Cupid and Eros: An Original Poem

Contrary to what many believe,

Cupid and Eros are not the same person.

There are significant differences

That must not be ignored.

 

Cupid is a playful, mischievous boy

Born to toy with other’s hearts

With his sharp arrows.

Ping! That was the pang of the heart.

Twang! Another victim taken;

His gleeful cackles are unheard

By the love-struck lunatic

Who sings to his infuriated lover.

 

Eros is a man;

Grown, and with passion in his heart

This is no mere child’s play.

His intense passion for Psyche is not shallow

But genuine

But plagued with lust

For Eros is an erotic fellow;

His passions are his doom.

Why L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz is Unusual Even by Today’s Standards

L. Frank Baum’s beloved classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is arguably one of the most imaginative, peculiar, and remarkable children’s’ book ever written, rivaling only Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in its pure imagination and eccentric characters. First published in 1900, it was certainly a novelty for the fairly conservative time period, but nonetheless an instant bestseller that has proven to be ageless and timeless.

The legacy of Oz is just as remarkable as the book itself; it has been adapted as a non-successful stage musical and an extraordinarily successful movie musical that has become a perennial favorite for all ages, be they five or one hundred and five. It has been psychoanalyzed to death and examined for hidden political messages (many scholars suggest the use of silver and gold in the novel is a subtle commentary on the Populist movement at the turn of the century). In modern times, it has spawned inspiration for numerous other books, movies, songs, and plays, the most popular fan fiction being Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which has also been adapted into an award-winning musical. It has been championed by feminists and members of the LGBTQ community for its strong female protagonist and portrayal of diversity.

Indeed, it is so idolized in pop culture that the quirks and peculiarities that make it so endearing in the first place are often overlooked.

It cannot be denied that Baum’s classic story of courage and compassion is very unorthodox in many senses. However, there is one remarkable trait that defines the entire novel and truly sets it apart from other literary works: the role of the female protagonist.

Now, female protagonists in literature are not uncommon; even very old, traditional sources of literature often feature a strong central female character, such as Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter. What is remarkable is that Dorothy Gale is neither a frail damsel-in-distress typical of Grimm’s fairy tales, nor is she a hyper-masculinized, hyper-sexualized, gun-toting, leather-strapped, freakishly violent heroine that is sadly too common in most contemporary literature and film (Suzanne Collins, Joss Whedon, I’m looking at you).

Dorothy is an unusual protagonist because she is a child, an innocent little girl that is nonetheless an incredibly powerful central character. Her power lies not in being a squeamish princess or a toughened feminist, but rather in being a compassionate, caring young lady and an unassuming friend to misfits and outcasts. She certainly does not go out with a mission to be a hero, nor does she intend to kill anybody. Yet with a little help from her friends, her dog Toto, and the enigmatic Wizard of Oz, she manages to defeat a great source of evil without resorting to violence.

Dorothy herself is what makes Baum’s classic so unusual and extraordinary. She is not a stereotypical shrinking violet criticized by many contemporary feminists, nor is she the Scarlett Johanssen of young adult literature. Her weapons are love and friendship, not force and toughness.

Truly, it is incredibly rare to find such a protagonist as Dorothy Gale. Baum’s loving portrait of a girl whose strength lies in her heart and mind rather than in her body is one of the many reasons why The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a truly timeless tale.

Nature’s Best: An Original Poem

The smell of pine needles after rain

Dripping perfume onto the rocks

And the leafy forest floor

That is the best smell in the world.

 

A sunset, grand in scale

Amethyst, gold, rose, scarlet

The twilight sky

Clothed in her finest garments

Silk, chiffon, sable cannot compare

To the best sight in the world.

 

The soft trickle of a stream

Across pebbles

Singing on its way to the ocean

Sparkling notes of

Liquid glass

Truly, what else could be the best sound?

 

Honey, dripping from the hive

The product of the bees

A glorious liqueur

O sweet golden taste, nature’s best!

 

A tender embrace

Warm arms gather happiness

Though rarely associated with nature

This is the best feeling in the world.

Crime, Creeps, and Communism: The Unusual Similarity Between O’Brien and Porfiry

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The evil kitty lurks in the hallways, prepared to ensnare his prey

Everyone loves a good villain. Even more, everyone loves a good creepy villain. The eccentric, the macabre, the slightly (or completely) insane–whatever category they may fall under, many famous villains in literature and the movies gather their own large audience followings despite being classified as “the bad guy”. Famous examples of such insidious snakes include the Joker, Jim Moriarty, Loki, Sweeney Todd (who’s also the protagonist), Macbeth (not to mention his charming wife), and Bellatrix Lestrange.

