The standard translation for the French word “apprivoiser” is to tame, domesticate, or to socialize. It is a painfully bad way to translate such a beautiful word. In the children’s story Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the Little Prince asks the fox, <<Qu’est-ce que signifie “apprivoiser”?>> The fox explains to the Little Prince, <<C’est une chose trop oubliée, […], ça signifie “Crée des liens…>>. (The story is lovely in its original language, so as to not disturb its natural beauty, I will translate it here: “What does ‘apprivoiser’ mean? “It is a thing that is often forgotten, it means ‘to create the bonds’.)


Thus as you can see, “apprivoiser” means to connect with someone. Of course, the English word “to bond” seems sufficient enough. However, “apprivoiser” signifies a much deeper level of connection between two beings. It is to entrust one’s soul to the other person. Just as the fox says, <<Si tu m’apprivoises, nous aurons besoin l’un de l’autre. Tu seras pour moi unique au monde. Je serai pour toi unique au monde.>> (If you apprivoise with me, we will need each other. You will be unique in the world to me. I will be, for you, unique in the world as well.)


“The Boat Studio”

Claude Monet’s “The Boat Studio”

I saw him crossing the river in a storm yesterday. He did not seem to notice the wind nor the rain. I grew increasingly anxious and shouted at him to leave the water, but he made no gesture that indicated he heard me. He disappeared behind the layers of rain seconds later.

And there he was again, stoic and silent. The air had not yet recovered from last night’s storm and the sky already signified another thunderstorm with a golden hue. I stood on the river bank, watching the boat approaching me with the old man inside. The mist in the air was heavy and suffocating. I shuffled uncomfortably in the mud, suddenly anxious to meet the man. The water in the air grew heavier with every minute, softening the sound in the air and discreetly added a tranquil quality to the scene. The man turned his head away from me almost shyly as the boat brushed past my muddy shoes. I was fortunate enough to catch a glance of the inside of his boat, however. He was painting a distressed man in a storm.


The Last Car

I was an uneducated burglar and I was proud of my heritage. My father was a burglar in the morning and a thief at night, so was his mother. I was still working on my thief skills at that time. Being a burglar was so much easier, since burglary mostly required brute force, but thieving was an art. Like playing a violin, we thieves needed to learn from the basics and build our muscles to memorize the moves. Our family did not join gangs on the street: we was a private enterprise and we did our own business because we was a proud people. Our house was built from the bricks my grandmother stole from a memorial construction site. We needed money to hire people to do the water pipes: sadly, skills could not be stoled. I believed that it was time for me to make a contribution to my family like a good thief.

I decided to try my luck on a train. I sneaked past the ticket clipping people and hopped onto the last car of the train. I was so lucky: there was an elegant lady leaning delicately against the side of the window looking out to the crowds below. I quietly slipped into the seat next to her, all the while clenching my lunch box to my chest nervously(I could not find a proper lunch box so I used a large cardboard box to store my homemade sandwich, an apple, a yogurt, and a carton of milk snatched from a street store). The lady did not stir. I looked at her back, and noticed a curious thing perched on top of her head. I could not but frown furiously when I saw that it was a gigantic birdcage connected to a hat. It was made out of pure gold. My eyes widened so much and so quickly at the thought that my ears popped. At least… I thought it was pure gold. I did not know how to verify such thing other than to bite into the metal: I have seen sailors done that on the Macnolia port before. But she looked so pretty, like a crane I saw at the park yesterday. Before I realized it, the train entered the destination’s station. The rays of sunshine was blocked by the sudden concrete structure of Le Gare. We were thrown into pitch black for a moment. My heart raced and I bit my lunch box anxiously. This was it, now or never! I firmly told myself and tried to imagine papa and grandma’s proud faces when they saw the golden cage. I leaned over and clamped my teeth hard over the rim of the cage. The cage did not bulge, but my teeth was stuck on the metal. The lady started and turned around, and what I saw made me scream like a pig. It was my grandma! Her hazel eyes stared straight into my soul and I could only drool stupidly while my face was locked in place by my teeth an inch away from her face. She furiously kicked me away so hard that my teeth disconnected with the metal with a sticky noise. We barely noticed that the train stopped and people were leaving. Grandma was ripping off her disguise and screaming in my face telling me I was a failure to my entire family because I destroyed the golden cage she stole from the Palace. My throbbing mouth made me mad as well, and I told her how could she ever put a cage on her hat and expect no one to deport her. I clutched my lunch box deeply to my chest until its edges dug into my ribs. I was so sad that I had let my grandma down, but I did not want to let her win the argument, so I tried hard to bite back tears, which was difficult because my teeth were still hurting and it made me want to cry even more. Grandma wiped out a large map and tried to fold it into a stick so she could slap me on the head with it. I clutched my box even harder. All the while we did not notice someone standing on the platform, staring silently at us with his eerily familiar eyes.


