Courageous Usurpers of Morals

Throughout King Lear by Shakespeare, class remains an ultimate heavy part of characters and the journeys they take. Lear goes through the storm and has a reflection on poor people and how they are supposed to fend for themselves in the storm (III.iv.30-38). This is a breach into the social structure the play originally constructs with Lear as the King and thus his daughters having mighty power in the kingdom with many servants. The most intriguing parts of the book however were the bold actions of those around these characters that were built up into such a high level of class that they appear at first untouchable. King Lear at the start of the play seems in control and then Kent goes against what he says and claims he is making a mistake with his harsh actions towards Cordelia (I.i). Kent being lower in status compared to Lear demonstrates yet another occasion where the shakiness of the status is portrayed as a good thing in the play when thought about carefully. The self-clarity Lear has in the storm from viewing a status perspective other than his own is positive and Kent speaking up for Cordelia when she received unwarranted rage is a good thing as well. 


One of the most shocking parts of King Lear that grab readers’ attention is in Act III scene viii was when a servant halts Cornwall from plucking out Gloucester’s other eye and tries to tell Cornwall that right now is the breaking point where he needs to stop. The servant and Cornwall physically battle in a sense of who is morally right while Cornwall fights purely out of rage that the servant has stood out against him despite their huge gap in status and the servant battles for the morale of not gouging someone’s eyes out. At first, readers think that the servant was not that important because of the fact that he dies but he wounds Cornwall which causes both of their deaths. Further, this comes as a shock that someone would even speak so openly out of turn while a person in power is torturing a supposed traitor is surprising. Then that the servant inflicts fatal damage can prove to support the idea that in the end, the people with good morals and who fight for their causes will be successful with their intentions. The servant wanted Cornwall to realize the consequences of his actions and get him to by physically making him weak and bringing him on to the afterlife. The power coming from this random servant in King Lear makes readers feel that sense of hopefulness that the morally strong people in the world can make a difference no matter what class they are in.

King Lear Poems

Howdy. I am going to write a few poems inspired by King Lear.

This poem is a golden shovel and a double Haiku. It follows the typical golden shovel form, yet is in a 5–7–5, 5–7–5 format. This is inspired by Edmund’s speech at the beginning of King Lear, where he laments his place in society as a bastard, but makes a wish at the end to topple his legitimate brother. The POV of this poem is Edmund speaking to fellow bastards before his rebellion.


they all see us now
the world’s armpit. the gods
don’t call us wrong. stand
up proud, tall, lift up
our true real names, for
they just use “bastards”

The POV of this next poem is a speech from Edgar to Edmund as Edmund dies. It has greater themes of revenge and triumph.

You, Edmund, I call you a fool
But you don’t wear a hat with bells
You told our dad that I was cruel
From our kingdom, I was expelled
I’ve seen many things since
Including father, no eyes on his face
But even the blind could see this:
That you could never take my place
And now you lay beneath my sword
A dying man, a thing to savor
I hope the history books record
What happened to you, you bastard traitor

A Bittersweet Love

In “A Case of You” from Joni Mitchell’s album Blue, Mitchell is explaining to her ex romantic partner that no matter what happens in their relationship, no matter how intoxicating he can be or how unhappy he makes her, she can still separate herself from him and their relationship and whatever happens she can still come out of it okay and standing on her own two feet. 

This is best demonstrated in the chorus;

Oh you’re in my blood like holy wine

You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling 

Still I’d be on my feet

When describing him as “in my blood like holy wine”, she’s saying that he’s a part of her, he’s in her blood. Relating him to wine gives the sense that he can be almost intoxicating. But then she goes on to say how she could drink a case of him, continuing the simile of him being holy wine, and she’d still be standing on her feet. She knows that she won’t get swept away by him, he doesn’t have that much of an effect on her. While he’s a part of her, she can still separate herself from their relationship and be able to stand on her own if she needs to. Additionally, she describes him as both bitter and sweet. This implies that she knows that this love could be bad for her but she thinks it’s worth it. She can justify being with him because she knows if anything did happen she would be okay. 

She again shows her confidence in her ability to survive any possible conflict in the relationship in a conversation she has with his mother.

I met a woman

She had a mouth like yours

She knew your life

She knew your devils and your deeds

And she said

“Go to him, stay with him if you can

But be prepared to bleed”

This conversation between her and his mother isn’t exactly painting him in the best light. She mentions his devils and deeds and his mother warns her that she should be prepared to be hurt. These lines are immediately followed by another version of the chorus where she maintains, even after this warning, that she’ll be okay without him if she needs to be. The warning from his mother of “be prepared to bleed” clearly means she should be prepared to be hurt. However, when it’s followed with “you are in my blood” it seems to suggest that if something did happen and he did hurt her she could bleed him out and get him out of her system. Throughout the song-poem, she continues to express how she doesn’t think he can really hurt her because he doesn’t have that much of an effect on her. She again emphasizes this in these lines by saying that if something did happen she could get him out of her system and get over it.

What lies beyond the illusion of life

Disguised in recognizable electric guitar riffs, a distinctive organ solo, and catchy rock enthusiasm, Kansas’s hit 1970s rock song “Carry on Wayward Son”, written by band member Kerry Livgren and included in the album Leftoverture, is, at its core, a philosophical exploration of the purpose of life.  

