English 10: Writing Portfolio
Catholic Memorial High School
Dear Susanna Clarke,
Hello, my name is Teddy Poppe. I am a sophomore at Catholic Memorial High School in the United States. I would like to invite you to come to our school to speak to us about being an author.
Currently in English class, we are studying British Literature. While in this study, I thought it was very important to read regular authors that can go sit in a café and just write, rather than the few famous and glorified authors like Seamus Heaney and J. K. Rowling that cant go anywhere in public, because the press will not leave them alone.
It is authors, such as yourself that I can relate to. Authors who can pour their hearts out onto the page they are writing. They are the ones who mean the most to many others and me. I can identify with you because both my parents are ministers just like your father, and I like writing short stories as do you. I believe that an excellent example of you pouring your heart and soul on to the page is shown in this quote from your story “The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse”; “In the last room a young woman in a gown of deepest garnet-red was seated upon a wooden stool with her back to the window. She was sewing. Spread out around her was a vast and magnificent piece of embroidery. Reflections of its rich hues danced upon the walls and ceiling. If she had held a molten stained-glass window in her lap the effect could not have been more wonderful. ” It is lines like these with colorful and passionate descriptions that capture my soul, captivate my mind and continue to win you awards such as the Hugo Award, and the British Book Awards Newcomer of the Year.
Please come to our school to speak to us. I would not want my class to miss this important section of British literature. If you do not come, my class will not read and discuss stories such as “The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse” and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Therefore, your book will never be sold in our school bookstore, which I think would be disappointing. In addition, if we do not read your books we will not have the chance to convince near by schools to read your books, which means they will not sell your book, which in turn means that the thousands of books you could have sold here in America might just stay on the shelves.
Finally, if you do come think of how many students you will inspire to become writers and hopefully be as successful as yourself. I formally invite you to come and enlighten our school on the heart and soul of British literature, on what it means to be a good author, and give us a chance to ask you questions about your work.
Thank you for your time and please consider my formal invitation to Catholic Memorial. Your sincere reader,
The song “Gypsy Rover” is a traditional romantic Celtic folk song that has been sung for years and even now is part of Irish culture. While the song is not very popular in this country, judging by how many people have covered it, it is still very popular in Irish pubs. However we are not sure of who wrote it originally. The time when this song was written is unknown; it seems to have been written before 1900. The message of the song is specific to Irish culture and philosophy in that it is teaching you playfully and romantically to never judge a book by its cover.
The song is about the daughter of a nobleman as we can tell by the line “She left her father’s castle gate.” She immediately leaves her life behind to follow what appears to be a “gypsy rover” whose singing puts a spell on her. This shows how everyone yearns to be fanciful and free and still succeed. Her father “Saddled his fastest steed” and goes after her until he finds her “at last to a mansion fine down by the river Clady.” According to discover northern Irelands’ web site the River Clady is in Northern Ireland. The gypsy rover who “whistled and sang” turns out to be not a gypsy” but Lord of these lands all over”, teaching her father to not judge a book by its cover. Because of that line “He whistled and sang, this traditional song is sometimes called “Whistling Gypsy Rover.”
The song teaches us a central belief of Irish culture: that we shouldn’t judge by first impressions. The young lady’s father obviously thought his daughter was being taken away by someone he judges as an irresponsible Gypsy, therefore he rides after her. According to the lyric “He is no gypsy, m’ father, she said but lord of these lands all over,” her father learns that he is actually quite the opposite, a responsible country “lord.” According to the lyrics, the song serves as one big warning sign to all its listeners. Happily the father was mistaken and his daughter was not under a spell but obviously in love.
“Gypsy Rover” these days has becomes a good Irish drinking song, because it embraces the Irish ideal of the care free country lifestyle. Everyone wants to let their cares go and this song is inspiring and freeing. It has served as entertainment to many. Judging by the way the tune has been passed down from generation to generation, the song is one way of keeping Celtic or Irish culture alive. According to the Bards website the song sings of “green woods,” valleys and love, all part of good old Irish tradition which will hopefully be passed down to a new generation of Irish youth.
