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Moved" by Uvavnuk is a celebration of life, of being alive to enjoy the world. The author has captured that moment of exhilaration that most humans, if they are lucky, feel at least once in their life. It is a moment when all seems right in the world. Everything is as it should be, and being present in that moment stirs the soul and warms the heart. A Buddhist would refer to this moment as nirvana, a state of blissfulness. Andrew Wiget points out that Inuit poetry is unique for its juxtaposition of humans against nature, how humans are dwarfed by the enormity of nature which results in human beings "continually struggling to secure their existence" (Wiget). Wiget also notes that this view of nature corresponds to the notion of the Romantic sublime, "a combination of awe, terror, and humility" (Wiget). Dee Finney notes that Uvavnuk was initiated when she was struck by a lightning ball, after which, "she had great power, which she dedicated to serving her people" (Finney). Thus, as a shaman, the author most likely was experiencing a state of nirvana, "that mystical state of ecstasy, moving between ordinary and non-ordinary realities ... rebirth" (Finney).
Finney points out that Freud believed that all dreams are important and that all dreams use "only the material from the life experiences of the dreamer" (Finney). This would certainly apply to Annie Long Tom's "A Dream Song." This poem is written in almost a haiku style, very significant by its simplicity. Finney notes that Jung believed that some dreams were more important than others, "not only for the dreamer, but for all human beings," as well (Finney). It is pointed out in the Heath Anthology text that the author dreamed this song at a time when the Shaker religion had come to her area, threatening her and her peoples' culture. Thus, Jung may be right, in that some dreams are more important than others for the dreamer, as well as for all humanity (Finney). Annie Long Tom's message is to follow your inner voice, stay true to yourself, and not be swayed by outside forces that usually concerned more with their own interests. This concept of freedom and individuality can also be found in other poets, such as Robert Frost, in particular his poem "The Road Not Taken," in which he writes, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" (Frost). Both Frost and Annie Long Tom were at a crossroads, at which the choice they made would determine their fate, how they lived within the world. They each made the choice. Annie Long Tom followed a dream, a song that sang to her in the night, leading her to her path. Frost based his decision on instinct, what felt right him, and in a way, he too may have been guided by spirits whispering to him through the wind. Wiget cites Orpingalik, who said, "Songs are thoughts, sung out with the breath when people are moved by great forces and ordinary speech no longer suffices" (Wiget1). Wiget further notes "When the words we want to use shoot up by themselves - we get a new song ... 'Orpingalik's words communicate the origins of Inuit poetry'" (Wiget1). Wiget compares this to Wordsworth's "emotion recollected in tranquility" (Wiget1).
In "The Origin of Stories -- Seneca," describes the origin of storytelling, relating the oral traditions of a culture. Wiget points out that these stories often are part of longer narratives of migration stories, the search for historical roots (Wiget2). Gaqka, or Crow, is a castaway of his society, and through his travels to another world, he re-emerges as a cultural hero. Wiget notes that these hero stories demonstrate "a people's belief about how a remarkable individual altered the original world and social order to its culturally accepted norm" (Wiget2). Every culture has its own account of the origin of its cultural beliefs, values and practices, whether Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or Native American (Wiget2). Wiget uses the example of the Lakota's White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman, who appeared to the people and brought them the scared pipe, teaching them how to pray with it to the Great Spirit (Wiget2). Gaqka went to the south and discovered the mysteries of the earth, and after learning the stories, returned to his people and brought back the power of storytelling to the Seneca (Wiget2). Finney points out that Jung believed these ideas come from the collective unconscious "by which myths are made and believed in" (Finney). Finney states, "the idea that the myths come from the collective unconscious would imply the reasons for the similarities of myths in different cultures ... The characters of these myths are called 'archetypes'" (Finney). In a way, Gaqka is resurrected, having been cast out by his people, he returns as a savior, bringing a wealth of knowledge by which they can build their culture upon.
"A Poem Written by a Captive Damsel" is a plead from one sister to another to be certain to follow God's path, despite the horror that surrounds them. She also reminds her sister to remember those who have died, and to forever reject the earthly sins. This is certainly a Puritanical prose, speaking of God in almost every line. This poem, similar to the narratives of Mary White Rowlandson, in which she writes of the strained relationships between the colonists and the Native Americans (Harris). Like most people who are faced with traumatic events or circumstances, the author of this poem is holding onto her faith as a means of survival and is cautioning her sister to do the same. This is a common response when people can find no other explanation or solace. For example, someone experiencing the untimely death of a loved one, or experiencing devastation by some type of natural force, such as a hurricane or flood, will cling to religious faith and belief in God as a way of surviving the event. This woman has obviously experienced traumatic events, and whether it is a punishment or a test of character, it is the will of God and one must endure. Moreover, even in the face of adversity, one must not forget to praise God and be thankful for His blessings, "Remember that unto the Lord, the praises you do give" (563). As the text points out, this poem is included in pre-Revolutionary literature, thus explaining the Puritanical influence, which was actually fundamentalism to the point of fanaticism during that era.
"On a Sea-Storm Nigh the Coast" is credited to Richard Steere, born outside of London, who became a staunch Whig and escaped the political oppression of Charles II by taking a ship to New England in 1683 (Richard). There, he settled in New London, Connecticut, and became a merchant, but later moved to Long Island to protest local persecution of Quakers (Richard). One can imagine that this poem might be metaphorical, considering the political and religious persecution of the era. However, it can also be compared to William Wordsworth's "By the Seaside" and "Composed During a Storm" (Poet's). In "By the Seaside," Wordsworth writes, "Where, now, the ships that drove before the blast, Threatened by angry breakers as they passed; And by a train of flying clouds bemocked ... Fresh gales to waft them to the far-off port, But near, or hanging sea and sky between" (Poet's). And in "Composed During a Storm," he writes, "Of the fierce wind, while mid-day lightnings prowl, Insidiously, untimely thunders growl" (Poet's). "On a Sea-Storm Nigh the Coast" might well have been written from his experience while journeying to the colonies, particularly when he writes of "The Winds are High Making the Surface of the Ocean Show Like Mountains…[continue]
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