An Analysis of “Ethics” by Linda Pastan

In her poem “Ethics,” Linda Pastan used tactile and visual imagery. The poem begins by setting the scene in a classroom in which restless children are sitting on hard chairs as their ethics teacher asks them questions. Both restlessness and hard chairs are elements of childhood that can help one place themselves in the position of the poet as a child. The hard chairs is a specific example of tactile imagery that the poet uses. 

The poet used visual imagery in saying that the old woman borrowed her grandmother’s face. This gives the abstract idea of an old woman a concrete identity. The reader is invited to place their own grandmother in the place of the old woman. This form of imagery allows a reader to view the situation from the perspective of the child once again. 

The poet then places herself in the place of the old woman in the burning building, inviting the reader to do the same, to provide the reader with an alternate perspective. This is done to contradict the idea presented in the beginning of the poem- where the life of a Rembrandt is more valuable as it might ultimately outlast the old lady- by comparing the value of the reader’s life with that of the Rembrandt. 

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An Analysis of “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath

Before reading the poem, I assumed that the poem “Mirror,” by Sylvia Plath, discussed matters related to reflection- whether it be in the literal sense or as introspection. The title gives an indication as to who the speaker is in the poem. One can understand why this poem, which teaches about the value of an unbiased perspective that seeks the whole truth, is centered around the perspective of an object that plainly reflects all that it is presented with. Having read the poem, I realized that the poem speaks more about perceiving matters in an unfiltered manner than about reflection on what one perceives. 


The poem, “Mirror” by Silvia Plath, teaches one to absorb the details that surround him or her in its raw and unfiltered form. Like a mirror, one must reject “love [and] dislike”, to have the ability to see without bias. The second stanza of the poem teaches that one must not settle on artificial alternatives to the truth. The moon and candles cannot provide their own light just as a lie cannot provide satisfaction. Both stanzas warn against allowing an external or internal factor to take over one’s existence. The mirror and the woman, being focused on the pink wall and sadness respectively,  lost themselves to the object of their focus.  

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An Analysis of “The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy

A possible intention that Thomas Hardy had in writing his poem, “The Man He Killed,” is discussing the absurdity of war. The poet reflects upon having shot someone who could have been his friend had their respective countries not assigned the pair as foes. A potential interpretation of this poem is that the poet is a war survivor who advocates against war. The poet humanizes his enemy- whom the war dehumanized- by imagining that he enlisted in the army for the same reason that the poet did: out of desperate need for money. 

The poem diminishes the glory associated with being a war survivor. It exposes war for attempting to justify murder in the name of a country. Hardy does this using the perspective of a war survivor who lives with the regret of having shot a stranger. The poem also teaches that the people that a soldier kills in war are not really his enemies. This is heavily emphasized with the idea of buying this supposed foe a drink in an alternate circumstance. One would be inclined to support the antiwar agenda after having read this poem.  

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Types of People the New Kid Meets

I was sitting at lunch the other day and I realized that every time I was the new kid at school, I always encounter the same four types of people. Perhaps I should call them personalities rather than people as these qualities can describe anyone and everyone.

First, there is the ‘Forget Me Nots’. The Forget Me Not is that person who you met on the first week of school who reminds of someone. You can’t tell exactly who the Forget Me Not is like but you recognize something about them. Maybe it’s their pretentious eyebrows that seem to have been carefully crafted or their permanently plastered smile- these tend to be the more identifiable traits of the Forget Me Not- all you know for a fact is that this person’s face has made an appearance in your life once before. After a few weeks of observation, you have concluded that the Forget Me Not is simply another version of the person you knew initially, perhaps even a carbon copy. 

Speaking of carbon copied other versions, I like to call this next type of person the iPhone. The iPhone can do every basic thing that their peers can do, but they claim to be doing it better. They believe that their word on this matter is all it takes to convince their peers. Just like an iPhone, their demeanor that implies their superiority but once you peel back their pretty mask there are just about as basic as the rest of us. Even though you don’t like her, you just can’t avoid her- just like an iPhone. 

Then there is the Recliner. The Recliner is the most laid back person you have ever encountered.This is that person who decides that they only need to participate in life when they feel they are needed. These people can normally be roaming the hallways with their bathroom pass casually peeking out of their oversized sweatpants. They are typically on a first name basis with school security guards. They have been charged with cheating on their assignments several times, but never have they actually been convicted of an honor code violation. They probably even know the principal’s grandmother from bingo night or something. 

Finally, you meet – but never get to know- the Disappearing Act. It’s only the second month of the school year, and they have already decided that it’s time for a getaway. They stopped showing up to school for days at a time, then weeks at a time, then finally for a solid two months. Since their sudden disappearance, you have heard of their whereabouts precisely four times, three of these four times being from the rumors that they have sent flying about them. They drop hints about their location via various forms of social media, but that’s about it. 

Once you have met these four people, you have met everyone. You basically know everyone in town. You might as well have grown up here. 

