New Voices is a publication of the College of Arts and Humanities Lander University 320 Stanley Avenue Greenwood, SC 29649 Editor-in-Chief: Brittany Chapman Editors: Lauren Johnson Amy Strickland Jana Wilson Art Director: Taylor Trevathan Faculty Advisors: Dr. Lillie Craton Dr. Misty Jameson Dr. Amy England New Voices congratulates Robert A. Maynor, Winner of the 2012 Dessie Dean Pitts Award
Table of Contents The Lament of Shorty Welch by R. A. Maynor ...................................................................................... 3 Frat Boy by William Bowen................................................................................... 7 Homophobia by Daniel Clark ....................................................................................... 12 My Disney Fairy Tale by Adriana DeLuna ................................................................................. 15 Pastel-Colored Ponies by Jon Loudermilk .................................................................................. 19 From Blindness to Blessings by Andi Mills ........................................................................................... 20 The Antique Dealer by Madison Wilder ................................................................................. 25 “We Have Given Our Hearts Away”: A Lack of Heart in Industrial Society by Haley Wilson ..................................................................................... 28
The Lament of Shorty Welch R.A. Maynor
Winner Dessie Dean Pitts Award
I’ve known Mr. Welch for as long as I can remember. I never recall actually meeting him; he was just always there, like a long forgotten uncle or something that no one ever talks about. In his prime, he may have been five feet tall, though I find that a bit hard to believe. He has a first name, though I do not know it. Everyone calls him Shorty. I don’t know exactly how old he is; he’s looked to be around sixty-five for my entire life. His hair is white and tangled and cut short on the sides just above his ears, and his hands are worn rough from age and use. He always wears chaps over a pair of dirty khaki pants with loafers so mangled by briars and chewed up by dogs that they resemble more a rawhide than a pair of shoes, and an old orange hat that sticks up crookedly off the top of his head like some sort of misbegotten crown. He lives not far from us, only about a mile away at the head of the dirt road in an old, ramshackle house that looks as if a strong wind blowing in the right direction could knock it from its frame. There is a fence surrounding the yard with bird dogs lying inside. Over the years, the dogs have chewed holes in the fence, I suppose, and he has patched it with things like skim boards and old doors. There is a garage, too, or what may have once been a garage. The door has a hole knocked in it large enough for a bear to lumber through. It has become more of a glorified dog house with tools and oil cans littered about than any sort of real functioning garage. In the back yard, there is a clothes line where his wife, Pat, hangs their clothes out to dry. I have never met Pat, and I know little of her besides her name, but I have often seen her bra hanging from that line. Shorty owns a shooting preserve a few miles away in Wassamassaw. He has pen-raised quail that he puts out for field trials, among other things. The wild birds have all but disappeared in the low country, so we go there often to run my grandfather’s bird dogs and get them ready to go to Kansas. We’ve been hunting there with him forever, and I often wonder if this is why we know Mr. Welch, or if it is just some ironic twist of fate. He is one of those people who always turn up when you least expect it. It’s as if the one time that he is truly out of mind is the time that he decides to visit unexpectedly. Truthfully, he is full of surprises, like the other side of a familiar white-washed fence. I remember one year on Mother’s Day, when my entire family was out in the yard before supper, we heard a truck coming down the road, and Shorty’s little, dilapidated Toyota pulled up in the yard. When he
climbed out of the truck, he had something square wrapped in brown butcher paper. He carried it to my grandmother and handed it to her. It was a painting he had done of a pair of kingfishers on a branch. He had matted it with construction paper and put it in a wooden frame. He said it was a Mother’s Day present for her. It was one of the most bewildering experiences that I have yet had. Last year after hunting, I went into Mr. Welch’s house for the first time. He said he had some things he wanted to show me. The house was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was like stepping from the world into a black and white photograph from 1926. The living room had dusty oak-paneled floors and was furnished with Morris rocking chairs. A fire crackled warmly in the corner. What he showed me were wooden boards pulled off of the sheds from the camp meeting. Painted on them were little characters in various, witty situations. He told me the story of each one and chuckled, and I laughed along with him. In the kitchen, I saw a stack of paintings and old boards that he had painted on. I asked him if I could look through them. Of them all, there were about twenty identical pictures of Marilyn Monroe and probably two-dozen more of the kingfishers. At times, Shorty seems as if he is a stump hole covered with leaves so that you don’t realize it until you step into it and it pulls off your boot. However, at other times, he is more predictable than afternoon thunderstorms in the summer; you get that feeling in your bones that he is coming, so you pull a chair up under the shed and just wait. Every year in the fall, Shorty comes to our shop with a filthy cooler full of muscadines. We squeeze the grapes and take out the seeds, and my grandfather makes wine with them. We always joke that Shorty must be able to smell the sweet liquor because, within a few days of putting the wine into Mason jars, Mr. Welch always returns to pick up his share. Often, he’ll stay awhile, talking and tasting the nectarous concoction. When he speaks, it is in a quiet, broken accent, some sort of backwoodsGeechie hybridity. It is at times like this that I am most startled, for the stories he tells always flow freely and honestly. At times, I have been unsure of the veracity of his tales, but I have never once questioned his conviction. There is a story that, every year on his birthday, Mrs. Welch would ask her husband what he wanted, and every year he answered that he wanted a Harley-Davidson. On the day before his birthday a few years past, Pat asked Shorty what he would like, and as always, he said he wanted a Harley-Davidson. The next evening, his family had a big party for him, and Pat finally gave Shorty what he had wanted for years. Sometime after, he painted a regal-red fox on the fuel tank,
and he was prouder of that bike than anything else that he owned, aside from his bird dogs. For years I would see him riding that motorcycle in his chewed-up loafers and hunting jacket, sometimes on the highway, and sometimes on the muddy paths of his shooting preserve. Some months went by, and I hadn’t seen Mr. Welch on his bike. He was once again driving his old burgundy Toyota pickup, his dog Blue Duck in the seat beside him. I asked him where his Harley was one day, and he told me that he didn’t have it anymore. His grandson had failed the eleventh grade a couple of times, so Shorty told him that if he passed, he would give him his bike. The next year the boy passed, and Mr. Welch made good on his promise. As I have grown older, I have become more aware of the intricacies of living in New Hope, South Carolina. When I stop at Harvey’s Grocery to buy a Coke and fill up my truck with gas, the old man behind the counter talks to me for a while, and Ms. Barbara invites me over to her house for supper as she sweeps the wooden floors. The man in the yard sells me squash and okra, and I give him a ride down the road to his sister’s house. I know when the little boy down the road gets a whipping, and when Shorty’s favorite dog dies, I hear about it. Those are things that don’t happen everywhere in the world, and they are things that you don’t realize mean so much to you until they’re gone. A few weeks ago, I was driving by Shorty’s place, and there was a cluster of police cars and a coroner’s van parked out by his fly-pen. I saw Mr. Welch leaning against his truck holding his head in his hands. I carried on home, wondering what had happened. That evening, he came down to our house. He told us that, early that morning, he and his son had put out a few birds and worked their dogs together. Shorty had to leave, so his son stayed behind to clean the birds and the guns. When Shorty returned, he found his son lying in a pool of blood, shot in the head with his own gun. No one knows for sure what happened to Mr. Welch’s son. Shorty says that something happened when he was cleaning the gun, perhaps he forgot to unload it and it went off unexpectedly. In truth, it doesn’t much matter what happened, as he is gone and nothing can change that. For selfish reasons, I grieve over this man’s passing. I never met him, but his father is a man that has been a part of my life, and I wonder whether he will ever be the same. I fear that he may not find the same joy in his dogs and the birds they hunt. I fear that he will not make time to pick grapes so that my grandfather can make his wine. I fear that the words with which he weaves his bizarre, antique stories will begin to falter. I fear that the old man will die.
