“Imagine” and Romanticism

Imagine” by John Lennon is his highest-sold single after his departure from The Beatles. In the song, Lennon emphasizes the necessity of peace, love, and acceptance in a world full of conflict and division. He intended for this song to inspire people around the world and give them hope for a better future. Lennon’s “Imagine” is full of imagery, repetition, and symbolism, allowing listeners to perfectly picture the possibilities this world has to offer and reiterate his wishes.

Lennon repeated the same lines in stanzas 5 and 8, stating, “You may say I’m a dreamer/But I’m not the only one/I hope someday you’ll join us/And the world will be as one.” He takes his position on the issue and understands the difference of opinions, however, in the third line he calls for people to join him, which will ultimately bring everyone together. 

As the romantic era broke from conventional standards, the song “Imagine” does as well. The line, “Imagine there’s no heaven” broke from the norms of society by challenging the worldview that maybe Christianity isn’t true, and after death there is nothing. This was especially controversial in the 1970s when the song was released. 

Furthermore, imagination is the center of the song. I mean, the song is called Imagine. Romanticism values imagination over logic, and the song asks the reader to imagine a different world, one that will never exist. While that may not be the most reasonable thing to do, Lennon values the idea of this ideal world, despite the fact that it is basically impossible. 

Freedom from rules is another romantic ideal embodied through the song. “Imagine there’s no countries” is an example of Lennon envisioning society with the lack of rules that exist currently. Countries are a rule, there is a set of laws and a government with each country, and for there to be no countries would break away from rules.

The Beatles and A Noiseless Patient Spider

The Beatles record, Eleanor Rigby, which is a part of the Revolver 1966 album expresses life living in solitude. This song was one of the first introductions to psychedelic music and shares many connections to poems written by Emily Dickinson. The Beatles used this song to empathize for the lonely, particularly by focusing on an isolated old woman and the limited connections she had made. To many, this song felt as though it was telling a short story, possibly because it was based on real characters but also because of the many literary techniques packed in it. The most substantial elements being the use of imagery, repetition, metaphors and allusion. 

Imagery is used as a mechanism to bring to life and illustrate lonely women. At the beginning of the song Eleanor “Picks up the rice in the church where the wedding has been” and “lives in a dream”. Further reiterating the image of a lonely unmarried woman who despises such social events. 

Another example of literary devices is the line describing Eleanor by one who keeps “wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door”. In other words, this implies the facade she puts on and specifically the fake smile that she often leaves“by the door”. Although she appears happy, in reality she is miserable and finds ways to cover up the internal pain she truly faces. Later, Paul McCartney states that she was buried along with her name,” suggesting both literally and metaphorically her isolation after death. Essentially, when she is buried her name is too, and she is completely forgotten. Given these examples, the idea entailed is that even when Eleanor helped in the church and attempted to help others, ultimately she is easily forgotten once she died. 

Another important aspect is the repetition of “lonely people” which is seen throughout the song. The word “lonely” helps guide the audience to understand the sadness and despair within the story, and the particular ways in which this word promotes the struggles of those in solitude. 

Both “Eleanor Rigby” and A Noiseless Patient Spider obtain many overarching concepts following the struggles of those who are lonely.  A Noiseless Patient Spider is based upon an isolated spider trying to find connections while building its web. “Eleanor Rigby” is a parallel example as she struggles to form connections and is quickly forgotten due to her life in isolation.

Michael Jackson and Walt Whitman as Romantics?

By: Estefania, Grayson, Elijah and Camila

n Leaves of Grass a collection of poems by Walt Whitman, readers become immersed in romanticism. One poem from this collection, “Song of Myself”, uses the concept of romanticism to depict the speaker’s journey of self discovery and the influence of nature to the regeneration of the body, soul and mind. You may be wondering what could Michael Jackson and a poet from the 1800’s possibly have in common. The truth is, their work has more similarities than you think. In Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”, he addresses the issue of global warming and the loss of animals. He uses poetic devices to vocalizes his concern for animals and nature. For example, in one verse he says, “What about flowering fields? // Is there a time? // What about all the dreams that you said was yours and mine?”. Here flowers symbolize a greater theme of love and, “flowering fields” suggest that love is growing as the flowers grow. Walt Whitman also uses aspects of nature to symbolize subjects such as the ongoing cycle of life. Some may say a “Song of Myself” is the epitome of transcendentalism because it highlights the experience of nature over material things. This same idea can be seen in “Earth Song” when Jackson said “What about nature’s worth? (Ooh) // It’s our planet’s womb (What about us?) // What about animals? (What about it?) // Turned kingdom to dust (What about us?)”. The reference to “our planets womb” demonstrates the use of personification to show the personal connection between him and the nature. It also applies the ideas of transcendentalism because he views human’s actions as detrimental to nature. By doing so he is asking readers to view nature as something powerful and worthy of love and respect. This can lead to a deeper discussion about how the identification of ourselves and other selves will bring us to understand and cherish life more. Walt Whitman also utilizes personification to give meaning to nature and animal life and the concept of death and immortality. All in all, both Whitman and Jackson use romanticism to show their appreciation for nature and comment on how earth provides us with so many things while also highlighting the importance of preserving it.

To Autumn by John Keats and Autumn Serenade by by John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman

Autumn Serenade” is a jazz piece by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman from their 1963 collaborative album: John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman. Despite being released almost 150 years after the publication of John Keats’ “To Autumn,” the two works share a very similar sentiment, supported by many similar poetic devices. 