All rights reserved © 2019 Josephine Joyil

The Movie that Changed my Life

I have to be honest, I haven’t watched movies in a while. To give you an idea, I had to think long and hard just to find a movie to accuse of changing my life. It’s not because I don’t have the time – I don’t have time, but that’s just not the reason- I just don’t find them very appealing anymore. I feel that I have entered a period in my life in which I do not want to waste my time doing meaningless tasks. I categorize watching movies as meaningless as they don’t impact your life in any profound way and no one’s forcing you to do it anyway. This isn’t true about all movies- just those that present themselves to me. I find it quite ironic that it was a movie that helped me realize this.

It was a summer day. I don’t remember which day or which summer – perhaps it was five years ago or a nine years ago- but I remember that the day started off promising. It was one of those summer days in which you wake up when the day is already half over, but you have hope for the day to be promising nonetheless. My family and I had the grand idea of spending the prime of the day at the movies. At the time, we were on vacation in India. My brother and I had not been accustomed to the unforgiving Indian humidity so naturally our solution to this problem was to to camp out at the movies where the air conditioning will cool the air around us to our liking.

I believe the movie playing was Turbo. As I remember it, it was either a movie about a really fast snail that wanted to race or a slow snail that wanted to be fast so that it can race. Either way, we were watching snails race and I can tell you it was about as exciting as it sounds. The movie was about an hour and a half long, and after watching it I felt robbed of an hour and a half. My cousins, who were also on vacation in India, braved the humidity and went fishing while I watched snails race. At dinner, we talked about our day and I remember my cousin Richie, who was about four or five years old at the time, boasting about seeing a jellyfish wrestling a salmon. Now I don’t believe this tale, but I wasn’t there to see it, so I couldn’t say anything about it.

Now I know this may see quite exaggerated, but these events really did happen- besides Richie seeing a salmon wrestling a jellyfish, I just put that in there to make an essay about snails racing more interesting- and that day, I realized that I had been wasting too much time in front of the screen. It made me wonder why I started watching movies in the first place and I realized that it was supposed to be used as a distraction. When I was a kid, my parents gave me a screen to distract me with Scooby Doo or Tom and Jerry while they went about finishing the tasks that life demands of them to do. They never took the screen back, so whenever I got bored, I tuned to the screens as a means of a distraction. Growing up, I would finish my homework and then run straight to my TV to get a dose of some of that good distraction. When I realized this, I had realized that I had lived the better part of my life distracted. There was a day that children went outside to play and made up stories about seeing jellyfish wrestling salmon, but now children are too distracted by their screens to bother to go outside.

I decided that I did not want to live half distracted, but then I realized that I could not live in any other way. Without a distraction I get bored easily, I realized, I need the distraction. We depend on this distraction. We crave for a distraction. We need something to take out minds off the causes of our anxiety. We have an irrational fear of what the future holds for us. While we anxiously await the future, we are restlessly waiting for the tedious present to pass. We sold out time for a distraction, and in doing so we have allowed ourselves to be enslaved by the distraction.

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To: The child I once was

Dearest,

Do you remember that letter you wrote on your second day at Kinnelon? It was the letter you wrote in health class with all the other freshmen, addressing the version of yourself that lives in the future. You will never have the chance to read that letter again, so don’t bother writing it. I remember you were quite anxious about finishing it. You did not know what to say to your ‘future self’. I remember you made references to a period of your life that was unimportant to you even then. I have always wondered whom you were trying to fool. You were informed that no one else would ever read it, so why did you bother writing it?

I remember you thinking that the past is just a distant memory that is separated from you by the membrane that is time. It made you feel that all you had was the present. The present for you was not a pleasant time to live in, I remember. I am glad to tell you, you are wrong to some extent. The past will be locked away from you forever- that much is true, you will never experience it again- but you won’t be stuck in this present. You have a future that will eventually became the present. You will cherish this future. You will only learn how to when you realize that the future has already become the past.

Hold close to you the things that are important. You may not know what it is yet, but it knows you. Trust me when I say that it will find you in your near future and give you a purpose that you did not know you had. It will show you a whole world that exists in front of your face, but you did not have the courage to open your eyes and witness it. I do not blame you for this lack of courage though. What you will soon see is quite terrifying, but you will survive.

Just make sure that you don’t forget who you are. People are easily manipulated when they forget their identity. They would be like a blank canvas longing for colour. This longing is dangerous, it can persuade one to settle for what is beneath them.

In a few years it would be another’s turn to write these same words to me in a letter that I will never read. Time will stand in the way. It would be the same sequence of letters that hold a completely different meaning. That is what time does to words- it fills them with wisdom and deplete them of innocence. It is true that ignorance is bliss, but trust me bliss is of no use to you. It is better to be wise and alert than blissful. Just because you are unaware of a threat does not mean it is any less threatening.

You will learn these things soon; I just thought I should give you a forewarning. I would have appreciated a forewarning. Perhaps a forewarning would defeat the purpose of life. If you are prepared for everything, you would never fail and if you never fail, you will never learn. That is why I continue to neglect my upcoming math tests: preparation will inhibit my ability to learn.