If I have learned anything about Shorty over the years, it is that he does everything in his own way. The worldâ€™s expectations have no bearing on his life. So, his lament may be like his person: short, stout, and rough around the edges. Or, it may turn out to indeed be his swan song. But no matter what, Shorty Welch is a character worthy of the greatest story, and that story is not mine to write. It is a work all his own. I can only hope that he will continue to leave shoe prints across its pages for years to come.
Frat Boy William Bowen Authorâ€™s Note: This is an essay about hazing. The actions described here happened almost a decade ago, and the organization was removed from Landerâ€™s campus as a result of these events. These practices are neither condoned nor tolerated among Lander Greek organizations today. Nevertheless, the essay can serve as a cautionary tale about a risk within many aspects of life: the problems of group identity and loyalty when they are taken to an extreme. I awoke to a man slowly coming towards my right eye with a large curved needle. The last thing I remembered before waking up in this strange and jarring situation was waiting on my turn at a pool table with my pledge brothers at a late night bar. How did I get here? Fearing that I was in the middle of a real life horror movie, I checked to make sure I was not restrained. I was not tied down, so my next instinct was to hit first and figure out what was going on later. I tried kicking the man out of his chair, and I popped up off of the table, ready to take on anyone headed my way. This is when I noticed that I was in a hospital, and the poor man I just attacked was a doctor. I only realized the full scope of the situation when I went down the hall to the bathroom and saw the tattered remains of my face. My right eyebrow was cut to the bone, and my mouth was almost completely swollen shut. I later learned that I was beaten by a large group of pledges from a different fraternity. They had rushed into the bar and pummeled me before I or anyone else knew what was going on. This should have been my wake up call to see that the choices I had been making were poor ones, but I was in too deep to realize the error of my ways. This college fraternity and the lifestyle it gave me had supplied the means for fun before my real life began, but with adult consequences. I was not ready
for college and the responsibility that
came with the privileges of independence. Be careful of the mistakes you make in the first couple of years of school. Those wrongs can take years or even decades to right. I went to college with poor intentions. I was almost bullied into the experience by my parents. I wanted to take some time off to be a kid and goof off for a year before beginning the seriousness of adult life. My parents were convinced that, if I put off the chance to attend school, I would never go at all. This was untrue. I had every intention of going to school. I wanted some time to figure out what I wanted to do and to be able to relax before getting serious about college. In short, I was nowhere near mature enough to handle life on my own, and this became screamingly obvious within ten minutes of my parents leaving me in my new dorm room. I went to the gas station that was within walking distance of my dorm room minutes after my parents
left. I bought my first official college case of beer and began drinking and did not stop until a couple of years later. I arrived at Lander not really knowing what to expect, but I knew I was going to try to enjoy myself. I wound up in a fraternity by accident. I stumbled into the rush party because a friend of mine told me that the Beta House had some good low country boil that they were giving away. I had no desire to be part of a fraternity growing up, but they had booze, girls, and a constant supply of fun. I was hooked and was ready for the non-stop party. The pledging process was rough. It was constant and exhausting, but surprisingly social and made me feel like I was part of something. My pledge brothers and I would get hazed on a regular basis. The Betas would take the pledges out on a Tuesday usually. There were different themes to each night of hazing. Almost all of them included extreme cold, physical exhaustion, excessive drinking, throwing up, and scaring pledges as much as possible. The Tuesday night hazing usually got more difficult as the semester pressed forward. The reason that pledges would tolerate this mistreatment is that the brothers before you had endured the same amount of punishment, or more, the years before. This was a right of passage into an exclusive club, the loudest and meanest fraternity on campus. It all culminated in ―Hell Week.‖ This was the first week back after either the Christmas or summer break. There was a set of rules that we all had to follow during this week. The rules were no drinking unless told to by a brother and no sleeping, and the pledges had to earn every brother’s signature. These rules sounded reasonable enough since it was supposed to be a horrible and trying week. Every night was a different round of creative and exhaustive hazing to ensure that we slept as little as humanly possible. To get every brothers signature was a difficult task. Most would make you do illegal or highly dangerous tasks. The items and tasks I remember well were: to obtain an emu egg, a street sign, a fish tank from someone’s porch in Ninety-Six, and advertising from gas stations for beer and tobacco; washing people’s cars; cleaning houses; visiting Beta fraternity houses throughout the Upstate; and enough drinking to last a lifetime (which was very ironic since one of the rules was no drinking). My Hell Week turned out to be the undoing of the fraternity. A couple of brothers had gotten too drunk and decided to make pledges jog in circles around a neighborhood loop while brothers rode just a couple of feet behind in a pickup truck. They never thought about how drunk they were, or the fact that they kept clipping the heels of the pledges with the front bumper of the truck on accident. All of these pledges quit and reported the incident to the fraternity’s headquarters. Another pledge and I
narrowly missed this experience. We were sent out on a trip just before the truck started chasing the pledges down the road. That left only two pledges for the end of the week. Our pledge class had started the semester with thirteen. At the end of the week was a ―Hell Night.‖ This was the final night before you were fully admitted into the fraternity, and it was the worst night by far. It was an all-night experience that my mind has blocked out a good portion of. I remember it was eighteen degrees and all we were allowed to wear was an undershirt, jeans, shoes, underwear, socks, a blindfold, and a hat. I remember being wet and muddy. I also remember not being able to feel my extremities and convulsing most of the night from the extreme cold. We were allowed to thaw out next to a fire once every hour. There was vomiting, screaming, push-ups, and falling out of a large tree somehow. I had to coach the only other pledge with me through a panic attack. He had shut down completely. I was allowed to take my blindfold off to talk to him. He was staring blankly into the fire and did not speak for hours. He never spoke about what caused him to do this, and I suspect he does not remember it either. There were many other events that were beyond the limits of disgusting and cruel but are not appropriate for public reading. We both survived the night without any permanent scars and were admitted into the fraternity. Life as an active fraternity brother, strangely enough, was not much different than life as a pledge. We all made each other’s lives hell with cruel pranks and tortures. We were meaner to members inside the organization than to anyone else. There were rifts between different pledge class years and an ongoing debate on whose pledge class had endured the most torture. We were a group united and divided all the same. There was an inner clique of guys and then the outer circle of guys who were still involved, but had grown tired of the absolute insanity of partying all the time. Less than a year after I was initiated into the fraternity, I was moved into the Sigma Nu house and was living in the middle of a real-life Animal House. I would wake up and not remember getting home most of the time. Whenever I did manage to make it to any class, I often slept through the lecture. When I got home, it was time to jump back into the ongoing party. There was always alcohol and drugs lying around for the taking. There were always girls at the house who had been drinking way too much for way too long. We would have weekly parties of a couple of hundred people and would fund the debauchery with money taken at the door. Everyone would want to come our party because we had live music and we would always serve Jack Daniels and Grey Goose. We would pour the
