Sunday, June 3, 2012

Shakespeare Class

This last semester I had the immense pleasure of taking a Shakespeare class taught by Ron Deeter. If anyone has a chance to take a class from this man please do it and have an open mind. You won't be disappointed. Also, read this play and then read it another 3 or 4 times for good measure. Do not look for meaning because there is none and do not look for happiness because you wil not find it.

Sam Edwards
English 3500
April 19, 2012
King Lear Paper

Affliction, Thou art a Heartless Wench

In Shakespeare’s play “King Lear” affliction is the name of the game. Once you say something it sets a limitation, and this action is what starts Lear's suffering throughout the play. In the first act he poses a question to his daughters asking, “Which of you shall we say doth love us most...”. Lear seems to have his own answer in mind but he wants to hear one of his daughters say it. No one can read another person's mind but Goneril and Regan both try to say sugary and supposedly heart-warming things to Lear to make him soften to them. Lear's ego loves hearing Goneril say, “Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter...A love that makes breath poor and speech unable”. He wants to hear these big words and affections because that is what he asked for. By asking who loves him most put a limitation on what can be done and instead only diction of love and uppermost endearment is accepted.
Lear eats these words up because he deems them to be true, however Cordelia shakes his core and his rage is let loose when she has nothing to say. She speaks complete truth but it is not the sweet syntax Lear wants, though it is a mighty declaration of love. She says, “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love Your Majesty according to my bond, no more nor less”. She loves him so much there are no words to describe it and she cannot hurl up her heart to show him the love. She loves him as much as he has loved her according to their bond as daughter and father. Cordelia does not expect him to love her more than what their bond calls for, and therefore she does not love him any more than the amount a daughter should love her father. However, with the high horse Lear is on right now from the previous daughters words he cannot comprehend Cordelia's real meaning and goes into a rage. He does the most hurtful thing to them both by banishing Cordelia saying, “Hence, and avoid/ my sight!” The same fate comes to Kent as he tries to reason with Lear but he only wounds Lear's ego more by saying, “Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak/ when power to flattery bows?/ To plainness honor's bound/ When majesty falls to folly.” Kent is only trying to caution Lear about not falling prey to the flatterer's as King Richard II did at one time and to see the truth in plainness. This play touches on many afflictions that Lear suffers and lack of sight is one of them along with his ill health. To banish his most loving daughter and Kent from his sight is the worst affliction to be set on a person.
His deteriorating health is not helped when he learns of Kent being put in the stocks. In Act 2 scene 4 he says, “Oh, how this mother swells up toward my heart! Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow!” This is the first instance of him having physical problems. His heart is swelling and it's causing him to suffocate from the hysteria going on.
       Lear's visit to Goneril doesn't help either thanks to Oswald. Her steward Oswald says a scathing insult in Act 1 scene 4 by referring to Lear as “My lady's father.” Oswald is treating Lear like he's a pheasant man pretty much and Lear is infuriated. The Fool then enters and though he is trying to console Lear his words only make matters worst when he sings to Lear about him being a Fool now for giving up his lands. Lear asks, “Dost thou call me fool, boy?” And the Fool responds “All thy other titles thou hast given away; that/ thou wast born with.” The Fool hits the nail of the head with this statement because Lear has given away everything. He has no kingdom and now his daughters are treating him like they are the King and he their son.  This concept is put nicely by the Fool when he says, “nuncle, e'er since thou mad'st thy/ daughters thy mothers; for when thou gav'st them the/ rod and putt'st down thine own breeches.” This makes me laugh so hard because his daughters did exactly that to him. Now Lear has no staff of power and his pants are down because his daughters, who are now his ruling mothers, have his balls in their hand and control him.
