English 10: Writing Portfolio

Essay the first: Origins  
Essay the second: Literature  

Well, I have quite a few crazy people in my family. My mom's side of the family is Italian, and let’s just says they are a little emotional and umm…. well psychotic at times. My favorite relative, well, favorite relative to watch is my aunt Debra. She is very interesting. She was a smart woman until she had a stroke, plus I don't think the fact that she's seventy two helps her at all. She likes to scream random statements sometimes. Then she forgets she has already said something, and screams it again. My favorite memory of her is at my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary screaming "Where is your mother?!" at me and my cousin. At the same time, my uncle and her son were singing a song. Good times.

Deb also believes that she is going to get married to the UPS mail delivery man, named Diego, who is constantly bothered by odd packages in the mail order by her, and often times Diego ends up staying for lunch and tea because of Debra’s wrath. Another thing, she forgets to wear pants sometimes too. She also likes to put her crackers in her tea then tries to get them out when they sink to the bottom. Poor aunt Debra, she sure is a fighter, she can beat my uncle up, while he's only trying to either shut her up, put her pants on, or feed her. That’s just one person in my family.
































Dear Robert Browning,

As the author of the Prentice Hall Literature book, I have thoroughly reviewed the past edition of our most recent book. In an attempt to improve our upcoming edition for next year’s class, I have chosen to leave your writings and your poems out from the Victorian Age. It is nothing personal, but it is our job to upgrade the state of our Prentice Hall Literature book each year. Our goal is to give only the highest quality literature to our customers. We strive to produce the best textbooks in schools all over the nation, and we feel it would benefit the students and their upcoming curriculum if you were simply excluded.

Incase you were wondering why, first of all in your works of “My Last Duchess”, “Home Thoughts from Abroad”, as well as “Love Among the Ruins”, each become confusing at certain points and do not seem to follow any particular rhyme scheme as well as they should. For instance, I cannot come to understand your reference in lines 45-52 of “My Last Dutchess”. I do not entirely get what you mean when you refer to Neptune and “taming a seahorse” or the last line of “cast in bronze for me!” For this and other reasons, we have chosen to eliminate your writing.

Although I may seem excessively critical in your eyes, I have found another critic who seems to more or less agree with my opinions and prior statements on your work. The men go by the names of Brian Aubrey and Clyde de Ryals (http://www.cswnet.com/~erin/rb4.htm He also believes your work is confusing and hard to comprehend at times.

“Robert Browning has never been a poet for the casual or lazy reader. Among his contemporaries, even admirers lamented his obscurity, and the barbs of hostile reviewers were a frequent source of annoyance for the poet (one commented that Browning's FIFINE might just as well have been written in Sanskrit as far as the ordinary reader was concerned.) The modern reader, equipped with more than a century of scholarly work of explication, finds Browning less intimidating. Yet tackling those dense dramatic monologues still demands hard labor; the reader must become a partner in the creative process, which is exactly what Browning intended”

As you can see, my opinion is not just due to the fact that you are a bad writer, it is just that we have decided our prentice hall literature book would profit with your absence. I would say I am sorry, but I feel as if those words are not relevant under these circumstances. Thank you for your cooperation and we hope you continue to contribute to an age of many great writers.