Following the first chorus and instrumental riff, the narrator begins the second stanza by describing their life as full of “noise and confusion”.  They wish to escape this chaos, to “get a glimpse beyond this illusion” — which is to say, they wish to find a higher purpose to a life of pain.  Yet, they fail in their attempts to discover this higher purpose to life, revealed through an allusion to Greek mythology — specifically, the myth of the inventor Daedalus and his son Icarus.  In this myth, Daedalus fashions two pairs of wax wings to allow himself and his son to escape imprisonment; however, Icarus becomes overconfident and ignores the warnings of his father, deciding to fly higher and higher until the sun melts his wings and he falls to his death.  In alluding to this myth, it seems that Livgren implies that finding a higher purpose in life is not a simple act of will — rather, it requires anyone seeking this higher purpose to remain grounded in reality.  But, this allusion does not hint at what Livgren believes to be the higher purpose of life, only how to achieve it.  The former is the job of the chorus:

Carry on, my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Spoken to the narrator by “the voices”, the chorus is the key to understanding what Livgren implies is the higher purpose of life.  The first step in understanding the meaning of the chorus is deducing what, exactly, the narrator must be “done” with in order to have peace.  The aforementioned second stanza describes the narrator as attempting and failing to escape a chaotic life of “noise and confusion”, so we can make the relatively safe assumption that “the voices” are telling the narrator that there will be peace when he is “done” with these vain attempts to escape chaos — that is to say, “the voices” promise peace when the search for the meaning in life is abandoned, and the chaos is accepted as a part of life.  Though it seems counterintuitive at first, this philosophy is notably reminiscent of that of Meursault in The Stranger — life is unchangeable and must be accepted for what it is, without any higher purpose at all.

In the following stanza, the narrator describes themself as “Masquerading as a man with a reason” — which is to say, they are portraying themself as someone they are not, implying that after hearing the advice of “the voices”, they have accepted life as not having reason or a higher meaning, but are just not willing to publicly show this.  This hesitancy to reveal their belief is entirely understandable — after all, one of the most important features of The Stranger is the constant societal dismay towards Meursault’s nonemotional and existential mannerisms.  In order to avoid this societal dismay, the narrator goes to long lengths to hide his existentialist beliefs, even setting out in search of “winds of fortune” — that is, material profit and benefit — in order to appear to broader society as holding the belief that there is actually a purpose of life: to profit materially, a widely-shared belief in modern capitalist societies, allowing the narrator to blend in well and avoid the consternation of society.

But in the eighth stanza, we run into an issue with this entire assumption that “the voices” are offering the narrator an existentialist perspective on life.  “The voices” tell the narrator that his life is “no longer empty”, implying that he has found a purpose in life, and the following line tells the narrator that “surely heaven waits for you”, clearly establishing that “the voices” were telling the narrator from the beginning that a higher purpose of life does, in fact, exist: religion and reaching the afterlife.

But how is this reconcilable with all of the evidence that I used to argue that “the voices” were existentialist?

Well, one of the beauties of poetry is that it is open to interpretation. The interpretation that “the voices” were existentialist is entirely valid — it just likely is not the songwriter’s intended interpretation.

Going back to the chorus, in order to explain that “the voices” were existentialist, I assumed that the chorus was telling the narrator that there will be peace when he is “done” with his vain attempts to escape chaos.  But another, equally valid interpretation is that the chorus was telling the narrator that there will be peace when he is “done” living — that after a life of chaos comes an eternal afterlife of peace.  Under this interpretation, the narrator is not hiding his existentialism when he is “Masquerading as a man with a reason” or plotting “a course for winds of fortune”; instead, he seems to be resisting the advice of “the voices” to continue living life with the purpose of reaching an afterlife, and instead is only pretending to live a religious life as he continues to seek profit from material fortune — at least, until “the voices” return and tell the narrator again to trade the material for the spiritual.  And of course, the myth of Icarus teaches us that to ignore the advice of authority would be a dangerous decision.

I’d love to know — what do you all think?  Do you think Livgren intended to teach the audience that religion and reaching afterlife is the ultimate purpose of life, or that there is no ultimate purpose of life at all?  Or do you have a totally different idea of the purpose of life that Livgren and Kansas promote in “Carry On Wayward Son”?

How does Lil Wayne Measure Up?

Lil Wayne’s song “6 Foot 7 Foot. ” on his album Tha Carter IV is a true piece of poetry, where he asserts and re-establishes himself as an intelligent, honest, hardworking and an overall superior man compared to other rappers. While Wayne was in prison serving an eight month sentence, he was disrespected and looked down upon by the rap community, but this song helped him reinstate himself as one of the leading rappers of this generation through his use of puns and contrasting personality traits in metaphors.

Mind so sharp I fuck around and cut my head off.

Wayne first asserts himself as smart and witty through this pun. Saying he is “so sharp” is a common figure of speech people use to describe themselves as intelligent and quick-thinking. Saying he is so sharp he will “cut his head off” is a clever way of saying he is very smart, especially compared to others. This use of language fits with Laurence Perrine’s interpretation of poetry, as it appeals to the reader’s sense of intelligence and understanding the pun, but also imagination as they imagine the scene of Wayne being so intelligent he actually loses his head. This fits in with his claim that he is smarter and overall superior to other rappers, because through this metaphor he not only states that he is intelligent, he also uses language to display that he is clever, enforcing his assertion on his intelligence and proving he is smart.

I speak the truth, but I guess that’s a foreign language to y’all.

Wayne continues to enforce his claim of superiority through his honesty, and he does this by contrasting his personality traits to those of other rappers in a metaphor. By saying, “I speak the truth”, he means that he is honest, which is an important personality trait for someone like him to have, as some people may believe he is dishonest because of his wild life stories or exorbitant claims he makes about his fame or wealth. Then he says that speaking the truth is “a foreign language to y’all”, meaning that many other rappers are liars and make faulty claims about themselves. By comparing himself, he asserts himself as truthful compared to many other rappers who are dishonest, and this builds his persona as superior to other rappers. This applies to Perrine’s definition of poetry as Wayne “provides a series of concrete, homely details that suggest these qualities”, which he does by giving details stating that he speaks the truth but other rappers are liars,  proving that he is superior to them. 

