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Absence of an Ancient Mariner

Sea Fevers- Agnes Wathall

No ancient mariner I,
   Hawker of public crosses,
Snaring the passersby
   With my necklace of albatrosses.

I blink no glittering eye
   Between tufts of gray sea mosses
Nor in the high road ply
   My trade of guilts and glosses.

But a dark and inward sky
   Tracks the flotsam of my losses.
No more becalmed to lie,
   The skeleton ship tosses.

In the above poem, Wathall brilliantly channels Samuel Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to provide a response to the idea of guilt presented in Coleridge’s poem. The mention of the albatross is symbolic of guilt as the mariner in Coleridge’s poem hung the albatross around his neck to display his immense guilt in killing the bird. Unlike in Coleridge’s poem, the speaker in Wathall’s poems seems to ironically wear her guilt around her neck without the burden held by the ancient mariner. 

The speaker of the poem both seems to display her guilt while also concealing emotions. This can be inferred in the lines “but a dark and inward sky/ tracks the flotsam of my losses.” The dark and inward sky can be symbolic of the dreary tone presented in the poem. Only inside the darkness can the wreckage caused been understood. Finally, the speaker tosses away the “skeleton ship” when it becomes evident she can no move forward. 

The eerily feeling prevalent through the poem signifies the idea of someone who has given up and no longer believes in redemption. The speaker wears her guilt both externally and internally. Through the connection to Coleridge’s poem, it can be inferred that unlike the guilty and sympathetic mariner, this speaker does not seem to feel remorse for their actions.

The supernatural undertone of the poem evokes an emotional response in readers as they try to piece together an understanding of the poem through Wathall’s poem itself and through the connections prevalent to Samuel Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” It is always interesting to stumble across a writer that has been inspired by another poet or writer of the past. While John Keats once stated that “a poet is the most unpoetical of anything in existence because he has no identity- he is continually infirming and filling some other body, ” Agnes Wathall’s “Sea Fever” poetically creates an original twist on a Coleridge’s poem and by doing so provides the reader with a outlook on guilt. It also conveys to readers that we are all able to provide inspiration to others just as Coleridge’s poem provided inspiration to Agnes Wathall.

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

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Twinkling Starlight

While New York weather has been unpredictable at best, I have been taking the time to enjoy starlit skies on the nights when the sky is actually clear enough to see stars. We are so accustomed to hoping for good weather during the day that sometimes—this may just be me—we take for granted the beauty of the night sky as we attempt to predict what weather we will experience tomorrow. As I was driving home a few nights ago, I realized the sky was remarkably clear, and the stars shone beautifully across the night sky. I even spotted a shooting star, and while I didn’t remember to make a wish, I did remember a poem I once heard.

Alfred Edward Housman- “Stars, I have Seen them Fall”

Stars, I have seen them fall,
    But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
    From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
    Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea,
    And still the sea is salt.

Sometimes we neglect the stars because we assume they are always going to be there, much as we assume our daily lives while remain the same from day to day, but that isn’t always the case. Unlike the speaker in Housman’s poem, I believe that one star falling and dying makes a difference. When we look up at the night sky we don’t know if the stars we see are still shining bright or if they have stopped existing ages ago and their last flicker of light is still traveling through light years to reach us. One star does make a difference. One star falling is one less twinkling light to brighten up the skies at dusk. It is one less star to make a wish on.

For decades, stories like J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and various adaptations, have relied on the magical twinkle of the stars to explain the entrance to a whole new world. Neverland exists within the realm of the second star to the right, or so the story goes. As children, we appreciated the stars because they spoke to us of stories, as do the names and legends behind different constellations. Stars are not futile, they are mystical and beautiful, and inspiring.

The seemingly insignificant details we notice from day to day make appear to be little and unimportant, but they aren’t. The little things matter; they are what make a difference in such a subtle way that people rarely notice. The stars, while they might not make a huge difference in our artificially lit New York sky, are natural nightlights to someone walking down a dark street in a city in which we may be unfamiliar, and they are reminders of the stories we loved as children.. The moral of this blog post…don’t take nature for granted; it is not futile, instead it has the ability to provide us with feelings of safety, peace, inspiration, and maybe even a nightlight.

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

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Triquetra Distractions

While I cannot speak for everyone, I can state that many people leave Netflix reruns of shows they watched growing up while they do their homework or study for a test, myself included. Some might say that watching television is distracted, but for a few of us, the quiet is even more distracted, which is why we turn to our trustworthy Netflix apps to find a familiar show to watch. Usually, I tend to pick shows I grew up watching. I already know what is ultimately going to happen, and so I don’t lose focus on my homework and/or studying. This week, however, my trusted strategy did not work.

As I perused through Netflix, I decided to play a few episodes from the show Charmed. Normally, I am able to maintain my focus, but this week the symbol for the 3 sisters (Prue, Piper, Phoebe…and later one Paige) caught my attention more than the work I had to do. The symbol for the sisters magic was a form of 3 overlapping shapes meant to signify their bond as witches and as sisters throughout the entirety of the show. After some online research, I discovered that the symbol for the Charmed sisters is referred to as a triquetra—meaning triangle in Latin—it is also referred to as a Trinity Knot, which is speculated to have first appeared in Pagan/Celtic belief systems. The three intertwining rings were meant to symbolize the power in unity. The circles have no beginning and no end, instead they continue on endlessly much as the power of a unified people can continue endlessly from generation to generation.

