Monday, January 28, 2008
I feel that this movie, as with the Decembrists song, seems also to be about perspective. Here we have two brothers Damien and the guy Teddy, both fighting for what they believe in. There isn't just an apparent parallel here, there's an absolute one. When Damien killed Chris O'Reilly, he knew he didn't want to but had to for the sake of his cause--his version of fighting for a free Ireland. Then Chris's mother said I don't wanna see you again man, and so we fast-forward to the end. And Teddy kills his brother Damien, even though he didn't want to (or did he?) but had to for the sake of his cause. And Damien's girl is like, I don't wanna see you again, you bastard. Similar. But exact. The movie doesn't continue beyond that point, and it's hard to see from this what the good side was and what the bad side was. When they were having the argument in the independent justice courts, I tended to see both aspects of the fight: we need money or we need to establish rules/legality/credibility. It's a tough situation. And the movie was able to (or the director/writer/whatever) to realistically remove itself from natural commentary on which side is best. Almost unbiased. There was no want at the end for...so who won? or anything like that. It was pretty clear that the fight was between the two brothers, with each having their own "vision". And that's that. Sympathy was shown to both, and there was no actual bad guy. Kudos to that aspect of the movie.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
I think what I liked most about the movie was how it showed the internal conflict of the Irish as they worked for political freedom. From the beginning there are differences in which actions should be taken and how they should be carried out within the group of Irish. This element is enhanced by the detail given to the relationship between Damien and his brother. Through these two, we see the constantly shifting desires of the Irish.
In the beginning, Damien believes in a more political route, using his intelligence rather than anger to fight for Irish freedom. This is in complete contrast with his brother, who is the "action-taker" and more militant of the group. As the story goes on, however, we see Damien take more of the militant role, resisting British occupation at all costs.
This especially reaches a pivotal point in the movie at the court case scene. The war has forced the men (Damien's brother's) to adapt their ethics, siding with the banker (or loaner) out of necessity for arms. Damien takes the opposite side. From this point on, the conflict between the two grows until they are basically at civil war with each other. This all culminates in Damien's execution.
There were several quotes that stuck out to me, but here are a couple that I think are most relevant to this post:
"I hope this Ireland we're fighting for is worth it" - Damien says this before he executes Reilly for treason, and this foreshadows his own death.
"You just killed a fellow Irishman" - after the political split over the treaty, the men find themselves at war with each other. This scene brought about questioning what the treaty accomplished, if anything, and who it was good for.
The scene that I was most fond of was when they were in the jail and the guard let the majority of them out of prison. This scene was significant to me because it explained their struggle. They have gone through it all. Before that there own friend, brother, and fellow solider was tortured, but still didn’t release any information. They were so strong as a cohesive group. They were only there for one cause and that was to free their people from the British.
Ps. What is a "Priest Infested Backwater". Lol.
A scene that I found particularly interesting was the one in which Damien receives the orders to execute Sir John and Chris Reilly. Sir John does not pose much of a problem for Damien, but executing Chris on the other hand proves difficult. We later find out that he and Chris had been close enough to share meals that Chris' mother had prepared. Moreover, Chris' crime was giving in to Sir John and the British soldiers threat to hurt his mother if he did not tell them the truth about his involvement with Damien's rebel group. In this situation, Damien is forced to chose between his love for his country and his love/relationship for/with Chris. Reflecting on the situation he says, "I've known Chris Reilly since he was a child. I hope this Ireland we're fighting for is worth it. " His choosing country leaves him deeply troubled (and maybe even remorseful), not necessarily because he chooses his country, but because the choice resulted in the death of his friend (at Damien's own hand). His regret is evidenced by his informing Chris' mother exactly how her son died, and his later statement to Sinead suggesting that in fighting for his country he had crossed a line; one that he most likely never thought he would cross.
In The Wind That Shakes the Barley, cosmic irony is manifested in identical intentions, yet opposite fates of the brothers Damien and Teddy O'Donovan. Loach achieves this effect by effectively switching the roles of older O'Donovan brother, Teddy, and that of the British occupational forces, which both brothers and the Irish Republican Army, has been opposed to since the beginning of the movie. Accordingly, Damien and Teddy are forced into conflict with one another because of their opposing political beliefs: Teddy believes that Ireland cannot achieve complete independence from Britain and therefore supports the Anglo-Irish Treaty; Damien refuses to submit to the terms of the treaty and swear an oath of loyalty to the English government, and instead does not support the treaty and believes the Irish Republican party should continue to fight for independence. Teddy effectively transforms into the original oppressor, and even adopts the green uniform and equipment of the British soldier, and yet both brothers are still fighting for a better future for their country.