cheap stuff into the expensive bottles using a funnel, and everyone was too drunk to know the difference. The cops were constantly driving by the house, and fights were always a guarantee. This is a house that never slept and was directly across the street from the home of the President of the university. He could do little since we were just a few feet off of the campus, but I am sure he had several conversations with our National Headquarters while we were being investigated. I left the fraternity around six months or so before Lander and the Beta National Headquarters booted them from campus. The sins of the past mistreatment of pledges were confirmed, and the fraternity was gone from Lander. Ironically, the fraternity was founded on the principals of respect and was planted firmly against hazing. They had gone too far, and I had lost myself in the fray. I had to leave because I did not recognize myself anymore. The man staring back at me in the mirror was a drunk, chain-smoking slacker who had not cracked a book since his arrival at college. There were many extra pounds on my former thin frame, and I was constantly getting sick. The last straw that convinced me to leave this ridiculous life I had built and to re-enter the world of sanity was when one of my roommates decided it would be funny to chainsaw my bedroom door into pieces while he was on a two day bender. I did not find it nearly as funny as he did. The fact that my mind is able to draw any memories from these years is nothing short of a miracle. I drank so heavily, and often, that I am amazed I remember anything at all. There was always beer in my book bag instead of books, and I am only able to remember a handful of classes over a two-year period. I was arrested twice and lost my license for over six months. I carried a GPA of a 1.8, the minimum academic requirement at the time without getting forcibly dismissed from college. I was hospitalized once and ran from the cops more times than I can count. I picked up a drug habit and gained over sixty pounds in two years. I also earned a lifetime of disappointment and regrets. I distinctly remember the way my family and my father treated me when I went back home to recover from my two-year party. The disappointment and resentment in the air was intolerable. It took years to clean the slate with my parents and to gain my familyâ€™s trust back. I was able to clear my criminal record and quit taking drugs. I lost almost all the weight that I gained, and it took me over five years to quit smoking. I still struggle with the guilt over my past. I realize the hell I put my family through, but I never realized how much damage I was doing to my family, and to myself, in such short time. It has been more than seven years since Iâ€™ve lived
in that house with those people. I am still fighting to right the wrongs of my former self. I chose to come to Lander and finish what I started to prove to myself that I am different now, which I am. I will be a graduate in December and have made no lower than a B in any of my classes. I am married with a stepson and a wonderful wife. I work, study, and manage my life with the same intensity I used to throw into being self-destructive. The shady circumstances that I forced myself through taught me how to do the right thing by doing the wrong thing first. Everybody falls down, but how you pick yourself back up shows your true character.
Homophobia Daniel Clark The term ―homophobia‖ was first used in 1969, and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as an ―irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.‖ This matter has significantly gained in prominence over the past decades, as more and more notable names, as well as large parts of the overall population, are being classed under the term. One event that came to my attention was a rally which took place while Oliver North, a military leader and politician well known for his homophobic remarks, was running for US Senate in 1994. A large group of his supporters marched along a Virginia freeway, carrying signs reading ―Homophobia does not kill‖ (Bidstrup). I could not disagree more with what they were trying to say, and the thought of such a large group of people following the same mindset worries me. The manner in which homophobes find it acceptable to deal with this situation in such a disrespectful way towards homosexuals astonishes me. Rather than attempting to segregate the homosexual population from our society, we should be working in unity towards creating a world without discrimination and intolerance. Statistics can prove that the quote ―Homophobia does not kill‖ is untrue. As an example, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, titled Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, suicide is four times more common among homosexual adolescents than it is among heterosexual adolescents. This can clearly be traced to the manner in which homosexuals are treated in our society. When one lives with rejection day after day, and society discounts one's value constantly, it can be difficult to maintain perspective and realize that the problem is others' perceptions and not one's own. Specifically, the highest price is paid by youth when it comes to this problem. The young person just emerging into adulthood who has begun to realize that he is different, and that this particular difference is not approved of, may find acceptance of self extremely demanding. This is especially true when others persecute him as a result, with little effort made by authority figures to stop them. Homosexuals are also often the victims of crimes, such as verbal abuse, physical abuse, and even murder. The majority of these serious crimes are inspired by hatred from so-called homophobes. A report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) states that 18.5% of all hate crimes reported in 2010 in the USA were directed at male and female homosexuals. This
is a shocking statistic, which leads me to question the reasons which the homophobic extremists have for committing such serious and offensive crimes. Many among the homophobic population claim that homosexuality is simply not natural and is, in fact, ―perverted.‖ They are likely unaware of the fact that recent scientific experiments have proven that homosexual activity has been sighted among numerous animal species. Nathan Bailey, postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley and the author of a review analyzing same-sex behavior among animals, claimed that ―It's clear that same-sex sexual behavior extends far beyond the well-known examples that dominate both the scientific and popular literature: for example, bonobos, dolphins, penguins and fruit flies‖ (University of California Riverside). This proves that homosexuality is a common occurance in nature and makes me ask myself why human homosexuals should be treated adversly if such tendencies occur naturally. The homophobic reasoning for this matter can be viewed as unscientific and perhaps even dangerous. Some homophobes display a purely emotional response to the matter. They fear that homosexual activity will ruin their perception of what society should be like. The idea of gay marriage completely devalues their image of what love and marriage should be like in our world. Often, it is claimed that same-sex couples are not capable of naturally producing children and should, therefore, not have the right to marry. If procreation is the ultimate goal of marriage and if this is a reason for disallowing gay marriage, then surely marriage among sterile, impotent, and aged couples could be considered unacceptable as well. Marriage can serve functions that are just as meaningful as procreation, including interpersonal commitment, moral expression, and sexual satisfaction. As same-sex couples are just as able to undertake these functions as heterosexual couples, there should be no reason for discrimination against marriage between homosexuals. Along with this emotional response, many homophobes claim to feel a particularly intense disgust towards homosexuals. However, maybe these people should consider that there are many activities going on in our society that others may consider repellant, an example of which is hunting. Even though this popular sport involves the murdering of innocent animals, it is not fully outlawed and is carried out all over the world. Many other activities are quite essential to the functioning of a modern society, such as the slaughtering of animals for consumption, but we simply turn our minds to other matters and don't concern ourselves with them. Instead, we should all try to put ourselves in the shoes of a homosexual person.