Lear is betrayed by his daughter Goneril but he hides his pain by cursing her. His rage is immense and he lashes out in words and temper. Why can't people just accept their pain as it is instead of covering it up? It doesn't go away like we think it does. People must face the pain and feelings that come from experiences to fully accept that situation and are then able to move on. Lear cannot accept his situation and the affliction that is ruling him and so he moves on to Regan who also disappoints him. In Act 2 scene 4 Lear is being put off by Regan and Cornwall and we get more signs of physical pain when Lear cries “Oh, me, my heart, my rising heart! But down!” His heart is under pressure and it is slowly expanding in his chest. This eventually leads to a heart attack that can be fatal if untreated. Lear ignores his pain again and instead explodes with verbal insults at Regan as he witnesses her teaming up with Goneril. They want to strip him of his train and leave him defenseless and alone. They want all his power so they can carry out the plan with Edgar later on but Lear won't hear it.
In Act 3 scene 2 Lear, the Fool and Kent come upon the hovel and Lear is at his wits end. He is discovering that the cosmos must be dead or else why would all this be happening to him? He claims he is “a man/ More sinned against than sinning.” If this were the case than things that happen on Earth are not happening in Heaven and visa versa and so the cosmos are dying. I wish Lear would have listened to Kent when he says, “Man's nature cannot carry/ Th'affliction nor the fear.” If Lear could just face his affliction and ultimately his fear, because the fear is only a symptom of the affliction, then maybe Lear could calm down and his heart wouldn't be under stress. However this play isn't meant to have happy times in it. Even if Lear had listened to Kent things would still be bad since the cosmos are dead.
Lear's sanity is about gone when he meets Poor Tom. Lear sees this dirty beggar as a “philosopher” and “learned Theban”. He will not leave Poor Tom even when shelter is offered by Gloucester and so Poor Tom is given shelter as well. Lear does not leave him and talks to him in private for a long time. By Act 4 scene 6 King Lear has gone mad it seems. He talks nonsense to Edgar and Gloucester like Poor Tom had talked to him at the beginning. However he states a miraculous thing by saying “A man may see how this world goes with not eyes. Look with thine ears.” If only he had had this knowledge at the beginning! He should have listened more closely to Cordelia instead of being transfixed by the sight of the lovely and sugar-coated older daughters. Even in this state of madness Lear has learned to see properly though his mind has still be afflicted by other matters.
The culmination of his affliction comes at the end when Cordelia lays dead in his arms. In Act 5 scene 3 he claims that if “this feather stirs; she lives! If it be so,/ It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows/ That ever I have felt.” To be reunited with the one person who loves you and you love in return and to be in each others sight once more could have cured Lear of some of the symptoms to his affliction. It is sad that he realizes his love for Cordelia too late as she is already dead. Before his heart finally bursts he realizes that the cosmos are indeed dead because how could anything live after the death of Cordelia? Why didn't something happen after her death? “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,/ and thou no breath at all?” We all want something to happen when our loved ones die but the truth is our affliction does not care about us. It does not care about anything.