Poem Analysis

The Big Question:

The writer’s point in “When I Have Fears”: Reflecting to the past and fears that he has not lived his life to the fullest.

Devices: –   Simile from “Before high-pilèd books, in charactery, Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;”

  • Personification from “night’s starred face” and “magic hand of chance”

Structure: – Rhyming: ABCBDEDEFGFGHH

– Punctuation: The dash in “Never have relish in the faery power/

Of unreflecting love—then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone,”

  • Whole poem is one long sentence and one stanza.

Sound devices: – Alliteration in “wide world”

The writer’s point in “Mezzo Cammin”: Thinking about the past initially makes him feel that he has not fulfilled his life goals.

Devices: – Metaphor compares the Past to a city he sees from a hill

  • Imagery describes the city in “A city in the twilight dim and vast,/With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights”
  • The thunder symbolizes Death

Structure: – 2 long sentences with dashes in the second part

  • Entire poem is one stanza

Sound devices: – “Cataract” is cacophony


I. Introduction: Thesis: In poems “When I Have Fears” and “Mezzo Cammin”, the authors conveys their concerns for the

II. The authors create vivid images to illustrate the past.

  • Imagery describes the city in “A city in the twilight dim and vast,/With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights” (Longfellow l. 11-12).
  • Imagery and simile describes the imagined past accomplishments in ”
    efore high-pilèd books, in charactery,
       Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;
    When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,
       Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,” (Keats l. 3-6).
  • Personification from “night’s starred face” and “magic hand of chance” (Keats l. 5 and 8).

III. Keats and Longfellow play with sound to create a serious tone when describing the end of their time.

  • Alliteration in “wide world” (Keats): wailing sound
    • “Sounds and sights” (Longfellow): signing sound
  • Cacophony in “cataract” (Longfellow): illustrates thunder’s magnificence

IV. The authors use similar structures to show the passage of time and their sadness.

  • Rhyming of each poem
  • Long syntax, with dashes (quotes see above)
  • Parallel structure: “And think…”, “And when…” (Keats)
    • “Nor indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret” (Longfellow)

V. Conclusion



Hamlet: Women

  • Shakespeare often uses female characters to make subtle (or not-so-subtle) assertions about the roles assigned to women in their society and the ways in which they are treated. What does Shakespeare say about women through Gertrude and Ophelia?

In a largely patriarchal society of the 17th century, women have little power. This social norm is reflected within Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, in which there are only two female characters present. Gertrude, a seasoned queen, contrasts sharply against Ophelia, an innocent and young woman. Together they represent the different types of women in the society.