First of all, both the song and poem clearly express simple appreciation for fall, which certainly reflects humanity’s intrinsic love of nature and urge to celebrate it via art, even across multiple generations. But the pieces also both personify the season in similar ways; in “To Autumn,” Keats addresses the season directly, and in “Autumn Serenade” the season is described as a woman who comes “through the trees” with her “serenade.” In both cases the poets characterize autumn in order to connect the audience to the fall time they are describing. By using personification they are able to ground a very abstract idea—a time of year—in the very familiar concept of a person who can be directly interacted with. 

Both poems also evoke a sense of timelessness in order to highlight the recurring nature of a yearly season. Keats does this with phrases like “with patient look’ and “last oozings hours by hours;” Coltrane and Hartman do it more explicitly with lines like “Let the years come and go/ I’ll still feel the glow that time cannot fade.” Either way, both pieces use time-related language to pay homage to the time-related element of seasonal change and the reflection on years past that a change in season can cause. I, personally, think there’s a unique beauty to these two separate works commenting on the timelessness of autumn 150 years apart. It just goes to show that humans will always need to create art, and nature is something that’s always been there to appreciate and (hopefully) always will be (sans global warming).

Don’t Fear The Reaper

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (1976) written and sung by lead guitarist Donald Roeser from the rock band Blue Oyster Cult redefines the process of death as an eternal embrace of love into the afterlife rather than an agonizing moment that you are dreading.

Death is extremely scary to most people because of how unpredictable it is, but having the courage to accept it makes the process much less painless. People leave the Earth fearing the ‘end’ of their lives but forget the journey they just had and the new one they’re about to start. The song’s message correlates with Emily Dickonson’s poem, “Because I Could Not Stop For Death,” in that death(The Reaper) came to someone unexpectedly; however, death is portrayed as a gentle and easygoing man as he leads his lover into eternity.

The song begins with:

All our times have come

Here, but now they’re gone

Seasons don’t fear the reaper

Nor do the wind, the Sun, or the rain

In nature, death is viewed as a normal process in the circle of life. But modern human society has portrayed it to be a painful event that must be avoided at all costs. This phrase eases the minds of listeners and reminds them that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Getting caught up in your own human nature causes people to forget that they came into the world where Earthly nature rules.

Come on, baby (Don’t fear the reaper)

Baby, take my hand (Don’t fear the reaper)

We’ll be able to fly (Don’t fear the reaper)

Baby, I’m your man (Don’t fear the reaper)

The chorus directly follows the first few lines of the song implying that “The Reaper” wants to join in nature with his lover but can’t unless she is willing. This reassurance encourages her to take a leap of faith and join death as they fly away to heaven.

Valentine is done

Here but now they’re gone

Romeo and Juliet

Are together in eternity

Their time on Earth may have ended but their love has moved on toward’s a greater existence that exceeds mortal nature. Romeo and Juliet signify their love by dying together but it doesn’t necessary mean that suicide brought them closer. It is Romeo’s soul who leaves first but waits for Juliet to cross over so they can be together. They wanted to love each other while alive but because their love is so strong they are able to find each other in the afterlife.


All of Me Song Analysis

All of Me is a contemporary romantic song by singer John Legend, in part of the Love in the Future album. The song is an emotional ballad that expresses deep love and devotion, as well as vulnerability and fear of losing your loved one. The speaker in the song is John Legend himself, who addresses his then-fiance, Chrissy Teigen with heartfelt and vulnerable lyrics. The audience for the song is not only his lover but likely anyone who has experienced the highs and lows of being in love, as the song’s themes are universal and relatable. The occasion for the song is a personal expression of love from John Legend to his partner. The song employs a range of literary techniques to convey its emotional impact. For example, it uses vivid imagery, such as “smart mouth,” “curvy roads,” and “perfect imperfections,” to paint a picture of the speaker’s love for his partner. The use of repetition, such as the phrase “all of me,” emphasizes the speaker’s willingness to give himself completely to his beloved. The song also uses metaphors, such as “my head’s underwater,” to convey the feeling of being consumed by love. Overall, “All of Me” is a powerful and emotive love song that resonates with audiences due to its universal themes and relatable lyrics.

“I’ll Fly Away” by Hank Williams and “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman

In Hank Williams’ singing of “I’ll Fly Away” , the song carries a meaning of not just life and death, but a greater understanding and acceptance of this inevitable path taken by everyone, a shared theme emphasized not only in William’s song, but in Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” as well.

“That some bright morning when this life is over
I’ll fly away (fly away, fly away)
To that land on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away (fly away, fly away)”

Rather than seeing it as something to be feared, Williams looks upon his eventual death as the beginning of an afterlife where he can fly through the skies forever and no longer carry the sorrows of human life. This is a similar meaning demonstrated in Whitman’s poem, where he feels a sense of contentment upon reaching his end. His description of his “white locks” in section 52 exemplify the long life he had lived, writing poetry and putting his work out into the world so that a part of him will always be kept alive.

“Like a bird from prison bars flown
I’ll fly away (fly away, fly away)
To a land where no sorrows are known
I’ll fly away (fly away, fly away)”

Williams compares his death to a bird flying free from a prison, finding peace beyond the world of the living. Whitman similarly compares his death to a tranquil departure in section 52, feeling still as he becomes one with the earth “to grow from the grass I love”. They share a more relaxed view on death than many others, not viewing it so much as them dying, but as them moving on the their next life as their impact on earth remains.