Irish Literature

This story covers Seamus Heaney's "Bog Collection" which is a collection of poems with the bog as the theme. I wrote this paper for my Irish Literature class which I highly recommend to any English enthusiast.

Sam Edwards
English 3730
April 19, 2012
Final Paper

The Sexy Goddess of Heaney's Poetry

  There is an Earth Goddess who dates back to the Neolithic Age but doesn't make a significant impact until the Iron Age  2,000 years later. She was worshiped by multiple Germanic tribes that scattered Europe and touched on the Celts in Ireland. They believed her to be not only responsible for the birth and death of crops and cattle, but was also responsible for men learning the act of lovemaking and producing healthy babies. Women wore amulets with her depiction to ward off alien and harmful forces. They would ask her blessing with their pregnancies and many men were sacrificed to her to ensure a successful crop. This unnamed Goddess, who can at times resemble the old Germanic Earth Goddess Nerthus, is portrayed in Seamus Heaney's poems as a fiery, graceful, vengeful, sexy deity who controls many facets of her peoples lives and is worshiped above all others.
Seamus Heaney's poem “The Tollund Man” is a love story between the dead and their goddess. Heaney describes the man having a “peat-brown head, [with] mild pods [for] his eye-lids.” The earthy syntax is a direct link to an Earth deity who is worshiped by the Tollund man.  The man was also a human sacrifice because of the “gruel of winter seeds/ Caked in his stomach.” He was made to eat the seeds as an offering to the Goddess so they would germinate inside of him and also as part of his consecration to her.
Heaney also describes him in garb that fits the description of the Germanic Goddess Nerthus who would receive him with only a “cap, noose and girdle.” The noose is especially important because it is Nerthus's symbol. She is always depicted wearing a double torc of woven material and so the humans sacrificed to her would wear a noose. This would ensure them being consecrated to the Goddess.
The love story of this poem is made clear to me in the next stanza when Heaney relates the Tollund man as a “bridegroom to the goddess.” The number of male sacrifices far outweigh the number of female ones. Nerthus was more fond of having men sacrifice themselves to her though in myth she never takes on a partner. These human men are more lovers to her than anything more permanent. The next stanza is my favorite and is the most erotic in the poem:
  “She tightened her torc on him
And opened her fen,
Those dark juices working
Him to a saint's kept body”
There is definitely a play of love and lust going on here. The torc that Nerthus is tightening is the man's noose. She is killing him so he can be with her in the realm beyond. The word 'fen' can be construed as a sexual meaning towards her vulva and the act of sex with her human sacrifice to consecrate him to her. Her 'dark juices working him to a saint's kept body' is the climax and success of consecration that gives the Tollund man the status of saint in Heaven. That is the highest place a human can go in the afterlife.
Earth deities invoke love in many people and Christians are no different. In Heaney's poem, the Tollund man is actually a Christian:
I could risk blasphemy,
Consecrate the cauldron bog
Our holy ground and pray
Him to make germinate
A christian who is caught worshiping a Pagan God is committing blasphemy on their religion. A great place for an Earth deity to dwell is in watery groves where the Earth and Water meet. A bog or marsh is her consecrated grove and thus a holy ground to pray to her. Heaney is also referring to the praying of the seeds inside the Tollund man so that the Goddess will germinate them and provide food. The seeds are an offering to her because she controls the growth and death of crops.
Heaney's “The Grauballe Man” takes on a sober tone, however emphasis on the Earth enriches this poem. The Grauballe man is another such bog victim and, like his Tollund man, it is believed he died as a willing sacrifice to a deity. Heaney describes the mans' position, “as if he had been poured/ in tar, he lies/ on a pillow of turf.” This man was not found in a fetal position or any stance that would suggest he was forced into the bog. A deity does not consecrate someone who is forced to die for her. If he wanted his soul to be saved then he died willingly.
The syntax throughout the poem describes the man as becoming a part of the earth. Heaney sees the Grauballe man with:
The grain of his wrists
is like bog oak,
The ball of his heel
like a basalt egg.
The imagery in Heaney's words make the man seem like a part of the bog from whence he was dug up. His wrists are grain like a tree found in the bog. Grain is a staple food and one that can be offered to the Goddess like the winter seeds in the Tollund man's stomach. Basalt is a common volcanic rock that is grainy and black. The Grauballe man's heel is an egg form of this rock and may look shiny and smooth.
The next paragraph goes on in the description:
His instep has shrunk
cold as a swan's foot
or a wet swamp root.
      Here Heaney makes an animal relation as well as a plant one. Funny that he should reference the swan who mates for life and will die without his mate. The 'wet swamp root' is a great reference to a living earthy plant that is connected with the water. The Grauballe man can be seen as being eternally connected to earth and water as is his Goddess.
Heaney wrote a romantic and caressing poem called “Bogland” that makes ones heart warm. The fourth stanza from the beginning explains how:
Butter sunk under
More than a hundred years
Was recovered salty and white.
The ground itself is kind, black butter
