essay for an English class in college
What does the term sacred mean? One possible answer is to be held in esteem. By whom? By the individual, I say. I am presenting two writers: the poet Joy Harjo who was born in 1951, and the translating poet Anne Lock who died in 1590. One thing that connects the pieces I’ve selected is a grand presence of personal faith. Faith, in this case, appears in the context of religion but sometimes, personal faith can be as simple as someone trusting his/her friends. In that, there is faith in something: friends. The works I will use are Fire, & Deer Ghost from Harjo, and sonnets 11 & 20 from A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner written by Locke. Women are not structured by the freedom of faith but rather it’s reality in their lives.
The main archetype I want to discuss in this paragraph is faith or Goddess. The role of the spirit verses the role of the loyal believer is faith. It is the interplay between the ordinary and the spirit. In Fire (p 569), many spirits and forces are brought to life: “voices of the mountains” (line 5), “the foreverness of blue sky” (line 7), and the evading forms of “night wind women” (line 11). The interplay is the reach of believers for their God(s). In sonnet 20 (p. 84), two great cities of faithful are hoping to be strengthened and protected from the “tyranny” (Verse 20:line 10) “by thy mighty hand:” (Verse 20:line 12) or God. The narrator prays the unity of God’s children as a safe haven for peace. “That Zion and Jerusalem may be/ a safe abode for them that honor thee.” (Verse 20: lines 13-14). The follower says to her God – Remember me and my people as well as those who follow you. So where is the interplay in the Fire (p.589)? “(I) am not a separate woman” (line 15) calls out the believer. What are you- we should ask? She is ready to tell us. She rambles of forces of her Faith which “burns/ with every breath/ she takes.” (lines 21-23).
The main archetype I want to discuss in this paragraph is that of the re-born believer or transformer. Though outwardly she seems the same to others, she feels remade or altered in spirit. Deer Ghost (p569-570) opens with an appearance of a deer that causes a woman to long for a childhood faith she abandoned. “This is what names/ me in the ways of my people, who have called me back.” (lines 18-19). Nature reminds her of the culture of her past as well. The other sonnet (Verse 11,p.83) is an interpretation of Psalm 51:9. “Close your eyes to my sins, and wipe out all my evil” (p. 71, The Psalms for Modern Man). The sonnet opens “look on me” (verse 11:line 1) though I am shaking. My sin “overflow(s)” (verse 11: line 3) and covers me making myself wretched in your eyes. This is the state of Anne Locke’s pleading believer. In Deer Ghost (p569-570), the transition of spirit comes from a journey. “ Your fire scorched/ my lips, …. I can taste you” (lines 8-9). “I am lighting the fire that crawls from my spine/ to the gods with a coal from my sister’s flame.” (lines17-18). I have talked with my sister and her faith has relit mine. Sonnet 11 (p83) gives us another reason, grace, for transition. Do not be angry though you are justified and create me again through “thy grace/ pure in thy mercy’s sight.” (Verse 11: line 12-13). And here in the sonnet concludes our Psalm: “wipe all my sins away.” (Verse 11, line 14). Leave me new in you - the believer contends.
Both writers bring different belief systems to their work and yet we can find hidden similarities beyond their words. The Native American Church holds beliefs around nature. A lot of legends are presented with the circle of life. Dance is prayer to the Spirits or Great Spirit. Some tribes focus on one great god while others use lesser ones as well. Christian angels become spirit guides in the Native American beliefs. There are four elements: fire, earth, wind and water. Women are often represented by the first two and men by the last two. Their culture is often derived from faith elements. Harjo is a Native American poet. Anne Locke’s religion is a Protestant branch and her beliefs lean more in line with Calvinism. The main viewpoint addressed in the book is the concept of original sin and our need to seek “salvation by grace.” (p 82). During the reformation, her faith group was boasting of closer ties to the original Hebrew group of Christians. This caused a lot of problems. Though forced into exile, Locke did not stop translating her faith for the people to read.
Women are not structured by the freedom of faith but rather it’s reality in their lives. Two sets of archetypes best fit the presented work: Faith or Goddess and Re-birth or Transformation. The works I have presented are Fire, Deer Ghost, and 2 sonnets from A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner. The authors are Joy Harjo, and Anne Locke. Though Harjo and Locke write from two different backgrounds, they have a unique message: Faith abounds.