A Perfect World…. and all of it ours

This weeks readings, while having different ways of expressing this, all centered around the theme of expansion of an empire. We get different depictions of how this affects the people of this colonization and assimilation of people to an empire or large country, and typically when discussing the repercussions of acquiring a country through war or purchase instructors tend to gloss over all the turmoil and gory details that exist in these land-holdings. Song of the Red Indian by Eliza Cook gives the reader an introspective look on how these people would feel having their homes taken away from them by force. We don’t think about those we hurt to get to the top when it doesn’t affect us. “The eagle has its place of rest, / The wild horse where to dwell; / And the Spirit who gave the bird its nest, / Made me a home as well,” these lines show that bereft feeling that is cast upon a culture after their home no longer belongs to them, and they are being pushed off of land that they have been living on for years. Cook continues to allude to the idea of expansion as something bad by insinuating that this expansion is a disease, “We need no book to tell us how / Our lives shall pass away; / For we see the onward torrent flow, / And the mighty tree decay” trees are meant to be the bearers of wisdom as they have been around and experienced more life than other beings, so the decaying of a tree is almost like removing the parts of history in which they reside while also removing the culture that they have built. We can also see from the poem The White Man’s Burden by Rudyard Kipling that need for assimilation or exile, because these savage individuals must become culturally acceptable if they wish to live within the new society, and it is up to the white man to ensure that exactly this happens…. White is of course the most pure of colors, so if we can make them all seem white then they are on their way to living an acceptable life.

Expansion is a large part of these readings, but we also have the idea of progress and the age of Steam rising from these works as well. Tennyson specifically deals with these ideas of the new age of productivity ripping away the mystical in the poem Locksley Hall. At the beginning of this poem we almost see this dream-scape being created for us, albeit with a depressing atmosphere that seems to suck all the energy out of the world. We almost see this bidding of goodnight as the poem opens, or at least a separation from the world when the narrator asks for the bugle to be blown when they have need of him, sort of like he wishes to be alone with his thoughts or to sleep a little longer before awakening to the reality of the war around him. Locksley Hall, the place, seems to be a place that has almost taken on the representation of the old world before the onset of change, we can even take this a step farther with the call of the curlew (a call of the dead entering the realm of Dreaming) and believe that the narrator is being visited by spirits and beings of the Underworld. “Many a night from yonder ivied casement, ere I went to rest, / Did I look on great Orion sloping slowly to the West. / Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro’ the mellow shade, / Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid,” Orion is the hunter who hunts the Pleiads, and they are constantly being chased, thus they are in constant motion which reflects the world and it’s motion as well especially as the people seem to be rushing towards something that they are never going to achieve…. The perfect world.

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