The affectionate tone resonates throughout this poem. The bog in question is like a lover who preserves ones beauty and youth. So if humans do go into the bog their Goddess will give them eternal life in the afterlife and retain their present state. Using butter as an example can give a persons mind a clear image of just how gentle this Goddess is to whoever enters her domain. Butter can easily warp and become spoiled but to have it retain its natural salty and white texture is a miracle. The last line sums up the Goddess as being kind because she is the ground.
Following that stanza in reference to the Goddess being “kind, black butter” is this continuing declaration:
Melting and opening underfoot,
Missing its last definition
By millions of years.
They'll never dig coal here,
The Earth Goddess envelopes the people who tread in her buttery bog like a lovers hug. However, not many people worship her today and if they do the tradition of human sacrifice is probably not being performed any more. Millions of years is obviously an exaggeration but even though man won't dig up the bogs for coal the changing Earth and climate could effect the boglands and deteriorate them. The feeling of sadness bleeds into the last stanzas where Heaney talks about how archeologists are digging up Her boglands and stripping away layers of used bog. The Earth Goddess has no limitations and her “wet centre is bottomless” as Heaney says in the last line.
To look at the darker side of these human sacrifices Heaney wrote “Bog Queen”. Not everyone gets consecrated to their deity and the woman portrayed in this poem is left to rot while still being conscious of her situation. At first glance this poem is talking about a woman who was killed and left in the bog only to be hauled out by the hair by some man and his wife. However, there is more to it than that. The title denotes a royal barring to the bog and the woman could be viewed as the Goddess herself rising up from the dead. The cutting of the “slimy birth-cord of bog” can mean the Goddess is reborn and lives again. She “rose from the dark” of the bog thanks to the man who frees her.
Heaney eludes to this interpretation at the beginning of the poem:
I lay waiting
between turf-face and demesne wall,
between heathery levels
and glass-toothed stone
The Goddess is laying in wait for someone to rescue her from the dense bog layers. She knows the bog and can describe and see all the elements of it because it was once hers. The statement, “I lay waiting” is repeated at the end of the fourth stanza and the Goddess starts describing her slow death in her bog by “illiterate roots” in her stomach and sockets, and the notion that the sun rose and set in the same places of her body. She could not move and she was getting taken over by the very plants and elements that she once ruled. So when she finally rises up at the end it is a victorious time for her. The rebirth of an Earth Goddess can change the cosmos.
Heaney's poem titled “Strange Fruit” describes a dead girl. Her head is found by a man who has become used to these odd findings in the bog:
Murdered, forgotten, nameless, terrible
Beheaded girl...
She has been in the bog for a long time if no one can identify her and the beheaded state does signify a murder. However, she could still be a human sacrifice for who knows what rituals the ancients performed for their deities? It is possible that being beheaded was another way to become consecrated to the Goddess. The man in the poem describes the girl in Earth terms like she has become part of the bog just like the sacrificed Tollund man.
Here is the girl's head like an exhumed gourd...
...They unswaddled the wet fern of her hair...
Her broken nose is dark as a turf clod,
Her eyeholes blank as pools in the old workings
The descriptive imagery makes one imagine her becoming the bog. Her head looks like a buried gourd with a long piece of fern covering the top. These are not native to bogs but the Goddess does not just rule marshy areas. She governs the entire Earth and all of nature is hers. The fact that these uncharacteristic features are found in this girl can be observed as the Earth Goddess's far-reaching influence. Her nose is dark like a clod of turf which is rich soil and then you get the contrast in elements with the water pools of her eyeholes. Earth and water meet in bogs and that is why the Goddess lives there.
The last two lines are beautiful in their meaning when Heaney describes how the girl is:
...outstaring axe
And beatification, outstaring
What had begun to feel like reverence
The girl is beyond weaponry and beauty. Those things do not matter to her nor does respect for anyone else besides the Goddess. She has been consecrated by her deity and nothing else on Earth matters to her anymore. All her respect and awe is for the Goddess now.
The last poem is called “Punishment” and it describes a man watching the slowly sinking body of an adultress cast out into the bog. Some goddesses were said to punish women committing adultery by having their heads shaved and being cast out of their towns to wonder and eventually fall prey to Her bog. The girl in this poem is said to be one of those wandering souls. She is made a spectacle in front of her sisters and the man who almost loved her and is then blindfolded and is thrown into the bog with weights on her body.
Though the girl is seen as an adultress Heaney still describes her in earthy terms that identify her with the deity whom she has been sacrificed to:
she was a barked sapling
that is dug up
oak-bone, brain-firkin
her shaved head
like a stubble of black corn
The girl was young if she is being compared to a sapling that was uprooted too early in life. She had a small frame but it was sturdy like oak so she was probably a hard worker for someone so young. Comparing her head to black corn is a grotesque image but does imply she had black hair or is black skinned and that could be why she is singled out.
Seamus Heaney wrote all these Bog Body poems because he was fascinated with the Goddess. He gives many different viewpoints on her ranging from a savior, to a lover, to her own resurrection, back to a savior, and finally to a vengeful spirit. He describes her personality in many ways that make her a multifaceted deity that should not be taken lightly.