Bitch, real Gs move in silence like lasagna.

Wayne uses another pun to further prove his hardworking nature and superiority. In the rap community people often refer to themselves as a “G”, and it stands for gangster. In this line Wayne refers to himself as a G saying that he moves in silence, similar to how the G in lasagna is silent, but says other rappers don’t because they are not real gangsters. Furthermore, saying he moves in silence means he doesn’t brag about his work and is truly devoted to his craft, and doesn’t care if people know about the effort he is putting in. This proves his hardworking nature because he is more focused on actually working and making good music, rather than trying to appear to the public in one way or another, as other rappers might. By doing this, he claims he is more devoted to making music and more hardworking than other rappers, and proves his overall claim that he is superior to them. His writing also applies to Perrine’s claim about multi-dimensional language, as it has deeper meaning than the line conveys on the surface.

Overall, Wayne proves he is intelligent through his use of puns, honest by contrasting other rappers to him in a metaphor, and hardworking through a pun about how he handles his work. By doing this, he proves he is superior on a greater level compared to other rappers, and this solidified himself back atop the rap community.

The Best of Ye West

Personally, I am very fond of Ye West’s “Gold Digger” from his album Late Registration. This song gives me nostalgia and reminds me of my childhood since this song was released in 2005. Even afterwards though, it would go on to be a classic by earning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 2006. It was also ranked number 9 for the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade and ranked number 63 on Billboard’s Top 100 Songs of All Time, making it one of the most popular songs of West’s career. It’s an upbeat song that was very popular at parties in the early 2000s and it in itself is legendary. This song is the pinnacle of Ye West’s reign in the first decade of the 2000s and still to this day.

The song talks about a woman who is a gold digger and uses the speaker to get her way to his riches. West makes the statement that money and fame attracts materialistic women primarily concerned with their own benefit. I believe the speaker of the song is West himself because he talks about his desires and how the gold digger compares. He talks about the gold digger as if he’s met her and interacted with her.

Cutie the bomb, met her at a beauty salon

With a baby Louis Vuitton under her underarm

She said: “I can tell you rock, I can tell by your charm

Far as girls, you got a flock

I can tell by your charm and your arm”

But I’m lookin’ for the one, have you seen her?

My psychic told me she’ll have a a** like Serena

Trina, Jennifer Lopez, four kids

And I gotta take all they bad a**** to ShowBiz?

Additionally, West references other music artists:

From what I heard she got a baby by Busta

My best friend said she used to f*** with Usher

This leads me to believe that he’s addressing other famous people to watch out for the gold digger. He uses the word “we” in order to talk about himself and other famous people as a collective to state that they should protect themselves against the gold digger.

If you ain’t no punk

Holla, “We want prenup! We want prenup!” (Yeah!)

It’s somethin’ that you need to have

‘Cause when she leave yo’ a**, she gon’ leave with half

The dialogue West uses in the song establishes two sides, the celebrities, and the gold digger who is trying to take advantage of them and their means. Something notable West did in this song was that he used a sample from Ray Charles’ song, “I’ve Got a Woman” from his album Hallelujah, I Lover Her. In Ray Charles’ song, he’s talking about a woman who treats him well and gives him money when he’s in need. West used a sample of Charles’ song to convey the opposite situation by changing the line “She gives me money when I’m in need” to “She take my money when I’m in need”. I think West used this as a way of symbolizing how unfortunate it is that the woman wants to take from him instead of help and be good to him like the woman Charles’ describes in his song. This part is found at the beginning of the song.

She take my money when I’m in need

Yeah, she’s a triflin’ friend indeed

Oh, she’s a gold digger

Way over town that digs on me

Ye West’s song “Gold Digger” is poetry to me because he provides an experience of being famous and wealthy and having to face the reality that some women only want him for what he has. He conveys the struggle of having status and attempting to find a woman who is interested in him, not his possessions.

Please Keep Your Shoes Out of Our Hearts-Mitski and Me

In “Washing Machine Heart” by Mitski, a part of her album Be the Cowboy that got the title from an inside joke with herself to be the “cowboy” or just a person in power who has the right to do whatever they want, she poetically strings her words to articulate her feelings. In her case, she does this by writing her music the way and about what she wants. Throughout her album, Mitski develops her raw cut lyrics about grappling being lonely and trying to understand adult love with her want of control in herself. She uses hyperbole and physical imagery to develop her loneliness in only being used by lovers briefly and how it can break her down. 

Toss your dirty shoes in my washing machine heart

Baby, bang it up inside

A lover is not literally tossing dirty shoes in a heart that is in this case a washing machine. Instead, Mitski is making listeners imagine how carelessly people will step all over your heart, and as a washing machine, this can happen again and again. The assonance present in the “Ba” on the second line stresses the consequences of the messiness in these relationships. The contrast of banging being dominating but reckless and the soft tenderness of a heart with the term baby conveys the deeper sensitivity in Mitski that is almost out of her control. She wants to portray herself as strong but in reality, the actions of those around her or lack of them can break down the version of herself she wants people to see. Universally, these lines purposefully are poignant to the everyday person who can feel used by those around them while feeling vulnerable for letting them inside. Plus, how trying to have a relationship with other people romantically can be messy like “dirty shoes” when we are trying to have a clean and pure love like what a “washing machine” does. 

Another important element of how the song is poetic is Mitski’s stream of consciousness in her lyrics. 