Homophobes in particular need to remember that some of their attributes could be perceived as ―disgusting‖ to many homosexuals as well, yet it would be absolutely ludicrous for homosexuals to suggest that heterosexuality ought to be persecuted. This double standard seems unfair and discriminatory towards the homosexual population. The truth is, homosexuals are physically and mentally no different from heterosexuals. The only difference is their sexual interests. And although love, sexual activity, and relations play a major role in everyone’s lives in the present time, this should definitely not be a reason for anyone to be treated differently. And yet, homosexuals still are treated adversely; one could even compare the current situation to that of the severe racism and segregation issues our society faced some decades ago. I can only hope that, sometime in the near future, the homophobic culture will come to realize that homosexuals are no different than heterosexuals and that we should all be working together with our aim set to developing a society of peacefulness.
Works Cited Bidstrup, Scott. ―Homophobia: The Fear behind the Hatred.‖ Bidstrup. Web. 1 Apr. 2012. "Homophobia." Merriam-Webster Online. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hate Crime Statistics, 2010. FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Washington: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. United States Department of Health and Human Services. Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide. Volume 3: Prevention and Interventions in Youth Suicide. Ed. Marcia Feinleib. Rockville: Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration, Jan. 1989. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. University of California Riverside. "Same-Sex Behavior Seen in Nearly All Animals, Review Finds. ScienceDaily. 16 June 2009. Web. 1 Apr. 2012.
My Disney Fairy Tale Adriana DeLuna When we see someone of the opposite sex, we often try to determine whether we are attracted to them or not. If they attract us, we usually ask ourselves whether they could find us attractive. At this point, people who are confident in themselves go talk to the attractive man or woman and find out. Some of us, though, automatically skip to thoughts like, ―They couldn’t possibly be interested in me‖ or the worst: ―They are way out of my league.‖ This short, simple statement seems insignificant; people say it all the time, but ―They are way out of my league‖ is actually a very dangerous expression. Maybe people think like this because they have a fear of being rejected, but rejection is a part of life. The sooner one gets used to it, the less important and frightening it becomes. People should take a second look at themselves and determine their own worth because if they continue to think they are unworthy of someone, they will miss wonderful opportunities and will always be left wondering, ―What if?‖ I was guilty of thinking this way. When I was very young, I never looked like Belle, like the perfect Disney princesses I saw in movies. I grew up as the girl in hand-me-down boy clothes and I would pick the toy car or ball over the Barbie and makeup. As I grew older, I used to settle for less-than-average. I hung out with people who were not exactly good examples and though I did not participate in their usual activities, I was still associated with them. I wanted to have better friends, but I thought the ―friends‖ I had were the only kind of people who would accept me. I dated guys who were not even close to good people. Some were high-school dropouts, some did drugs or smoked, and some wanted the ―one thing that men want‖ a little too much. All of them had three things in common: they were jerks, they treated me like dirt, and they left me thinking it was my fault and they deserved better. Obviously, with every jerk came the thought of being worth less and less. It never occurred to me that I could be with someone better. Every single time I came across someone better, I would think, ―He is way out of my league and it’s not even worth trying‖ and I would settle for much less. But one day at work, everything changed. **** My days at work were all very much the same. I worked at an arcade, selling prizes for tickets, operating rides, and occasionally getting a jammed game card out of a machine. I paid little to no attention to the hundreds of faces I saw every day, even if I spent hours helping them
choose a prize worth twenty little points. Every day I dealt with the same kind of people to the point where I could predict what they needed as soon as they approached me. You get it; every day, every person, everything that happened was always the same. Within all those boring, monotonous days, there was a day that I later found out would change my world. I went through my shift at work as usual, but I did notice one thing: there were a lot of people crowded around Deal or No Deal. This is a game that many people try, but the jackpot worth 2,000 points is nearly impossible to get, so it was unusual for me to see a crowd around it. Later that night, I was working in the prize room and had a large crowd of loud, impatient people who expected me to remember exactly how many points each of them had. All I wanted was for them to get their stuff and leave. Someone pushed a stack of Deal or No Deal receipts towards me on the counter and asked if he could get them saved on their card for later. I took them and looked at the first one to begin adding them up, and I was surprised to find the number 2,000 on it. ―He must have gotten lucky,‖ I thought, but then I skimmed through the other eleven receipts. They all had the same number on them, which meant this person had 24,000 points. At that moment, I glanced up to actually see who had gotten this ridiculous score. His eyes were an odd combination of green and blue. I stared at him like an idiot, probably with my mouth open in confusion and wonder, until I snapped out of it. I consulted my manager, put the points on his card, and treated him like any other customer: thanked him for coming and told him to have a good night. Immediately after he left, I thought, ―Why didn’t you talk to him?‖ But then I fell back into routine and answered my own question with, ―Because he would never be interested in me.‖ I saw him a few times after that, but I always held back. Once when he came around, he bought all the cool stuff in our store with his enormous number of points and I jokingly suggested that he buy our giant seven-thousand-point Mickey Mouse for me. He said he would do it and left; I thought, ―No he won’t. No one would do that just for a stranger, especially me.‖ **** A few weeks later, I had almost forgotten about ―Mr. Deal or No Deal,‖ what we employees called him since we didn’t know his real name. A few days before my birthday, I decided to dust off the tops of the games. I noticed him playing and sneaked to the game next to him. I pretended to clean it just so I could watch him play and try to figure out how on earth he