This opposition between the O'Donovans climaxes when Teddy orders the death of his brother and effectively dissolves his relationship with his family for the sake of his politics. It becomes apparent at this point that Loach reinforces his irony by using parallels: where once his brother Damien was spurned and rejected by the family of a man he had slain, so does his brother Teddy face the same rejection at the hands of his brother's lover at the end of the movie. The same building in which Teddy was tortured for information and confessions from the British army becomes the location of Damien's imprisonment, and where he too must be emotionally tormented by the pleas of his brother for submission. By the end of the movie, Damien is forced to use guerrilla tactics once reserved for the British army against the new Irish army and his brother; An identical raid against a barracks that was the beginning of the Irish Republican Party's success when the two brothers were united becomes the end of another, when a raid against an Irish army barracks is the fatal maneuver of Damien and results in his subsequent capture.
The above is only a brief admiration of Loach's storytelling techniques in The Wind That Shakes the Barley. The use of parallel enhances the cathartic effects of Damien's death at the movie's end. Future analysis might invite comparisons between this movie and Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather series, which operated using similar techniques.
Ultimately, what the movie shows is that, in many ways, the British come out on top in the end following the signing of the treaty. What the English couldn't successfully do before the treaty (destroy the pride and independent spirit/desire of the Irish people) was what they were largely able to achieve following the document's ratification. The Irish were now fighting their fellow Irish, and the British no longer had to waste any of their soldiers to do so.
Plot-wise, what especially struck me was the scene where Damien checks on the sick little boy in bed. Despite abandoning his medical career to join the IRA and a life of violence, Damien demonstrates here that he still has love and compassion deep down, and that the doctor within him, while suppressed, is not extinguished.
I also thought the end was very depressing, but it was also very fitting. As the screen fades out to the sobs and wails of Sinead, the movie ends without any resolution. The only difference is that the violence is now Irish vs. Irish rather than British vs. Irish. This ending shows how all the violence led to no real changes, and symbolized unending fighting and struggle that would plague the island for years.
The first thing that struck me about Loach’s “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” is the overall tone of the Irish revolutionaries. What made it seem so familiar was the connection between the fleeting militia in this movie, as well as (pretty much) the same characters in one of my favorite cult classics, “Red Dawn”. These two movies illustrated a great point for me. It seems as if anytime there is a foreign invader, the safest thing to do would be to leave civilization and go into the wild. Both of these movies have men that want to fight, but first must flee into the wild to establish themselves as soldiers.
However, what makes “The Wind” different is the fact they the Irish revolutionaries get caught by the British army. From there, everything begins to spiral in a different direction. It was difficult to watch the movie after they killed Chris for ratting on the men. It is hard to think it was truly necessary to kill a kid (who could not have been older than fifteen) who was practically forced into giving away his friends’ location. Nevertheless, this scene gives you a better understanding of what war can do to men. After Damien kills Chris, Finbar says, “We've just sent a message to the British cabinet that will echo and reverberate around the world! If they bring their savagery over here, we will meet it with a savagery of our own!”. Savagery should not be an answer, but these boys almost feel that it is the only way to send a message to their British colonizers. Because of this, war changes the boys to become animals, as seen in the final scene between Damien and Teddy. Teddy knows what he is doing is wrong, but the war has changed him to believe that there is nothing worse than British control of
The ending of the film was so depressing. I did not expect it to just end on the somber note of Damien dying and Sinead left to deal with this. I found this extremely tragic, but at the same time an extremely important scene and metaphor for the times in Ireland. No one was safe against the British, and this was the travesty that the Irish had to deal with. This ending scene gives us insight to content and context of Yeats and Toomer and their works (and probably upcoming works).
From the very beginning of the movie, I felt compelled to watch and see the story of these two brothers. This seems like a simple and basic statement but what I mean is that all too often war movies are not compelling and realistic. I often find myself terribly bothered by my lack of caring for the characters in war movies. Maybe it is because I cannot relate to the characters or because I do not feel like I am watching a realistic movie. But more often than not, I find myself bored and unmoved by war movies. This movie, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. From the on set of the movie, I felt like I was there, in Ireland. The sweeping scenery and breathtaking backgrounds made me feel as though I had been to Ireland. I have never been to Ireland but I can at least say I can imagine what it looks like. I cared about Teddy and Damien. I cared about their struggle and plight. I was moved by their speeches inside the court room and I suffered along with them in their fights. And I understood both of their opinions and decisions before the deeply disturbing end to the movie.
The ending to this movie was so profound and disheartening that it is difficult to describe. I felt like I was watching a real piece of art. The dialogue in the scene was so moving and touching I honestly thought that Teddy would retract his decision to kill his brother. It is difficult to express the scene in words because of the nature of the scene. Trying to express the pain and anguish that is visible in Damien and Teddy’s face is next to impossible. These two brothers love each other and their country and it appears as though the love of their country out weighs the love they have for each other. History is rife with occurrences of brothers fighting or believing in different things. This was one of the most powerful endings to any movie I had ever seen.
