- Write two poems of at least 16 lines each appropriate for performance at a High Day ritual.
One poem may be in free-verse form, but one must employ some form of meter and/or rhyme.
Note in each case for which High Day the poem is intended.
To The Ancestors at Samhain
Kin of Blood
Kin of Heart
Kin of Place
Name and Unnamed
Known and Unknown
Your bodies and bones became the firmament upon which we build our lives.
Your life energy joined the stars that provide us warmth and heat.
Your breath rides with the winds that bring us rain and regeneration.
You are our closest and most powerful allies.
We need only to call upon you for your assistance.
You ask only simple offerings and acknowledgement in return.
As we go about our daily routines, we carry remnants of you
In our bodies
In our minds
In our memories
Ever present and ever constant, you are with us.
We are intertwined even as we are as separate as live and death.
We honor and thank you for all that you have provided and will continue to provide.
May you rest in comfort and tranquility.
May your time in the otherworld be joyous.
May your spirit burn brightly within us, your children.
Poem for Yule
The Earth Mother slumbers
Life is buried deep
The fields brown and lifeless
As our Mother sleeps
Cold winds blow on endless
Through night into day
Bringing chilly grey clouds
That keep warmth at bay
We huddle in our homes
Waiting for dawn to break
To glimpse his shining face
And prove the Sun’s awake
The Dark has taken hold
Alas we will not weep
But relax, restore, revitalize
Until the light breaks free.
This poem was written using an ABCB rhyme scheme where the second and fourth line of each quatrain rhymes. The meter is slightly irregular. The first two quatrains have lines of six syllables followed by a line of five syllables with two strong accented syllables per line. The third quatrain has lines of six syllables throughout with three strongly accented syllables per line. The last quatrain starts with two lines of 6 syllables but ends with a line of nine syllables followed by a line with six. Each line of this quatrain also has three strongly accented syllables. The accent pattern resembles the iambic format which is a soft syllable followed by a hard syllable.
- Compare and contrast examples from the work of three poets in one cultural tradition from
at least two historical eras. (minimum 300 words of the student’s original essay material
beyond the verses provided, at least one poem per poet)
I think it is an interesting exercise to compare works from different periods of the same culture. You get to see how some things have changed radically while other things remain stubbornly the same. In this case I have compared works from Irish poets from three different points in time. The first work is from Medieval Ireland, the second from the 18th century and the third from the early 20th century.
Ireland has a history of war and invasion. In Medieval times, the Vikings and Normans invaded. There were also wars between Irish clans. This constant fear of attack and death, coupled with the Church’s view of Original Sin and suffering for a reward in heaven make for a dreary existence (Ireland). This is reflected in the medieval era poem “Lullay.”
As time marched on, the dreariness faded somewhat, but the Irish still dealt with repression and hard times. The English ruled Ireland. They made laws, settled legal matters and even produced Irish currency (Ireland). This is the era of 18th century Irish satirist Jonathan Swift. While “An Echo” is not one of his political works, it does show his quick wit and ability to turn things on their heads.
In the early 2oth century, things changed again for Ireland. The North and South split. There was fighting between Catholics and Protestants (Ireland). William Butler Yeats wrote during this time. As Ireland moved toward self-rule, Yeats sought to bring a sense of unity to Ireland via the arts (William Butler Yeats). “Lullaby” a poem from this era.
Lullay – Author Unknown – Found on CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts under “Anglo-Irish Poems of the Middle Ages.
Lullay, lullay, little child, why do you weep so bitterly?
You must needs weep,
it was arranged for you long ago to live in sorrow always,
and sigh and mourn as a result,
as your forbears did before this while they were alive.
Lullay, lullay, little child, child lullay lullow, thus have you come into an unfamiliar world. Those birds and beasts and the fish in the sea,
and each living creature made of bone and blood,
when they come into the world they themselves some good;
all except the wretched brat who is of Adam’s blood.
Lullay, lullay, little child, you are destined to sorrow.
You do not know that the wildness of this world is in store for you. Child, if it happens that you shall thrive and prosper,
remember you were fostered upon your mother’s knee.
Always remember in your heart those three things:
whence you come,
who you are and what shall become of you.
Lullay, lullay, little child, child lullay, lullay.
You came into this world with sorrow,
with sorrow you must journey away. Do not trust in this world,
it is your great enemy.
It makes the rich poor,
the poor rich as well.
It turns misery to joy and joy to misery too.
Let no man trust in this world while it changes in this way.
Lullay, Lullay, little child, your foot is in the wheel:
you do not know whether it turns to joy or misery. Child, you are a pilgrim born in wickedness,
look before you as you wander in this false world.