I asked six friends and none of them knew of the song “Gypsy Rover.” That in it self does not mean this song is dead. I found several different people who performed the song in concert. One was Leo Maguire an Irish singer and radio broadcaster who according to the Glenside website wrote this song, but by other accounts this song is much older. From Folk Music Index website I learned Roger McGuinn performed this song with the Chad Mitchell Trio prior to his folk/rock career with the Byrds. According to The Bards website, Bob Dylan used to perform this tune solo as well. Apparently this song has made a big impression on Irish culture as well as contemporary folk culture. It seems the lesson that the young happy and free gypsy rover brings to us is being passed internationally through the singing of this Irish love song.
Dr. James Shortt of Charlotte, North Carolina was just a regular Joe until he thought of something that would provide him with plenty of clients, lots of money, influence with the National Football League (NFL) players, and bragging power. Just think, he would be able to call players, talk to them as if they were friends, and ask for a few favors. That is a very powerful motive for a sports lover. To do this, he decided to prescribe illegal steroids and growth hormone to the NFL players. After being brought to court on February 14, 2006, Dr. James Shortt pleaded guilty; in exchange, the court dropped forty-two different counts of giving the steroids.
Throughout the court process Shortt had made many statements about his position regarding the case. “There are folks out there, and I think it's lunacy, that are using chemically altered molecules in ridiculous unsafe quantities. I have no respect for those people, and I want to tell you right now I am 100 percent opposed to that” said ESPN online. This leads me to believe that Shortt completely lied in this statement because he pleaded guilty in court, to these very charges. Shortt also stated that he gave the drugs to repair injures not to enhance performance.
If Shortt was willing to prescribe illegal medicine someone else must have been a beneficiary, meaning the players were also willing to assume the risk for the benefit of a faster recovery time and added muscle. However it is interesting to note that two of Shortt’s recent patients have died under his care. At age 53 Katherine Bibeau died after Shortt had given her hydrogen peroxide treatments to treat her multiple sclerosis. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts ruled this case a homicide. All Shortt had to say about it was that he had given the same treatment to a multitude of other patients before without this dreadful effect.
In the last 25 years illegal drugs have been gaining too much popularity among athletes, not only in the U.S. but in other countries such as Great Britain. Bill McKibben’s book “Enough” makes it extremely clear that some sports players would use performance enhancing drugs that were not only against the law but could also cause death, and be like Oscar Wild’s character Dorian Grey, then let time and age takes it toll. He states that “in 1995 researchers asked two hundred Olympic hopefuls if they’d take a drug that would guarantee them a five year winning streak and kill them. Almost half said yes.” This brings to mind the lines of A.E.Housman in “To An Athlete Dying Young” in which he writes,
“Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.”
I believe that this case reflects a major social problem in our country. It shows us that people are willing to do almost anything to meet and know these athletes and other famous people that we, as a society, put up on a pedestal and think they are more important than us. This case is still not finished, but it is worthy of our attention so we can do our best to correct this major problem at an individual and social level. If doctors who take the Hippocratic oath, some of the most respected people in our culture, are willing to take such drastic measures just to meet people, what will the common people do?
Many people say that the printing press was the most important invention in the history of the world. I do not believe this to be true. I believe that the greatest invention or development was language in general, meaning an organized way of communication. There are billions of people on this planet and almost all of them know a language or are learning a language. English is the largest and has become the most important worldwide language of them all. Today you can go to any of the 7 continents and many people there will understand English. Because of its widespread use English may become the official language of the world. One of the countless amount words in English is “plethora”. Although plethora is not the most important word, it is a very descriptive and fun word to both say and use. In its history, its’ overall impact has been a positive one, as a word primarily used to describe abundance, fullness or plenty.
I checked three different ordinary dictionaries of definitions of “plethora” here is what I found. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “plethora” as a noun whose meaning is “A superabundance; excess.” This is a more vague definition than Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary “a bodily condition characterized by an excess of blood and marked by turgescence and a florid complexiona” and “Excess, superfluity; also: profusion, abundance.” This is very similar to The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary’s definition which is “An excess of blood in the circulatory system or in one organ or area.” and “An excess of any of the body fluids.” All three of these dictionaries have very similar definitions for “plethora.”