As a queen who stays on the throne by marrying the dead king’s brother, Gertrude takes on the role of a greedy strumpet in many audiences’ eyes. We will never know for sure whether Gertrude keeps her status as a dutiful royalty, power hungry ruler, or protective mother. Probably a combination of all these roles since, once she commits herself to Claudius, her conscious will justify her act with decent reasoning until the audience and the queen herself lose track of her original motive. Despite King Hamlet’s effort to try to make Hamlet make peace with Gertrude, the prince still condemns his mother savagely. Hamlet asserts that her mother has committed an act “that blurs the grace and blush of modesty, calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose from the fair forehead of an innocent love, and sets a blister there, making marriage vows as false as dicers’ oaths” (III.iv.43-46). Hamlet has no respect for his mother and even laments her decisions and lack of virtue. Gertrude’s status as a queen further emphasizes the little power women have against men, for she cannot stop her son at dominating her life choices. Hamlet’s words also underlines the double standard in the society, in which women are often the ones being frowned upon even when men, like Claudius, are not blamed for their lack of virtue when it comes to sex. When Gertrude insists on drinking the wine in the end by politely asserting “I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me”, she is immediately poisoned and died (V.ii.293). The queen’s death may reflect the idea that women should be subordinate to men, for unfortunate consequences will ensue as soon as a woman defies a man. On the other hand, even though there is no concrete evidence as whether Shakespeare is a feminist, the playwright may also be mocking the society’s norm by letting his female characters die as soon as they gain self-respect. All in all, the complexity of Gertrude’s characterization makes her a highly plausible and relatable figure in real life.

In contrast to Gertrude, Ophelia is the symbol of purity and virginity. Interestingly, as the character who only appears in a few scenes before she dies, Ophelia is among the most discussed person in the play. The lady follows everything the men order her to do, like an ideal woman in the time period. Ophelia allows her father and brother to control her relationships even though she is an adult woman, and she takes Hamlet’s rude insults such as “get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?” without a retort (III.i.121-122). She submits to the society’s expectations in every way possible, and yet what good fortune does she receive in the end? After turning insane, the lady commits a potential suicide by drowning. Seconds before death, Ophelia’s famous death scene is portrayed as beautiful as her innocent soul, but then her clothes are subdued by water and “pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay to muddy death” (IV.vii.181-183). Ophelia’s fall from grace as she is devoured by mud forms a parallel with her life, in which her innocence is destroyed by Hamlet’s verbal abuse and her father’s death. Yet which of the gentlemen will and can take full responsibility for her tragedy? From this we can see that society often corrupts women and in the end women themselves often take the blame for being too weak or immoral.

Despite Gertrude and Ophelia’s differences, they both lost their lives in the end. Women are the sacrifices in the conflicts of society. They are the supporters and followers of men, and most of them will remain this way for the centuries to come.


A Painting…


My initial reaction to the painting:

The painter must be either very troubled and confused or has reached a level of inner peace and enlightenment that is unmatched by many. I will assume it is the later case, since this has the quality of a masterpiece that I often see in art museums. The painting reminds me of treasures under the ocean or warfare. It expresses freedom and elegance with its seemingly messy strokes. If viewing this huge painting in person, I would certainly feel dwarfed and mesmerized by it. I think that it is famous as it is because it reflects the society’s structure at the painter’s time. According to Shakespeare, there is a method in this madness.


Number 1 by Jackson Pollock (1948)

by Nancy Sullivan

No name but a number.

Trickles and valleys of paint
Devise this maze
Into a game of Monopoly
Without any bank. Into
A linoleum on the floor
In a dream. Into
Murals inside of the mind.
No similes here. Nothing
But paint. Such purity
Taxes the poem that speaks
Still of something in a place
Or at a time.
How to realize his question
Let alone his answer?


The word “purity” really strikes me because in a way this painting is beautifully pure despite the arbitrary image it presents. It expresses truthfully the painter’s emotions like music, without being tainted by the dust and lust of the world.  Sullivan is mesmerized by this work of art and she thinks that the painting seems so deep yet so pure and simple in the sense that it does not convey one specific thing. The poet uses parallel structures starting with “into” to create a feeling of walking or falling deeper and deeper into a maze. Sullivan thinks that compared to a poem, the painting is timeless and otherworldly. The imagery such as “trickles and valleys of paint” and “a linoleum on the floor in a dream” further illustrates the freedom and deep thoughts hidden inside the painting, under the currents of the streams of paint. The final question in the end asked by Sullivan is also shared by many, as each person can have a different interpretation of this masterpiece.