Death shall come with a blast out of a very dark corner to cast down Adam’s race,
as he himself did before.
Lullay, lullay, little child, thus Adam made trouble for you through the wickedness of Satan in the land of Paradise. Child, you are not a pilgrim but an ignorant visitor.
Your days are numbered,
your journeys preordained;
whether you shall go north or east,
death shall come to you with bitter pain in the heart.
Lullay, lullay, little child, Adam caused this sorrow for you when he ate the apple and Eve offered it to him.
This work is nothing less than depressing. It speaks to the belief that everyone is bad from birth and that misery will follow them their entire life. If you are happy, it seems, it is just a matter of time before you are miserable again. The lines are long and drawn out and while the repetition of the soft “lullay, lullay” should lend a sense of peace, it is instead followed by bitter reminders of death, misery and punishment.
The next piece is “An Echo” by Jonathan Swift.
An Echo – Jonathan Swift
Never sleeping, still awake, Pleasing most when most I speak; The delight of old and young, Though I speak without a tongue. Nought but one thing can confound me, Many voices joining round me; Then I fret, and rave, and gabble, Like the labourers of Babel. Now I am a dog, or cow, I can bark, or I can low; I can bleat, or I can sing, Like the warblers of the spring. Let the lovesick bard complain, And I mourn the cruel pain; Let the happy swain rejoice, And I join my helping voice: Both are welcome, grief or joy, I with either sport and toy. Though a lady, I am stout, Drums and trumpets bring me out: Then I clash, and roar, and rattle, Join in all the din of battle. Jove, with all his loudest thunder, When I’m vext, can’t keep me under; Yet so tender is my ear, That the lowest voice I fear; Much I dread the courtier’s fate, When his merit’s out of date, For I hate a silent breath, And a whisper is my death.
“An Echo” is a riddle; the short rhyming couplets along with the iambic tetrameter give the whole poem a playful sing-song feel. It is light hearted and fun where as “Lullay” is heavy and dark. The poem seems to be written for both amusement and entertainment. It is fun to recite, and also offers the reader the challenge of untangling the riddle and solving a puzzle. This is in direct contrast to the prior poem which sole purpose seems to be making the reader feel horrible.
The Third poem is “Lullaby” by William Butler Yeats.
Lullaby – W.B Yeats
Beloved, may your sleep be sound That have found it where you fed. What were all the world’s alarms To mighty paris when he found Sleep upon a golden bed That first dawn in Helen’s arms? Sleep, beloved, such a sleep As did that wild Tristram know When, the potion’s work being done, Roe could run or doe could leap Under oak and beechen bough, Roe could leap or doe could run; Such a sleep and sound as fell Upon Eurotas’ grassy bank When the holy bird, that there Accomplished his predestined will, From the limbs of Leda sank But not from her protecting care.
While both the first poem and this one are lullabies and have some similarities, they are very different in content. Both “Lullaby” and “Lullay” reference mythological stories; various Greek tales in the Lullaby and Adam and Eve in “Lullay”. In “Lullaby” this comparison is used to show the kind of sleep that the narrator wishes for his or her beloved. In the “Lullay”, it is more of a commiseration. It is as if the narrator is saying to the child, “I know you are unhappy but it’s going to get a lot worse so calm down and rest for a bit.” Both are calls to rest with very different overall messages.
“Lullaby” is also lighter in language and in tone than “Lullay”, but does not have the playful feel of “An Echo”. “An Echo’s” couplet scheme and meter lends itself to images of skipping, singing children. It is full of movement and energy. There is nothing sedate or slumber inducing about it. “Lullaby’s” rhyme scheme, while it is obvious on the page, becomes harder to discern when read out loud. Each stanza is actually one long flowing sentence without the accents of a regular meter. This helps with the feeling of calmness and contentment. Similarly, “Lullay” also has long drawn out lines and no discernable rhyme scheme, at least in the English translation, but the language is heavy and evokes feelings of fear and uncertainty rather than peacefulness.
- Compare and contrast examples from the work of two poets of the same historical era from
two different cultural traditions. (minimum 300 words of the student’s original essay material
beyond the verses provided at least two poems per poet)
I, Too – Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table When company comes. Nobody’ll dare Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,” Then. Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed– I, too, am America.
Everything – Anna Akhmatova
Everything’s looted, betrayed and traded, black death’s wing’s overhead. Everything’s eaten by hunger, unsated, so why does a light shine ahead? By day, a mysterious wood, near the town, breathes out cherry, a cherry perfume. By night, on July’s sky, deep, and transparent, new constellations are thrown. And something miraculous will come close to the darkness and ruin, something no-one, no-one, has known, though we’ve longed for it since we were children.
