English 10: Writing Portfolio


Catholic Memorial High School



Creative Writing  

Dear George Steiner,

My name is Ryan Burke. I am a student at Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. In my Tenth grade English class we have mentioned your name as a British writer but have not been able to read any of your work yet. However, we would love to hear some of your work because of the great things we have heard about it. I would like to invite you to come to my English class to talk with us and maybe read some of your work.

I am inviting you to come visit my English class because I admire what I have heard about your life and the work you do. First I notice how many different colleges you have attended throughout your education. I am also impressed by how many schools you have held professorships at. I have read some reviews of your work and like how you have written many different genres including an Autobiography, Criticism, Fiction, and Non-Fiction.

One story that interested me was “In Bluebeard’s Castle.“ This story interested me because it is about the death of Western Culture. This is what I am studying in my Western Civilization class at Catholic Memorial which is one of my favorite classes. Something I am very impressed with in your work is how you make bold statements that are to the point. For example in the story “In Bluebeard’s Castle” when you said “What is central to a true culture is a certain view of the relations between time and individual death.” Another thing that caught my eye were the many newspapers you currently write for. It would be a pleasure to have you come read some of your work to my English class.

In English class we study British Literature. We read all different kinds of work from many different English writers. In many other years in English class I have studied work from writers all around the world. Now, since this year is different I am only studying English writers, it would be nice to be visited and hear some work by one of the best English writers. Instead of missing out and not being able to read any of your work it would be perfect way to break up our every day English classes if you came to read some of your work. Sincerely, Ryan Burke






















The song “Snowy Breasted Pearl” is an Irish folk song. It was written in Ireland sometime around 1796 in Gaelic. The actual date that the song was written is unknown because it was found in a book called “A General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music” written by Edward Bunting. However it was translated into English from Gaelic in 1855 by a man named George Petrie. It is written about a man who loves a woman but the woman does not love him back. She leaves Ireland and he misses her. You can learn about the lives of Irish men from this song.

George Petrie was a man who loved to collect Irish airs and melodies. Doing this contributed greatly to the Irish culture. According to William Stokes’ contemporary biography, he would take old Irish song’s lyrics and record them himself. Many of the songs he collected were written in the Irish language so he had to translate the songs before he recorded them. In William Stokes’ contemporary biography, it told about Petrie’s interesting working methods. William Stokes would give him a signal every two or three bars to allow writing of the notes. He would often have to repeat this time and time again until he got the notes right.

We can learn a lot about the culture of Ireland from “Snowy Breasted Pearl.” We can learn that men in Ireland at this time mostly would only fall in love with one girl their entire life. We know this because in this line of “Snowy Breasted Pearl,” the man in this song does one move on and try to find another woman after she leaves him; “That mine she'll never be.” We can also learn that men did not want any other woman once they fell in love with one from these lines; “And the touch of thy fair hand/Are all that I demand.” We can learn from these lines I have quoted that the way men viewed love was very different than they do presently. Men used to love one woman for their entire life but now men can move on from one woman to love another.

While researching the song “Snowy Breasted Pearl” by George Petrie, I came across a few modern day artists who have either covered the song “Snowy Breasted Pearl” or used it as an influence. There is a couple named Joe & Antoinette McKenna. They are artists that record Celtic music together and made a cover of “Snowy Breasted Pearl.” Carol Thompson also covered “Snowy Breasted Pearl” on the harp on her album called “The Blossom and the Rain.” It is an album with a collection of traditional songs from different cultures. There is also a band named Rise who play Celtic music and one of their songs called “Time and Tide” has lyrics influenced by George Petrie’s “Snowy Breasted Pearl” along with a few other Irish folk songs.

I can conclude that “Snowy Breasted Pearl” was not a very popular song probably because it was often played without the lyrics and just the notes. I can also say this because my family is One Hundred percent Irish and no one in my family recognized this Irish folk song when I asked them. Even thought “Snowy Breasted Pearl” was not very popular in years after the time that it was made, it was most likely popular around the time it was made. This is because it reflects on the culture of Ireland at that time. Learning about this Irish folk song opened my eyes to how much we can actually learn about culture from a song written in that time.

























On August 21, 2003, Mark Shumaker, 21, of Orlando, Florida, pleaded guilty. He pleaded guilty to Gerald Bruce Lee, United States District judge, to distributing music, software, and gaming software. He violated criminal copyright infringement laws by doing this. He is a former leader of the Internet music piracy group known as the Apocalypse Crew. He faces a maximum of five years incarceration and a fine of $250,000. He distributed music, software, and gaming software illegally, over the internet, because it gave him a sense of power. He had a sense of power because people knew him as a leader of a group that provided them music, and software.

Mark Shumaker was known to people behind the scenes as the leader of this group that provided illegal music, software, and gaming software. This is why his crime was motivated by power. He liked being known by everyone as a supposedly “great person” who provided free music, software, and gaming software for free over the internet. His group recruited music industry insiders including DJs and employees of music magazine publishers in order to get pre-released copies of compact disks. Once these were obtained they were released on the internet for P2P file sharing networks to use. This illegal activity made Mark Shumaker feel important and better about himself.

