English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2006-2007

   
   
   
   
   
Research  
   
Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  It’s was April of last year. This meant spring was upon us; and along with spring you have
spring cleaning. We had never before cleaned out our attic but my parents decided it was time, much
to my disaccord. Luckily for them I had nothing to do that Sunday morning, so I gave them a hand. We
were emptying boxes loaded with ten year old cloths and other heirlooms, nothing historic; or so I
thought. And I was rummaging through a box labeled “interesting things,” which I though was odd, but
as it promised, I did find interesting things in it. I found an old music box, had an engraved logo
that said “Strasbourg,” and some old jewelry, but then I came across this thing. It’s spherical
brilliance drew my attention; I had to know what it was.

I picked it up and it was fairly heavy, enough where I strained when I lifted it. I didn’t
understand it. What could this beautiful thing, with it’s black stripes, have been used for, and
suddenly I removed one of my hand from the bottom and it fell I realized that this was once a
container for some sort of object. Because inside of it was a compartment in it, which nothing
bigger then an egg would have fit, and the inside was stained red.

I asked my mother what it was, and she said that she never remembered buying it, and doesn’t
even remember that box it came in. She said the, “It’s probably from the family that lived here
before us. I remember they immigrate in the 30's from Europe, but I’m not sure which country
though,” as soon as she said Europe I remembered that the music box said, Strasbourg on it. Maybe
that where this heavenly orb came from, I must go there.

I boarded the next plane to France. I had found out that Strasbourg was a little town in France
and I knew there lay the answer to my problem. I arrived and I took the first taxi to Strasbourg,
and I was astonished to see how nice and quiet it was compared to Boston. We went into the first
shop we saw and went to the counter and showed the man there, who must have been in his eighties,
the Orb. He gasped and said that he had heard rumors about it pasted down from his grandmother, but
he never believed it. He still remembered the origin of the orb even after decades of doubting its
existence.

In the year 1400, people had just gotten over the plage and had lost all motivation to believe
in God, and thus began practicing witchcraft and performing pagan rituals. On this day Simon was
performing one such ritual, which involved the draining of blood from ones body and offering it up
to pagan Gods. The blood was put in a, supposedly, sacred ark and then brought to the top of the
mountain as and offering.

When Simon left the stone building, in the rain, and he held in his hand the orb, but this time
it carried a much more venomous appeal. He carried it as though it contained his life and in some
ways it did. He was climbing up the mountain and the rain began to come down extremely hard, he
thought as though he may not make it up to complete his ritual. He knew that the church was out to
kill anyone performing such acts. He made it up half way and then decided that he would go the rest
of the way tomorrow. He place the orb right next to him and fell asleep. He woke up and the rain was
still coming down hard and the dirt rode was still very slippery, and just as he woke up he caught a
glimpse of some village people who were climbing up the mountain chasing after him. He ran, and ran
as hard as he could. He almost got to the top and slipped and then he had to decide whether to let
the villagers get the orb, and destroy it, or throw it over the edge so no one could find it, either
way they would kill him. And so he threw the heavenly sphere fell into the air and off the side of
the cliff. He watched as his life fell down that mountain side with that ark. For many years Simons’
pagan friends went looking for it but could never find it. And there it would lay for hundreds of
years at the bottom of the mountain.

“Until now,” he said. Someone must have found it, during those years that everyone thought it
was lost. I couldn’t believe it. I was holding something that had once been a part of a pagan
ritual. I was amazed and horrified all at the same time. It reminded me of the Salem witch trials
and how people were killed for performing “black magic” and other unholy deeds. It also reminded me
about why people in Europe came to America. They were being persecuted for their beliefs, even
though it was black magic. And as I held it in my hand I could fell the pain Simon must have gone
through, even though he was performing pagan rituals, to have someone persecute him for his beliefs.
   
   
   
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  I‘d like to tell you about a place that is special to me. It is located about 1 mile from my place
of schooling. On a twisty slab of asphalt known only by the name Weld. Directly off of this road, my
special place, my “backyard haven.” And some days I walk in it and just observe it’s natural beauty.
The following is a recording of my observations, and a few ideas that I hope it will in someway be
found useful or pleasing. Do enjoy.


On this day the dew is freshly planted and I can smell it in the air. It smells like winter and
as the sun rises I can see the shadows fall and grow shorter. The dead grass reminds me of how cold
and dead it is, and the few dried up leaves on the tree wither away, and despairingly, release their
weak grip on the branch from which they sprouted. The ground is brown and this dampens the spirits.
The cold wind shakes the trees, as the leaves rustle to remain on the branch. The wind picks up and
then dies suddenly in a violent run. I can not hear any birds chirping; autumn is dying and another
season, winter, is taking it’s place. But winter always has a way of comforting me in some
insignificant way. What little snow has fallen, is heavy and wet, quickly turning to ice. There’s
something about the snow; and when it covers the buildings and the roads that mankind has thrown up
in its attempt to modernize nature and carve into it. Like the first snow society covers our eyes
with a thin sheet of wet snow, preventing us from seeing the world for what it really is. It wants
us to believe that it has more to offer then Nature, but from Nature comes knowledge far beyond any
that society could give us, or that can be bought.


There is one tree and it stands naked, but knows something I do not. It’s top sways back and
forth with the wind while the foundation remains firm. It grows from the frozen ground and it never
moves. The tree is smooth and rough but somewhere in its dormant shell there is flowing water. It
floats up from the ground because in the end, no matter what, everything comes from the ground and
everything ends in the ground. But it is not alone. Billions of other trees sprout from the same
divine source. This tree is reaching toward the heavens for light, when during sunless and troubled
times it receives what it needs from the ground. Just as trees do, we reach for Zion but it is not
in the sky, because the clouds are merely mirrors, upon which our image is reflected. We are all
one mind, but we refuse to acknowledge it. We label and discriminate when in fact have all come from
the same place, the earth.