However, there are two brilliant, cunning villains who always seem to pass under the radar, but deserve just as much acclaim to fame for playing the creepy game: O’Brien from Orwell’s dystopian classic, 1984, and Porfiry* from Dostoevsky’s weighty crime drama, Crime and Punishment.

The most striking aspect of these two underrated antagonists is what they share in common. Both have astonishing yet morbid wit, honed sharply by years of experience in the field of Badguyology (yes, that is a word). Their cleverness combined with madness, though expressed and used in different ways for different purposes, successfully drive their respective victims to madness. One might add that in both novels the sanity of the protagonist was questionable early on, even before they encounter their nemeses.

As aforementioned, O’Brien and Porfiry manifest this cunning nature in different ways. O’Brien originally poses as the protagonist’s, Winston Smith’s, friend. Not only does he pretend to be on Smith’s side, but he also tricks him into thinking that there is, indeed, an enormous underground conspiracy set up to bring down Big Brother and the insidious forces of socialism. Smith easily takes the bait and eagerly awaits the chance to plan his next move against the government. It is not until he is captured, tortured, mocked, and at last converted to the communist cause by clever O’Brien does Smith at last realize the terrifying power he had foolishly set himself up against.

O’Brien is the classic example of the sociopathic villain: cold, level-headed, even gentle. His charms win Smith over easily, but once the mouse is caught in the trap, he proves to be ruthless and bloodthirsty, calmly torturing Smith in atrocious ways–physically, mentally,  and emotionally–until at last our weary protagonist gives in to his inevitable fate and learns to mindlessly love the tyrant that rules him, Big Brother.

Porfiry, like O’Brien, also poses as a friend to the psychotic murderer, Raskolnikov. He also plays complex, psychological mind games to ensnare the protagonist into the clutches of the law. Unlike the gullible Smith, however, Raskolnikov is paranoid, irrational, and constantly fearful, suspecting that Porfiry already knows of his transgression. This creates a fiercely one-sided hostility in their interactions. How it will all end is still a mystery to me; I have not yet finished the book, but I can already tell that Porfiry also has his little mouse trapped in his clutches.

Unlike O’Brien, Porfiry is not cool and collected. Nor is he a sociopath. In fact, his cunning perception of Raskolnikov’s crime appears to be mixed with genuine sympathy for the protagonist’s madness, even suggesting casually that a criminal may not necessarily be completely aware at the time he commits the crime, but in a dreamlike trance. Whether this sympathy for insanity will translate into mercy when Raskolnikov is at last caught and punished is yet to be discovered.

While the former is a monster and the latter is more human, both O’Brien and Porfiry strike fear into the hearts of their protagonists and readers by using their creepy, cunning wits. If only they had as big as a fan base as Tom Hiddleston, then they would get all of the fame they deserve.

*Technically, Porfiry is not so much a villain as an obstacle in Raskolnikov’s pathway. For the sake of simplicity, however, he is classified as an antagonist.

 

T.S. Eliot’s “Prufrock”: A Lament on How Boring One’s Life Can Possibly Be

T.S. Eliot’s famous narrative poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”  is a magnificent ballad of a life of heroics, gallantry, and a life that has truly been lived to the fullest. Its astonishing portrayal of adventure is enough to rival even the epicest epic that ever epiced, The Epic of Gilgamesh.

First of all, “epic” should never be used as an adjective or a verb.

Second, the above statement summarizing “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is, sadly, only a fantasy. An illusion, if you will.

In reality, Eliot was not writing about any sort of brave hero whatsoever. J. Alfred Prufrock, our poor, pathetic protagonist, is a middle-aged, world-weary man reflecting on his uneventful life. He wanders from street to street, from drawing room to drawing room, reminiscing on his present suffering.

Truly, Mr. Prufrock wishes he could be a hero. He is a man who never got to see his glory days, and most likely, never will.

“I am no prophet–and here’s no great matter; I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker…”

Instead of clutching the reigns of destiny and pursuing a life of meaning and purpose, he has chosen to drink from the chalice of mediocrity, and now ages slowly and alone, stuck in a world of grim imagery and gross-looking fog and fancy women drinking tea while mundanely discussing famous artists.

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons…”

Jeepers. I thought my life was pathetic.

No one will ever sing of J. Alfred Prufrock. He will never be praised by famous bards or sages. Mermaids and sirens will certainly never sing of him. His time for glory has come and gone, and he now lives in a hellish world of his own past regrets.