Friday, January 25, 2008
In "Reapers," from the beginning we are given a definite color. The reapers are black and the horses are black. But this color also "paints" the setting and gives the mood. The work here is non-stop, and we are aware of who is doing this work.
In "Karintha," however, we are only told that this woman's skin "is like dusk[...] when the sun goes down." The color here is not definite; when the sun sets, there are varieties of shades and when I think of dusk I don't think of distinct colors other than gray-ish. So in the story, her actual color (and thus race) does not seem to matter as much as what becomes of her.
While it seems that this could be a way of Toomer inserting himself symbolically into the story, one line that catches my attention is "she was as innocently lovely as a November cotton flower."Using associations, when most think of the early South, we come to think of slavery, and when one thinks of slavery, there is usually an association with cotton crops. I found the sentence to be full of irony in that light, since it is being said that the cotton is innocently lovely, which would definitely not be the case under those associations. And with those associations, we realize that we are being told Karintha's race after all, even with the use of ambiguous dusk.
In these poems, Toomer is celebrating the beauty of two black women. The description of Karintha's beauty is tied directly to her color, "Her skin is like dusk on the eastern horizon". Toomer repeats this simile comparing Karintha to dusk multiple times throughout the poem, and shows how he finds incredible beauty in her dark skin color.
In Fern, another poem about a beautiful black woman, there seems to be more of a distinction between black and white people. He points out that the white men left Fern alone. Also, the speaker of the poem shows concern that somehow Fern will end up a concubine to a white man, and that he has to do something for her to ensure nothing like this will happen. This again shows a connection and identification with the black community, fighting against the white men who were taking opportunities and other things away from them. This, along with his description of beautiful black women, shows his identification with the black community during his time in Sparta, Georgia.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Like Thomas Mann, Toomer's mixed heritage is an obvious subject for an analysis of his work, but racial tensions appear to be absent in "Karintha"; only African American culture is represented. Karintha herself has skin "like dusk, when the sun goes down." Of Karintha's many admirers, no indication of race is given. However, given the controversy that would likely arise among residents of the South concerning interracial marriage, it can perhaps be safely assumed that Karintha's admirers are blacks as well.
Moving on, "Karintha" appears to avoid interracial themes by virtue of its heterogeny. Instead, the poem depicts one black Southern woman's attempts at self-expression, and her subsequent conformity to social and moral attitudes in the African American community. Karintha is compared to "a growing thing ripened too soon." She is an object of affection for men, old and young. Toomer writes, "The young fellows counted the time to pass before she would be old enough to mate with them." Even the dusk to which Karintha is constantly compared alludes to the movements of the sun and moon, which symbolized the passing of time to the ancient Greeks. Therefore, "Karintha" is, more than anything, a coming of age story for a women who has lost her innocence and subsists by sexually satisfying the men around her while remaining herself unsatisfied. Hence the meaning in the ending lines, "Karintha is a woman. Men do not know that the soul of her was a growing thing ripened too soon. They will bring their money; they will die not having found out..."
What we find in "Karintha" is Toomer's compassion account of the gender issues and social barriers that prevented the Twentieth-century black woman from fully participating in Southern society. In the first half of the poem, Karintha is compared to a free spirit, "even the preacher, who caught her at mischief, told himself that she was as innocently lovely as a November cotton flower." However, by the poem's end Karintha has been forced to participate in her society's expectation of her largely static and reproductive role, and her life amounts to a vicarious existence through the men who court her; this is why Toomer surrounds Karintha with metaphors to demonstrate the passage of time, to highlight her tragic plight. In this way Toomer anticipates the values of Second-Wave feminists, who were concerned with the unequal social treatment of women. This is why I thought "Karintha" was particularly profound.
A Jean Toomer Biography by Scott Williams
Harlem Renaissance Women
Even though there are clear differences between Toomer and Karintha (i.e. their gender, location, etc), I nonetheless see a possible allusion to his own life which comes out of the refrain: "Her skin is like dusk,/O cant you see it,/ Her skin is like dusk,/ When the sun goes down." (4) Like dusk, Toomer's race was unclear and hazy. One couldn't just "see" Toomer and immediately deduce whether he was white or black. Perhaps this is all a stretch, but I do feel there is some connection between the lack of clarity and haziness which accompanies a dusky early evening and the inability to accurately categorize Toomer by race.
"Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones
Are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones"
What I find interesting about these two lines is that the reapers are black (usually the ones who are oppressed) and they are the ones sharpening the scythes. This kind of irony already sets up for the poem to have a deeper contextual meaning. This contrast is only the beginning for Toomer’s poem.
"In their hip-pockets as a thing that's done,
And start their silent swinging, one by one.