Works Cited

Heaney, Seamus. Literature of Ireland. UCLA: Academic Publishing Services, 1993. Spiral Bound. Page 37 and 39.

Heaney, Seamus. “The Grauballe Man”, “Punishment.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Twentieth Century and After. Ed. 8 Vol. F. Greenblatt, Stephen: Norton and Company, 2006. 2825-2828. Print.

Shakespeare Class: Take Two

An earlier paper I did for Deeter's Shakespeare class centered around the first part of the play, "King Henry the Fourth."

Sam Edwards
English 3500
March 1, 2012
Character Paper

Dionysian Ways

Falstaff comes into "Henry the Fourth" because Shakespeare needed him, but he soon became larger than Shakespeare could handle. Falstaff may be all guts and girth but he is the person to prepare the Prince for Kingship. Hal needs a Dionysian mentor like Falstaff. He comes into a kingdom that has fallen into chaos, Dionysus's chaos, and so only the said God can train him through it all.
Hal is engaged in battles of wit and hilarity ensues making the scenes seem only comical at best. But through the insults and mudslinging Falstaff is amplifying Hal's language and ability to speak on a dime in situations of high stress. He is also grooming Hal for a king's royal barring requirement as they battle it out in prose. A king needs to be about to speak as well as act and in the few lines King Henry speaks it is in verse. The King showed obvious capacity for royal action but he lacks in diplomacy.
In Act 1 scene 2, it take Hal 12 lines to partially insult Falstaff though the words are hilarious. Falstaff is but pricked and says easily, “indeed, you come near me now, Hal, for we/ that take purses go by the moon and the seven stars,/and not by Phoebus, “he, that wandering knight so/ fair.” And I prithee, sweet wag, when thou art King,/ as God save Thy Grace—Majesty I should say, for/ grace though wilt have none--.” Ouch! Falstaff cuts down Hals pitiful words with a simple line challenging Hal's place as King and declaring his own allegiance to the free-flowing attitudes of thievery. Phoebus/Apollo is Dionysus's opposite. He represents order and structure whereas Falstaff/Dionysus represents chaos and expression. The moon is Apollo's opposite since he governs the sun and the number seven probably has some significance though I do not know what it is yet. Thieves are governed by chaos not be rules. They are free spirits who do as they please and have no higher authority than that of Dionysus who urges them forward.
Falstaff then makes a pun on Hal's grace commenting that he hasn't enough, “as will serve to prologue to an egg and butter” (1.2). A king must have grace as part of his royal barring and Falstaff claims Hal certainly doesn't have enough for he can't even say grace before a simple meal. Falstaff is slowly easing Hal into King-hood through his lax personality and cunning words. He doesn't have any fear of authority because Dionysus lives outside of rules. He creates his own reality. Apollo would stick Hal to his father's side and made him go to court meetings and sign papers like his dad. Apollo would keep Hal under tight restraints and keep his nose to the grindstone. Whereas with Dionysus the opposite is happening and that proves the most successful path. Hal is a thief hanging with the common people in pubs. Falstaff calls the Prince “sweet wag” all the time! Today, who would call the President a joker and have him take it as a fun jest? No one because there are rules against such language and mannerisms. The government keeps under tight Apollonian control but humans were not made to be confined. We are too complex to all fit neatly in their ice cube trays. Let me melt and flow like Falstaff!
He isn't ashamed of who he is as a person. He relishes his life of eating what he wants, living where he wants and doing what he wants while still maintaining the status of Knight (which is comical but it puts him closer to Hal). He openly states that thievery is his, “vocation...'Tis no sin for a man to labor in his vocation” (1.2). Why should he be afraid to  do what he enjoys? People care too much about how others receive their actions. So what if the Prince is hanging with his future subjects? So what if he's stealing his own families money? It's ironic when one looks at it in this light because there really is nothing wrong with it! Falstaff knows that and he wants Hal to realize that too. The townspeople probably don't even remember what Bolingbroke looks like for lack of seeing him. Prince Hal is more known to them and they can relate to him. That is a crucial part of being King.