 The triquetrais said to symbolize the energy of the Trinity and they represent the forces of the universe. Supposedly, it is meant to represent the three planes of existence—mental, physical, and spiritual. Similarly, the three sisters in Charmed unite to form a magical trinity, ultimately becoming an unstoppable force of good in the world by using the individual powers they contain. Each of the sisters wields a different power, which is connected to a different element that can only be controlled when each sister learns to tap into their mental, physical, and spiritual understandings of themselves. In the first few episodes of the show, the sisters are depicted reforming their bond as siblings and as witches. When they do so, the triquetra rings are brought together and Prue, Piper, and Phoebe become able to access their magic. After Prue dies, the rings are once again reformed to solidify the magical power of three when Piper and Phoebe meet their long lost sister Paige. Once again, the Trinity Knot becomes a representation of the power of unity and the force of the universe.

The moral of the story: if anyone thinks it’s a less distracting option to watch reruns of old television shows while doing homework, studying, etc…think again. Rather than seeking a less distracting form of entertainment when your working hard, put the remote down, refocus, and get the work done. There will be plenty of time to watch reruns when you’re done. If you’re like me and still struggle to concentrate in complete silence, put on music instrumentals; it is a great way to fill the room with non-distracting noise. Good luck!

 

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

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The Roots of Wisdom

Norse mythology, although seemingly ancient, can be applied to much of our present lives. Take the legend of the Norse God Odin, he sought wisdom and the legend states that he even sacrificed one of his eyes in the pursuit of knowledge. While our sacrifices may not be a drastic as Odin’s, do we not still sacrifice in the pursuit of gaining knowledge? We sacrifice our time, our money towards tuition and supplies, our friends when we choose to do homework instead of going out, and our energy while we work towards absorbing the facts we are taught in class and struggle to make new connections and observations. Each semester, and every day we take the time to learn and understand something new, we make sacrifices in the hopes of obtaining wisdom.

While researching Norse mythology, I came across the legend of Odin’s discovery of the Runes. Odin pushed his body and mind beyond what he thought humanly possible in order to attain an understanding of runes. After acknowledging the hidden language and mystery of the runes, Odin is said to have stated, “then I was fertilized and became wise; / I truly grew and thrived. / From a word to a word I was led to a word, / from a work to a work I was led to a work.” Knowledge can never be quenched by seeking and finding the answer to one question; instead, it is a pursuit of information that forms roots stretching endlessly in all directions. From the roots of our proverbial knowledge tree we learn and we grow. Odin’s journey to comprehend the mystical runes is viewed as a sacrifice of himself to himself. The myth conveys a form of rebirth in which Odin was able to let the ignorant part of himself go in order to be reborn as someone with a better understanding of the world around him.

Odin is often portrayed with his ravens, Hugin and Munin, perched atop his shoulders or hovering nearby. Recent texts translate the names of Odin’s ravens as thought (Hugin) and memory (Munin). The significance of the two birds can only be valued by attributing value to the concepts of thought and memory. While Odin sacrificed much in his journey for knowledge, he also gained a renewed sense of memory and new thoughts that led him in the direction of continuing his quest for knowledge. Odin was able to stretch the constraints of his memory in order to maintain a new flow of information, just as his thoughts were able to expand and encompass his new perception of the world. Odin may have sacrificed in order to attain wisdom, but he gained much more than he could have realized.

As college students working hard towards creating a better future, do we not sacrifice our ignorance in order to learn more about the world around us? Are we not reborn into individuals with a better understanding of society and ourselves when we complete the first steps of our journey? Do we not crave to learn more and do more with the knowledge we attain? When I first began to attend an institute of higher education, I hoped it would make me a better person. I hoped for a brighter future and a greater understanding of myself and the world around me. As graduation approaches, I realize I’m not done yet. I realized that the quest for wisdom doesn’t end in four short years; instead it is ongoing and this is just part of our search for understanding.

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

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Unremembered Acts of Kindness

William Wordsworth once wrote “the best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.” We all hope to make a difference. We hope that we will someday perform a grand act that will forever alter someone else’s life in a positive way, but it does not always take a grand gesture to impact someone’s life. It is the everyday moments of smiling, saying hello, listening to someone speak, and being a compassionate person that make a difference. While all of our moments of kindness may not be able to be pinpointed and may not always be remembered, they alter someone’s mood; they change a person’s day or perception of the world around them and make a difference even if it goes unnoticed at the moment.

I stumbled upon an episode of One Tree Hill titled “Songs to Love and Die By” which premiered during season 4 of the show. The episode was based in a dream, which occurred when one of the characters experienced heart failure and was met by the ghost of a deceased love one. The character didn’t think he mattered, he was unaware he made such a tremendous impact on those around him, until he was shown the lives of his friends and family had he made selfish choices in life rather than his random acts of kindness. The little acts of kindness he put forth into the world altered and shaped the lives of all those around him, even if it wasn’t entirely obvious at the time said acts were performed.

It is the little acts of selflessness that make a difference. Sometimes it takes a ghost from our past to afford us the opportunity to realize we have made a difference. We have positively impacted the life of those around us through what William Wordsworth described as “nameless unremembered acts of kindness.” While all of our selfless choices may not be remembered, the feelings of compassion and understanding long outlive the memory of our words or gestures. We can create a change in the world by listening to someone else and letting them know they are not alone. We can choose to positively impact society around us everyday, without waiting for the opportunity for a grand gesture; it’s the little moments of kindness that inspire others to make kind choices as well. As Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, “one’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes…and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” Choose to make a difference today. We don’t need to wait until life circumstances play out the way we want them to in order to become better people; we can start being better people now.

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj