Stanzas on Freedom

James Russell Lowell worked as an editor for a newspaper that took an abolitionist stance. He wrote Stanzas on Freedom to express how slavery ought to be viewed by one and all, as a malignancy in society that needed immediate treatment in the form of protest. It’s a good example of a poem that reflects on a social issue in a particular time period. This poem was written priorto the Civil War and pleads to the citizens of New England to stand up against slavery.

James Russell Lowell

There are altogether 4 stanzas (8 lines in each), consisting of 4 rhyming couplets. The first stanza is directed to the men of New England while the second stanza is directed at the women. The third and fourth stanzas are meant for citizens in general. So Lowell has slowly built up his message and targeted separate categories of people with each stanza, making sure that it struck those who read it in different ways that they could empathise with the plight of the African American slaves. In this way the poem progresses from particular examples to a general concept of slavery.

The first two stanzas are considered to be the questioning and reflection stanzas while the latter two stanzas are more like answers to the questions previously put forth. Ultimately the poem is not only speaking about slavery but of the spirit of America. The poem is exactly as it is titled, about freedom rather than rattling on about slavery and its oppression, questioning whether America is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Here are the summaries for the stanzas:

Stanza 1

Lowell addresses the men of New England who boast of being brave and free. The references in this poem of brave and free are in the context of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key particularly the line “O’ say does that Star- Spangled Banner yet wave, or the land of the free and the home of the brave?”.

“If there breathe on earth a slave, are ye truly free and brave?” He asks them whether they can truly wear their freedom and bravery as a medal of honour on their chests if slavery still prevails in their country. They cannot boast of coming from a lineage of brave men if they ignore the shackles chaining the ‘brotherhood’.

The point being extenuated in this stanza is that humankind is only as good as the lowliest of them. By using derogatory terms like ‘base’ and ‘unworthy’ he impresses upon the so-called free men that they are not free at all so long as they stand by injustice and oppression as if they were mute witnesses in a catastrophe. If you cannot feel the pain of the chain, then you are a successful brick in the foundation of slavery.

Stanza 2

This stanza is addressed to the women of New England who, at the time, did not enjoy any rights like the right to vote. When reading this stanza it is clear that women were not free nor brave in their own right in society at the time and were given importance not as individuals but as child bearers and mothers. That is why they are questioned about how they could call their children free when slavery exists. He says they are not fit to be mothers in the first place if they cannot speak out against slavery and ought not to bring children into a world where it exists. Lowell also thinks they should feel the pain of their ‘sisters now in chains’ because although they may not be physically oppressed like slaves are, women are the oppressed gender on other levels.

Although women did not have the direct ability or power to stand up for what they believe in, they could influence the men in their lives so Lowell chose to address them so that if they read his poem, they could spread the word to men. He appeals to the women’s sense of humanity to stand up for what is right and encourage their husbands to have the courage to stand up to abolish slavery.

A simile is used in this stanza that conveys the untapped power held by women. “Deeds to make the roused blood rush/Like red lava through your veins” compares the latent frustration and indignation boiling under their calm surface to the blood flowing in their veins. The way the heart pumps blood in the body, women ought to push out their outrage against slavery like a volcano spewing out red hot lava.

Stanza 3

Is it true freedom when all you do is look out for yourself? Is it truly the land of the free and home of the brave if America was built on the toil and sweat of slaves, living their lives in chains? In this case then those who are free owe man kind a debt because everyone is a slave whose service will be called for at one point in life, be it in the present or the near future. These are some points made in the third stanza. Lowell claims that true freedom is sharing the chains of others. The individual and mankind should be considered as one rather than separate entities.