Don’t take me too seriously dear, I’m only joking (to some extent). To some extent, however, I am right. Don’t worry too much about life. It will happen, one way or another. You can’t stop it, all you can do is pray.

This will be the last time I write to you. You won’t hear from me again, because I won’t exist again. The person who is writing this letter to you at this moment will cease to exist before she finishes this sentence. That is just what time does to you. When your past dies, your future is born. Just remember that I am with you, resting in your mind, waiting to be born.

Forever yours,
Josephine

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My Mom’s Crepes

When I was in middle school, I lived in Sweden. I remember that I took the tunnelbana- which is what they called the subway- to school every day. I used to eat my breakfast on the train ride to school everyday as it was the norm for me to wake up late everyday. I would always arrive at school a solid five minutes late, but that didn’t matter because the teacher was always ten minutes late. So I would be at ease, enjoying my breakfast crepes, as I admired the beautiful sceneries of Stockholm, Sweden flash by outside the window. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure that what I was eating could technically be defined as a crepe- they weren’t technically made with the same recipe-  but it walked like a crepe and it talked like a crepe, so for now its a crepe. 

As I passed through the handful of stations that existed between my school in Hötorget and my house in Gullmarsplan, I crossed over two major water bodies. The realization that there was an entire island between my house and my school only hit me after I left Sweden. I remember that I was actually in a train in India- passing over a similar water body- when the thought crossed my mind. I do enjoy the irony.  

My mom’s crepes are not a pleasure food. It is quite the opposite actually. It’s what you make when you have two cups of flour and no time on your hands. It’s the kind of junk food with a ‘healthy twist’ that leaves you wondering why you decided to pick it of all things to be your sugary snack for the day. Now, I don’t intend to publicly criticize my mother for her odd crepes.  My mom is a good cook, who can make great food. The problem is that most great foods are bad for you and my mom is a health nut. I enjoyed my mother’s crepes, nonetheless,  despite their odd twist. 

I remember that my mom only made these crepes for breakfast on school days. She always packed about three or four for me to enjoy on the train ride to school. By the ninth grade, I no longer took the train to school, so I could no longer enjoy crepes for breakfast. We only get to enjoy them now on Friday nights for a mid night snack. Even those occasions are not very frequent. In a way, I like to think of my weaning off of these crepes as an ending sign. 

Its Hötorget, my stop has arrived. Except this time, I won’t be walking out of the train station and heading to my school. This time, I’ll be catching a connection train that will be taking me to a further destination. I’m not sure where the train is headed, but I’m sure that it will pass over a bridge. And, I’ll think about how I used to travel over islands going 300 miles per hour, while peacefully enjoying my crepes on my way to school. And perhaps one day I’ll be the one making those crepes for a kid whose is  rushing out the door everyday, late for first period.

All rights reserved © 2019 Josephine Joyil 

A Junction in Time

The present won’t move forward,
So you reminisce the past.
There’s nothing to work toward,
You wonder if things would last.

As nostalgia clouds the mind,
The good dreams taste bitter sweet.
You wonder if you left behind,
The better days, in hurried fleet.

When childhood faces come to mind,
You wonder if you’ll ever see,
The people who were once so kind,
At the times you were in need.

These faces you saw yesterday,
Who you’ll see tomorrow, but never again…
The faces who have led your way,
Who were by your side without a gain.

This is life, my child listen!
You’ll only see when time had run,
When the evening sun comes down in glisten,
You’ll see at last, that life was fun.

Fun- had you been there to hear the laughter,
Of your peers with whom you grew,
But you had wanted to grow faster,
Now food for worms, you have to go!

All rights reserved © 2018 Josephine Joyil

He Who Guides

The voice of God guides me
To start this life afresh,
To forget the unforgettable–
A voice not to second guess,

The voice that I have trusted
At dawn of day that’s life,
A day that I shall walk through
Till God’s word calms the strife.

The trifles of this world
Shall strain not my soul,
For I know of God’s word,
The word of life that’s whole

For all those that are broken,
Contentment God shall grant,
For the cross of Jesus opened
The gates of Heaven’s land.

The Voice that welcomes back
A banished child of Eve.
The water that will cleanse
A sinning soul that grieves.

A helper God shall send,
Who shall guide me through.
A light at tunnel’s end,
That shines in radiant hues.

The sadness may persist,
And through it all I stand,
For I know of God’s gift,
He knows and understands.

The fruit of Eden seeks
The hopeless and alone.
Temptation hunts the weak,
But God will guide them home.

Our worldly needs may ask
To leave the just and right.
My soul shan’t leave its task,
To praise God from hill’s height.

When Heaven’s gate is opened,
The choir of angels sing.
A hymn of praise and worship,
Songs of eternity ring.

All rights reserved © 2018 Josephine Joyil

Immanuel

The leaves turn to tell the age,
From a tender bud,
To a parchment page.

The green blue waters turn frozen grey,
It cries out
To you in pain.

The winds were blowing, it howled your name.
Its prayers were surely,
Not in vain.

The night devours the light of day,
But from the heavens,
Shine forth your rays.

All rights reserved © 2017 Josephine Joyil