I’m not wearing my usual lipstick

I thought maybe we would kiss tonight

Do me ti

Why not me?

Why not me?

The rawness of her admitting in her thoughts and lyrics that she desires love and is trying to attract it by simply wearing a different lipstick illustrates how she is struggling with finding the company she wants. The chorus repeating the questions coming from her emotions flow into how people can feel that they are not wanted or not enough. The upbeat tempo contrasts with her deep lyrics that make all of society relate to feelings of not being appreciated for who you are and how people can use us. 

Swimming Pools of Poetry

The song “Swimming Pools (Drank)” by Kendrick Lamar in his album good kid, m.A.A.d city is arguably one of the most poetic songs of our generation of rap. Coming from an artist who is often looked at as the king of lyrics in the rap game, Kendrick Lamar fills all of his songs with a wide variety of poetic and multidimensional language.

Without even diving into the lyrics of the song the title itself has a deeper meaning. The title “Swimming Pools” is a metaphor for alcoholism and the consequences that come with consuming a lot of alcohol. Throughout the song, Kendrick Lamar vividly addresses a lot of the physical and mental pressure that drives people to drink.

First, the song starts with:

Now I done grew up ’round some people livin’ their life in bottles/
Granddaddy had the golden flask/
Backstroke every day in Chicago/

This first line can help us understand the overall theme of the poem. The speaker is reminiscing about his early years as a kid witnessing a house that was filled with adults and alcohol. Quickly after we learn this, Kendrick gives us a metaphor using the phrase “backstroke”. This is playing on the word swimming pool. It is him drowning in a pool of liquor in Chicago.

Throughout the song Kedrick is able to make the listener feel like they are living in the world of the story, the best instance of that is in this line:

Lookin’ to make a vow soon/ That I’ma get f*cked up, fillin’ up my cup/  I see the crowd mood changin’ by the minute

Kendrick uses imagery to perfection in this line. In this Kendrick has made the vow or decided to get drunk. It’s an interesting play on words because people usually make vows when they have something difficult and positive to accomplish, for example, wedding vows. But in this instance, it is quite the opposite where he makes the vow of something like getting drunk. After he makes this vow to get drunk he takes us through the experience through with imagery. He talks about seeing the crowd’s mood change by the minute because they’re getting more and more intoxicated.

Along with the way he is able to paint pictures to his listeners, Kedrick also uses exaggeration as a rhetorical device perfectly through hyperboles In his chorus:

I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch/
First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it/
Pool full of liquor, then you dive in it/

He uses hyperbole to highlight the ridiculousness and exaggeration of some people’s consumption of alcohol. Hyperboles are a big part of music and rap especially. Through hyperboles, a writer can tell a story with more spice making it more interesting to the reader or listener.

Swimming pools are a song more about how alcohol affected Kendrick as a kid and as a performer throughout the start of his career. He was able to paint a perfect picture for the listener with his poetic lyrics and use of literary devices.

Bands and Balalaikas

If there was ever a song to represent the euphoric hope which existed near the end of the Soviet Union and Cold War, “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions from the album Crazy World would be that song. Written shortly after and based upon a music festival where the Scorpions performed in Moscow, Russia, “Wind of Change” is a power ballad expressing the experiences of connection and societal shifts occurring at the time.

The central theme present throughout “Wind of Change” is that changing circumstances and situations over time will inevitably result in larger societal changes, as the dreams and expectations of individuals shift inexorably. These changes, although sometimes drastic and wide-ranging, will generally tend towards being beneficial to those populations by allowing greater interpersonal connection. The song seems to deepen the experience of optimism and hope which permeated throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War, taken from an outsider’s perspective. Although the audience for the song seems to be music audiences from the West, and especially English-speaking audiences, the song’s more primary purpose seems to be in communicating its themes of change and experiences of hope to populations in the Soviet sphere of influence.

In the first verse of the song, the Scorpions use symbolism of the “wind of change” and vivid imagery to convey the sense of how societal changes have made their way through every aspect of life in Moscow and which are visible to even outside observers. The speaker sings,

I follow the Moskva

Down to Gorky Park

Listening to the wind of change

An August summer night

Soldiers passing by

Listening to the wind of change

The usage of “Moskva”, “Gorky Park”, and “Soldiers passing by” specifically create an image of a traveller going down the Moskva River through a controlled Moscow. This relatively calm setting is disrupted by an intermittent “Listening to the wind of change”, emphasizing how far that “wind of change” has seeped into the surrounding setting that it can not be ignored any longer. This idea is also reinforced by the usage of “wind” as the purveyor of change in the whole song – unless an individual lives underground or underwater, there is no way to escape the wind or what it brings. Therefore, everyone will take notice of changes occurring in the fundamental relationships of society, from visitors to soldiers.

The song directly addresses the audience with two rhetorical questions in the second verse to emphasize how the situation that the speaker and audience find each other in is entirely novel, and was essentially unthinkable until recently. This seems to parallel the dynamics between the West and East near the end of the Cold War, especially as the nations began to form more open and frequent connections. The speaker sings in the second verse,

The world is closing in

And did you ever think?

That we could be so close?

Like brothers

The two rhetorical questions quite literally emphasize how the societal changes occurring were inconceivable until recently and the new connections that outsiders are making with the population of Moscow. They also serve a dual purpose in making clear the intended audience of populations behind the Iron Curtain, as well as making it even clearer that the speaker is generally based upon the Scorpions themselves. Another notable line within this verse is, “Like brothers”, which also emphasizes the connection made between the speaker and the audience to the extent that they seem like siblings.