Stanza 4

This stanza builds on the concept that those who do not speak out against slavery are in the same boat as slaves if not worse for they are in a position to do something but choose not to. Slaves are those who are afraid to speak up on behalf of those who are fallen and weak. Saves are those who will not face the hatred, scoffing and abuse that accompany sticking up for what one believes in, instead shrinking into the silence of continued and permitted oppression. Those who would rather be in the majority despite being wrong instead of being in the minority who is right, are slaves. Lowell brings to light the various levels of slavery that exist in this stanza. He elucidates that those who are not physically enslaved are mentally enslaved especially by society’s norms and ways. So, if you cannot stand hand in hand with those who are suffering unjustly, you cannot be considered brave and free. For these people, fear of failure, rejection and becoming a social outcast are the figurative chains that weigh down on them. This can be equally disastrous for the progress of a nation and more importantly, for humanity and all of mankind.

zelenchuci

Respect Vegetarians!

A friend of mine told me a sad fact that chickens kept in the dark only see the light of day when their head is on the chopping block. In that moment, I felt terrible for the chickens and my vegetarianism was reinforced which led me to think “It’s funny how people in my family have become vegetarians.”

My grandfather was a vegetarian  because he was raised that way. Then when he married my grandmother, who loved meat, he scared my father into hating it by taking him to the local butcher and making him watch the way chickens were killed for meat. On seeing the blood and the way a poor creature was literally stripped down to its bone, my dad refused to eat meat.The only time he ever did was when he suffered kidney failure and needed higher amounts of protein. So he had a few buckets of KFC. Yes, he thought it tasted great but once he recovered, he went back to his vegetarian ways. So don’t tell me that vegetarians are people who never eat meat, they’re people who choose to not eat meat.

My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t raised as a vegetarian but when she married my dad she learned to love being one.  In fact, she clearly remembers the exact moment she decided to give up eating meat. It was in her yoga class. Her instructor wore a t-shirt with a cow and a speech bubble emanating from its cud chewing mouth saying, ” Eat vegetables.”

She told me,”I thought to myself how animals don’t have the ability to speak out or protest against the pain we inflict on them. What gives us the right to take the lives of other creatures? Nothing. And that was it. I quit eating meat after that and have ever since.”

I myself have been raised as a vegetarian since I was a child and I’ve never felt like I missed out on anything although many others seem to pity this way of life as if it were devoid of meaning itself. Having faced the many pestilent questions like “How do you live?” and “Why would you deprive yourself of meat? Just why?” Some have even pointed at my food and said ‘ewwwwwww’. Thankfully my parents raised me not to grimace at other people’s food and call it disgusting so when anyone else was eating non-veg I’d pay no attention to it. Everyone has their own food preferences and I respect that. I just wish others could respect that as well.

I understand that there is some amount of resentment towards vegetarians because of the high and mighty way they explain why they don’t eat meat, saying they don’t have the heart to kill an animal and that everyone else around them should stop frequenting their favourite fried chicken joints. I don’t preach to others and try to convert them into vegetarians but god knows there have been countless people insistent on me trying a piece of chicken popcorn or a beef burger, ignorant of how uncomfortable it is for me to eat meat.

I’ve been in arguments before where non-vegetarians say that vegetarians kill plants which provide the earth with clean air but are so blind to the fact that, if that argument were true, they kill animals and plants because obviously your meat goes with vegetables.

This disrespect is blatant and uncalled for

I’m not going to lie. I’ve eaten KFC popcorn chicken and loved it but they were only the really small bits. There’s no denying that it tastes amazing but I’d still rather eat my veggies because I choose to do so.

So the take away from this is, respect vegetarians. It’s not like they’re killing anyone (pun intended haha).

To all the musicians out there…

To all the musicians out there…

Thank you. Whether I like your music or not, there is someone out there whose heart you’ve touched with your music. A safe place  you’ve given them the minute they plug in their headphones. A feeling like no other. That is a gift. So don’t let anyone stop you. Because the world would be a terrible place without your art.

sincerely,

Those who are drowning in the depth of your voices (in the good kind of way)


I dislike those who bash on other people’s taste in music as if their’s is superior. Liking pop stars doesn’t mean your taste is stupid like some people like to point out. What is stupid is that they don’t understand that music is music and that there is an audience for every artist. Respect them all.

ragpickers

The Spoilt Spoils

This is dedicated to all the kids who pick through the trash hoping to find something magical within it. Because they’re still kids and they still believe in magic.