won the jackpot every single time. Maybe the real reason I was there was to get him to notice my existence, but being a typical boy with a videogame in front of him, this was just not going to happen. I decided to make ―small talk.‖ ―Hi, I didn’t think you were coming back.‖ I said. ―I actually wasn’t going to, but I came with a friend,‖ he replied. ―Well, I’m glad you’re here, I’ll get the book ready for when you go into the store.‖ ―I don’t plan on buying anything today; I only have enough points for one thing. How is the job going?‖ ―Great. I have to work on my birthday, though, so that’s annoying.‖ ―That sucks, you shouldn’t have to work on your birthday. Is it today?‖ ―No, it’s on the fourth, on Thursday.‖ He looked like he was going to say something else, but I interrupted by telling him I needed to get back to work before I got attacked by raging, angry customers. I could feel my cheeks starting to blush, and I needed to get out of there fast. I couldn’t let him know I liked him because, of course, he could never take interest in me. Later that day, I walked into our store and noticed something different on the wall. There was a three-foot-tall gaping hole where our colossal Mickey Mouse used to be. I gasped and exclaimed, ―Someone bought the Mickey! No! I wanted it!‖ I didn’t notice the guy was still in the store; he chuckled and told me that he had bought it and that a fellow employee had hidden it under the counter so I could get it at the end of the day. Mickey was mine, and I was at a loss for words. I asked him what I owed him in return but he just said, ―Happy birthday‖ and smiled. I reminded myself once again that he was too good looking, generous, and kind to be interested in me and let him walk out the door. I sighed as I watched him walk away and turned around to face the back wall of the store. There was a mirror there, right in front of me, begging for me to look at my own reflection. I took a hard look at myself and started thinking. As I stood there convincing myself that he would never be attracted to me, I actually said to myself, ―Why the hell not?‖ I started to think critically about myself and realized that I had no real reason for thinking I was somehow unworthy. Maybe I’m not the most dazzling person in the world, but I consider myself attractive. I think I have nice features like my eyes, hair, and smile; perhaps others think they’re nice too. I have a good personality; I’m cheerful, caring, loyal, and very forgiving. I have experience, though not
all good. I made many mistakes in the past, but as an old wise monkey named Rafiki once said, ―The past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.‖ Once I decided to follow the wise Disney character’s words, I instantly regretted not asking him even what his name was so I could have some way of contacting him. I thought about looking him up on Facebook or something, but I doubted his name would come up as ―Deal or No Deal,‖ so I gave up on that idea. Then it dawned on me that in order for someone to buy a big prize, like the giant Mickey, they would have to write their name and number in our record book. My reflection smiled at me in the mirror. We’re not actually allowed to use the numbers written in there because of customer privacy, so I waited until the manager was in the back office to break that one rule. I looked in the book for the item ―Giant Mickey‖ and found his name and number next to it. As I gathered the courage to at least text him, I did not allow myself to think the poisonous thoughts of being unworthy, and I focused more on what I wanted to say to him. Thanks to this complete change of mind, I now feel like a completely different person. After ―stealing‖ his number, I finally had the guts to at least text him. I told him I hoped it wasn’t too creepy for me to text him, but I wanted to thank him again. From that day on, we talked to each other every day from the moment we were awake to the moment I sent him something illegible because I was half asleep. We went out a few times, and he finally asked me to be his girlfriend. We’ve only dated for a little over a month, but it feels like it has been years since the day I changed my mind. I finally got the happily-ever-after that the princess gets in Disney movies: I got my Prince Charming. I alone needed to figure it out, though according to Mr. Deal or No Deal, I’m worth much more than I thought I was: at least worth 7,000 points. Every time someone told me I was beautiful, I used to automatically think, ―They’re just saying that, they’re lying.‖ That has also changed. Mr. Deal or No Deal says it all the time, except now I hear the truth in his voice and see it in his eyes. From my decision, I realized that the only person who should determine my worth is myself and not some cosmic scale of society. For all those out there who have told themselves that someone was out of their league or couldn’t possibly be attracted to them, I implore you to think about yourself. Look in the mirror and think about just how much you’re worth, no matter what anyone has said in the past. When you have doubts about whether someone could take interest in you, ask yourself, ―Why not?‖
Pastel-Colored Ponies Jon Loudermilk As a 19-year-old male, I like all of the things any 19-year-old male should like. I like action and adventure movies, firearms, video games, and pastel colored ponies. Maybe some of my interests are a bit outside my demographic. I am one of the surprisingly many people who enjoy My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. We call ourselves ―bronies,‖ and we are just as amused as you about a grown person enjoying this cartoon. Taunting provokes our laughter, and pointing makes us smile. We do our best to promote love and tolerance in everybody’s lives because My Little Pony caused us to love and tolerate in our own lives. My Little Pony has caused changes in my life that are almost comical in their magnitude. How does a simple cartoon meant for preteen girls cause me to improve my life? The answer is hard to believe but simple to understand. I don’t just watch My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic; I have come to believe in it. The show is a standard cartoon with an explained moral at the end of the story. The simple morals open your eyes. You may begin thinking, ―A kid’s show is telling children to respect each other’s beliefs even if you don’t share the belief yourself. Why do so many people, including myself, have issues with this lesson?‖ The world has a way of sapping the enthusiasm and love out of us. We begin forsaking the lessons in decency and begin concentrating on making our own lives comfortable. My Little Pony reminded me of those lessons and caused me to begin living a less stressful and more positive life. I am no longer so angry, and I have learned to see the other person’s side of every story. After I began watching My Little Pony, I felt much warmer and friendlier. In short, My Little Pony has made me happier. I believe in being happy; therefore, I believe in My Little Pony. After a few months of watching the show in secret, I decided to become more open about my newfound interest in pastel-colored ponies. This caused the reactions that I expected from everyone. Everyone expressed shocking disbelief and began teasing me about ponies. At first, I was annoyed with the jokes, I later became numb to them, and now I enjoy them. I became more in touch with myself through My Little Pony. I understood that demographics should not determine our interests. We should be honest with ourselves and not repress interests because we are afraid of other people’s opinions. Since I became a ―brony,‖ I don’t worry about what others say or think. I have good, clean fun and don’t care how silly or ridiculous I may appear. This has
caused me to enjoy myself fully without worrying about someone cracking a joke about me. I believe in enjoying yourself; therefore, I believe in My Little Pony. It has been about one year since I became a â€•brony.â€– In that year, my life has been the most optimistic and positive I can remember. I am no longer afraid to admit that I enjoy My Little Pony. Those pastel-colored ponies have changed my attitude for the better, and I am proud of anything that makes me a better person. I believe in self-improvement; therefore, I believe in My Little Pony.