Black horses drive a mower through the weeds,
And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds,"
This section of the poem furthers the racial tension theme, once again using the color black as the only description (i.e., the horses). As the horses drive a mower through the field, a rat is caught in the path of the mower and is cut open due to the sharp blades. The rat represents the blacks and the hardships they face.
"His belly close to ground. I see the blade,
Blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade."
This section of the poem finishes the tension between the author and his two sides. As the blade cuts open the rat, the horse and machine continue to move past, as if nothing has happened at all. This is a corellation between the anamosity some whites had against blacks - no matter what travesties were brought upon the blacks, some whites just did not care and kept moving on with their lives as if nothing had ever happened.
Using a biographical analysis of this poem, it was never quite clear to me why this poem was so auditory. From the biographies that I looked at for Jean Toomer, I never came across an instance of music being very crucial in his life. But then I began to think about applying a historical analysis to this poem and it became much clearer to me about the reason for these particular words. Toomer is discussing a southern town, most likely in the early 1900s, which is primarily full of African American residents. If the poem is occurring in the early 1900s, these African Americans have either outlived the Civil War and slavery or they are the direct descendants of slaves or freed Africans. In the South, during the time of slavery, slaves would often sing songs in their native tongue either to communicate with each other or as an attempt to ingest some new life into their daily routines. Music was a very critical part of their lives during the period of slavery and it appears as though music was an important part of their lives in the early 1900s.
Biographically, there are many things that are similar between this poem and Jean Toomer’s life. Toomer was a person with a mixed racial background. He was part Dutch, French, German, and African American. During his childhood, he attended all white and all black schools. Toomer had the ability to pass for either skin color and until he moved to Sparta, Georgia, he did. While he lived in Sparta he took the job as principal in a public school. As principal and resident of Sparta, he became accustomed to the racism and segregation that African American people had to face. After his job as principal, he began to identify himself as African American and eventually became a writer of the Harlem Renaissance. His identification as an African American is very evident in this poem. The poem is about an African American community who is gathering to enjoy the night time festivities. At no point does Toomer ever use the word ‘black’ or ‘African American’ but it is clear he is discussing an African American town by the use of his words like ‘cane-lipped.’ The residents of this community are completely content with their existence which is evidenced by their cheerful attitudes and “folk-songs” (Line 8). Toomer began to identify himself as an African American before he wrote this poem and this poem demonstrates his embrace of the culture.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
In the “You’ll Not Feel the Drowning” section the singer once again brings attention to certain words by irregularly accenting and emphasizing certain parts of them and not the others. For example, in the repeated chorus “You’ll not feel the drowning” conventional methods of speaking would place the accent mark on the latter part of the word “drowning,” but the singer accentuates the “drown” part and trails off in the end. This stands out to the listener in that it seemingly denotes a shift from the aggressive, faster tempo of the aforementioned verses in “The Landlord’s Daughter” section to a more remorseful attitude once the girl is dead. The shift in accentuation is prevalent throughout the song and matches up not only with the beat, but also with the emotions of the story within the song, making for an aesthetically pleasing song and powerful story telling.
Moving on, I feel that there are definitely three layers to this song (obviously), from the three different aspects, or points of view given by the three parts. Having also looked up exactly what Sycorax is (on Wikipedia), I discovered an interesting fact that postcolonialists view Sycorax, unseen mother of Prospero, to be the voice of women recovering from the effects of colonization. The Patagonians, next, are figment peoples famed to be very tall, living on some Island. Sycorax also lives on an island. Parallax is perhaps the most interesting aspect of that verse, and the song in general, because it speaks upon the different effects an object has once the perceiver is in motion, or, rather, it's all based upon the perspective of the observer.
So who's the observer?
But after all this back-story, we come to my aforementioned guess at three perspectives, rather than two from what we see. The first part of the song is told in the supposed third person. But, rather, when inspected closer, we see the use of the word "we", which places it first-person. The second and third parts are first-person as well, and so the perspectives are based upon the emotional or mental state of the observer. And the motion we see in the song, or tale, is based upon parallax, or the change in motion of the observer, the single observer we have.
In the first part, we have the Observer giving background information, sans human beings, but rather bones of "cormorants" or animals, boats, and plants/flowers in general, i.e., the setting. And it serves to set the mood, and of course the setting. The first part is removed from immediate action. The second part is direct action, live action, and the Observer incorporates the Landlord's daughter, in a very dark manner, sinisterly. But sinister only as far as telling a simple tale of innocent girl, bad thief/murderer. Not much emotional depth on the Observer's part.
The third section is where we see a darker, even more sinister and bleak aspect of the Observer, as we begin to see his (or her) mental state. It's almost the lament of an insane serial killer, with some deep emotional, repressed issues. Even after killing the landlord's daughter, the Observer wants to remain with the body to "dress" the eyelids with "dimes," etc.