“When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye
I’ll (fly away) fly away
Thank you fellas”

In both Williams’ and Whitman’s work, they each take a moment to address the audience/reader and choose to speak directly to them as if saying their goodbyes to a loved one. Williams ends his song with “Thank you fellas” and Whitman ends his poem with “I stop somewhere waiting for you”, switching the focus from themselves to the audience and reaching out beyond the words of a song and text of a poem.

Emily Dickinson & The Beatles

Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles was released in 1967 and was a reflective and nostalgic look back on John Lennon’s childhood, much like Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I could not stop for Death”. The song is a melancholic reflection on Lennon’s adolescence, particularly of an orphanage he lived near called “Strawberry Field” where he felt connected with the other children. Strawberry Fields Forever is reportedly one of the most analyzed songs ever with it’s psychedelic instrumentals as well as the meaning of the lyrics themselves. Strawberry Fields Forever is an almost surreal expression of nostalgia and letting go.

Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to
Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever

These lines of chorus reinforce the idea of remembering and reflecting but ultimately letting go of that. Lennon uses a bit of humor here with “nothing to get hung about”; one one hand, it’s a humorous, little dig but on the other, it’s suggesting that if nothing is real, we shouldn’t be so uptight and worrisome (I think it’s also important to note that while there are no direct references to drug use in this particular song, Lennon admitted to being heavily under the influence of a psychedelic, LSD, while writing it). The allusions to the orphanage from his childhood also add to the melancholic feeling the lyrics and instruments create.

Strawberry Fields forever
Strawberry Fields forever
Strawberry Fields forever

These 3 repeated lines occur at the end of the song just as the instrumentals start to derail. While the phrase has been repeated continuously throughout the song, they are particularly powerful in this instance because it could be interpreted a few different ways. In one sense, Lennon could be calling for his childhood to continue, given that Strawberry Field(s) was such an important location of his youth, as reinforced by the multiple allusions to it. However, it could also be interpreted as statement of continuity and immortality; even though we all age and die, it’s possible that certain parts of us never die. In this case, that would be this figure of Lennon’s youth, but the concept of parts of us and our lives being immortal is universally applicable.

So what does this have to do with Emily Dickinson’s poem? Well, when it comes to tone and the overall theme, the works are actually quite similar. Dickinson makes references to relevant childhood locations as the speaker passes on to death and in the last stanza, she also speaks of “eternity”.

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess-in the Ring-
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain- 
We passed the Setting Sun-
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity 

Both Dickinson and Lennon refer to locations that one would experience as a child and the experience of letting go of those moments. In Dickinson’s case, at least, the speaker is dying or already moving on to whatever happens after we die, but the similarity remains. Another interesting similarity is Lennon’s repeated use of “forever” and Dickinson’s use of “Eternity”. Both suggest that while some things die and change, others don’t and will always remain.

Music Poetry- “A Solemn Thing” and Beyonce

After analyzing the song “All the Single Ladies” by Beyonce, an intriguing contrast is revealed between this song and our poem “A solemn thing it was” by Emily Dickinson. While “All the Single Ladies” celebrates female independence and agency, “A Solemn Thing” mourns the responsibility of women in this time period to get married. Emily Dickinson’s writing on this subject is what allowed women like Beyonce to write songs about women’s empowerment. 

Beyonce’s anthem empowers women to embrace their freedom and not feel obliged to be in a relationship. The lyrics, “Don’t be mad once you see that he want it/ If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it,” emphasize that women have the right to choose their partners and not be bound by societal norms. They have the power to recognize their worth and not settle for a man who doesn’t treat them right.  This is exactly what Emily Dickinson’s fighting for. 

The chorus of the song is 

“All the single ladies, all the single ladies

All the single ladies, all the single ladies

All the single ladies, all the single ladies

All the single ladies”

The repetition of “all the single ladies” emphasizes that Beyonce thinks that being single is a positive thing. This connects to Emily Dickinson’s poem because Dickinson shows that she doesn’t want to be married and would rather be single and free. 

“I can care less what you think

I need no permission, did I mention”

After researching Emily Dickinson, our group came to the conclusion that she was a woman before her time period. She pushed against social norms and expectations from her family to get married and create a family of her own. She ultimately wanted to have her own career writing poetry. Dickinson can relate to these lines because she didn’t care what people thought of her. She was happy creating her own way in the world; living freely and away from societal pressure. 

Moana and Emily Dickinson

When reading “I taste a liquor never brewed”, one of the main themes that we noticed was the speaker’s fascination for nature and apparent lack of interest in more mundane, anthropocentric parts of life. The speaker likens being out in nature to being incredibly, and happily drunk, as if the emotional revelation or fulfillment to be found in nature is greater than any human construction. 

A song that is a bit different in context, but that I thought actually pulled on a lot of the same strings is “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana, performed by Auliʻi Cravalho and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. (https://genius.com/Alessia-cara-how-far-ill-go-lyrics)

This song represents a key transition point in the movie, where Moana officially declares her desire to explore the sea beyond her island home. Throughout the beginning of the movie, Moana is constantly reminded that the sea is dangerous, and that there is no need to venture beyond her home island because the island provides everything the people need. Moana feels like an outsider because her father insists that she stay safe on their island and not risk traveling on the sea. However, Moana is inexplicably drawn to the water, and the island seems to be less productive than normal, prompting Moana to want to leave to find a solution.