From Blindness to Blessings Andi Mills Three years ago, I lost all of the sight in one eye and most of the sight in the other. Everything beyond ten inches in front of my face was suddenly reduced to what is known as ―light sight, motion, and shadow.‖ In other words, beyond ten inches, what little bit of my left eye that still has an area of vision perceives images as though I am gazing through a coating of Vaseline. Needless to say, this condition caused more than a slight disruption in my lifestyle and caused me to get a little cranky. I thought it was the end of my life… It would take a while for me to realize that it was only the beginning. Denial is a wondrous thing. In the back of my mind, I had decided that I wasn’t really blind until I actually went to the ―blind school.‖ I kept putting it off. I spent the first six months falling down a lot. It wasn’t until I hit my head on concrete in a fall that I realized it was time for me to go to the residential training at the Commission for the Blind before I was seriously injured. For the next five months, I learned how to do things I had been doing for almost fifty years. If you don’t understand that, spend one day wearing a blindfold and try to go about your regular activities of daily living. Just for fun, invite friends to watch. Better yet, sell tickets and make it a fundraiser! It is actually quite entertaining. You should definitely serve a meal while you’re at it. Your guests will love the homemade vegetable soup you made with a can of fruit cocktail because you mistook it for a can of Veg-All. When you offer them coffee, they will not know exactly what to say as you open a carton and pour Tropicana Orange Juice into their cup instead of cream. (Note: OJ is not good on cereal either.) Of course, this happens just as they notice that you have discretely placed your thumb on the inside of their cup so you can make sure you don’t overfill it. You just know they are wondering if you washed your hands since you petted the dog last. Actually, you are surprised that they noticed your thumb at all. The sign hanging near the stove that reads, ―In this Kitchen, dog hair is a condiment!‖ usually has their full attention and keeps their minds off where you are placing your thumb. In the course of the day, you don’t have to make all your blunders in front of your audience. You can make some of them in the privacy of your bathroom. You’ll discover muscles you never knew you had in your face when you realize that the toothpaste you just stuck in your
mouth was Triple Antibiotic Ointment. Wildly bizarre, involuntary facial contortions ensue. Your mouth was anticipating that clean, minty taste, and it got slimy, yucky, greasy stuff that is hard to spit out and sticks to the interior of your mouth and tongue. Washing out your mouth with cold water doesn’t work well. It makes it congeal. Finally, you resort to wiping out the inside of your mouth with a dry wash cloth. It is at this stage of the game that the word ―organization‖ takes on a whole new meaning. At ―blind school,‖ you learn a new language. Braille is the only language which people learn to read and write, yet no one speaks Braille. Learning the difficult principles becomes decidedly more complicated when you have to write with a punch and stylus. Each letter can have up to six dots in a specific order and pattern on a ―cell.‖ There are also many symbols that stand for entire words or groups of words. In order to read the dots you punch, you have to do every letter and symbol in reverse order when you punch it so it will be correct when you turn the paper over to feel the raised dots and read it! It’s like learning to write what you learned to read, only inside out! The same concept as mirror writing…and trust me, this can play havoc when dyslexia is a silent partner in your life. Another necessary skill that you have to master is ―Orientation and Mobility.‖ This is a term that means learning where you are, and where everything else is, in relationship to you. Are you aware that the air at the end of a hall feels different on your skin than the air in the middle of the hall? You’d be surprised how much this helps when you are in an unfamiliar building. You can get into the ―center stream‖ or into the ―dead zone‖ near a wall, and know where you are positioning yourself in an area of travel. This comes in handy if you want to avoid drifting into the middle and running into people walking in your direction. It doesn’t help much though, when you get disoriented and find yourself lost in a corner. ―Cane travel‖ is another interesting adventure. So many decisions to make…Do you want a straight cane or a crook handle? Do you want a rolling tip, a mushroom cap, or a tapping tip on your brand new, state of the art, folding, red tipped, reflective white cane that ever so subtly announces to the entire sighted world that you are HANDICAPPED?! Learning to orient yourself outdoors, walking with your new best friend, which, by the way, the instructors insist that you name, gives you a sense of freedom and independence. Seriously, it is so much better than holding onto the elbow of your ―sighted guide‖ as they lead you around. It is a little harder when you have a question though; the cane won’t answer. Soon you find yourself not only
talking to yourself, but answering. ―Am I on the right block? Yep, I can hear the clip clanging on the flagpole at the school…‖ ―Is this where I turn? Nope, I haven’t tripped over that uneven chunk of sidewalk yet. I know it’s here somewhere.‖ Last but not least, cane travel helps you reach an entirely new level of thrill seeking. I bungee-jumped 181feet off a bridge into a canyon when I was younger, but there is nothing quite like crossing six lanes of traffic that you cannot see in Los Angeles at rush hour to get that extreme adrenaline rush…especially if you only make it to the median and then have to wait out another cycle on the crossing light. Eighteen wheelers passing both behind you and in front of you simultaneously, three feet from your body, will make you re-think life from a brand new perspective! Finally, if you survive it, you graduate. Goody. Now that I am an official blind person, it’s off to Guide Dog school and a brand new adventure. There is no way to suddenly go through an event of this magnitude without experiencing degrees of anger, fear, depression, resentment, denial, and a myriad of other emotions. Hopefully, you can cultivate a sense of humor. You not only lose your sight, but you also lose your identity, your self-esteem, your immediate ability to earn a living, your independence, your confidence, and many people you thought were your friends. You become a wounded spirit. You either give up, or you find a way to re-invent yourself and build new relationships. You find a way to say goodbye to a life you never would have relinquished that blindness stole from you…and you do all of this while you are adjusting to blindness and trying to figure out how to fit into a sighted world. This is just a short introduction into my world. It was followed by Guide Dog training and becoming a college student at a time in my life when I had grandchildren older than most of the student body and several professors who were younger than my youngest child. The adjusting never stops. My current project is reinventing a base of commonality with new friends using writing and literature as a foundation. My lifelong, solid base of horses and long distance riding had been the connection between my friends in my ―other life‖ and me. Virtually all my activities were, in some capacity, woven with that equine thread of the tapestry that was my life. I have swapped my base from ―riding‖ to ―writing.‖ I have learned how to function, how to organize, how to interact, how to succeed as a blind senior citizen in school, and how to be an effective member of a guide dog team. Now, I will rebuild my social network, develop new hobbies, and join new groups. After I successfully