But the second stanza of that section, "forget you once had sweethearts..." etc., almost reflects upon the Observer's past. Now on the island, forget all your memories, all the good aspects of your life, and die like I've died. (Physically or mentally/emotionally.)
The island to me represents something like hell. Not physical, but definite. An existence on some plane of this world or the next, a mythical place of Sycoraxes and Patagonians, but a dark, doomed place for the unlucky, brokenhearted, dying, dead, etc.
As we were listening, I became particularly interested in the words "Sycorax" and "patagon," especially when Professor Brewer mentioned them after the song was over, so I looked them up. While I realize that Wikipedia typically is not a credible source in the academic world, I think I can use its general definitions of these words without risking a fiasco. That said, Sycorax has several meanings/implications/allusions. First, it refers to two episodes of the British Doctor Who series. In one episode, a fictional race of aliens invades, and that race is called the Sycorax. In a later episode, the Doctor travels to Shakespeare's time and, in Shakespeare's presence, mentions the alien race from the abovementioned episode; in this Dr. Who version of history, Shakespeare likes the word "Sycorax" and decides to use the word in one of his plays. This takes us to the next definition: in fact, Sycorax IS the name of a character mentioned in Shakespeare's The Tempest. This is the earliest instance of the word that I can find, but I thought it would be interesting to tie it into the above definition first. Finally, Shakespeare's fictional Sycorax was honored with the discovery of one of Uranus' moons, which is now called...Sycorax! As for "patagon," I found that it simply refers to a mythical race of people who are double the size of regular humans.
Although there are many potential reason's for The Decemberists' use of "Sycorax," it is clear that BOTH of the words in question are references/hommages to something that is (1) fictional, (2) perhaps larger than life, (3) mysterious, and (4) other-worldly. With this context in mind, we get a sense of danger from the lyrics, as a child, asleep in its cradle, is being watched by both "Sycorax and patagon" (from different vantage points, which is what "parallax" means, for those of you who don't know the word). As such, I can only picture Sycorax as the alien race mentioned in Dr. Who. It just makes the best sense. The scene therefore can be represented by the following: a sleeping child being watched by an alien, from one point, and a mythical giant, from another point. This also accounts for the "foretold rumbling" in the next line of the lyrics, as the giant would no doubt produce a rumbling as he/she walked the Earth. Usually when we think of aliens and giants, at least in my experience, we think of them as sinister or potentially harmful, at least at first, and because of this, the song seems eerie. The dark tone of the song can also be seen in the second and third sections of the song, which speak of "death," an "ugly" person, "drowning," and "dimes laid on your eyes," to name a few examples. I am particularly interested in the line about dimes, which closes the song. The dimes seem to refer to the coins that one would put on the eyes of the dead as a tip for Charon, the driver of the underworld's ferry/boat. It also ties into a main theme in the song/poem: eyes/seeing/sight. Some examples of this theme at work include the lines "Come and see" and "With this bare waking eye."
As a final note, I would be interested in knowing the actual reason that The Decemberists used "Sycorax," as this knowledge might shed some more light on what the word means to the lyrics/poem. Perhaps there is ANOTHER definition of the words, one that I have missed. Does anyone know if there is?
“Go to sleep now little ugly
Go to sleep now you little fool
You’ll not feel the drowning
You’ll not feel the drowning.”
It reminded me of scenes like the one in “Saving Private Ryan” where an American soldier gets into a knife fight with a German soldier. The American loses and his blade is slowly pressed into his chest. All the while, the German is telling the American silently to hush, like he’s putting him to sleep. It sends a chill down my spine.
The lyrics in "The Island" tell a story of a great adventure, but are also mysterious and make the listener pay close attention. The repeated use of the words "come and see" become a bit of a mantra in the song. In lines like "There's an island hidden in the sound" and "In the lowlands, nestled in the heat" made me as a listener feel as though I was being given the coordinates of some treasure guarded by "Sycorax," who is a mysterious character in herself, which plays into the theme of the song. The song seems not to follow any conventional rhyme scheme. In it's written form, it seems to have a certain pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, but when sung, that also all but goes out the window, as it is sung in a manner which suggests the singer sings the song in whichever way he pleases, not to fit convention. This may add to the whimsical nature of the song, or it may be there just to drive us crazy as we try to mark the sentences, it could work both ways.
In "The Landlord's Daughter," is very interesting to me as it seems a natural progression from the directions seemingly given in "The Island." As I said earlier, it sounds a bit like a pirates drinking song. The lyrics are very traditionally masculine, as they speak of things such as spying and producing pistols and sabers, then kidnapping the beautiful young girl. Once again, the rhyming and stress of syllables seems to be irregular. The singer does the same things he does in the first song, stressing whichever notes he sees fit to be stressed.
In "You'll Not Feel the Drowning," there seems to be a tone of finality (obviously), as the topic of death is prevalent. To me this could symbolize the end of the journey in the form of death. I see this as the death of whoever the protagonist of the story is. In certain cultures, it is a tradition to place dimes over the eyes of dead. This part of the song has the same sort of irregular rhyme and stress, but the lyrics of it convey a completely different tone than the other two parts. It is much more somber than the other two parts. The biggest reason for that is the repeated line "You'll not feel the drowning." This is a line that really catches the ear of the listener, and is not ambiguous at all in terms of how it is to make us feel as a listener.
The second part of the song, The Landlord’s Daughter, like Nick, also made me think of a pirate. Not only because of the way the song sounded (similar to the music in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), but because the lyrics also fueled this – “Produced my pistol, then my saber/Said, ‘Make no whistle or thou will be murdered!’” This is definitely something I could hear ol’ Blackbeard say. I actually replayed to this part of the song to see if I could get a different perspective on it and the first thing that came to mind was a pirate, so that image was forever ingrained in my head.
The third part of the song, You’ll Not Feel The Drowning, was very serene and gave me a sense of loss and death. The opening line alluded to death, “I will dress your eyelids/With dimes upon your eyes.” This reminded me of when soldiers died in the Roman times. They would place coins over their eyes to make sure they got to the afterlife safe because they had to pay Hades or something. I don’t really remember the exact meaning, but that image instantly came to me. This part of the song also had the most emotion and evoked a true sense of anger and sadness. The chorus had my favorite lyrics – “Go to sleep now, little ugly/Go to sleep now, you little fool/Forty winking in the belfry/You’ll not feel the drowning.” It kept making me think of when someone loses a loved one they feel anger (“Go to sleep now, little ugly/Go to sleep now, you little fool”), but they know that their loved one is in a better place where pain can no longer be felt (“You’ll not feel the drowning”).
Overall, the song’s length and fluentness made me think of an epic, like Beowulf. Even though all of the songs were different, they still were wound together with some sort of togetherness that made them feel like they were all one song. That really made me want to listen to the entire song, and created the sense of a story, just from different views, like in the Bible. Even though we get similar stories (the songs), we get different perspectives on them (the different musical styles in each song), yet they all still relate to one another (the Gospels).
I noticed that all three songs have a common theme of being on, near, or in water, much like M. Night Shyamalan's movies. The first song portion uses water-based imagery in a depiction of war and loss, and its very subtitle of "Come and See" seems to beseech attention for what it contains. As mentioned in class, this portion also includes a reference to Sycorax, and the phrase "patagon in paralax" would almost seem to mean a change in perspective when viewing a giant.
The second portion seems almost to be a story of rape made romantic in the scope of old seagoing pirates. As aforementioned, this is set near water, the thread that connects all the portions of the song. The third portion is either an example of (possibly unwelcomed) euthanasia or a suicide. The words "ugly" and "fool" can either be insults or self-deprecating remarks, this is not entirely clear. This adds mystery and sense of gloom to the ending of the song, therefore tying the ending and beginning together. The captain mentioned in the third portion could easily be some sort of ferryman, ushering the dead to the underworld, given the nature of the final portion.
The song “The Island” is divided into three separate pieces: “Come and See”, “The Landlord’s Daughter”, and “You’ll Not Feel the Drowning”. I tried to analyze each separate piece to understand the story of the song. It refers to the initial reaction the shipmen have interacting with the island. This is most noticeable in the third line, where the lyrics say “affix your barb and bayonet”. The men ready their weapons when they prepare for the unknown ahead of them. This leads to the sounds that guide “Come and See”. The first line says, “there’s an island hidden in the sound”, while the fifth line says, “and sorrow fills the silence all around” followed by “come and see”. Here, sorrow encompasses the crew of the ship as their time on the water runs out. The men almost do not notice the island because of their dreariness and depression. However, some notice and tell the others to open their eyes to the island before them. Once they open their eyes, they begin to notice the land around them. They do not say anything while they peer at the land, for their sorrow is still deafening. The men know this is their final travel for the men know “will not go home again” (line 19). The island is beautiful, but the men are still sorrowful.
“The Landlord’s Daughter” is completely different. The meter and tempo shift, allowing the song to flow a lot faster. The music becomes louder and more out of control symbolizing the madness of the rapist. The man says he will not take gold, but only the maiden’s lips. I can only assume that this takes story takes part chronologically, and this is where things begin to go wrong on the island. “The Landlord’s Daughter” tells a story of a man who is confused and out of his mind. As discussed in “Come and See”, the men are sorrowful and lost on an island where they will never reach their home. This appears to dive into the human psyche, as basic human reason does not apply in this case. The lyrics tend to give way to the music, as the lyrics are spread thin through this portion of the song.