In Act 2 scene 4 Falstaff pulls a clever act on Hal by letting him win! I have done this before where I will let someone win against me because I want to give them confidence, make them happy or, in Falstaff's perspective, I won because I lost. I successfully made my opponent believe they had won and so I won. Hal believes he has successfully tricked his mentor and feels pretty damn good about it. The only clue we have to Falstaff's true intentions is when the Prince says, “Pray God you have not murdered some of them.” Falstaff, “Nay, that's past praying for. I have peppered two of them. Two I am sure I have paid, two rogues in buckram suits” (2.4). This is the only time he mentions the number two before going off on the extravagant numbers and descriptions again. While saying he didn't kill anyone, which is obviously true since Hal and Poins are alive, and stating he “peppered” two of them, by fooling them with believing he was tricked, he is actually quite keen on what is going on and is telling the truth. If one misses that small comment than the whole joke passes right over your head as it did mine the first time I read this scene. What father doesn't want his son to surpass him one day?
Falstaff is slowly building up to this father and son bonding time. But there is still some time to go. The time comes when it becomes blatantly clear that Falstaff is preparing Hal for the place as King. If I missed the other hints in the play then I would at least catch it at the end of Act 2 scene 4 when Falstaff and Hal role-play. This is a very important scene because Falstaff places Hal in the role of his father and he must act with the royal barring he has learned from Falstaff. But before he is King he must represent Falstaff against his father making him relate to his father. Father and son are one and Hal role-playing both sides drives this point home and at the end of their scene Hal says a prophecy that will come to pass later in his life. Falstaff exclaims that if Hal “banish plump Jack, [he will] banish all the world.” In which Hal retorts, “I do, I will.” Why do people exile their friends? Falstaff has successfully made Hal ready to be King as Hal says presently that he does something and in future tense that he will do something when he is King I.e. when he takes his father's place and becomes his father. However, he will banish poor Falstaff and take on Apollonian tastes because to exile Dionysus's is to invite Apollo.
Jumping ahead to the end of Act 5 scene 1 is Falstaff's speech on honor. While it differs greatly from anything I have ever heard it makes me nod in agreement. Why should people fight for honor in wars or in the army when they must die to obtain it? Honor doesn't restore a leg or arm. “Honor hath no skill in surgery, then?” Falstaff questions and the answer is no. There is no honor in fighting a battle unless you die and then you are dead and can't even enjoy the honorable title! What is the point of that? Falstaff ponders this thinking he would rather live with no honor than be dead with honor. I must agree on this completely. He sets his own reality and doesn't let the doings of others determine his fate. This is why Dionysus is chaotic because he doesn't follow rules or norms. A King needs this kind of mentor to make him see all sides and beyond in different tints of color and Falstaff gave that to Hal.

World Literature

I wrote this paper for World Literature which was another amazing class by Deeter. I had a lot of fun writing this piece. The play "Galileo" is a quick joyful read that I recommend to everyone.

Sam Edwards
English 3510
April 19, 2012
Paper 2

“People should not fear their government. Government should fear their people.”
-Alan Moore (V for Vendetta)