Mark Shumaker is not the only person to be convicted of a crime of this manner. In fact, there have been twenty-two convictions, including Shumaker’s case, stemming from Operation Buccaneer. Operation Buccaneer is a worldwide investigation run by a number of different organizations. Deputy Assistant Attorney General John G. Malcolm says “The conviction of Mark Shumaker is another example of the Department of Justice’s aggressive attack against high-level Internet piracy groups that initiate the illegal distribution of copyrighted works over the Internet.” The Department of Justice is just one of many organizations, worldwide, who are trying to put an end to music, software, and gaming software piracy over the internet.

In 2001, a British authot names Guy Hart-Davis wrote a book called "Internet Piracy Exposed." It it focuses on what Internet Piracy is and what it effects. Ite even tells you how to avoid Internet Piracy because sometimes people can encounter it by accident. It teaches you how you can share files legally and safely using the internet. This book even gives you step by step instructions on how to use all major file sharing applications. Some people can argue that this book can tell people how to get away with legal activity but all Guy Hart-Davis is doing is providing people with information on the subject.

In conclusion, what is and what isn't legal in music and software piracy is still a gray area. It is very hard to tell if a person is really pirating music and software or if they are doing it legally. Most likely, as music and software piracy becomes more of a problem, the laws will change and will become more strict. One thing for sure is that someone must put an end to people making available music that has not been released yet. It is costong the music industry all around the world and will continue to do so if something isn't done about it.

























The English language can be seen as a mix of many different cultures from many different time periods. It is derived using words from many different languages that existed before it and they come from many different times. Researching the English language would take you back through a lot of history. One example is the word assassin which is derived from Old French and means, in many different variations, someone who is sent to kill someone. This word has described many tragic moments in history. A few examples would be when people were sent to kill Christian leaders during the Crusades, or the assassination of the U.S. president Abraham Lincoln.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary that is for people who want to research certain words to more than just the basic definition. It is a collection of hundreds of thousands of words from the English language that have ever been used in print. It gives the meanings the word has had over the years and lists its uses in print under that meaning. When I looked up the word “assassin” in the Oxford English Dictionary, I found that it is derived from Old French. There were four different definitions it had since it was first used in 1237 until this version of the (OED) was written in 1971. The first meaning is from the time of the crusades. The meaning in literature was “A Hashish-eater” and in history it meant “Certain Muslim fanatics in the time of the crusades, who were sent forth by their sheikh, the ‘Old Man of the Mountains,’ to murder the Christian leaders.” The second definition from the (OED) has an explanation along with it and it is “One who undertakes to put another to death by treacherous violence. The term retains so much of its original application as to be used chiefly of the murderer of a public personage, who is generally hired or devoted to the deed, and aims purely at the death of his victim.” The third definition from the (OED) merely tells that the word can be used figuratively. Lastly, the fourth definition from the (OED) is that it can be combined with another word “assassin-like.”

I researched “assassin” not just through the (OED) but I also found three different definitions from ordinary dictionaries. The first and second definitions came from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition by Houghton Mifflin Company. The first definition from this dictionary is “One who murders by surprise attack, especially one who carries out a plot to kill a prominent person.” The second definition from this dictionary is the definition of “assassin” as a proper noun. The definition is “Assassin A member of a secret order of Muslims who terrorized and killed Christian Crusaders and others.” The third definition I found from ordinary dictionaries is from WorldNet 2.0 by Princeton University. The definition is “a murderer (especially one who kills a prominent political figure) who kills by a treacherous surprise attack and often is hired to do the deed.” I found that after looking up my word in the (OED) and then in ordinary dictionaries

When I asked people what they thought about the word “assassin,” almost all of the people I interviewed thought it meant the same thing. Almost everyone I interviewed thought “assassin” means some sort of a “killer” or a “murderer.” Chad Pendergast said the word “assassin” means simply “a killer.” Andrew Damiano said it meant “someone who assassinates people.” Those are just two example of my fellow students I interviewed that didn’t know the true meaning of the word “assassin.” Only one of the people I interviewed had an idea of what the true meaning was. Tim Sullivan used the word in a sentence for me and said “ The assassin was hired by the true villain.” This means he knows that an assassin is not just some sort of killer. It is a killer who is hired by someone.

“Assassin” appeared in a few different headlines of articles. First, it appeared in the headline “Woman Wants Child by Rabin’s Assassin” from UPI News Track. This article was written on April 23, 2006. The word “assassin” also appeared in the headline “The Last Assassin” from Publishers weekly. This article was written on April 17, 2006. Just from reading the headlines of these articles and before looking at the actual contents of the articles I can make a prediction that they are not about actual assassins. These authors of these articles who made the headlines probably use the word to stand for something else or don’t use it literally. They could be using the word as it is used in the fourth meaning of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) “assassin-like (4096)”. I could not find many articles with the word “assassin” in the headline. This proves that the word seldom appears in the news because an assassination is a rare event.

Before I researched the word “assassin” to this extent, I never realized how much history there really is behind every word in the English Language. I was shocked to find out this much information and history on the word while doing my research. It was fun for me to research because I learned about the old meaning of the world from the time of the crusades. This part of my research was fun because I have always been interested in the crusades along with any war. I never thought I would have learned so much from one word in the English Language when there are hundreds of thousands of others and it will make me curious as to the history of every unique word I read.