During this song, Moana decides to completely embrace the romantic inside of herself. Moana’s desires here are indicative of many of the desires that seem to be embraced by the narrator of “I taste a liquor never brewed”. Both focus on the grandeur and splendor of nature; Moana remarking on the “light as it shines on the sea” and the “water”, in general. Similarly, the narrator remarks on “molten blue” and generally uses a metaphor of alcohol to describe the feelings they have in nature. The motifs of alcohol and water are used to show the fascination that the narrator and Moana have with nature, respectfully. The narrator frames their assessment of nature within the lens of being so happily drunk that the grandeur of nature is ever apparent, and the “saints” and angels, representing status-quo society, fade into the background. Similarly, Moana uses the water to frame her infatuation with nature. She keeps coming back to the “edge of the water”, and she literally juxtaposes her experience on the island with her feelings by the sea, clearly reasoning that a life of adventure and nature would be more profound than just living on the island her entire life. In the actual movie, this is even more apparent as she spends a lot of the song walking around her island home, only to end the scene by leaving. 

Ultimately, Moana and the narrator share a lot here in terms of their beliefs in nature and their framing of nature as more important or grander than a more traditional societal existence. Both characters realize that an existence out in nature is more stimulating, and they address that through poetry/song. By analyzing both of these characters within these literary works, we can learn more about what each one fears and each one seeks.

Wild Nights and Wildest Dreams: Emily Dickinson vs Taylor Swift

Wild Nights by Emily Dickinson is one of her most famous poems, depicting a night of passion, told by a person in love directly to their lover. In this poem, the speaker wants to stay with their lover forever. They can be wild because they know they have someone to come back to. Dickinson uses an extended metaphor of a boat to convey this theme. In this metaphor, the speaker is the sailor and their lover is the harbor. Her quick repetition and use of exclamation points show the intensity that she wants the reader to feel and dramatize the events of the night. She describes “Futile – the Winds” compared to “a Heart in port,” indicating that nothing can stop them from being together. Ultimately, Dickinson ends the poem with the lines “Might I but moor – Tonight – / In Thee!” Here, the speaker is illustrating their desire to be with their lover and “dock” or stay in the harbor forever. Wild Nights is a groundbreaking poem in the traditionally strict and patriarchal 1800s.

Fast forward a century and a half later, Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift has risen to the top of the charts. This song depicts a relationship with a seemingly perfect man who she has quickly fallen for, but knows is going to end soon. Throughout the song, Swift expresses her wish for her lover to remember her through poetic, multidimensional language. She repeats this sentiment often in the chorus:

“Say you’ll remember me

Standing in a nice dress 

Staring at the sunset, babe 

Red lips and rosy cheeks

Say you’ll see me again

Even if it’s just in your wildest dreams, ah-ah, ha

Wildest dreams, ah-ah, ha”

She is forced to contemplate the inevitable end of her relationship, but doesn’t fully accept it. She continues to wish that her lover will always think of her, even if never again in real life. Her request to her lover to never forget her is asked in an idealized way. She wants their relationship to be romanticized, saying that he should remember her dressed nice, beautiful, and in the setting of a sunset. Swift goes on to say in the next stanza:

“You’ll see me in hindsight

Tangled up with you all night

Burning it down

Someday when you leave me

I bet these memories

Follow you around”

Again, Swift hopes that her lover will remember her. Overall, the song is bittersweet, talking both about the joy of their relationship, and the difficulty in letting go. She is conflicted in that she knows that they both have to move on, but still wants to remain connected. The title demonstrates that this dream is not realistic, no matter how much Swift wishes it was. 

Both of these poems, one in the traditional sense and the other not, showcase the wild nature of love felt by two similarly independent women. They describe the passion that they feel for their lovers, however the speaker in Dickinson’s poem hopes to be reunited with their lover, while Swift knows that is not possible, viewing the relationship more in the past. Despite these differences, one thing is clear: Wild Nights and Wildest Dreams are both poetry.

I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain

Andrew Bird’s “I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain”

Emily Dickinson’s poem, “I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain” was so inspiring that it inspired Andrew Bird, to make a song, out of her poem. He describes the poem as,

I came across this Emily Dickinson poem and found it to be the most vivid description of an inner world I’ve ever encountered. It became an inspiration for the songs on Inside Problems.

Below is Emily Dickinson’s poem

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,

And Mourners to and fro

Kept treading – treading – till it seemed

That Sense was breaking through –

And when they all were seated,

A Service, like a Drum –

Kept beating – beating – till I thought

My mind was going numb –

And then I heard them lift a Box

And creak across my Soul

With those same Boots of Lead, again,

Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,

And Being, but an Ear,

And I, and Silence, some strange Race,

Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,

And I dropped down, and down –

And hit a World, at every plunge,

And Finished knowing – then –

Andrew Bird included all the words from Dickinson’s poem and added music and sound. He made it sound so beautiful. You can’t even question whether poetry is a song, playing in an artist’s head. Dickinson’s poem still has the same beautiful techniques like alliteration, metaphors, and repetition. Dickinson uses alliteration in her poem like “felt a funeral,” “seated, A service, ” silence some strange,” and “dropped down,” (1;6;15;17). Those words have the same letter or sound at the beginning of the adjacent words. Which just adds to the meaning of the poem, and what the speaker is going through. An example of repetition is “treading, treading,” “beating, beating,” and “down, and down,” (3; 7; 17). She has repeated something that has already been said. The rhythmic quality of both alliteration and repetition techniques is in the poem. Therefore, the poetic devices perfectly reflect the theme. Musicality worked because of the way Andrew Bird saw it as a song. It is shown through careful word selections. Finally, Dickinson uses the metaphor of a funeral to represent the way the speaker sense that she is being separated away from herself. A funeral is an appropriate occasion for this poem because it connects with a funeral relating to death.