In Bertolt Brecht's “Galileo” Galileo does not underestimate the power of the individual person. No matter what their social standing he wants everyone to learn what he has discovered. He writes all of his work in the vernacular instead of Latin so common folk can read it and the work is not limited to the church. The Pope at the time and other nobility wanted Galileo to publish strictly in Latin so they could keep control over the masses.
The ballad in Scene 9 is a turning point in the story because Brecht shows the impact this information has had on the common people. It also bares to light the underlaying emotions and thoughts of these people who have been underestimated.  At the beginning I thought the ballad singer was mocking Galileo and his ideas, however reading it a second time there is an undercurrent of irony in the singer's words. He says on page 98 that from the time God made the universe, “all beings here below were in obedient circles meant to go.” The key word here is 'obedient' because usually when someone is being obedient it is because what they are doing is something someone else wants them to do; they do not necessarily want to do it or even like to do it, but they must. The singer lists all the circles happening on Earth that is reflected in the Sun circling us from the Pope to the beggars and it is dismal when one looks at it. The servants and beggars who have it hardest and work the hardest are supposedly the farthest from God a.k.a the Pope. That does not make much sense.
The singer introduces Galileo as saying “almighty God was wrong” which is obviously a huge act of heresy. Galileo may not be a fly to the eagle but he is still only a small bird-of-prey at best and to say such a thing could cause a ripple in the common folk. The church does not want the common people to start practicing individual religion. The ballad singer states this when he says on page 99 “heresy will spread today like foul diseases. Change Holy Writ, forsooth? What will be left at all? Why: each of us would say and do just what he pleases!” That is a scary prospect for the church. The practice of individual religion is why Joan of Arc and Muhammad were condemned, because they went around the church officials and claimed to get their own personal messages from God. What is so wrong about that? Well the church would be practically useless at that point. Who needs a Pope to tell everyone what God is supposedly saying to them when one here's Him on their own? The last line made me laugh at how ironic it is. The singer says it like it is a terrible thing at the beginning but his tone slowly changes to one of hope and seriousness. What he says is absolutely true too because without the church to regulate peoples experiences everyone would be an individual and could say and do what they wanted.
Now the singer makes a great parallel between the previous stanza and one following it. He says that “heresy will spread like foul diseases” and then following it is “independent spirit spreads like foul diseases!” That does not sound bad to me. So if heresy runs rampant then that will lead to individuality running wild too, but to be an individual is bad or at least for the church it is. There will be “no altar boy [to] serve the mass [and] no servant girl will make the bed.” Sounds terrible doesn't it? If you are nobility it would be bad since the servants are who provide the life you are used to living. If all the servants stopped serving their masters and starting serving themselves I.e educating themselves and feeding themselves, and the nobility was left to do the same then they would probably starve. The nobility needs to keep their servants under their thumbs to keep their lazy lifestyles.
The idea of workers keeping what they make and produce is further pronounced in the next stanza on page 100. The singer says:
The carpenters take wood and build
Their houses—not the church's pews.
And members of the cobblers' guild
Now boldly walk the streets—in shoes...
The milk his wife once gave the priest
Now makes (at last!) her children fat.
These are some bold statements for the common folk. If Jesus was a carpenter wouldn't he want his people to build homes for themselves? He would not want suffering of any kind especially in building a church. However carpenters, who were immigrants in most cases, died of starvation while building the Vatican. The church paid carpenters little to nothing but required them to handcraft pews for their church with the overhanging threat that if anyone disobeyed they would be a sinner. Funny how God is being used as a scapegoat now.
Cobblers being able to wear what they make and walk in the streets? 'Blasphemy!' cries the church. Those expensive italian leather shoes are only for the circles within the church! That, by-the-way, you must make at an extremely low price or God will hate you forever. That price is so low you cannot even buy shoes for yourself. Heck you are barely surviving on the food that money gets you! But hell you will be redeemed once you die. You just have to suffer until then. The church is so nice to its followers.
Let us not forget about how malnourished those poor priests were at the time. Those fat bastards needed all the milk they could get to keep that nice round shape of their guts! Why would a growing child need milk anyway? Obviously God would redeem them once they die, which would be fairly young at that rate, but until then families had to give almost everything they worked hard to produce to the church. What would happen if everyone said no? What if they kept what they made? Independent spirit would spread like a 'foul disease' but it would be one everyone wanted to catch and then they would have clothes and food to boot! The ballad singer says “People must keep their place, some down and some on top! (Though it is nice, for a little change, to do just as one pleases!).” Ah yes the eagle must soar the skies and the flies must stay in the dung heap. However, I bet that fly longs to fly higher and to have talons for protection and a beak to rip open healthy flesh. Shit must get boring to eat every day when one is smelling roasting meat from inside a warm, wood house. The meat that came from their calf or their sheep. The meat that they themselves have never tasted. It would be nice to say no to the priest and keep that meat. God would not love them any less for taking their own needs into account first. I do not think God wants people to be starving and homeless when it can easily be the reverse.
Sexual revolution is also taking place within the common folk. Women grow up knowing they will be stuck with one man for the rest of their lives and they do not get any choice in the matter. However, as the ballad singer's wife says on page 101, “Now speaking for myself I feel that I could also do with a change. You know, for me—you have appeal, maybe tonight we could arrange...” Someone give that woman a good time tonight! She is tired of being tied to a man she does not like, though in reality the wife probably likes her husband, but there are many cases where the opposite is true. Women should have the option of who they marry and share their bodies with. The church does not own their body and neither does their husband. God would not want women to be used and abused and depressed. Would he?  The church seems to think so.
The ballad's last stanza on page 102 leaves an electrifying effect in me. The sense of revolution and independence is bold in the words of the singer:
Good people who have trouble here below
In serving cruel lords and gentle Jesus
Who bids you turn the other cheek just so...
While they prepare to strike the second blow:
Obedience will never cure your woe
So each of you wake up and do just as he pleases!
The singer is addressing the common people who are 'below' the eagle laying in the dung. They must serve the church who are unjust and immoral just to feel close to Jesus. They must advert their eyes from what is happening to be redeemed in the next life with Jesus, but while that is happening they are getting beat again and again. Obedience is obviously not working. People are miserable and live in fear of committing a sin that will throw them out of favor with God. The singer is telling them to 'wake up' and stop obeying the church people. They need to get out of their misty illusion and see reality for how it is and then they can start saying no with confidence. They will not fear their church but instead the church will fear the common people. As it should be!