There is a rock in the back left corner of this haven and before I would have thought that it is
lifeless because that’s what we are told, but this rock is not dead, it is alive. This rock looks
just like a green-bean. It is very peaceful and calm but what isn’t obvious about this rock is that
it is also the dwelling for many incest’s. Some are dark red, others black and brown, but all of
them are interesting. When disturbed they scatter and leave only sinuous footprints. Those marks
remain, in place of worms and “pinchers.” They live in happiness, in their sheltered abode, and
become shaken when they are exposed to light. A moist underbelly of life on this harsh, brumal,
wintry day where there are no signs of other animal life. They only know that rock. That is their
universe. How lucky they are to have such a simplified existence. They feed off nature and we feed
off money and material possessions that make no difference in the end. Many go through life worrying
about minor things and not actually living their life, and find out to late in order to fix it.
The grass grows in patches during this gap in the weather, trying to revive up what will, in a
few days, wither away. The sun has shown it’s face and allowed the grass and trees to grow a bit
more before the real snow starts to fall. The grass can only hope that there are warmer days to
come, although its is unlikely. And a cardinal was spotted rummaging for food on the ground, which
was uncommon for me to see a cardinal this time of year, and he seemed so pert in his movement and
action that he had faced winter, before and found out that it wasn’t so bad and happier days where
on the horizon. His bright red color was clearly visible on top of the oranges and browns of the
yard floor. His red wings are accompanied by a black beak and white circles around his eyes. I am
fooled by the ground and it’s stoic nature, but this bird can find seeds and food in this frozen
soil because he knows it, and his intuition tells him it there. I must learn to be like the bird to
look past the appearances. I must search my field for my seed or my worm just as the bird does.
One of the most enjoyable experiences I can have in the season of winter is to watch the animals
frolic this “haven” searching for their “worm.” The gray squirrels endlessly move to and fro while
in search of food. Their fluffy tails are always pointed up as if always in a pleasant mood, and the
tails look like trees with millions of tiny branches protruding from their strong center. During
this cold season it knows exactly what to do with itself and does it. It’s needs are it’s wants and
vice versa. I see him pick up an acorn and eat it fast and then continue searching for another. What
does winter mean for him? Now that the sun fades away earlier does he eat earlier or sleep more or
feel depressed or scared? When I look at this squirrel I see happiness. He doesn’t feel the cold air
and worry if he will freeze to death this winter! He lives for the present and not for two years
down the road. His life is simple and enviable. From this I learn that happiness comes from not
worrying. Don’t let things you shouldn’t worry about make you nervous or anxious. As Henry David
Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the
essential facts of life...” We too, must live deliberately and only worry about “essential facts of
life” because, one can learn a lot from living in and observing Nature.

   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edgar Allen Poe was an epic short story writer in his time. His use of religious symbolism, the
narrator and the use of the single effect are revolutionary in this short story. Poe was born on
January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, which was a “happening” place for young writers in the
1800's, thanks to Thoreau, Emerson and many other transcendentalist writers. Although the genre
of the time was transcendentalism, Poe had a different style of writing. While many where writing
about Nature, Poe was writing dark and freighting stories that matched the enlightening tales of
the transcendentalists both in skill and meaning.

The first scene in the prison cell, when the narrator speaks of our dreams being the first stage
and physical reality being the second in this quote, “It seems probable that if, upon reaching the
second stage, we could recall the impressions of the first [stage], we should find these impressions
eloquent in memories of the gulf beyond.” The way he words that statement brings new meaning to
dreams, that they may be given by a higher power and that they would guide us towards good, and
divert us from evil. The religious symbolism in the seven candles stand for, what I believe are, the
seven deadly sins that remind the man exactly why he has been sentenced to death. But they also
comfort him for he know he will soon perish, and no longer having to live with the guilt, and the
oppressive weight of his sins.

Poe uses death as the single effect in this short story. Although he only uses the word eighteen
times throughout the story you can feel how the main character is both frightened of death and
longing for it. This, the narrator speaking on the inquisition: “To the victims of its tyranny,
there was the choice of death with its direst physical agonies, or death with its most hideous
moral horrors. I had been reserved for the latter.” The “direst physical agonies” he speaks of would be
torture, with its extreme pain, and the “death with its most hideous moral horrors” would be
execution, which is hideous moral behavior. But he would have chose the latter. After the many days
he has been in this dungeon he has had more than enough time to contemplate his demise. The single
effect of death haunts.

The narrator in The Pit and the Pendulum remains nameless throughout the whole story. In many
stories at this time of Romanticism, and Transcendentalism and the use of I in novels and stories
Poe chooses not to give his character a name. in the end of the story when he is rescued by the
General LaSalle, we do not know anything about the narrator so we can’t understand why this general
rescues him. I believe on reason Poe chooses not to give him a name, is so the story will have as
little details besides the parts which make it terrifying, such as the swinging pendulum, the
closing walls, and the well. The less known about the surroundings the more questions left
unanswered. Not many writers in his times uses this effect.

The Pit and the Pendulum is full of religious symbolism, and other eerie happenings. But the use
of unknown narration and the single effect set this story apart from others of this time period.
Poe, unlike other writers, uses specifically suspense and the single effect to control the reader.
The religious symbolism adds some mysticism to this story and modifies the suspense. Poe wrote many
poem and short stories but The Pit and the Pendulum exemplifies the power of religious symbolism,
the unknown narration and the single effect in the 1800’s.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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