Though not directly related to the language, one other thing I would like to point out about this verse is how Klaus Meine sings it. His inflections and pitch of the rhetorical questions are nearly identical to the corresponding matter-of-fact lines from the first verse, which might seem to somewhat imply that the current situation would have been simultaneously inconceivable in the past and inevitable.

The ideas present in the second and third verses are tied fairly close together, with personification used to emphasize the idea that it would be inconceivable to stay stuck or beholden to the memories of the past, the inverse of the idea emphasized in the second verse. The speaker sings,

Walking down the street

And distant memories

Are buried in the past forever

Here, the lines “distant memories” being “buried in the past” emphasize how even though the current connections being made seemed inconceivable before, the memories of the past are now being stripped of their influence for better or worse. With changes in society come changes in how the past is viewed and interpreted and sometimes even remembered. Another notable device in the verse is the diction used for the words to describe the memories, being “distant”, “buried”, and “forever”, further emphasizing the large gulf between the past and present even if it was not necessarily too long ago.

“Wind of Change” by the Scorpions is simply powerful and powerfully simple. Through careful multilayered usage of symbolism, metaphor, and diction, the song conveys the indescribable atmosphere of joy and hope present near the end of the Cold War with large structural societal changes imminent. It emphasizes the seeming inconceivability and inevitability of such shifts and the interpersonal connections formed as a result. It has touched generations and will continue to connect with people in the future as a power ballad of hope, optimism, and change.

Everyone Knows “All Too Well” a Little Too Well

At this point, we should all know the song “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift because it has pretty much blown up the internet and music industry. Taylor wrote this song and realized it in 2012. However, Taylors music got stolen from her, and she ended up recording the album Red except for this time, it is called Taylors Version. This has brought all of these older songs to the front of Tayor fans’ minds again. As I started to think about it, “All Too Well” is written as a poem. The overall meaning and theme of “All Too Well” is Taylor longing for the memories and feelings she got from a relationship that once was good but slowly fell apart in her hands. She goes back and forth, remembering every detail of the relationship a little too well. Throughout this song, Taylor flashes back to detailed and specific memories to show that relationships that start great and sweet can always turn bad and end up rotting. Taylor describes the early stages of the relationship using the simile, “autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place”, which shows how complete and whole she felt while with him. This line also references the time frame of the relationship, which would be autumn. Throughout the song, Taylor repeats the phrase “I remember it all too well,” this is basically enforcing her feelings and shows the listener that this relationship was impossible to forget, and she remembers every detail clearly because that is how much it had an impact on her life. She also mentions the heartbreaking details she remembers, such as “in the middle of the night, we dance around the kitchen in the refrigerator light,” which cleverly uses rhyme in “night” and “light.” Overall, Taylors song “All Too Well” was such a cleverly written song/poem that shows all of her feelings from the begging to the end of this devastating relationship.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Songs from the Big Chair) is a multi-dimensional song, expressing the power-hungry motives of us as a society, the abuse of authority in the US government, and even our own personal ambition. Many people have debated the intent and meaning behind the lyrics, coming to the conclusion that there is a political message being expressed. The title is the message; every person, whether specifically striving for this goal or not, wants power and/or authority.

“Turn your back on Mother Nature”

The human species has developed a society that destroys the earth through large corporations and their participation in pollution, the mass consumption of animal products that increase green gases, and our overall involvement in destroying “Mother Nature”. The personification of Mother Nature and the action of us as a society backstabbing “her” emphasizes humans’ hunger for power, to the extent where we’re willing to wreck the earth.

“All for freedom and for pleasure

Nothing ever lasts forever”

As a society we strive for the most, even if it isn’t stable enough to last forever. This quote represents short-lived successes within our own lives, our communities, our families through the utilization of an allegory. The central idea of the stanza is that we indulge in things that make us satisfied and happy, but those indulgences usually don’t fulfill us for long enough. Following the idea is a hidden moral, encouraging us to seek out the stability in life, the things (whether they’re material goods or emotions) that are more than just pleasurable, and may last longer.

“Everybody wants to rule the world”

This hyperbole expresses Tears for Fears’ intent of spreading the idea that whether we agree or disagree, we all have the urge to be at the top, through authority figures, rankings in class, etc. It all goes back to the one central message that the human species’ history of war, genocide, the building of empires, societal expectations, racism, sexism, and any other uneven dynamic pasts have contributed to an overall overconsumption of power. How can we overcome this overindulgence and, instead, embrace the voids and still be satisfied?

Self-Expression Through Music Poetry

Poetry can be a type of literature that conveys a thought, describes a scene, or tells a story in a concentrated, lyrical arrangement of words. So then what is music? It seems to be poetry sung with instrumental sounds added in the background.

Ritt Momney’s song “Put Your Records On,” the viral cover of Corinne Bailey Rae’s hit debut single, is musical poetry. It is a joyful, hopeful song and, if read aloud as a poem, reveals a deeper meaning within the lyrics.

This song is very motivating and almost empowering for everyone. In this song, the singer is reassuring all the girls out there that it’s going to be okay. They do not need to stress too much about how they look. Many girls and boys put too much pressure on themselves to be “perfect”. They try to alter how they look and hide how they truly feel so that they get accepted by the world. But this song is basically saying that it does not matter what the world thinks. What really matters is what you think and how you truly feel about yourself.

Don’t you let those other boys fool you
Gotta love that Afro hairdo

The lyric is a message to the original artist’s, Bailey-Rae’s, younger self to embrace her natural hair. When she was a teenager, the trend was to have straight hair and the singer feared being out of step if she didn’t follow the fashion.

When you gonna realize that you don’t even have to try any longer?
Do what you want to

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favorite song
You go ahead, let your hair down

The hair down is a metaphor to get loose, not to worry, and embrace your inner beauty, which is cool since it’s what many of us do when we are at home and want to relax. We let our hair loose and enjoy the feel of being ourselves.

