Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Personally, I liked the poem a lot. It seemed like the poet had given the topic a lot of thought, and was trying to comfort himself rather than the imaginary person the poem was directed to (but maybe it just seems that way to me because that is the sort of thing I would do). Everyone who knows what it is to live fears death. Poets especially know what life is, because it is their job to feel and experience as much of it as possible, and then to analyze the feeling and put it in words.

One thing that rubbed me the wrong way about the poem "Thanatopsis" was its meter and rhyme scheme. The meter was strange because it had few syllables and was fairly consistent, but there was enough inconsistency in the number of syllables that it felt strange to read. The rhyming also seemed weird because of the meter. Normally when a poem has relatively few syllables per each line it has a rhyme scheme of some sort. This poem was a little strange because it did not rhyme at all.

One of the things I did enjoy about the poem is the way Bryant describes things. He writes really well when he personifies nature, and really makes it seem like something meant to care for people, instead of oppose them. He writes "She has a voice of gladness, and a smile and eloquence of beauty, and she glides into his darker musings, with a mild and healing sympathy, that steals away their sharpness, ere he is aware." Whit this sentence in mind, it makes one wonder why they do not spend more time outside, when such a benevolent force is awaiting them. Then they remember that it is cold and rainy that day and the effect is ruined, but please overlook the recent onset of pessimism that has taken my mind.

Huff's criticism seems to point out a sort of emotional back and forth between comforting thoughts and unpleasant ones (Huff). At first the person in the poem is spending a good time outside, and then he begins to think of death, and thinks of all the horrible things about it. Then he starts thinking that it might be alright to spend his death in the ground with everyone else who has ever lived, but then begins to worry that he will not be remembered after he is dead. The poem continues the back and forth after that, and it makes a sort of debate about what the proper attitude toward death is. I had not noticed that myself, so I am glad that this criticism pointed it out.

Over all I think that this poem touches on a real issue that everyone worries from time to time. Death is something that almost everyone fears, and this poet was also afraid. He wrote this poem to try looking at death in a different way, a way that was less frightening for him. It was a really interesting poem.

Bryant, William Cullen. "16. Thanatopsis. William Cullen Bryant. Yale Book of American Verse." Great Books Online -- Quotes, Poems, Novels, Classics and Hundreds More. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. .

Huff, Randall. "'Thanatopsis'." The Facts On File Companion to American Poetry, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. November 23. 2011. CPAP0402&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 23, 2011).

Journal 19

To decide the importance of nature and spirituality in life and death, I guess that it really depends on the nature of life and death. I love to muse over both, but rarely look at the two together, preferring to see them as opposites. Nature and spirituality have a big effect on me, so I suppose they would have a big effect on my views of life and death as well.

I see life as this wonderful chance to do and feel everything that makes a spirit what it is (at least at the current moment, using the best of my eloquence to try describing it). I see death then, as the horrible ending to all of it. There was one night a few months ago that I got the unshakable feeling that I would not wake up in the morning, probably the product of my sister's incessant clinging and worrying about me. Anyway, I can not even begin to describe my emotional state, as I was completely convinced that I was going to die. Maybe that sounds silly, or insane, but I believed it without any doubt.

Returning to the original topic, I think that nature and spirituality are the things that make a soul shake off all the unimportant things of the world and feel that it is one being, complete and individual. I also think that because of this they are part of what makes the thought of death so frightening. I begin wondering if my soul would even exist after death, and that frightens me even worse than anything in life. I know that I am one being, complete and individual, and I want to exist.

I think that nature and spirituality should play a big part in life and death, because they are what make life worth the time. When I think of spirituality, I do not just think of belief of a God. I think of all of the emotions a person is capable of feeling, and without emotion what is the point of doing anything?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fireside poets

I have to say that the fireside poets are really artists that I could enjoy, that is, if I did not have to write a series of reflections taking each and every joy out of my life. The fireside poets are very different from Rationalists and Puritans, mostlybecause of the things in life that they valued. Rationalists enjoyed their reason, Puritans loved their God, and the fireside poets had their own ideas about what was important. These differences were what made the different types of literature so different from each other.

One thing that stands out to me while reading them is that the style seems a lot like the that of Puritan writings. Whatserface's poem about how her house burnt down sounds a lot like a person telling a story that just happens to rhyme every few sylables (Bradstreet 91). A better way to say that might be that her wording is fairly plain and very natural. This is also the case with the fireside poets, as both use even meters as well. One big difference between Puritan poetry and the fireside poets is that the fireside poets do not make any real issue and mention of God. Another big difference between the two is how emotional the fireside poems were. When reading holmes' "Old Ironsides" I could barely keep myself contained it was so emotional (Holmes 211). The poem is so charged with emotion that the Puritan poems can not hold a candle to it.

It is very difficult for my to compare fireside poets with Rationalist poetry, mainly because I have never yet come across a peice of Rationalist poetry, if it even exists at all. Poetry is the ultimate expression of feeling, and a Rationalist would generally have valued their thoughts far more than their felings, and therefore would not have wasted their time on poetry. That is probably the reason that prose was so popular compared to poetry. Anyway, there really is not much in common between them except that they both wrote very little about God. Maybe another similarity would be that they were both patriotic at times.

I guess that all three of the different literary periods are very different, and somewhat hard to compare. There really is not much similar between them, because every literary period is a sort of rebelion agains the one that came before it, and each generation cooses a different aspect to rebel against. The things the fireside poets really valued ere beauty and their feelings. When people think of poetry these are the first things that come to mind, which just goes to show how much influence the fireside poets had on American literature. That makes sense, because these writers were the first real literary artists of America.

I really enjoy reading this kind of poetry myself. There is something very wonderful about the way they write and the things they write about.