Both Langston Hughes and Anna Akhmatova wrote at a time of change and conflict in the early 20th century. World War I was finishing, Stalin was in power in Russia, purging those that held opposing viewpoints (The Purges of the USSR) and African Americans were trying to find equality amidst rampant racism that included the Jim Crow laws (Jim Crow). Both poems reflect the anticipation of change for the better, though with different feels.
Langston Hughes contributed to the Harlem Renaissance in New York City. Even in the North segregation was rampant. “Separate but Equal” was anything but. Many African Americans moved north to get away from the Jim Crow laws of the south, only to find that they were no more equal in the northern cities. When Hughes was writing, African Americans had returned from fighting in World War I and were looking to better themselves. This led to more competition for jobs and housing, among other things. Unfortunately, some did not react to this very well. There were race riots, and the KKK revived. Hughes wrote with optimism about the future. This is reflected in “I, Too.”
The voice in “I,Too” voice has absolute confidence that he is equal those that oppress him. For him it is inevitable that, not only that things will turn in his favor, but that the people who have oppressed him will see the truth, accept it, and be remorseful about the way they have treated him. There is an almost cheerful arrogance in the matter of fact way he states that “tomorrow, I will be at the table.” (Hughes) The oppression seems to have always been there, but he plans for the day that he is sure is coming. That day, for him, is imminent.
Anna Akhmatova is a Russian poet. She saw both pre- and post-revolutionary Russia and this definitely influenced her poetry. Her ancestors were titled land owners before the Bolshevik Revolutions. Her first husband was executed by Lenin and her 3rd husband died in a forced labor camp. Many of her friends and colleagues were victims of Stalin’s Purges. Though all this, she never left Russia. . There was also a period of time when publishing of any of her works was banned; still, she stayed in Russia. Her remembrance of the past glory of pre-revolutionary Russia appears in “Everything” as is the desolation of post-revolutionary existence.
In “Everything” the certainty is there as it is in “I,Too”, but it is more sedate, even cautious. The change is slower and more ephemeral. There is a sense that the voice is timid and afraid of giving voice to her hope even though she absolutely believes that better things are on the way. This contrasts with the brash confidence of “I,Too”. Some of this difference may occur because whereas the oppression in “I,Too” seems to have been ever present for the life of the subject, in “Everything” the oppression seems newer, like the voice remembers what it is like to be free, but has had the freedom taken away.
The mental images evoked by the two poems are different as well. I see the scenes in “I,Too” as colorful. There is a boldness that is almost garish. It is loud and bright. “Everything” is greyer and muted. Like a cloudy winter day. Everything is muffled and sedate.
Both poems deal with oppression and the hope for a better future and both put forth the conviction that a better future is coming.
- Compare and contrast two mythological or folkloric tales from two Indo-European cultures.
Include a discussion of the use of narrative point-of-view, the element of time, and any
relevant issues of religious (or other) bias influencing the narrative. (minimum 600 words)
Folktales hold a fascination for all ages. It seems not to matter if you are young, old or in-between, a folktale can stir something within you whether it be laughter, tears, or curiosity. They also seem to gain layers of meaning as you age. The two folk tales I chose for this segment are the Russian tale of “The Magic Ring” and “Y Chadee”, a tale from the Isle of Man. I have written a summary of each so that the reader may gain a better understanding of each tale. An analysis of the tales follows the summaries.
The Magic Ring is a classic Russian tale. It seems to be divided into three separate but interlinking tales. The first is at the very beginning for the tale wherein we are introduced to the main character Martin. Martin and his mother have been left destitute by the untimely death of Martin’s father. With little money, and none to spare, Martin’s mother sends him to town to get food. Instead of buying food, he helps an abused cat and then an abused dog. Needless to say his mother is less than pleased and sends poor Martin away to work. He ends up working for a priest in a neighboring village but will not receive any compensation until 3 years have passed and he proved to have been an asset. At the end of the three years he is given leave to choose his reward: sand or silver. At this point Martin’s cleverness kicks in and he chooses the sand instead of the silver. It comes in handy as he soon comes across a princess trapped by a fire. He puts the fire out with the sand. The princess promptly turns into a snake, wraps herself around Martin and directs him to go see her father. Once again, Martin is faced with gold and silver, but is told to request a simple ring. The King, whose daughter Martin seeks to have as a wife demands what we believes is an impossible task; that of building a fantastic castle overnight. Martin and his magic ring make quick work of it and the King gives Martin his daughter’s hand.