Bird’s way with music is very fantastic mixed with Dickinson’s poem you see and get a funeral in the brain

All By Myself and Noiseless, Patient Spider

We are writing about Celine Dion’s well-known song, All By Myself, which is a part of the album, Falling into You. All By Myself is about the desire for connection and intimacy after feeling lonely for too long. Celine Dion seems to have no hope for her future even through her desperation for a partner or connection in general.

In the song All By Myself, Celine Dion uses repetition in order to show her desperation for intimacy and connection with those around her. The words, all by myself, appear 14 times in the whole 3 minutes and 58 seconds song. The chorus of the song uses the combination of “all by myself” and “anymore” to show her great desire to get rid of that feeling of loneliness.

All by myself
Don’t wanna be
All by myself

This song uses ethos in order to appeal to the listener’s emotions. Dion writes and sings in a way that makes listeners feel empathetic towards her. Nearly every other line is the same throughout the entirity of the song. Dion repeats the line, “All by Myself” 14 times total. Her use of repitition is emphasising the significance of her feelings toward lonliness.

Overall, Celine Dion writes her song, All By Myself, in order to emphasize the significance of her feelings of lonliness and her longing for intimacy and connection.

“What A Wonderful World”

“What A Wonderful World” (1967) sung by Louis Armstrong and written by songwriters Bob Thiele and George David Weiss depicts the inherent beauty of nature; while simultaneously reminding listeners to not take things for granted as there is so much to be learned through the beauty of the natural world.

Natural word? By natural world the connotation in the literal sense is the unfiltered world, the untouched land that has yet to be ruined by pollution and industrialization. Appreciating the land that quite literally gives us life; aiding us by providing food sources, oxygen, land to destroy, and views to escape to. Both Armstrong and Walt Whitman in the poem “Song of Myself” captures this respectively. More specifically “What A Wonderful World” serves as a gentle attack on readers, calling them out on their ability to take nature for granted and miss out on the beauty that is right in front of them. The intended audience being those with the privilege of experiencing life in a more lavish and industrialized way (in other words everyone who lives in an urban or city area).

One of the most apparent ways Armstrong coveys his message is through the changing tense of his thoughts:

“”I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”

They’re really saying “I love you

This phrase, while staying in the present tense articulates the simplicity and the intimacy of interacting with those around you. People are so wrapped up in their lives, constantly on the go they oftentimes forget the importance of simply being and interacting which relates to disregarding the beauty of the world surrounding you.

”I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow

They’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know”.

This phrase which follows the lines from above shifts from present to future. Signifying the want and hope for future generations to admire the inherent beauty around the and learn from the mistakes of older generations.

To further strengthen the message of the piece, the song is sung entirely in the first person. By singing in the first person the intensity of the speaker’s feelings is accurately conveyed to the audience. Using personal pronouns (I, me, we, etc.) and words/phrases that are entirely subjective to the speaker like “I think” and “I see” make the message becomes more personal and it becomes clear that the speaker genuinely believes that nature is inherently beautiful and want to urge others to see the world through their eyes. In addition to the point of view, and the changing tense, the piece uses a free verse structure meaning it’s nonmetrical, with nonrhyming lines that follow the natural rhythms of speech. The use of free verse allows readers to easily understand the piece but also is significant as the simplicity of the words is parallel to the simplicity of nature that is being expressed.

The Deadly Pebble

The final story that Janina writes do Dizzy is incredibly important and frames many parts of the book previous to it. This short fable may seem insignificant but it is, in fact, the opposite. The story tells a tale about believing something to be true so strongly that it becomes the truth. This is what Janina does with many things in her life. For one Janina believes she knows the date of her death, similar to the monk. To Jjnaina it is a comforting thought, she knows when to be scared of death and when to live her life without the fear of dying. It is possible that with this story she is telling Dizzy, as well as the reader, that she hasn’t necessarily found her death date but instead decided on it. It also frames Janina’s actions, particularly the murderous ones. Janina had believed so heavily that she was being used by the animals as a tool for justice and because of that, she was able to murder without remorse. The monk in the story did not have to die, similar to how the commandant, Innerd, the president, and the priest did not have to die, but he believed so heavily that it was necessary so he made it happen. This train of thought is parallel to how Janina views her murders. To her they were necessary, written in the stars, and by default, she had to carry them out. 