The Tale of a Wonderful Yesterday

When I first found this song I was watching a movie called “Our Idiot Brother” with Paul Rudd, and in the movie, there was a dog whose name was Willie Nelson, so naturally, the director of the movie had countless Willie Nelson songs whenever the dog showed up. The song “Wonderful Future” by Willie Nelson from the album The Willie Way discusses the life of Willie Nelson, as a person who has lived his life and experienced great things, and because of this he reflects on his life and expresses that his memories are all he has to remember, and because of these memories he has nothing for him in his future. Throughout this song the speaker is Willie himself, talking to someone who he loved (as in a relationship) and he is explaining his pain to them. This takes place possibly in Nelson’s home while reflecting on his life and how he feels now (or while he was thinking about his past). The song first begins by expressing his reflection of his dreams as he (metaphorically looks at them) or as though he is introducing to the audience the beginning of the walkthrough of his past. However, he explains that he is the same person of his past, and that the memories of his past still resonate with him in this moment of reflection. The song is explaining to the listener that holding on to the memories of your past is important but this then leads you to nothing in the future because you have lived the moments that leave you with imprints. More specifically the likes that struck me the most are:

I’m alone in the sweet used-to-be
My past and my present are one and the same

This part of the song (the introduction) tells the listener directly that as he walks through his past and dreams, though they are the same person (or he is the same person he’s always been) he is alone with only those memories to ponder

Yesterday’s kisses still burning
And yesterday’s mem’ries still find me
Scenes from the past keep returning

This part alone allows the reader to think of this song as the reflection of a relationship that ended (with the word “kisses”). Also, the use word “burning” alludes to pain from these never-ending memories that keep returning. It almost seems like he’s trying to escape this pain that he feels but the “scenes” of his past keep haunting him almost

You say there is happiness waiting for me
But I know this is just fantasy
Let me trade one tomorrows for one yesterday
Live in my garden of dreams

The use of the word “you” entails that someone specifically has said this but also that he’s speaking to someone, possibly someone he was in a past relationship with. Furthermore, the last line of this stanza reflects back to his “garden of dreams” similar to how his past keeps returning his dreams come back as well. What’s more interesting though, is when he explains that he would trade a day of his future to be able to live another day in the past, because it illustrates his sadness and desperation to live his past again.

This song, to me, not only tells the story of not being able to escape your emotions from the past but also that having those memories are important in the sense that you’ve lived such a part in your life that you want to go back to it.

Willie Nelson – Wonderful Future Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

Once Upon a Time

John Cage is perhaps most famous in popular culture as the poster child of the avant-garde music movement, with his piece 4’33” — which consists of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence — reaching particular notoriety. While his style of challenging common notions of aesthetics is a fun novelty for most listeners, Cage put a lot of thought and work into building a considerable repertoire of cutting edge musical ideas. After earning his chops as a traditional composer early in his career, he shifted his focus to the avant-garde, including pioneering the concept of Aleatoric Music, or music with some sort of chance-based component. Aleatoric music has quickly grown in popularity and deployment since Cage’s time, particularly in video game and film music.

One of the pieces Cage composed pretty early in his career, Living Room Music, exemplifies his transition from more common styles of performance to avant-garde ideas. The piece consists of four movements, though the third is optional. The first, third, and fourth movements all have players selects items that might be found in a typical living room (cups, tables, papers; the particular items are at the players’ discretion) and use them to create a certain rhythmic pattern. The third movement also pairs this rhythm making with a melody to be performed on a suitable pitch inducing instrument.

The second movement, however, stands out. Unlike the other movements, this one can be performed without any auxiliary items. That’s because it consists of four individuals repeating a certain set of words with a particular rhythmic pattern and occasionally pitch bend. The words are a deconstruction, reordering, and layering of the first few lines of a lesser known Gertrude Stein children’s book called The World Is Round. The way cage deconstructs and re-arranges the words has much intrigue and meaning, and even begs the question about how lyrics that are part rhythmic and part message based and spread across multiple parts should be conveyed in non-musical writing, but alas this is after all an assignment for which I will be graded and looking at those things entails a tangent this post can not afford. So for the purposes of this post, I will analyze the base set of lines Cage uses to construct the work, as he conveniently includes them at the beginning of they score for the movement (linked above):

Once upon a time the world

was round and you could go on

it around and around.

So, what is this excerpt about? Some hint could come from the content of Stein’s book itself; through the book’s main character, Rose, it highlights the importance of asking questions and feeling a connection to the world. But it’s notable that Cage choses only to focus on this opening sentence from the book when he had ample musical “space” to include additional lyrics. What’s also telling is this particular movement’s title: “Story.” Much in the same way that the other movements of Living Room Music invert traditional conceptions of music by embracing the every day rhythms one might make with objects in their living room, “Story” takes the idea of a story at it’s very core, at it’s simplest form, and transmutes it into something that is halfway between narrative and song. Cage’s purpose, then, is to convey the non-story story — the archetypal stand in that captures infinite possibility because it embodies the very concept of a story.

A further examination of the phrasing in the excerpt Cage uses makes this point patently clear. Starting at the very beginning, the lyric opens with the phrase “Once upon a time.” On the one hand, this clause is serving a literal purpose — by placing the sentence in the past tense it set’s up a narrative trope of “retelling” that fits more naturally with the archetypal narrative of a story (as opposed to stories which are told in present tense, and therefore feel more like they are unfolding live than being retold). At the same time, “Once upon a time” holds an important place in popular culture as the classic opening to many children’s tales, so parroting this language here not only sets a tone of retelling but also places that tone specifically in the childhood story milieu. Finally, because the phrase does not specify a particular time beyond the ambiguous “once,” the sentence takes on a sense of timelessness (in the very same way the aforementioned children’s tales often seem timeless), allowing it to further invoke the archetypal concept of a story.