Unfortunately the princess was upset that she had married a lowly peasant even though he was providing her with everything she could desire, so she plotted Martin’s demise. She tried to wheedle the truth about how he was creating all the wonderful things but he kept his promise and never told her. One day, though he came home tired and the princess was finally able to pry the truth from him. The princess stole the ring and made all that Martin had built disappear overnight and ran away.
The next day Martin was tired and found guilty and put into a high tower to starve. Luckily the dog and cat that he had previously saved learned of his plight and vowed to help him. The first thing they did was bring him food and drink to last a year. They then set out on a quest to regain the ring. They traveled far and, using their own kind of cunning and talents persuaded the Mice King and Crab King to aid them in finding the ring. They returned the ring to Martin and he promptly restored all that had been lost as well as bringing back his wife, he then told the king what had really happened and the king ordered the princess executed for her treachery.
Y Chadee is the second tale to be examined. It is from the Isle of Man and tells the tale of Eshyn. Eshyn is a prince. He is dependable and hardworking; A stereotypical “good boy”. His ne’er-do-well brother Ny-Eshyn, of course, is horribly jealous of him and plots his demise. Using a magic snake given to him by an old man, Ny-Eshyn turns his brother into a horribly disfigured monster. The guards at the gate don’t recognize Eshyn upon his return to the castle and forced him to run away. When he finally saw the horrible creature he had become he let his horse go and wandered.
While he was wallowing in his misfortune, he saw an old woman wander by gathering sticks into a bundle. He offered to carry the heavy load back to her cabin. On the trip he told the old woman his story. The old woman invited him in and prepared to build a fire to warm them. Eshyn insisted that she rest and kindled a fire for them then cooked dinner. Eshyn ate dinner then bedded down for the evening. When morning broke the old woman told him that he was to go to the fairy fortress and talk to an old man and ask advice, but do the exact opposite. Eshyn went to the castle and met the old man. He told him not to talk to the Queen of the Fairies. Soon Eshyn sees the Fairy Queen and, remembering what the old woman said, addressed her. The Queen was able to diagnose the issue and gave instructions. Eshyn was to go on a quest. He would have to enter on hall and steal a magical sword then enter a different hall and steal a magic pearl. He would then come upon a beautiful woman who would offer herself to him in exchange for the sword and the jewel. The Queen of the Fairies warned Eshyn not to let anything deter or distract him from his mission and off he went. He successfully gathered the jewel and sword and, though not without pause, resisted a beautiful woman and had the sword and jewel with him. He had also regained his normal appearance. The old woman told him that he must go back to his family castle and show his family and the royal court the treasures he had accumulated then throw then into the sea. Eshyn did not understand and was sorry to throw away the things he had worked so hard for, but he did it. Immediately thereafter that, Y Chadee, the beautiful woman he had refused, appeared at the castle gate. They were married and Ny-Eshyn, the brother who had tried to curse him, stormed off never to be heard from again.
These two stories have both similarities and differences. First of all, both stories are written in the third person. I can see a grizzled old grandparent sitting in front of a roaring fire reciting these stories while their grandchildren are snuggled up in blankets listening with baited breath for the next bit of story. The narrator weaves tales of loss, daring, cleverness, and of people getting their due.
One theme that appears on both stories is that of helping those less fortunate, even if it means personal sacrifice. In the Magic Ring, Martin used all of the family’s money to save Blackie and Stripey. In Y Chadee, Eshyn aids the old woman even though he is upset and troubled. In both cases, these acts of kindness save the main character. When Martin is stuck in the tower, Blackie and Stripey not only bring him food, but they also go on a perilous journey to bring back the ring so Martin can free himself (Magic Ring). In the case of Eshyn, the old woman gives him the directions that lead to the lifting of the spell his brother cast on him thus restoring of Eshyn’s appearance and right to the throne (Ellis 168).
Both stories also show the value of cleverness and of looking past the obvious when trying to overcome obstacles. In the Magic Ring, Martin has a feeling there is more to his payment options than meet the eye and chooses the sand over the money (Magic Ring). This choice leads to the acquisition of the magic ring which, in turn, leads to the acquisition of wealth and status. To me, it also seems as if he had grown up hearing fairy tales in his reality and learned some of the things the tale he is in is trying to teach readers in our world. In Y Chadee, Eshyn is faced with acquiring two objects that are heavily guarded. Each time he uses his brain instead of fighting his way out. When he comes upon the hall with the sword he waits until the guards drink themselves to sleep before acting, then he piled furniture up to be able to reach the sword that was suspended high above the floor (Ellis 172). When collecting the pearl, he waited until the guards ate themselves to sleep to take it. He also tied a rope around his waist to that he would be able to find the way out in the dark (Ellis 174).