achieve those goals, who knows? In 2008 I became â€•disabled.â€– Then I became a survivor, followed by becoming a successful student. Blindness has become a mere inconvenience; I have learned that I am not handicapped. I have given myself a new title. I am an Auditory, Olfactory, Tactile Discerner. There are new adventures on the horizon, and I am up to the challenge. I look forward to and enjoy the new experiences that would have passed me by had I not lost my vision. From blindness, I have received blessings. And the best is yet to comeâ€Ś
The Antique Dealer Madison Wilder He is quite tacky if you ask the locals. A true outcast they will say, but they know he hasn’t always been like this. He was once a fun-loving child growing up in a suburban neighborhood but has since departed the status quo. An individual who not only walks to the beat of his own drum, but limps to the sad sound of a single note on a piano falling from the sky. He is quirky and stuck in his ways. Not the old ways he taught his children to live by, but the new ways which he developed over his borrowed time. Instead of coming home to a warm and happy environment, he quickly unlocks the tight door of his childhood house in which his mother still roams the halls. He is a lost soul, but no one is actually looking for him. My mother calls him an antique dealer. He is actually a junk hoarder. On any given day, he roams from place to place, junkyard to back yard, collecting unused knickknacks that people have outgrown. He then takes them back to the dilapidated garage behind the old woman’s house. He considers this garage his office, his home. Enclosed in the four walls are treasures from his past, along with his new findings, which take up the little amount of space he has. From the old pinball machine to the broken dresser, there is an assortment of odd belongings. The antique dealer feels right at home here, being a misfit himself. If he is not in the garage, he is most likely occupying a cell at the local jail, the one place he can’t wait to get out of and always fears of going back to. Sometimes he thinks that should be his permanent address, but he can make that guilt disappear with a cheap beer or haze of smoke. During those times, his mind reminds him of how easy he used to have it, but how he never thought he fit in. His life felt like a puzzle, but the pieces were forced into the wrong spots. He was once told that the grass was greener on the other side, so he went there only to find out that there was no grass at all. During his days of freedom, he travels. Not by airplane, private jet, or a limo but by the passenger’s seat of a friend’s stolen car, or, if he is lucky, he snatches the old woman’s keys when she isn’t looking. From one broken home to another they will go, smoking something here and drinking something there. Everyone calls him Bdub or Wild-man, nothing the government will understand. When you’re laying low like him, it’s best to become someone else, someone who isn’t trying to run.
He has children, but they aren’t children anymore. When he left, they were twelve and thirteen and he still sees them that way, even though eight long years have quickly passed. They’re distant now, those girls of his. He doesn’t understand why they are so quiet and don’t come around as much. If he hadn’t left, they wouldn’t have what they have now, he thought as he lit the end of a Pall Mall and began to inhale the smoke. He tries to assure himself that he did the right thing by getting out and that they should be thanking him, for he made it easier on them. Most days, he can ignore the damage he caused. From time to time, the locals see Bdub walking around town searching for a new ride or another fix. His body hunched over in too-large clothing that he traded for an old car part or an Elvis Presley candle that has never been lit. His face is small now, not matching the once round, boyish face that was sprinkled with dark hair and glowing eyes. His teeth are still straight, but the whiteness faded along with his crooked smile. His laugh lines are replaced with deep wrinkles, although he is only forty-six. His body is short, like his temper, and thanks to his hip surgery, he walks with a swagger that is distinct and painful. He is never fully comfortable, but now he doesn’t expect to be. His legally blind eyes—covered with glasses he got in trade for an oil painting by a local starving artist and a souvenir coffee cup of Mickey Mouse—don’t help him see much better. On afternoons when he can’t afford to travel, he sits at home with the old woman who craves wine and cigarettes rather than her dull coffee and cold biscuits. She is withering, her frail body shrinking away. They fear each other and the pain they’ve caused one another, but nothing can be done. He had never hated her, though, only his father. Bdub once looked up to his father like any boy would, but the old man was never pleased with him. He pushed Bdub to not only succeed in all he did, but to be even better than the rest. After thirty years of disappointment, the old man was embarrassed of who Bdub had become. He never spoke to the boy again, shunned him and his family. Bdub didn’t bother trying to change his mind, for he too was tired of the relationship between them. Now, he sits alone with his fragile mother, in this cold house, wondering what he could have done to change his father’s mind. He lives with the heavy regret of giving up. Death consumed the old man before either bothered to apologize. Bdub thought he had more time, but he forgot that like everything else, time was no longer on his side.
He limps back to the office, puts the end of the blunt in his mouth, and drags out the bitter taste of a guilt-free empathy. He’d give any man a shirt off his back, even if it was his only one, but he didn’t expect the same in return. True, he had chosen to leave behind a wife, one he loved dearly, for a substance he hated to his core. Hated, but needed. He had crept off in the night before his little girls even knew he was gone. He takes a drag of the blunt and closes his deep brown eyes. He remembers holding a bat in his little hand, the wooden grain rough against his innocent skin, his blond hair sweating underneath his dirty ball cap, his glasses tight on his face, his eyes on the ball, waiting for the perfect pitch. He heard the towering man behind him, yelling at him to focus, pay attention. He kept his eyes on the ball, but when his swing was over, strike three. He remembers the angry ride home, the deep gruff of his father recalling all his mistakes. He can still feel the hatred of his empty threats. That night, he lay in bed vowing that he would never do that to his children. He wouldn’t push them to be something they weren’t. Then, the next day, the old man acted like it never happened. That’s how it always was. They were always pretending. Bdub took another drag of the escape and remembered the same scene, only this time he played the other role. Her long blond hair lay thinly under her softball cap. Her small fingers, just like his, gripped the smooth metal bat. She left home plate the same way he had…empty. So much for his vow—he’d yelled at her the whole way home. Those deep brown eyes, so much like his, swelled with innocence and youthful tears that flowed down her flushed cheeks. That’s when he knew he had to leave, the minute he let her down, let himself down. In that instant, he had turned into the monster he used to be afraid of. He remembered drowning that monster with a cold beer and never looking back. He lay now, on an old sofa, which he bartered for two packs of Newport cigarettes and a bottle of moonshine, his glasses, which he will probably step on in the morning, discarded nearby. He sleeps deeply, like a child tucked in by his mother on a school night in late September. He doesn’t know that while he dreams of the past, the old women’s skin is turning cold, and she is fading into the night forever. He will wake up alone and on a new adventure. My dad, the antique dealer, will be at it again.
