity to see the world. I learned the culture of many peoples; the petty French, the haughty Brits, the lovable Swedes. But they all wouldn’t mind giving a buck to a ragged man, more bones than meat, and sharing the tale of life we all live.
This old guitar may have been slowly killing me, but it gave me life. I learned more on the streets than I ever could have from a textbook. This old rigid pillow, old umbrella, old dancing partner. This old guitar and me, the inseparable pair for the rest of time.
-Pablo Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist”
He yelled my name with such vehemence that I couldn’t help but cringe. We used to have such a lovely passionate relationship. Now, we only communicate through heated shouting.
I knew we were getting on the wrong train, but he assured me he knew this was the right one. I had ridden the public transportation all through college, having to visit my parents upstate, so I knew the Red line went South to North. But I wanted to salvage the remnants of our failing marriage so I kept quiet when he selected the West to East line.
Everything was going smoothly until he decided to insult my designer sunhat. What nerve! I retaliated the only way I knew, full force. I slammed the map in his face, so that he could “clearly” see we were on the wrong line. He did not like that, and threw his crate of monkeys at me.
…. and that is how I died, killed by, sadly not a barrel, but a crate of monkeys.
First, a description of the Keats poem. It is a sonnet in the traditional English form. The speaker experiences an existential crisis, and worries that before his death he cannot possibly document every creative idea which passes through him. In the first quatrain, he uses a metaphor and a simile to compare his thoughts to a crop that is harvested from his brain via a pen. In the second quatrain, his thoughts become meteorological objects of which must be re-recorded by hand. However, in the third quatrain, he directly addresses his brain, calling it “creature of an hour” (alluding to the shortness of human life, as Keats died at 25), and noting that his love for it is unreturned at the ending moment. The third quatrain gradually transitions into the post-volta couplet at the end, where he admits that his own questioning of this thought will gradually eliminate his existence as well as his mark on society. In all, it seems Keats believes that his own fears of death will cause his loss of productivity and demise.
Longfellow’s poem is an Italian sonnet, again mostly conforming to the rigorous sonnet form traditions. The speaker here undergoes a subset of existential crisis: midlife crisis (“Mezzo Cammin” means “middle journey”). I have not accomplished what I wished to do a long time ago is the gist of this poem as noted in the first quatrain, with the “accomplishment” goal being “some tower of song with lofty parapet” (another metaphor for some kind of large work). The optimistic second quatrain contains the brightest moment in the poem duo—a notion that the speaker could go on, and might even be determined, to experience additional success. Then, a terrific unbuffered shift occurs, and the sextet which follows this volta contains invocations of the past and death (the future). Longfellow notes it is tempting to satisfy oneself with all previous successes and at this point in life content oneself with these and retire (comparing the past to a city at the base of a hill), but he also knows death is coming and indicates it with sleek metaphors involving autumn (the season close to death) and a waterfall (which will eventually engulf the low city).
The Big Question answer, also known as the thesis:
Although both poets worry that they might die before accomplishing all the goals they wish to reach, only Longfellow credits himself with the value of all his past work when considering the success of his life.
Both poets preoccupy themselves with the effect of death on their final creative output.
- Longfellow: Season (Foster!) Autumn, before death of Winter, and comparison of roaring waterfall to Death (to which he is ascending)
- Keats: Alone on shore, descent to nihilistic viewpoint
- Longfellow: Twilight
- Keats: No mention of death, but “cease to be” indicates fear of completely being forgotten
Longfellow and Keats have different attitudes toward completed work compared to potential or unfinished work.
- Keats: positive connotation of “gleaned my teeming brain,” imagery of books and crops for future work
- Longfellow: Geography (Foster!) and imagery of foggy town beneath him at base of hill (no indication of disdain)
- Keats: Love invested in earlier work “unreflect[ed]” (unreturned, indicates unhappiness)
- Keats: “Shadows” of “cloudy symbols of high romance” (supernatural mystery of future work)
- Longfellow: “A care that almost killed” indicates significant attention to previous work
Tired of reading about poetry already? Well go find another blog to read because there will be much more coming soon!
Character foils are used to contrast characters and highlight particular properties of both. They are typically done most often with the protagonist. Foils can be rather extreme or very faint. Foils can also be used to compare things or places, but I will focus upon character foils.
Laertes and Ophelia serve as character foils to Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Their reactions to the death of Polonius, their father, differs from Hamlet’s reaction to the death of his own father. Hamlet is based upon the convoluted and brooding Hamlet’s revenge plot against Claudius for killing his father. Hamlet is conflicted between his desire to take revenge and his fight against insanity. Laertes and Ophelia embody each of the issues independently.