The next line is also notable in creating the sense of an archetypal story, but in a more innovative way. The use of the 2nd person in storytelling and especially children’s books is quite rare with perhaps If You Give a Mouse a Cookie being the only notable example. Yet here the use of the word “you” in “you could go on it” does not stand out as odd. This is because the “you” portrays a sort of “place holder” or “filler function” — it serves a similar purpose meaning-wise in the sentence as “one could go on it.” That is to say, it is not important who is going as much as that going can occur. However, the use of the word “you” does serve some sort of personalizing function as well by forcing the reader to place themselves in the sentence. Though the reader understands the generic function of the word “you” outlined above, the reader also can’t help but imagine themselves “going on [the world].” This serves to facilitate the reader’s understanding and relation to the story even though the story itself is fairly straightforward and uncomplicated.

Finally, the repetition of the word “around” in the last line secures the sentence’s meaning. In a literal way, the word points to the circular nature of storytelling: much like this particular story never ends but instead simply lands on the observation that one could go around, the archetypal story does not end in spirit even if it has a literal ending because it is perpetually repeated ad infinitum. Additionally, the vowel heavy sounds of the words “around and around” not only make this repetition literal (since the word around is repeated), but also by give this idea a more physical character as the round shape of one’s mouth when saying “around” and the lack of sharp stop constantans like t or p (except at the very end) give the word a circular feeling. By recognizing this innovative word construction, John Cage uses his work to convey broader ideas about not just the content but the form of stories.

Dickens Walks The Streets of London

Perhaps the greatest ballad singer of the last century, Liam Clancy’s rendition of The Streets of London remains his most popular song. Originally written by Ralph McTell, the song has been covered by many different artists. Each are echoes of the same universal sorrows every person fears to wade through. The Streets of London, like any great poetry, brings this fundamentally human experience to life. How then does it yield a sort of transcendence? Simply spoken, it warns of the dangers and pitfalls of life in a way as powerful as any literature. It highlights our privileges, exposes our fears, and knocks us back into reality with a greater understanding of ourselves. It’s a bit like the old saying, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Mirroring this, the chorus goes as follows:

And then how can you tell me you’re lonely

Or say that for you the sun won’t shine?

Let me take you by the hand and

Lead you through the streets of London

I will show you something to make you change your mind.

The chorus welcomes the reader into the story, and figuratively taken by the hand, we are led through portraits of people embodying the many dimensions of sadness. In a way, the speaker feels like a gentler version of Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, guiding us through a gloomy vision, foreshadowing what we fear to eventually be.

Following this comparison, it’s fitting that each portrait tells the story of someone weathered into age. McTell’s first image poignantly portrays an old man who has lost his purpose in life; a man who has become as valued as the outdated newspaper he holds. His second is of an old woman, “Carrying her home in two carrier bags,” too long adrift to engage with the world around her. His third portrait plays like a still life image.

In the all night cafe at quarter past eleven

Same old man sitting there on his own.

Looking at the world over the rim of his teacup.

Each tea lasts an hour and he wanders home alone.

McTell’s language describes a life lived over and over again, each day the same as the last, and each ending just as lonely. His final portrait hints at the end these people will meet.

Have you seen the old man outside the seaman’s mission,

his memory fading like the ribbons that he wears?

And in this winter city the rain cries a little pity

for one more forgotten hero in a world that doesn’t care.

Tragically, this last old man forgets himself in a world that has already forgotten him.

By this point, our Dickens ghost has shown us who we may fear to become, but also who we are not yet. Like Scrooge’s grave, a grim future where we find ourselves purposeless, impoverished, forgotten and alone is possible, and like Tiny Tim’s grave, it may also happen to others. This may be frightening, but it is also comforting. We, like Scrooge, are still endowed with the time and power to make our own decisions, shape the course of our lives, and ultimately lead it somewhere better. Likewise, we must also feel pity for Tiny Tim. The broken people around us are really not much different from ourselves, and we could easily become them. Consider, is it not a triumph of literature that Dickens could reveal these truths to us? It is the same with this song. It’s The Streets of London‘s ability to convey this message in much fewer words that earns it its distinction as poetry. Yes, McTell’s lines rhyme with rhythm. His stanzas realize themselves in repetition. But it is his ability to resonate so soundly with something profoundly human, to uplift and restore fragile spirits, that makes this song a timeless masterpiece.

03′ Adolescence

The rap artist J. Cole has been around for awhile and is personally one of my favorite artists. In his album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the song “03′ Adolescence” is a great showing of poetry in music. In this song J. Cole talks about his life growing up and the struggles he went through in an impoverished community.

Early in his song, Cole utalizes multidimensional language quite clearly.

I wish I weren't so shy, I wish I was a bit more fly
I wish that I, could tell her how I really feel inside

Cole uses the word fly in the meaning of looking and being cool. While the literal definition of fly is to take flight in the sky, he uses the slang term. He then goes on to use the other form when he says,

Ball player, star player, I'm just watchin' from the side
On the bench, cause my lack of confidence won't let me fly

Cole uses the same word to end another line of his music in order to portray another form of the word. This time he uses the word to show the more literal meaning of the word. He purposefully uses the same word twice in order to display both meanings of the word.

Poetry is something that makes someone feel a particular experience. Without a doubt this song classifies that but the only way for you to experience this poetry is to listen to it.