“A medieval monk and Astrologer – in the days before Saint Augustine forbade the reading of the future from the stars-foresaw his own death in his Horoscope. He was to die from the bow of a stone that would fall on his head. From then on he always wore a metal cao beneath his monk’s hood. Until one Good Friday, he took it off along with the hood, more for great of drawing attention to himself in church than for love of God. Just then a tiny pebble fell on his bare head, giving him a superficial scratch. But the monk was sure the prediction had come true, so he put all his affairs in order, and a month later he died”(274A medieval monk and Astrologer – in the days before Saint Augustine forbade the reading of the future from the stars-foresaw his own death in his Horoscope. He was to die from the bow of a stone that would fall on his head. From then on he always wore a metal cao beneath his monk’s hood. Until one Good Friday, he took it off along with the hood, more for great of drawing attention to himself in church than for love of God. Just then a tiny pebble fell on his bare head, giving him a superficial scratch. But the monk was sure the prediction had come true, so he put all his affairs in order, and a month later he died”(274)

Misogyny in Shakespeare (Spoiler: There’s a Lot)

Shakespeare is extremely notable and that is an undeniable fact. But it also remains true that while his works contain female main characters, something that was not common in his time, they fall short of having any substance outside of men or are portrayed as the most monstrous things known to men. In most of Shakespeare’s plays, a lot of people die in the end, to put it simply. But what makes death different for women in Shakespeare is that when it happens, it is primarily portrayed as their fault and when the men die, it somehow is still the woman’s fault.

In these plays, everything a woman does is wrong and men can do no wrong, and when they miraculously do, it’s seen as honorable.

Although it’s my personal favorite, Shakespeare manages to incorporate nearly every female stereotype in Hamlet. Gertrude is the betraying, selfish whore and Ophelia is the over-emotional and naive crybaby who ultimately commits suicide because there is no man for her. Not only are the women reduced to very crude stereotypes, but they are also portrayed as the personification of evil. From the start of the play, it’s clear that Hamlet resents his mother for remarrying to her husband’s brother but Hamlet actually directs most of his hatred toward Gertrude than Claudius, despite him being the one that manipulated the whole situation. It’s also clear that Hamlet has a general disdain for women because of how he treats Ophelia, even though she is as a woman “should” be: sensitive and submissive. Hamlet delights in tormenting Ophelia, often making blatantly sexual jokes to her that are also directed at his mother, frankly a whole other issue. Overall, it’s clear that women cannot win in Hamlet; unknowingly remarry your husband’s killer and you’re the devil incarnate, or do everything you’re supposed to but receive the most awful treatment that drives you to suicide. Take your pick?

Macbeth, another profound play does the same thing to women in Hamlet, but arguably worse. Lady Macbeth is portrayed as the opposite of what a woman should be; not motherly, cold, domineering in the marriage, and is therefore a villain. Lady Macbeth is ambitious and gets what she wants but she still kills herself in the end (what is it with Shakespeare and marrying women to suicide). In the beginning, it’s obvious that Lady Macbeth does not believe her cowardly husband will be able to pull off the task of killing Duncan so she calls upon spirits to give her the power to do it by “unsex”ing her and stripping of femininity. Enough said there. Throughout the play, she taunts and emasculates Macbeth, making her Shakespeare’s ultimate ball-buster, if you will. Even when Lady Macbeth gets what she wants, she suddenly can’t handle the guilt, which is not to say female characters can’t feel guilt for doing bad things, but Shakespeare doing that to Lady Macbeth felt cheap.

I would consider the portrayal of women in King Lear to be more of a commentary on misogyny than stereotyping of female characters but it ultimately is still quite flawed. While King Lear does a pretty good job of critiquing the way men view women in power, the way in which the story ends just falls back on what Shakespeare always does to women. Goneril and Regan, while obviously having done bad things to gain power, receive much worse treatment than their male counterparts. Though, the snide and disgusted comments from side characters do a better job as a societal critique than a writing failure. But, while the argument that the nasty Goneril and psycho Regan had it coming could be made, the same could not be said for Cordelia. Shakespeare portrays her as the perfect woman: sensitive, compassionate, emotional but not overly emotional, loves her father, blah, blah, blah been there and done that. Had she been left standing in the end, I think Cordelia had amazing potential as a character but Shakespeare effectively rendered her a useless woman by killing her off and it felt like the ultimate cop-out. Whether Shakespeare did this intentionally or not, he still heavily reinforced the notion that women cannot be in power, even if they are “perfect”.

Another awful honorable mention would be The Taming of the Shrew, aka the famous 10 Things I Hate About You, which I don’t think needs much more commentary (taming a headstrong and extremely intelligent woman because that is somehow revolting and undesirable, come on, seriously?)

So while Shakespeare wrote complex and compelling male leads, he had a nasty habit of writing his female characters as heinous bitches. Entertaining, yes. Profound? Definitely not.

Was I just there?

In the breakup song Romantic Homicide, the central protagonist has already emotionally moved on. Glancing at the song’s lyrics, it’s arguable who triggered the separation; it appears more that his partner made the decision, but the singer believes it was the right one. That is clearly indicated in one phrase in particular: I don’t mean to be complacent with the decision you made, but why? These lines suggest that the choice was taken by another party. It would also explain his despair in the opening words, by which he says that he thinks the other person doesn’t care:

I don’t mean to be complacent
With the decision you made, but why?

However, d4vd here seems to address the breakup differently than most folks do in the initial stages. To have reached a stage where he had successfully processed the breakup of the relationship. He expresses two things in a way that distances the other person from him or her emotionally:

I’m scared, it feels like you don’t care
Enlighten me, my dear
Why am I still here, oh?