“We Have Given Our Hearts Away”: Lack of Heart in Industrial Society Haley Wilson The rebellion of the Romantic Movement stirred many a poet to write against the logic and reason of the Enlightenment. Romantics viewed the ―Enlightenment‖ as a deafening and blinding of society to the wonder that surrounds them and resides within them. William Blake's ―London,‖ Percy Bysshe Shelley's ―Ozymandias,‖ and William Wordsworth's ―The World is Too Much with Us,‖ embody this contempt within their words, images, and consequent symbolism in an attempt to recall humanity to be humanity again. Early in the Romantic Movement, Blake was stirring within his heart irritations against organizations in society and expounded these irritations in his literary works with accompanying illustrations and engravings: ―Poet, painter, and engraver, Blake worked to bring about a change both in the social order and in the minds of men‖ (Halley, n.p.). For example, the speaker in Blake’s ―London‖ acknowledges the inevitable sadness of those surrounding him through the ―marks of woe‖ in the face of each person walking by (ll. 3-4). Furthermore, Blake uses metaphors abundantly to place blame for the sadness on societal organizations, such as the government and the Church: How the Chimney-sweeper's cry, Every black'ning Church appalls; And the hapless Soldier's sigh Runs in blood down Palace walls. (ll. 9-12) These metaphors, intimidatingly dark and sorrowful, give visual imagery of the horrific world surrounding the speaker in his late-night wanderings. The heartbreaking image of a young chimney-sweeper crying in the streets next to an extravagant church, a church that has been turning black from the inside, and the image of an unlucky soldier’s last sighing breath causing blood to run down the walls of an equally dark and blackened palace show how incredibly separated such organizations as the government and the Church were from the society surrounding them. Blake is blasting the parasitic nature of these organizations on the public; they are meant to help derive from Blake’s general beliefs on the subject shown throughout his works, be they written, painted, or engraved: ―Blake analyzes the development of organized religion as a perversion of ancient visions‖ (Halley n.p.). However, he also places blame upon the individuals
within society for allowing these oppressive institutions to continue having power. The ―mindforg'd manacles‖ are existent ―in every voice, in every ban‖ within London society, and Blake believes such restraints can be easily done away with if the public abandoned convention and destroyed the manacles they have forged within their own minds (ll. 7-8). Also, the speaker gives commentary on the adultery present within society and how this ―youthful Harlot’s curse‖ seems to be the most prevalent problem ―thro’ midnight streets,‖ and how this curse destroys families, ―blast[ing] the new born Infant's tear, and blight[ing] with plagues the marriage hearse‖ (ll. 1316). This disruption of the family unit gives a strong feeling of the lack of love existent within the industrialized society of London. Similarly, Shelley’s ―Ozymandias‖ rebels against industrialization and the Age of Reason, but in a much more subtle way, through frame story and almost latent metaphor. Though essentially a poem about the fall of a once-great king, one could look deeper symbolically to find that Shelley has used the broken statue of Ozymandias to symbolize the supporters of the Age of Reason as a whole. All that remains of this statue are ―two vast and trunkless legs of stone‖ and ―a shattered visage‖ (ll. 2-4). The legs symbolize Ozymandias’ ―works‖ and progress, relating to the ―progress‖ that industrial society strove for (l. 11). The head symbolizes the logic with which Ozymandias ruled as ―king of kings,‖ placing himself above the God of Christianity, thereby showing logic’s contempt of faith and religion (l. 10). However, the torso, container of the heart, is long gone. Thus, all that made Ozymandias human is gone. Through the symbol of Ozymandias as the supporters of the Age of Reason, Shelley shows the ―cold command‖ of logic imposed by both and the consequent lack of humanity and emotion (l. 5). The frame story adds levels of depth to the metaphorical image, showing how such meaning is relevant to any culture that has gone through a progressive movement. The ―traveller from an antique land‖ is the one who delivered the image to the speaker, and the speaker relates the image in such a way that it can be connected to the industrial society in the world of the Romantics, despite the antiquity of the land the traveler came from (l. 1). Thus, Shelley conveys the message that the wish to restrain progress transcends time, location, and culture. In a relating sentiment, Wordsworth's ―The World Is Too Much with Us‖ comments on how ―the world,‖ or society's materialism, is far too prevalent throughout humanity, enhanced further by the phrase ―getting and spending,‖ the foundations of consumerism within an
industrialized society (ll. 1-2). He is sorrowful that ―for this, for everything, we are out of tune,‖ (l. 8). Wordsworth then offers the solution of recognizing the power of Nature, and even goes so far as suggesting (as a shock to readers) that he would ―rather be a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn,‖ just so he could be closer to nature (ll. 9-10). Though a milder Romantic poet as compared to Blake and Shelley, Wordsworth shows his irritation with consumerist society to a high degree, which would indeed be quite shocking to readers during the Romantic period. However, the ―creed outworn��� is not the focus of the poem; rather, the sublime qualities of Nature that ―would make [him] less forlorn‖ are the major points Wordsworth is trying to get across (l. 10, l. 12). The religious statement is merely used to reinforce the point that we should all return to admiring the nature that can easily destroy us, not to convince the world to convert to Pagan belief systems; Wordsworth describes such beliefs as ―outworn‖ and simply wants that connection with nature again (l. 10). Throughout these three works, there is one constant message. Wordsworth claims that ―we have given our hearts away‖ (l. 4). This relates to the lack of a torso, and consequent lack of a heart, in ―Ozymandias,‖ as well as the ―plagues‖ caused by the ―youthful Harlot‖ in Blake's ―London‖ (ll. 14-16). Thus, all three comment on the lack of heart in society–―heart‖ representing emotion, love, and faith, rebuking such failings as the blasphemy of being human. This feeling of immense sorrow at the falling out-of-awe with Nature in society is a common sentiment in the Romantic Movement, nature not being restricted to physical surroundings alone. The ―inner other‖ of human nature that goes against ―enlightened‖ society is just as prevalent a concept in Romantic works as the sublime physicality of Nature, as shown through each of these works. Thus, each of the poems communicates a strong contempt of the products of the Age of Reason, which are truly detrimental to human characteristics, as well as urge society to see these downfalls becoming embedded in everyday life for us all. In doing so, the poets hoped to create a change in society towards appreciating nature—not simply the physical nature surrounding us all, but the human nature within each of us as well.
Works Cited Blake, William. ―London.‖ English Romantic Poetry: An Anthology. Mineola: Dover, 1996. 8. Print. Halley, Catherine, ed. ―William Blake (1757-1827).‖ Poetry Foundation. N.p., 2010. Web. 9 Mar. 2011. Shelley, Percy Bysshe. ―Ozymandias.‖ English Romantic Poetry: An Anthology. Mineola: Dover, 1996. 147. Print. Wordsworth, William. ―The World Is Too Much with Us; Late and Soon.‖ English Romantic Poetry: An Anthology. Mineola: Dover, 1996. 51. Print.
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