A short dialogue for journaling class

Sam Edwards
English 3350
Notebook 4
February 24, 2012

I wrote this short dialogue in response to the activity on page 115. It asked to create a conversation between inanimate objects and the relationship between a flower and her lesser components, pot and soil, must be an antagonized group.

It is the middle of the night, and the full moon is shining through the paned window of a modern kitchen. It illuminates a lone basil plant on the sill. She is trying to sleep to make time pass quickly till morning, but the soil and the pot, who never sleep, are keeping her awake.

Pot: (grumpy) It's not my fault there are holes in my bottom. That's how I was made!
Soil: (retorts) But I lose part of myself every time the water comes! It's not a pleasurable experience to lose part of oneself!
Pot: I should think not. Why, I remember my cousin who had a chip in his skull. A chip! Can you imagine? Poor fellow never recovered completely.
Basil: (sweetly) Could you boys settle down? I need my rest before morning.
Soil: Bah! I hate morning. Your idiotic Sun burns me and I feel so lifeless till the water comes.
Pot: (contemplatively) But I thought you hated the water? Thought you didn't like losing part of yourself?
Basil: Oh I just adore the Sun! (ignores them for a moment) His sweet smile and warm caresses just fill me with the need to reach up and touch him!
Soil: (scowls at Basil) That bastard. He scorches me to near death and I must lose part of myself to feel alive again! Where's the justice in that?
Pot: I think he's nice enough. A little narcissistic but is that really such a bad thing?
Basil: I don't care about that. He treats me special. I know he gives me the most attention.
Soil: Doesn't anyone care about my dilemma?
Pot: There's not much you can do about it. She needs ample sunlight to live so we are stuck because of her. Unless she get's a sex change...(chuckles at the thought)
Basil: (gasps) Of course not! I love me! Everyone is envious over my broad supple leaves, tall stature and gorgeous flowers. And let's face it, I smell divine!
Soil: (Contemplates his existence in silence)
Pot: That's all very well and grand but means little to me. Let's talk about something else.
Basil: (outraged) There's nothing else to talk about except me! The fiery sun worships me, the earth must obey, the air loves carrying my scent, and the water and my roots are intimately intertwined.
Pot and Soil are silent.
Basil: (dreamily) Ah...I can't wait till morning...

The End