Both stories value meaningful action over laziness and greed. In Y Chadee Eshyn’s brother tries to take the lazy way out to get rid of his brother (Ellis 165). He does not want to put forth any effort, but wants all the reward. Even though he manages to defeat Eshyn for a time, Eshyn does the work required and reclaims his rightful place. Ny-Eshyn is never heard from again (178). In The Magic Ring, Martin and his friends, Blackie and Stripey both work to earn, and regain, the magic ring. The Princess, in contrast, steals the ring and wreaks havoc. In the end she is punished severely for her treachery while Martin enjoys his well-deserved prosperous life (Magic Ring).
Both stories also speak to the virtue of patience and giving up an immediate reward for a greater reward at a later time. In Y Chadee Eshyn had to wait for the soldiers to go to sleep instead of jumping right in and stealing the objects of his quest (Ellis 172-174). He also had to refuse a beautiful princess so that he could reclaim his rightful place in his kingdom, but ended up marrying her in the end after all (178). Martín had to first work unpaid for three years to earn any money from his job, and then wait in a tower for another year while the magic ring was being retrieved (Magic Ring).
Another similarity is that both tales involve the hero’s having to follow instructions even if they seemed counter intuitive. Martin is told to refuse the offer of money from the king and instead ask for what appears to be plain and simple ring (Magic Ring). Eshyn is instructed to do the exact opposite of what a wise old man tells him to do (Ellis 168). He is also given explicit instructions from the Fairy Queen (171). Had either of them disobeyed the instructions they would not have completed their quests and their lives would have been ruinous.
Both stories also involve the upholding of taboos and what happened if you break the. In the Magic Ring, Martin is told not to speak of the ring. Y Chadee illustrated the old taboo of royalty having to be without blemish. When Martin tells his wife of the ring, he ends up locked in a tower to starve and has to rely on others for sustenance and rescue. Once he has the ring back, he is able to rebuild what has been lost (Magic Ring). When Ny-Esyhn’s spell takes effect and Eshyn is turned into a monster, he is cast from his kingdom and it is only when his physical appearance is restored that ne can return (Ellis 166-167).
Religious undertones are in both stories, but are more prominent in Y Chadee than in The Magic Ring. Y Chadee talks about some of the Seven Deadly Sins. Gluttony and Sloth appear in the soldiers that guard the sword and pearl. Lust is overcome when Eshyn refused the beautiful princess. Ny-Eshyn suffers from Envy and I believe that Pride makes and appearance with the emphasis on physical perfection. Greed appears in the desire to keep the treasures that Eshyn brings home instead of letting him toss them into the sea as he had been instructed (Ellis 177). This also speaks to the concept of delaying reward. This is something that sometimes appears in Christianity. Christians may strive to get a reward in heaven by denying themselves pleasure in this life. The Magic Ring has less obvious religious allusion. There is the concept of a woman causing the downfall of man like the Old Testament story Eve and the Apple. The action of the princess causes Martin to lose everything and suffer in the tower (Magic Ring). One of the things that Martin has built is a church. He states that he wants one “so there is a place where my wedding can be held, and my marriage celebrated.” (Magic Ring)
Time is something that is treated differently in each story. In The Magic Ring, time there is normal storytelling gaps and a few instances where specific time periods are called out. These tend to be jumps of three. Martin works for three years without pay; He and the princess live together for three months; He is stuck in the castle for three days before Blackie and Stripey come to his aid (Magic Ring). Y Chadee skips at random intervals. It is more like skipping scenes on a DVD than a prescribed calculation. You can tell that days have passed, but there is nothing specific to tell the reader how much time has gone by. Y Chadee also deals with the strange time passage of a dream state. Eshyn’s quest to restore his appearance that should have taken a rather long time is, in fact, all accomplished while he lies sleeping in the old woman’s cottage. In the morning he awakens and has been returned to his normal state (Ellis 176).
In the end, each of these tales teaches that both wondrous and terrible things can happen to anyone at any time. A peasant can gain riches and status just as easily as a member of a high born family can become an outcast. They remind the reader that everyone is subject to the turning of time and the weaving of the fates. Probably the greatest lesson taught by these two stories is that of maintaining hope. No matter whom you are, or your current situation, things can, and will, change. While this is a frightening and uncomfortable process, there is a good chance that if you hold on, move forward with determination, and act correctly things won’t turn out too badly for you.
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