The Spoilt Spoils (X Marks the Spot and it leads right to the DUMPSTER)

In the outskirts of the city

Lay a mound of treasure

Three boys stood before it

Its value they could not measure

 

Before their dull eyes, was a sparkling array

Of rubies, diamonds and gold

Gleaming with wonder and promise

For one and all to behold

 

But no one else could see it

Only these lads went on and on

About how they’d hit the jackpot

And they sifted through it till dawn

 

And do you know what they were staring at?

A rotting pile of trash

For these boys are rag pickers

Their survival stemming from ash

What lies outside your prison?

IMG_0069-001 IMG_0069-002

One day, I thought about how we feel encased by some force in our lives, be it mundane desk jobs or a monotonous class schedule. Yet, perhaps they’re not imprisoning us at all, maybe they’re keeping us in check, protecting us from the chaos that is a life without purpose or means to pass seconds into minutes and minutes into hours.

So think about it…

What lies outside your prison?

-VD

Please return with care

IMG_0067

I’d lent my copy of Perks of Being a Wallflower to someone who has been parading it around in the most abysmal of ways with the cover ragged and pages parted terribly. Never have I felt such pain on behalf of an inanimate object.

So please, should you borrow a book, be it from a friend or the local library, treat it with respect and care. It’s the least you could do.

-VD

The New Land- John Smith

*Based on an excerpt of the entire text

john smith

John Smith was an adventurous yet shrewd captain much like many other European explorers. He organized the first successful English colony in North America, having been sent to Jamestown, Virginia and wrote ‘Description of New England’ based on his findings and interest in ‘the new land’.

Before diving into the text, a distinction between a colonist and coloniser needs to be elucidated. A coloniser is someone who has been sent by the empire to set up imperial law and set up administration in various foreign territories while a colonist is anyone settling in the colonised country of their own free will.

He uses rhetorical questions steeping in sarcasm, meant to attack the entire spirit of colonising and the mindset of colonisers themselves, to illustrate the capitalistic greed the British are inborn with. He asks what more they want since they already have power and a glorified reputation that comes with the act of colonising a territory. Colonisers would come to a new land and establish themselves in a powerful position with no one to answer to and this results in abuse of this power. In a way, colonisers can be compared to viruses ready to infect a healthy body, entering and then rapidly multiplying to bring down the system.

He also puts forth the question of whether or not one should advance on his own merits or demand great things from limited resources which is precisely what happened during colonisation. Colonisers would accumulate wealth off of the natural resources of the colony, not truly working to earn that wealth which Smith points out is not a fruitful or honourable thing to do.

The direct attack of Smith’s words is seen when he questions, ” What so truly  suits with honor and honesty, as discovering things unknown, erecting towns, peopling countries, informing the ignorant, reforming things unjust, teaching virtue?” He refutes the high and mighty air that colonisers seem to possess, thinking they are civil people who must educate the Native Americans who they refer to as godless savages merely because their way of life is different to their own. The line is also essential in highlighting how the English perceive anyone different than them and the expansionist employs of those sent by the Empire.

Smith bashes the idea of teaching the Native Americans about western civilization and Christianity by saying that anyone with a grain of faith or seal in religion would not resort to harming others or enforcing their ideas upon them like they were doing. They also thought the Native Americans were ‘idle’ because their society was not structured based on class nor were their set professions like tailors, doctors and the like. Unable to comprehend the nature of their culture, the British deemed them as idle beings which Smith opposes. Hence he’s defending the ways of the Native Americans.

