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Transcript of Poetry
Still I Rise
By: Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Maya Angelou is a famous poet and civil rights activists. She stood up for the rights of African-Americans during then 1960's. This poem conveys her feelings towards those who are against her. In this poem Angelou declares that she will have great courage and stand by her mission.
I chose the song, Get up, Stand up by Bob Marley because it encourages citizens to stand up for their rights, and what they believe. This ties into Maya Angelou's fight for civil rights.
Standing up for what is right is important to do. If you don't stand up for your rights then who will. Getting courage to do so is hard, but once you have it, there is little that will slow you sown and/or get in your way. This is why you must find the courage to stand up for your rights.
I chose the picture of a heart because in order to stand up for what you believe it, like Bob Marley says to, one needs courage, which Maya Angelou discusses in "Still I Rise." Courage comes from the heart. I think that if you truly care about something , you will find the courage to do it inside yourself.
I Felt My Life With Both Hands
By: Emily Dickinson
I felt my life with both my hands
To see if it was there—
I held my spirit to the Glass,
To prove it possibler—
I turned my Being round and round
And paused at every pound
To ask the Owner's name—
For doubt, that I should know the Sound—
I judged my features—jarred my hair—
I pushed my dimples by, and waited—
If they—twinkled back—
Conviction might, of me—
I told myself, "Take Courage, Friend—
That—was a former time—
But we might learn to like the Heaven,
As well as our Old Home!"
How Do I Love Thee?
By: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
We Wear the Mask
By Paul Lawrence Dunbar
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
I Choose the Mountain
By: Howard Simon
The low lands call
I am tempted to answer
They are offering me a free dwelling
Without having to conquer
The massive mountain makes its move
Beckoning me to ascend
A much more difficult path
To get up the slippery bend
I cannot choose both
I have a choice to make
I must be wise
This will determine my fate
I choose, I choose the mountain
With all its stress and strain
Because only by climbing
Can I rise above the plane
I choose the mountain
And I will never stop climbing
I choose the mountain
And I shall forever be ascending
I choose the mountain
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
By: Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
When I read "I Felt My Life With Both Hands" by Emily Dickinson. I didn't quite understand it, until I read it over and over again. This lead me to determine that the poem is not necessarily about a change in body as the words suggest, but a change in mindset after a challenge. This can be seen in this stanza,
"I told myself, 'Take Courage, Friend-That-was a former time- But we might learn to like the Heaven, As well as out Old Home!'"
The message is in the unwritten words: once you overcome your obstacles, you are stronger, and have the courage to power through once again. I think this is true to an extent. Whether it is trying a new sport or new activity, moving to a different town, or doing something different, everyone has courage.However, overcoming an obstacle takes strength, and it may take all of the strength to conquer said obstacle, leaving one to be tired or weakened. This leads me to think that overcoming an obstacle wont make you stronger immediately after, but in the long run, it can make you stronger emotionally, mentally, and/or physically.
This theme is also represented in the song "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson. The song represents the determination and independence that one can have when taking on a problem. In the world many people go through tough times but in the end, it makes them stronger. In both the poem an song, the speaker intends to pick themselves up and get on with their life.
I chose William Merritt Chase's The Mirror because it does not necessarily convey the same message as the poem and song, but it ties into it.
Everyone has a part of themselves that they hide from other people for what ever reason. It may be as simple as a hobby they like, to a strong feeling and/or belief which they are afraid of what other people would think.
I selected the poem We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar because of his ability to have two meanings in one poem with out being too redundant. On one hand the poet believes that it is good that citizens can at least look happy because it is better for the world for us to seem happy rather than be sad.
"Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask."
Yet, on the other hand, it is sad that we all have the need to hide how we feel from the rest of the world.
"We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries/To thee from tortured souls arise."
It leaves me to wonder which world I would rather live in, the one where everyone hides how they feel and pretend to be happy, or one where everyone is always forlorn or upset, and rarely happy. Each has its pros and cons. What I also found perplexing was that the poet never gave a chance to some people being truly happy, and it makes me wonder. Is anyone truly happy, or do we just pretend for so long, we don't know any other way?
I chose the song Half of Me by Rihanna because it shows how she has to be different when she is on television than when she is by herself. It is very powerful because it reminds us that we may not know all sides of people, whether they be good or bad.
Many little girls dream of finding their prince charming and wearing a beautiful white dress and walking down the aisle. When we are young, love is as simple as sharing your fruit snacks, but as you get older, love means more. I chose the poem"How Do I Love Thee" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the song "How Long Will I Love You" because they both have the theme of loving someone.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee?" puts a sweet spin on how much one can love a person.
"I love thee with the breath,/Smiles, tears, of all my life!" It explains how much she loves this person by comparing it to things in her life which
makes it a bit more understandable. However, I do not fully
understand some of the comparisons. In my opinion, it is kind of
over the top. I don't like the language it is written in because it is
too old fashioned for my taste. I think that the language is what
makes it too over the top. If one was to make it into more
modern-day language, like Ellie Goulding does in "How Long
Will I Love You."
In this song, Ellie Goulding describes how long she will love
someone using nature as the comparative.
"How long will I love you?/As long as stars are above you/
And longer, if I can." I like this better because it is
sweeter, easier to relate to and more
I chose Marc Chagall's The Bride and Groom
of the Eiffel Tower because one way to show
love is to get married.
On Turning Ten
By: Billy Collins
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed
The poem is about how once you are an adult, you have to stop doing all of the things that you loved as a child.