“Plethora” has its roots in the Greek language meaning fullness. It has migrated to the English language carrying two different definitions according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The first and more commonly used definition is a superabundance of something. It’s less known definition is a morbid condition characterized by an excess of blood in the blood stream or a specific organ or an excess of juices in a plant. The more common use of the word plethora is superabundance. This did not appear until the year 1700, in the sentence “This was the lamentable effect of their plethora or fullness.” (Patrick 15) This being 159 years after “plethora” was used in its original sentence in which the meaning was “of extra blood or juices”, “The superabundaunce of humours+that the Grekes cal Plethora. Ibid. Giv, Of cacomye yt is coniunct wt the vlcere, or of Pletore, or of phlegmon.” (Copland) This was printed in 1541, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).
I surveyed ten English speaking Americans, and seven out of the ten of them knew only one out of the two definitions of the word plethora. All seven of them knew the definition of superabundance, and most of them were surprised to hear that a second meaning even existed. Some of the ways in which they used “plethora” are illustrated by these sentences; Rosie Cheney said, “you are a plethora of knowledge” and Jesse Harding said, “there were a plethora of vegetables in the cornucopia.” This indicates that “plethora”, meaning superabundance is more common in everyday speech than “plethora”, meaning too much blood. Two of the three people who did not know the meaning of “plethora” were women over 40 in age. This suggests that “plethora” is becoming a more popular word culturally among youth and young adults.
I interviewed three people about “plethora” and how they use it in speech. The only thing these three people had in common was that English was a second language to them. When asked what “plethora” meant, none of them knew. Andrea Zindel even said “Nothing” (meaning it has no meaning). I then asked them to use “plethora” in a sentence. Swantje Openhimer, a German speaking German citizen said “The scientists took them to plethora” (using “plethora” as a place). Third, after explaining what “plethora” meant and how it is used, I asked them if it is a hard word to learn? All of them replied “No.” Finally I asked these three foreign exchange students if “plethora” or any form of it existed in their language? Ms. Openhimer and Ms. Zindel responded “no” however, Samuel Figueroa a Spanish speaking Venezuelan told me that there is a Spanish word “platra” which is a type of cabinet, but this has nothing to do with the English meaning of “plethora.”
One of “plethora’s” first appearances in common literature is in the book Olla Podrida. Here, “plethora” made its’ first appearance in the sentence, “We are suffering under a plethora of capital.” (Marryat 17) This served as a dramatic way of saying there was just too much capitalism. Since then “Plethora” has even made its way to Hollywood and appeared in some movies such as the “Three Amigos”. In the line, “Would you say there are a plethora of piñatas”, the writers used “plethora in alliteration and to create a more whimsical mood. From these two examples we can see how the Greek word “” became useful and has successfully infiltrated English culture, literature and entertainment.
Today many popular newspapers across the globe are using the word “plethora.” I found two examples from U.S. newspapers. In the Washington Times’ there was an article entitled “NYCB shines amid plethora of dance”. Also, from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle called “On the Town,” the reporter states, (concerning a clothing store), “There is a plethora of designer duds from Paul & Joe to Alice and Olivia to Rebecca Taylor, all at discount prices.” I even found an article in The Times (United Kingdom) entitled “Plethora shares soar on medicine's dual potential”, indicating that “plethora” was used as the name of a drug company. “Plethora” lends itself to such usage because of its dramatic and fun appeal.
On May 19, 2006 English was formally adopted as the official language of the United States. Because of global politics and economics English is being used throughout the world and informally it seems to have been adopted as a second language in many foreign countries. Personally, I like the idea of English being spoken internationally because I can travel almost anywhere and communicate with people everywhere. This doesn’t mean that people should give up their native languages, but it does seem to be easier to be successful if you know English because it is already being used internationally in business and government.