The two ideas mentioned above are typically two crucial steps in processing a breakup: erasing that person from our lives in order to fully accept that they are no longer a part of them, and developing natural hatred for them in order to make up for any remaining feelings of love that may still be present in our hearts. These two actions enable us to emotionally detach.from that individual and begin to rebuild our lives. That does not imply that d4vd is content with who he is. At some point later in the song, he also expresses grief, in addition to his earlier expression of fear:

In the back of my mind
You died
And I didn’t even cry
No, not a single tear

We won’t create barriers to our destiny if our self-love remains unaffected and if we continue to feel that we deserve love and will receive it. And before a breakup, we should all act in that manner. After all, you left me alone, and I won’t chase you—this is the true meaning of the lines in Romantic Homicide. You are dead to me because I despise you. I begin the reconstruction and move forward with these two ideas in mind: love will come knocking again at the appropriate moment.

Crazy Man Michael

The song “Crazy Man Michael” (full lyrics here) by the band Fairport Convention is undoubtedly an example of lyrical poetry. But before we can talk about the actual content of the song, we should have some context.

Crazy Man Michael is an original composition written in the style of a folk song, similar to other songs on the same album (Liege & Lief), which are all either an adaptation of folk material or original compositions in a similar style. It was composed following a tragic bus crash that killed Fairport Convention’s drummer, Martin Lamble, and guitarist Richard Thompson’s girlfriend.

With this knowledge, we can more easily see the what of the poem. The song narrates the story of a man (Michael) who consults an oracle to try to see the future or at least seek comfort from it. The oracle (a raven) tells him that he will kill his true love. Michael, in a fit of rage, kills the raven, believing it has cursed him. Then he realizes that the oracle was his true love all along, and has fulfilled its prophecy. Michael was punished by the oracle for trying to see the future, and he struggles to cope with the grief he feels for the death of his love.

The poem conveys this message in multiple ways, but the most prominent is the use of metaphor, as can be seen in the lines

The bird fluttered long and the sky it did spin
And the cold earth did wonder and startle

“The bird fluttered long” indicates that it did not die quickly, adding to the trauma of the situation. “…the sky it did spin / And the cold earth it did wonder and start-o” could signify the earth spinning around the raven as it falls to the ground, or more poetically, Michael’s shock and confusion cause his perception of the world around him to distort and “spin.”

Crazy Man Michael he wanders and calls
And talks to the night and the day-o
But his eyes they are sane and his speech it is plain
And he longs to be far away-o

Michael, in disbelief, wanders and calls aimlessly into the night and day. He is clearly in grief and unable to cope with what has happened.
“But his eyes they are sane and his speech it is plain” My interpretation of this sentence is that Michael has lost his passion for life, he speaks very simply.
“And he longs to be far away-o” Michael longs for an escape from not only his surroundings, but the memory of what happened, but this cannot be, as is revealed in the next passage.

Michael he whistles the simplest of tunes
And asks the wild wolves their pardon
For his true love is flown into every flower grown
And he must be keeper of the garden

Michael desperately seeks forgiveness from the wild wolves, though he knows they cannot give it to him. He now sees his love in everything around him (every flower grown), and Michael has set himself to the task of “keeping her garden,” which can be interpreted literally as a garden (possibly where she died), or as some other way of preserving her memory.

Now that we can see the how of the poem, we can even clearer see the message it gives. Clearly, it was composed following the band’s tragic accident, and the character of Michael embodies the feeling of guilt the author had. It conveys this experience beautifully through the medium of a folk song, and uses (as is usual for most folk tales and songs) a lot of metaphor to help the listener better swallow the message. I believe this is not only an example of poetry in lyrical form, but is also one of the best examples in it’s contemporary folk genre.

Musical Poetry: “You’re On Your Own, Kid” by Taylor Swift

“You’re On Your Own, Kid” is the fifth track on Taylor Swift’s newest studio album, Midnights. The song offers a vivid, though somewhat intangible, tale of growing up, which is interspersed with specific anecdotes that ground the song in a truly poetic way. 

Opening the song, Swift sets the scene by singing “Summer went away/Still, the yearning stays.” This is an example of a technique Swift uses often, where she uses seasons and seasonal imagery to convey the passage of time. The idea of summer fading into fall signifies the passing of a phase in one’s life, and could be argued to allude to a summer romance mentioned in several of her other songs. In the second half of that stanza she continues: “I wait patiently/ He’s gonna notice me/ It’s okay, we’re the best of friends/ Anyway.” These lines sharpen the image of a young girl waiting for an anticipated dose of male attention, and even sacrificing her own emotional wellbeing in the interest of waiting for him to “notice her.” The tone is bittersweet as she longs for affection while simultaneously trying to grow up and realize herself. 

Later, in the second stanza, Swift continues to narrate the disproportionate emotional labor done by a teenager with a crush: “I hear it in your voice/You’re smoking with your boys/I touch my phone as if it’s your face.” This scene conjures up an image of the narrator pining over this guy, while he is unaware of her pain simply living his life without her. The simile of her touching her phone “as if it’s your face” is an especially vivid image for gen-z teenagers: when your phone is your connection to someone you care about, it can sometimes feel like it takes on a greater significance as your link to them. Taylor goes on: “I didn’t choose this town/I dream of getting out/ There’s just one you could make me stay.” This part gives the listener more detail in their mental image of the pining teenager. She has big dreams far beyond her hometown, but her feelings for this boy who doesn’t value her are still holding her back. 