Bradstreet, Anne. "Upon the Burning of Our House." Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Ph.D. and Douglas Fisher, Ph.D. Glencoe Literature. American Literature ed. Columbus: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009. 97-99. Print.

Holmes, Oliver. "Old Ironsides." Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Ph.D. and Douglas Fisher, Ph.D. Glencoe Literature. American Literature ed. Columbus: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009. 97-99. Print.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Journal 18

The perfect autumn day is something hard for me to describe. My ideas about it are so general that I hardly know where to begin. I suppose the most important thing would be to spend time outside.

The real defining thing about good autumn days is the amount of time spent outside. The weather does not even have to be warm and sunny, as I find that the cold and rainy days have equal if not more melancholy charm. Early in the season it is easy enough to have a great day outside. I remember earlier this year that I spent one day playing guitar in the park, walking around the town, and breaking and entering. That was one of the best days I have ever spent, and with such company that an hour seemed like an age.

Then later in the season, when the weather turns colder, I find enjoyment in bracing myself against the cold. Often this time of year I get such an agitation of spirit that I have no choice but to walk in restless haste until I have quieted my thoughts. These days are often sad and painful, but there is such beauty in pain that I am almost inclined to call these days my favorites.

Now I have worked myself up into such a state, and I would like nothing more than to storm around the room, ranting and railing internally. However, as that is not socially acceptable, I will content myself to running my fingers over the keys and hope that it produces the same effect.

I suppose to state my ideas in brief, a perfect autumn day is one in which the weather works my feelings into such a state that I have hardly words to describe. It is the kind of feeling one gets when reading poetry, and the feeling poets have when writing. It is a sort of vehemence that makes the rest of life seem tame. How can a day that produces this feeling be anything but perfect?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Journal 17

Around a month ago I bought a volume of Walt Whitman's poetry. I had started reading a little of his work in the library, and I instantly fell in love. When I started reading at home though, I found it was entirely too noisy for me to enjoy it. By the way, if you hold anything sacred in life, go somewhere quiet to read Whitman's poetry. If you do not, it is just a series of slightly frustrating poems (as I found out the hard way). It was a little cold outside, but I decided to ride my bike to my favorite place in the world anyway.

I do not want to say where this preferred place is, because that may ruin it, but I can describe it for you. The east side is walled in by pine trees that completely hide the view on the other side of them. On the west side there is a thick wood, with tall oak trees and thick brush underneath. On the south, there is something of a field, overgrown with tall prairie grasses and flowers. On the north there is another field, but this one plowed and mostly hidden by a fence and more evergreens. In the middle there are three or four trees that would be good to climb if I was just a little bit taller. That day, the leaves had made a thick carpet of bright red over the dying grass, and the wind delicately played with them as it blasted through the trees in the west and about my face and body.

I had just come to the poem "When Last in the Dooryard Lilacs Bloomed" and decided to read it aloud. At first I stumbled through it, tripping over words and those odd poetic phrases. After the first page or so, the feeling of the poetry grabbed hold of me, and pulled me into the wind and the cold and the song about death. If I continued to stutter I do not remember it. My chest was tight with rapture, and the setting sun made the leaves still on the trees appear to burn.

Maybe you think I am strange for this, but that hour or so was one of the best of my life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Journal 16

I am a little bit bad at using technology, that phrase meaning that my attempting to use technology has been known to cause computers to crash, people near me to catch fire, and zombie related global apocalypses to spontaneously destroy the entire human population (or at least the equivalent in frustration). I guess web sites like facebook and gmail would make things easier, considering that I actually know how to use them. I am really apprehensive about this whole project honestly. Even my individual projects have me concerned about getting everything posted on the right site and at the right place.

I do think it is probably important for me to figure out how to use computers for college. I am willing to bet that computers are going to be used a lot more in college than right now. As it currently is, I can only use Microsoft programs and the internet to a certain extent. When it comes to putting things on a web page I am completely at a loss, and when there is a problem with the computer its self I would suggest that everyone keep a hundred meter radius clear of me. Even at this very moment Elizabeth is explaining to me the first steps, and I am becoming more confused all of the time. If I do not figure this sort of thing out now, in college I am going to be in a whole mess of trouble.

So honestly I am just really not happy about this whole thing. I think it would be a little bit less concerning if the members of my group were in this school. That way if I had any serious problems I could just nix the computer and talk to them in person. After I get used to it, I do not think I will have a problem working with people from other schools, I am just worried that I will make a big mistake while I am first learning what to do.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Journal 15

I can only begin to imagine the plethora of problems that could accompany working with a person so far away. The problems become even worse if said partners have a poor work ethic, something I am especially worried about. Honestly, I'm getting a head ache just thinking about it.

One problem is probably going to be that our partners in another town might not be able to work and talk about things at the same time we are. Because if this it might become necessary for me to make time outside of school to work things out with them. This might become very frustrating, especially because they seem to enjoy using twitter a lot, and I have absolutely no inclination to ever visit that website.

If my other partners do not get things done on time, I am going to be in an especially bad position. It is hard to inspire a person to fear for their lives over emails or video chats, and still harder when they know how far away you are. I just really hope my partners get their work done on time and I do not have to worry about that.

Another potential problem is with the technology. I have an extreme aversion to it. I can not figure out how to use even the simplest of programs, and I can easily foresee a lot of problems with getting everything to work properly.

So, I am pretty concerned about how this project is going to work. Those are just the three most easy problems to predict, and my imagination is running wild with all of the many things that could and most likely will go wrong. I do not have good luck. I am half expecting all of my partners to be extremely sick, and all at different times so nothing gets done. This might be something important for me to learn how to do, but right now it seems pretty daunting.