“You’ll Not Feel the Drowning” tends to rip the song apart, and back into the sorrowful tone that started with “Come and See”. The guitar slows down from “The Landlord’s Daughter”. Since the song says “little sweetheart, little darling”, I think this ties into killing the Landlord’s daughter. This seems like the complete transformation from a man on the ship, to an animal of the island. The sorrow the island has given him has changed his character to a point of murder. In the last verse, the stresses on the syllables break the fourth wall by speaking directly to the audience. When the captain “heaves his sorrow cry” it leads the audience to believe that the captain is the man that has committed the murder and the rape. However, at the end of the song, he steps out of his ruthlessness, and reenters the civilized, as he lays the coins on the dead’s eyes, which relates back to the Greeks belief in their dead paying the boatman of the
I also believe that in the last section of the song “You’ll Not Feel The Drowning” is more than what one can see. One might say that it is about the Landlords Daughter and her death while she is with her captor. But I see it as one persons struggle with there own life and there family. Yes family. You can see the references to family and parents all through out the song. “We will not come home again”, “A briar cradle rocks it’s babe to sleep”, and “Think you not on parents” are some examples. This part of the song is a reminder to someone that they have nothing. Don’t think about your parents because they will not be here to save you. “Go to sleep now little ugly”, and “Go to sleep now you little fool”. They are reminding them of what they have been called through out their life and not letting them fell anything different at this very point. They are continuing the process that this individual has gone through their whole life.
The first section, "Come & See," is composed of five stanzas. The rhyme scheme of this section follows an unusual pattern: In the first stanza rhythm is AABBA; In the second stanza the rhythm is CCDDE; The third stanza does not rhyme at all; In the fourth stanza the rhythm is FGHHG; and the fifth stanza is identical to the third. Each stanza ends with the words, 'Come and See;' the line is repeated twice at the end of every stanza except for the first, in which it only appears once. For this reason I did not include these lines in the rhyme scheme. This section is the account of a party's arrival on and exploration of an island. In the first stanza, we can assume that the company arrived on this island "hidden in the sound" by ship, hence the lines "Lapping currents lay your boat to ground." We might also assume that this company is armed ("Affix your barb and bayonet") or possessed of hostile intent. The description of the island in the second stanza renders this island void of humanity but not civilization, for the company finds a "harbor lost within the reeds" and "a jetty caught in over-hanging trees" but "no boot mark here nor finger prints." "Among the bones of cormorants," implies that the island was previously discovered by adventurers in the past, but none lived long enough to tell the tale. Finally, we are reminded twice in the third and fifth stanzas that the company of men will not "go home again." Accordingly, the structural transition from traditional and structured schema into an abnormal and chaotic free verse reinforces the idea that this company is departing from everyday reality and entering a chaotic and spontaneous state of mind; Perhaps they visit the ruins of a utopia swallowed by nature that has caused the downfall of many an idle traveler in search for it.
"The Landlord's Daughter" is the second section of the "Island," and only composed of three stanzas. The rhyme scheme follows the pattern ABCBBD in the first stanza, then DEE in the second stanza, and finally BB in the last stanza. In "The Landlord's Daughter," the narration switches from what one would presume to be the account of one company of several adventurers to the words of a single narrator. We are uncertain whether or not the situation described in this section occurs on the same island in the first stanza, or if the narrator is of the company which arrived on the island previously. We are made aware that he or she is armed as the previous adventurers were implied to be ("Produced my pistol, then my saber") and abducts "the landlord's daugter" who is "spied in sable" "down by the water." That the woman is a "landlord's daughter" implies the presence of civilization ("land" and "lord," one would expect him to have subjects to lord over) and given the fact that the island in the first stanza appeared to be barren and void of life discourages cohesive attempts at narration. I am inclined to consider the narrator a pirate, though not in the traditional sense; we can see from the final stanza that the narrator does not intend to use the woman to obtain wealth, but rather they claim, "I'll take those sweet lips, and I'll deliver." The deteriorating structure of the poem suggests that the narrator is departing from the realm of rational thought and is letting himself be guided by his passions; each subsequent stanza is smaller than the last, and for that reason more ambiguous. Where once we were given the narrator's account of his actions in the first stanza, in the last we are left with only his words. Perhaps he has been possessed by the greed and madness of the island, which destroyed the cormorants whose remains were visible in the first stanza. Does he possess a woman at all? Is she merely an illusion? Did the land not seem to lack any inhabitants when the company arrived? And where is the rest of his company? What was once an organized and united enterprise has fallen apart and each member may have become delusional and gone off on his own into oblivion.