Taylor continues the motif of seasons and images of growing up in the pre-chorus with the line “From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes.” These images show another transition from summer to winter, whereby sprinklers represent playing outside in summer and fireplaces represent winter. But at the same time, sprinkler splashes imply a certain youthfulness and fireplace ashes conjure a more mature image. Going a layer deeper, it could also be argued that a sprinkler splashing gives life and beginning while fireplace ash represents the end of something and what remains after a struggle. The repetition of this line adds a powerful meaning to the song about growing up and about the story of this girl letting go of the guy she pines for and finding her own identity. 

She begins that process of letting him go in the next verse with, “I see the great escape/So long, Daisy May/I picked the petals, he loves me not/Something different bloomed/Writing in my room/I play my songs in the parking lot/I’ll run away.” Here Swift alludes to “Daisy May,” an innocent young girl who she feels she is leaving behind in order to realize her dreams. She then references an old childhood game little girls play, where you pick leaves off a flower and with each petal say “he loves me” then, “he loves me not” for the next petal. The phrase that lands on the last petal of the flower is supposed to tell the fortune of if a crush likes you back. Swift uses this allusion here to conjure up childlike innocence

while showing that the narrator, presumably Swift herself, has learned that she can’t make this man reciprocate her feelings. She then talks about writing and performing songs, showing that she has moved on to chasing her dream of being a singer-songwriter and realizing her own goals.  

She then presumably throws herself into her career to a stressful extend, because by the next verse, after another “From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes” she narrates “I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this/I hosted parties and starved my body/Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss.” She has now poured everything she has into performing, only for it to destroy her in the process. She also comments on how she still craves male attention, to the extent of body image issues that cause her to starve herself. This sentiment is shared by many women trying to survive in an industry where their success is so often reliant on sexualization and male approval. She continues this idea in the next stanza with “The jokes weren’t funny, I took the money/My friends from home don’t know what to say” to show that she has given into some of the shadier parts of the music industry and feels like she’s lost herself in the process. 

In the bridge, however, the song has a sort of volta where Swift transitions to talking about finding joy in life that both comes from within and focuses on what is happening in the moment. She sings: “‘‘Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned/Everything you lose is a step you take/So make the friendship bracelets/Take the moment and taste it/You’ve got no reason to be afraid.” These lines mean that everything we lose and hurt ourselves with in the process of growing up is a learning experience that shapes our future. So the only real way to get through it is to focus on each day—to “take the moment and taste it.” 

Swift closes the song with a last repetition of the chorus line and a closing statement: “You’re on your own, kid/Yeah, you can face this” This manta highlights that the maturity and self-realization she’s been narrating can only come from within, and no one else can do it for you. 

For these reasons, the emotional journey this song takes the listener through is visceral in a way only poetry can be. To classify this work as anything else would be borderline disrespectful to its beautiful lyrical message. 


Recording artist Brent Faiyaz’s debut album Sonder Son shows the harsh reality of the inevitable loss of innocence that everyone goes through in life. The word “Sonder” is a neologism and it translates to the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. The whole album is based on this neologism, and how we respond to it throughout times in our life. The seventh song “L.A.” speaks about a specific part of people’s lives when they move to a new big city or place and try to make it into the career they’re chasing. And what often comes with moving to a big city is learning the new environment you’re now stuck in and how to survive on your own. “L.A.” speaks in the first person from Faiyaz’s experiences of being an up-and-coming R&B singer in Los Angeles and the struggles he’s going through while also expressing how he wouldn’t give it up for anything else.

The song begins with an introduction, “City of Angles, Land of God. The City of Demons, Looking for Us(2x).” Faiyaz begins by setting the tone for the rest of the song by saying how the “City of Demons” is looking for the “City of Angels” showing how Los Angeles is composed of good and bad people. The song immediately separates people into categories already showing how different people are compared to each other. Next, he sings, “L.A., L.A., The Place of All Places. Drug use and dark faces can make or break you.” Faiyaz is explaining how even though Los Angeles is the most popular city in the world and people make it big here, you can still be brought into dark times by bad people trying to use you for your new fame. But even still, knowing the risks he chose to achieve his goal of making it big in music.

When Faiyaz later sings, “Yeah, I’m proud that I’m chasing something. ‘Cause I don’t know better than being broke, bored, and back at home.” He wants people to understand that he chose this life of nothing but drugs, violence, and money willingly all for the intoxicating feeling of chasing his music dreams. This status that Faiyaz is chasing can only be attained through hard work and dealing with the good and bad people in your life. He then sings “But oh, what a feeling (How it feels). Oh, what a thrill (You will kill). To look down from these hills. Put the life I knew behind.” Faiyaz is expressing that the life he’s chasing consists of so much excitement and thrill that people would “kill” for his position. This balance between danger and fame is exactly what Faiyaz was chasing from early on in his career. The lyrical phrase, “to look down from these hills,” is to refer how Faiyaz has made it to the top and is looking down on all the people who haven’t made it to fame yet. However, fame means a lot of people are going to come into your life and some of them will be bad. Towards the end when Faiyaz sings, “And everybody wanna know me, Just to say you own me,” he means people want to be friendly with him just to get some of his fame. Fake people in Los Angeles are coming for him to take some of his fame like leeches sucking him dry. Overall, the song expresses Faiyaz’s emotions and events going on while he pursues his career. While doing so he is learning that everyone around him lives a vastly different life with very different goals and he has to cope with this feeling of being alone because he is so different but also there is a feeling of being together because we are all so different together.