After an entire paragraph riddled with sarcastic questions meant to make colonisers feel ashamed of themselves and their greed, Smith skilfully moves on to compare and contrast the culture of the British and the Native Americans.

In America, nature and liberty provides resources for free and which you’d have to pay a great deal for in England. Industrialisation in England resulted in people being ripped away from their roots which Matthew Arnold expressed in his poem Dover Beach and similarly reflected in God’s Grandeur by Hopkins. Living in America, they are reminded of what it is like to rely on Mother Nature’s bounty.

Smith says there is no greater pleasure than recreating oneself by fishing claiming it to be a humbling and peaceful past time through which one could sustain man, woman and child and could live off of one’s own boat. In England, fishermen are preoccupied with selling their haul for money rather than using it to sustain themselves like what the Native Americans do. Carpenters, Masons, Tailors and many others could make fishing a recreational activity if they should so choose. A mere hour could provide enough food for a week. One may also find pleasure, profit and content in the art of fishing, going from isle to isle, minding one’s own business and not harming others.

Smith seems to be interested in the barter system still in effect in Native American society when he speaks about what one can do with excess fish if caught saying, “Or if they will not eat it, because there is so much better choice, yet sell it, or change it fishermen or merchants for any thing they want.” Essentially the motto here is waste not, want not. The line “If a man work but three days in seven, he may get more than he can spend unless he will be excessive.” points out how one can live a simple life.

After discussing the benefits of fishing, Smith effectively establishes the fact that both sides can benefit from one another, something he truly wished to propagate among the English still living in England so as to impress upon them a new outlook on the potential of their American colonies. Equality is highly stressed here when Smith promotes mutual benefit, saying that both cultures can learn from one another. He believes the Commonwealth (otherwise known as colonisers across the globe) could learn the art of being one with Mother Nature and develop less capitalistic and expansionist thought.

Rather than hunting and hawking which are destructive activities, fishing and fowling are more peaceful in nature. Instead of shooting a hawk in the sky, if you allowed yourself to take the time to watch the hawk stoop for a few hours, you will find a certain pleasure that cannot be gained in any other way. Animals ought to be treated with respect, a value that Native Americans uphold, for their bodies not only provide meat but their skin is so rich that it would recompense the labour that goes into hunting it, as much as a Captain’s pay. Native Americans used most parts of the animals they hunted for various purposes and the English could learn to do the same instead of wasting it. Also, by referring to a captain’s pay, the text becomes more relatable to the English reader at the time for captains were paid well and held a worthy position in society.

Then Smith comments on how the Native Americans had to pay 30, 40 or 50 shillings to the colonisers so that they could grow their crops on an acre of ground and good land once used to only cost them labour and they were never considered poor people. He also remarks that the land in itself is not poor at all since it is so rich in natural resources.

Finally he assuages readers by saying he is not trying to persuade people to leave their homes and families to settle down in America but to learn the lesson that one can become wealthy by doing simple work and colonisers learn that they do not need to dominate the natives but rather train them in certain skills. In this manner, the whole society may benefit.

14 Signs You’re An Old Soul

that90'skid:

I’m definitely an old soul :)

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

Flickr / white_ribbons
Flickr / white_ribbons

1. You tend to think a lot about everything. You’re always finding deeper meaning in your relationships, simple interactions with strangers, and in the world around you.

2. You enjoy solitude and use it as a time to reflect on your life and everything going on in it. You continually seek out higher understanding and are incredibly introspective about life.

3. You’ve always had maturity far beyond your years. When you were a child people commented on how mature you were and you probably enjoyed sitting at the adult’s table as opposed to the children’s table. It’s not that you couldn’t have fun being a kid, it’s just that sometimes you thought the adult conversations were far more interesting.

4. You take pleasure in simple things like drinking coffee and reading the news, having breakfast with friends, cooking a great meal, or reading a good book.

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4 out of 5 dentists recommend this blog :)

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