Hamlet’s madness is rather enigmatic. While clearly stating his intentions “To put an antic disposition on”(I.v.191), his crazy behavior does occasionally appear to be honest. On the contrary, when Polonius dies, Ophelia’s grief-driven madness is rather different from Hamlet’s. Her true madness acts as a foil to Hamlet’s, and supports his claim of sanity. When Ophelia goes mad, she is described as “importunate, Indeed distract”(IV.iv.2-3). She is incomprehensible and appears to have lost her sense of purpose. Ophelia’s suicide also foils Hamlet’s. Though Hamlet laments “this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into dew, Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter”(I.ii.131-134), he never actually acts upon his broodings. Ophelia’s death however, is shrouded in mystery and very likely is a suicide.
On the other hand, Laertes is a foil to Hamlet’s revenge. Upon learning of his father’s murder, Laertes’ quickly takes action to get revenge for his father. He cries “let him come. It warms the very sickness in my heart That I shall live and tell him to his teeth, ‘Thus diest thou’”(IV. vii. 57-60). While similar to Hamlet’s thirst for revenge, Laertes acts immediately.
I don’t understand Jackson Pollock’s works. My impressions are that his pieces are simply collections of blobs and splatters. They may be some form of expression, but I don’t see it…
but then I take a moment to really look at his work. I look at the colors and the patterns and ask myself what could they be saying? Is his soul in such inner turmoil that he has to express himself in random splashes of color? Or is there a method to his madness?
I figure that famous people started talking about their interests in his paintings or they were exhibited at a famous collection or gallery, igniting his huge success. At such a large size, I think I would be overwhelmed with a piece of art larger than I am, and I wonder what kind of time commitment Pollock puts into his works.
Sullivan’s reaction is a very positive one. Her interpretation of his work is of praise, he is able to distill the essence of art into minimal parts. The simplicity of Pollock’s work enables it to be interpreted as anything by anyone, as explained through her many metaphors such as: “maze” “linoleum” “mural”. Yet his work begs many questions, while giving no answers.
I rarely talk about it, what even is it? My future is enigmatic, I can plan my future to what I want it to be, but that won’t make a difference to what it actually becomes. But that would require me to make plans about my future, which I have trouble grasping how life will be different or even care to do so. However, I do have some very loose plans for my future.
For spring break, I will be traveling to South Korea with my mother. I have not visited since I was three, so that’s almost an entire blood line I have little to no connection to. I am excited to see my family, but also anxious. They grew up in an entirely different culture than I have. Or maybe not, with the large American presence since the Korean War, perhaps my relatives are more like me than I think. No matter the case, I don’t think I’ll be ready for the winter season in full scale over there.
After spring break, my future is a blur. I got accepted to study biomedical science at A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science, but I have heard numerous people tell me that it very certainly is not worth it. While it gears students to go into medical school, it wrecks havoc on your grades and their advisers are less than amicable. After college, then medical school, and then residency, I’ll maybe finally be a doctor. Even then, my plans for formal education are not over, as I want to be specialize in pediatrics.
One thing I noticed in “Quarto 1” is that the dialogue is remarkably short.
FIRST SENTINEL: Oh, you come most carefully upon your watch.
BARNARDO: An if you meet Marcellus and Horatio,
The partners of my watch, bid them make haste.
FIRST SENTINEL: I will. See who goes there.
Enter Horatio and Marcellus.
Friends to this ground.
This creates a choppy dialogue that was unpleasant to read. Additionally, varying with the original text, this excerpt lasts much longer, detailing the meeting of these characters, whom while relatively unimportant, except for Horatio, start the play off. Although I suppose the abruptness of the dialogue could be explained by their uneasiness with the ghost, I think that is a bit of a stretch.
In Act II, the character Polonius no longer exists and neither does Ophelia. Okay, that’s a little bit of a stretch, Ophelia’s name is just misspelled to “Ofelia” but Polonius is now a character named “Corambis”. I prefer Ophelia over Ofelia simply due to the aesthetics of the letters. On the other hand, I prefer the misnaming of Corambis over Polonius; it seems more masculine.
Also just “King” is a little vague as to his relation to the other characters. I much prefer Claudius, a sinister sounding name. Furthermore, having a King talk to the prince about the prince’s father just seems like a situation I would be rather confused about if having to watch this play without prior knowledge of the characters.