In the adult world there is little creativity an imagination, causing it to be dull and boring in the eyes of the poet. Adults get caught up in the material things and making money to buy things that they think will make them happier.
I think that this poem clearly represent the distinct difference between childhood and being an adult. When you are a child, you come home from school and go play out, not worrying about bills or whether you need to buy this or that. In my eyes, many adults have lost the spark that young kids have.
Cats and the Cradle by Harry Chapin also represents this idea of the difference of adulthood and childhood, but from a different point of view. Instead of a child realizing how materials take over the mind of adults, it is an adult realizing how he was caught up with materials. This song represents the realization of materialism in adults life, especially in these lines:
"But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away"
This excerpt shows that when adults get caught up in their work lives, they often miss out on the little things in life. The song then goes on to show how the writer's song wants to play a simple game of catch, but he is too busy. Towards the end, the writer notices how not only is his son growing up, but he also has less time to do fun things and has to deal with work.
"I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind" He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me"
The writers son, now an adult, has lost his childhood playfulness, and had turned into the adult who is too busy with work for family, much like his dad.
In my opinion, this poem and song are a good reminder for everyone to keep your youthful imagination, and that childhood gleam in your eyes as you grow older and learn to support yourself.
The death of a loved on is always a sad and hard time for the family. The poem "Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye gives the morning family a new way to look at their loved one's death. In this poem, the writer believe that you live on after death through nature, and that is how one should be remembered.
"Do not stand at my grave and weep/ I am not there. I do not sleep. /I am a thousand winds that blow."
I remember once my grandmother said to me, "Don't wear black at my funeral. When I die, I want you to wear bright colors, blue, blue, blue like the sky. Just like my favorite color." This poem reminded me of what she said to me, and how she wants to be remembered by her favorite thing, nature. It also reminded me that when someone you love dies, you need to remember all the good times you had with them, not the negative fact that they died. They will always live on in your memory by remembering them whenever you see something that reminds you of them.
The song "See You Again" by Carrie Underwood also had the theme of remembering a loved one by the good times.
"But I won’t cry cause I know I’ll never be lonely for you are the stars to me"
Unlike the poem, the song also recognizes that it can be hard to remember your loved ones and be happy.
"Sometimes I feel my heart is breaking, but I stay strong, and I hold on cause I know I will see you again. This is not where it ends I will carry you with me." But just as it says in the song, you must stay strong because the one you lost can be seen all around you and in the memories that you keep.
I chose Oleg Shuplyak's Self Portrait because it depicted a person in nature, which relates quite literally to the poem.
The poem suggest that their loved one who passed can be remembered through nature, while the painting shows a person who is literally made out of nature.
On the Death of Friends in Childhood
By: Donald Justice
We shall not ever meet them bearded in heaven,
Nor sunning themselves among the bald of hell;
If anywhere, in the deserted schoolyard at twilight,
Forming a ring, perhaps, or joining hands
In games whose very names we have forgotten.
Come, memory, let us seek them there in the shadows.
When someone you love goes away or passes, you often miss them. Then, everyday you see something that reminds you of them, and you wish that they could be there with you. You always can remember the fun times that you had with them, no matter how long ago.
"Stars" By Grace Potter is a very appropriate representations of this theme. It can be seen in these lyrics, "I can't look at the stars/They make me wonder where you are." The song represents how one thing, in this case the stars, makes you remember a loved one. As sad as this song is, it is a great representation of missing someone who is gone.
My cousin, who is like a big brother to me and my older sister, has been in Africa with the Peace
Peace Corps for the past two years. This song reminds my sister of him. As cliché as this may
seem,the stars are always the same over the world, and they may be looking at the same
stars one night.
"On the Death of Friends in Childhood" takes this theme in a different direction. This
explores the topic of a person dying young and not being able to live as a grown up in
heaven. "We shall never meet them bearded in heaven." However sad this is, it
seems like a reasonable observation.
I paired this poem and song with Leonid Afemov's painting of a bench
because I liked his technique and how it made the painting
look almost dreamlike and like a memory of a place.
I remember that from a young age,
I was always told to do the right thing.
When I was young it was simply
telling the truth and sharing my toys.
This of course graduated to getting
my homework done on time, and
being responsible and respectful.
Doing the right thing is the theme of the poem "I Choose the Mountain" by Howard Simon. This poem has a great metaphor for life. In it, the world is life, and the mountains and valleys are choices that we all have to make. We can either choose to work harder an do well, or choose the easy way with harder results.
" I choose, I choose the mountain With all its stress and strait Because only by climbing
Can I rise above the plane"
The song "You Raise Me Up" is also a great example of doing the right thing, but in a different way.
The song stresses that the way you are raised up will show throughout your life, and if done right, will leave you strong and honorable as well as trustworthy.
"You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;/You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;/I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;/You raise me up/To more than I can be."
In life, it is better to do the right thing, even if it is harder, than to take the easy way out, which could have harsh consequences later.
POETRY, MUSIC & ART
When I first stared this project, I thought that many of the songs I would use would be older songs, to match the themes of older poems. However, I found that some of the older poems had the same themes as some songs that had come out in the past year or two. This find was really intriguing to me because it showed a connection between different eras. Forming the connections between the different eras showed me how little our thoughts have differed, and even though many say that we are different, we are not as different as we seem.
The following is a collection of poems, songs and art that share a corresponding theme that links them together. I chose some of the poems by how relevant they are to modern life, and how they describe it in a way that shows why it is good or not good. Some of the poems I chose because they reminded me of
a person who means a lot to me, and I can't imagine
my life with out them.