Finally, "You'll Not Feel the Drowning" consists of four stanzas. The first stanza follows a ABCBDEDFF rhyme scheme; the second stanza follows a GHIHDEDFF rhyme scheme; the third stanza follows a DEDFF rhyme scheme, and the final stanza does not rhyme at all. This section appears in the form of an ode, for the narrator is clearly addressing another person. We can assume that the narrator intends or is currently in the process of killing the other person with the following evidence: "I will dress your eyelids, With dimes upon your eyes"; "Laying close to water, Green your grave will rise"; "Go to sleep little ugly, Go to sleep you little fool"; and of course, "You'll not feel the drowning." It is possible that the narrator is the raider from the second stanza, and is now in the process of killing his captive, the landlord's daughter. The narrator would appear to resort to the senseless destruction of an innocent with repeated accusations of her naivety; she is often called a "little fool" and reminded to forget everyone else, because "they've forgotten you." Furthermore, the narrator comforts his victim with the promise of a humane and painless death with "You'll not feel the drowning." It is revealed in the last stanza that the narrator himself was once addressed thus by his captain: "Weight upon your eyelids, As dimes laid on your eyes." This is the same address used by the narrator at the beginning of his speech, and suggests that the narrator himself was once put to death at sea, and now he drags an innocent into the deep with him. It therefore stands to reason that all of the remarks directed at the narrator's victim can be directed at the narrator himself as well; in fact, it is he who is forgotten by his lovers and parents. Likewise, he seeks to give his victim the same fate: She will be forever innocent and forgotten; she will belong to the narrator alone and united with him in an ignominous death. The narrator believes he is removing the woman from a world of pain and into a state of perpetual passion and dream, stranded on an "island hidden in the sound": death.
The presence of alliteration in the song especially struck me. One example is found in the second and third verses in the "Come and See" chorus: "With this bare waking eye/ Who rose like the wind." The "w" sound corresponds perfectly with the theme of the chorus: the swirling tide and the whirling wind.
This might be a rather obvious observation, but the language used at various points in the song is not very modern. "Thou" instead of "you", and the mention of "saber" just made me think of old, rural England. I think the use of these words combined with the way the music at times sounds minstrel-like is what brings this kind of image to the forefront of my mind.
What I found to be the most interesting part of this song occurred while I was attempting to scan the lyrics. What should have been a relatively easy task became rather daunting as I was trying to simultaneously listen to the lyrics and stress the proper syllables as well. I found this very difficult to do. More often than not, I found myself working ahead of the singer and trying to stress syllables that he had not yet sung. But when the singer arrived at those lines, he often seemed to be putting stress on the syllables I had marked as unstressed. I don’t really know why this occurred. My best guess is that while I was scanning the lyrics, I was saying them quietly rather than singing them. And unlike a poem where more often than not, no one is reading it aloud, a song needs to be sung to be fully appreciated. I think scanning songs is more difficult than scanning poetry for this simple reason. If the song is not heard aloud, the person scanning the lyrics could potentially scan the lyrics improperly.
What I noticed, specifically during “The Island/Come and See” part was that the lead singer would stress and unstress whole words. The word ‘and’ is almost always an unstressed word but just because a word is unstressed does not mean that the word needs to be said quietly. The lead singer, specifically in the line “Come and see,” would barely utter the word ‘and.’ The words ‘come’ and ‘see’ were vocalized very loudly and a lot of emphasis was put on those words but the word ‘and’ was said in a much softer tone. It is much easier in song form to stress and unstress the right syllables. Take the third line of the song for example. The word ‘bayonet’ is a three syllable word with the accent on the second syllable. It is a relatively easy word to sound out and determine which syllable is stressed. But in song form, the lead singer over exaggerates the stressed syllable, almost to the point where the syllable ‘yon’ almost sounds like it is a separate word.
In part two, The Landlord's Daughter, it seems that a gap in time has passed and that the song skips forward to a more postcolonial context. The conflict with and hatred for the landlord seems to be the overwhelming reason for the rape of the landlord's daughter. When offered gold and silver the rapist mocks the daughter and refuses to even consider taking the monetary payment. This shows that the reason for the rape is for a punishment to the landlord, personal satisfaction, or both. The symbol of water is also brought back into this section of the song, as the rape occurs "down by the water." This aspect will become more significant as it leads into the next part of the song.
In part three, You'll Not Feel the Drowning, it would appear that the landlord's daughter who was raped in part two has been murdered. The rapist and murderer takes great care in his actions by placing dimes upon the eyes of the young woman. This action was believed to be a classical practice upon the death of someone, so that they might have the payment required to pay the ferryman to cross the river Styx into the underworld. Through the repetition in this section of the song and the focus on sleep and peace, it appears that the man may feel some remorse for his actions and be attempting to rationalize the situation. Yet, the overarching theme would suggest that although he may feel remorse, the fact that he refers to her as "ugly" and a "little fool" shows that he did not commit the rape for personal satisfaction and more likely committed the rape and murder as a punishment to the landlord for his likely misdeeds to the rapist. The symbol of water comes full circle in this section of the poem as it no longer represents nature and life but death in the "drowning" of the young woman's corpse.