“My Heart is Buried in Venice…” ok Ricky, I’m on my way to get it

(contains mentions of suicide)

I believe that every single song off of Ricky Montgomery’s album Montgomery Ricky is poetic in its own way, but I am going to focus on the song “My Heart is Buried in Venice,” which is a very sad song full of deep and profound emotion. At first glance, this song seems to simply be about a broken heart that needs to be fixed. I believe this is what the song is about, but that there is a deeper and sadder specific story that becomes apparent to me when I analyze it further.

I think this song is about someone who has lost their lover to suicide. This might seem like a stretch, but let me take you through why I think this. First of all, the tone becomes increasingly more desperate as the song goes on, and it seems like he is begging his lover to come back, even though they are definitely gone. At the beginning, he makes it clear that his lover has issues/ past trauma and he wants to help them heal. He is asking them to come back so that he can fix them and stop what really happened from happening. He is in definite denial.

Come rest your bones next to me
And toss all your thoughts to the sea
I’ll pull up each of our anchors
So we can get lost you and me

The 3rd line of this stanza is my favorite in the whole song because it shows very clear imagery of what it feels like to try to pull someone out of the hole they are in while also trying to do the same for yourself. This shows that he was struggling too, and he feels like he didn’t do enough to help them, but he wants to now. It’s clear the person he is talking to has issues and he wants to escape the sadness of reality with them.

In the chorus, which is repeated multiple times, he changes from speaking to this person directly to speaking to no one in particular. He says:

My heart is buried in Venice
Waiting for someone to take it home

This is a major change from the first part of the song, which seemed rather hopeful and loving. Here, he seems alone and is saying he has no one to fix his broken heart, and he is either waiting for his lover to come back or he is just waiting for the help of anyone at all. The chorus of the song shows acceptance of the terrible event rather than denial and hope.

In the middle of the song, he says:

I never thought that I would have to say I’m sorry
For anyone but me

This line tells me that he had to apologize for his lover, and what I picture is him having to apologize to other people because he feels responsible for what they did. This is a very heartbreaking scene that I picture in my mind.

In the next verse is where the tone is very desperate and he is pleading for them to come back to him.

Don’t leave me to breathe

Don’t leave me to bleed

For someone who chose to leave me

This is what solidifies the story for me. When he says “don’t leave me to breathe” this implies that they themselves are not breathing, while he is. And when he says “don’t leave me to bleed” I believe it is his heart that is bleeding because they “chose to leave” him. There is another tone shift here where he switches the blame from himself to his lover and he changes stages of grief from denial into anger that they left him alone.

Finally, he ends with the chorus, showing acceptance for what has happened, rather than ending with a verse full of denial. The song also gets softer and slower at this point, which shows that he has no hope left and he can’t change what happened.

In conclusion, I love Ricky Montgomery very much and this song always makes me cry. Go stream his whole album, it’s not all depressing I promise!

Where’s The Karma for Life?

Image result for karma ajr

Ajr’s newest album Neotheater contains a total of 12 songs, one of them being called Karma. I consider Karma to be a very poetic song because it contrasts the meaning of the lyrics with the emotion of the music. When you first listen to it, the song is upbeat and it’s suppose to make you feel happy. One might say that this song is a “mood booster.” However, when you begin to hear the lyrics you start to realize that this about a broken man that’s slowly losing hope in life. The beginning of the song starts with the chorus which you don’t hear much nowadays which makes it even more unique. The chorus is:

I’ve been so good, I’ve been helpful and friendly

I’ve been so good, why am I feeling empty?

I’ve been so good, I’ve been so good this year

I’ve been so good, but it’s still getting harder

I’ve been so good, where the hell is the karma?

I’ve been so good, I’ve been so good this year

We’re told the speakers problems just from listening to the song for at most 25 seconds. The speaker tells us that they’ve been helpful and and friendly with others this year, however, they witness that life is only getting harder and they’re not getting anything in return for all the good deeds. This chorus introduces the concept of whether we keep doing good things just for the good feeling or to expect something in return, a quid pro quo. Most people would say to keep doing it for the good feeling, except this speaker shows a problem. The speaker has been doing good things but he’s felt nothing good about the things that he’s done. On top of that, life has been throwing more challenges and obstacles at the singer. From this chorus alone, the singer questions the act of goodness and whether or not he should keep doing it. The first verse goes like this:

Why, are you asking me why?

My days and nights are filled with disappointment

Fine, oh no, everything’s fine

I’m not sure why I booked today’s appointment

In this first verse, it seems the speaker is experiencing a bit of depression because of the fact that they can’t find any enjoyment throughout their entire day. The third and fourth represents him talking to a therapist or a doctor of some sort. Although he booked the appointment himself, he’s doesn’t feel ready yet to open up to his doctor and discuss the problems that he’s been having. After another section of chorus, the second verse is:

What, am I normal or not?

Am I crazier than other patients?

Right, I’ve done everything right

So where’s the karma doc, I’ve lost my patience

The speaker in this verse finally opens up to the doctor and begins to question whether he was the problem. The line “Am I crazier than other patients?” indicates his inner conflict with himself showing how he doesn’t fell normal. The speaker can’t form the definition of “normal” for society so he seeks help from others, like the doctor, who can somehow help him. The speaker truly believes that he’s done everything right, but with the way life is going for him, he wants to get revenge for his pain and suffering.

Karma is very poetic is a sense that it captures the sadness and anger of a man who just wants to live a happy life. Life had been cruel to the speaker for no particular reason and the speaker believes that the only way to combat this is for life to find karma. If life receives karma, then it would have no other choice but to send good things towards the speakers way ensuring a more happier life.