Why then, has he been immortalized so by Mr. Eliot, one of the most famous poets of the 20th century? Why is this one of Eliot’s most famous poems, even though it simply describes the dull life of a dull man living a dull existence in a world where

“…the evening is spread out against the sky/Like a patient etherized upon a table”

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is not the type of love song one would expect to find immortalized in the world of poetry. However, it is a love song that many of us sing even today. In a world of iPhones and AP classes and office cubicles and bland, formulaic action films, to live the uneventful life is an easier road to travel down than the road of meaning and purpose.

Listen, I’m not saying that an action-filled life is the only type of life one should live to have a sense of purpose. But sadly, the dull, resounding nightmare of Prufrock is the life many of us choose to live today, and it’s a terrible fate for anyone to have to suffer. Sadly, it’s all too relatable. Each of us knows a man like J. Alfred Prufrock. Or maybe we are our own Prufrock.

This poem, first published in 1915, has stood the test of time because no matter what era we live in, we all know of one or have suffered a dull life at some point in time. A life of purpose is a choice. So is a life of dullness.

Don’t be the one left measuring out life with coffee spoons.

The original poem can be found at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/173476

What is Love to the Nine Muses: An Original Poem

Erato (Muse of Poetry):

Love is the eloquent words of a poet,

Poured out to his lost sweetheart.

His words are sweet and dripping with honey,

But alas! Poison is the honey

To the nymph

He lusts after!

Still, he declares his love with flowing words

Beautiful, yet distraught.

 

Euterpre (Muse of Music):

Love is a sweeping melody,

The birds’ songs are harsh and grating

And the bees buzz in vain;

For nature cannot rival this melody

Of a lover

The flowers bloom just at the catch of a few notes.

 

Thalia (Muse of Comedy):

Love is not some tragic affair;

It is a joyful chase!

Marked by humor, mischief, and playful

Chase on, lover!

Heaven’s blessing is upon you,

And your love will be boundlessly rewarded

With joy.

 

Melpomene (Muse of Tragedy):

Listen not to my sister’s playful fantasies;

Love is a hardship, wrought with trials,

And heartbreak

And sorrow.

It is no easy game.

Love is a beautiful crown to wear,

But there is a cost, a heavy cost

To the unfortunate lovers

Imbued with tragedy.

 

Terpsichore (Muse of Dance):

What is love, you may ask?

My, what a simple question!

Love is an endless dance!

The lovers’ feet move to the rhythm

Their bodies sway to the beat

And they rejoice in each other’s happiness;

Not even Hercules could tear them apart.

 

Urania (Muse of Astronomy):

Love is eternal;

Boundless;

Much like the universe,

Love does not quickly burn out as the stars do.

It continues, much like a circling comet in the heavens

To endure for all time.

 

Clio (Muse of History):

Ah, love is quite interesting

As it has been shown in different ways

By different men.

At the dawn of time,

Kronos showed his love of himself

And the throne

By daring to devour his own children.

Arrogant also was the handsome Narcissus

Who rejected helpless echo

For his own beautiful reflection.

Self-love, however, is only one side of the coin;

Because of his intense passion for beautiful Helen

Paris took great lengths to make her his bride;

A war was wrought, as a result.

But brave Odysseus, after the war

Spent eons, through storms and giants and witches,

To reach his beloved Penelope

And his son

Out of love.

 

 

Polyhymnia (Muse of Lyrics):

Love is not one song, but many:

The lyrical poem with subtle meanings in hope of reaching the nymph’s ears

The tongue that pours forth both declarations and curses over rejection

The joyful lips that draw in the lover, sealing eternal matrimony with a simple action of love

The wordless tune, admired by many, but intended for only one.

 

Calliope (Muse of Orpheus):

Love is represented by my long-lost son

Orpheus;

His deep love for the lost bride led him even to Hades

To retrieve his love.

Alas, had he not doubted the fearsome god’s promise

And looked back,

He would have kept his bride!

The love, though tragic, was true

As shown by such measures.

The Poet’s Guide to the Internet

It really, really should be simple enough, using the Internet. Technology has been simplified to the point where virtually anyone can use it, such as a miniature turtle. Or a socially awkward seventeen year-old poet/thespian trying to figure out how the heck a blog is supposed to work.

Sadly, not everything can be that simple.

I often wonder, “Why can’t the Internet be more like good literature: wholesome, dense, and organized?” Then I remember that not all literature is good and wholesome. Like Twilight, for example.

Conclusion: the Internet is just one giant Twilight novel.

This is my first blog. This is my first post. Prose and poetry. Prosetry.

Welcome to the madness.

Baby turtle's first day on the Internet

Baby turtle’s first day on the Internet