Terrence Spain


































In British Literature, one prevailing theme found in many great works is that of superstitions. The piece I have chosen to write about that can be looked at as a quality work, not necessarily an important one, is by a fairly unknown author William Collins. The reason I chose this poem is because everything from its name to its final stanza embodies the essence of superstition in British Literature. The title of this poem is “Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland”, which I believed was fitting for the theme. Written in about the mid 1700s to early 1800s, the poem is the author’s views death thathe is surrounded with. The themes and issue clearly addressed in this poem featuring thirteen separate stanzas are evidently derived from growing up in a place like Scotland, influenced by its people, culture, and especially the superstition surrounding it. The main superstition discussed in depth in Collin’s poem is a theme of superstitions surrounding death. The belief in death, the consequences of death, the events leading up to death and many other aspects of a life after death are mentioned thoroughly and addressed in several points of the poem. These superstitions are clearly influential through the context of William Collins poem. One example demonstrating his awareness of death might be from line 1-6 of stanza VII in which he states “For him, in vain his anxious wife shall wait Or wander forth to meet him on his way; For him, in vain, at tofall of the day, His babes shall linger at th’ unclosing gate” In these lines Collins illustrates a fear of going to the gates of heaven, or the after life and leaving his family and baby. This line may be important because it shows not only that the author has a certain fear of dying, but that it was a common fear for many people living under the same time constraints. Through 222 lines of ten syllables each, Collins does an amazing job of painting a vividly lively and striking portrayal of the concept of death and its consequences. One critic I found claims that Collins was constantly plagued by death in his family because both his brother and father died before he was a teenager, which is a solid lead into the reasoning of why Collins wrote about such dreary aspects of his life. In either case, I found that there are still more quotes that could give us a feel for how the times were in the 1800s. Collins makes a reference to the conflict of death relevant to another play well known for its themes of death here(Macbeth), “Which tasteful toil and hourly danger give? Thus blest in primal innocence we live From them he sung, when mid his bold design The shadowy kings of Banquo’s fated line Proceed, in forceful sounds and colours blood, While life is forced through him, dreadfully flood.” As you can see, this work by William Collins is a very good representation of not only the death that was clearly evident in his life, but the troubled and dark state Literature was in during the 1800s. Death is just one of many relevant themes that could have been dictated through this poem, but considering the subject of superstitions, it certainly seemed to embody the essence of a good death fearing superstition from British Literature.
























The language of English is not a simple thing to understand. It is one of the single most creative and interesting forms of expression in the world today. With 800,00 words and growing as we speak, the language has become more complex than almost any other out there. The history of the language can be traced back to the arrival of three Germanic tribes to the British Isles during the 5th century AD. Most Celtic speakers were pushed into Whales, Cornwall and Scotland. The angles were named from Engle, from which the word, English, derives.

As a result of its history, the English language contains many interesting words of origin. One word I found and chose to research was “soldier”. I chose this word because it seems it would have a lot of history along with a rich background. Through research of this word, Ive found several separate meanings as well as origins.

Without Changing its spelling, soldier has the underlying definition of “one who serves in the army for pay; a man who sacrifices himself for his country in exchange for money.” I found that “soldier” was essentially born in c. 1300, and is derived from several different language sources. It is traced to the Italian word “soldat” meaning one borrowed for pay. In other languages,” soldier” has founded roots in the roman word “solidus” or roman golden coins used for paying in labor. There are also many different forms of this word. For example, everything from soldiered, soldiering, to soldiership and the more specific types of soldiers such as common, private, and foot-soldier.

Most soldier references seem to date back fairly early in English history. Another interesting definition found in the OED was a rank and file member of the Mafia. An example of this is taken form the government books entitled “Organized Crime & Illicit Traffic in Narcotics” in which it states, “ Then we had what we call a caporegima which is lieutenant, and we had what we caled soldiers.” Another instance of the word “soldier” can be found when talking about a soldier-crab as the author J Davies said in his book “Carriby Isles”. There is a kind of Snails called by the French is soluldiers, because they have no shells proper and peculiar to themselves.. An additional meaning of this word can be discovered when talking or describing a certain type of ant. The soldier ant is basically just another species of a large red ant as referred to in the Philosophy Transcripts LX XII “ Of every species there are three orders; the working insects, next the fighting ones known as the soldiers.” As you can see, this one word has a history of changing its simple meaning through many different transformations of its original form, and that is one of the major reasons I feel it could benefit the language in the long run.

Whether you’re talking of marines, army men, or even ants, there is an unlimited use of this word “soldier”. There is a distinct difference between” The soldiers are coming!”, “My toy soldier has been buried in the dirt”, “ I heard those red soldier ants can bite” or even “ That movie on soldiers was based on a true story and seemed very realistic.” These and many other sentences have used the same word “soldier in many different ways of speech. To be even more precise, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first time the word was used as the normal meaning for soldier was recorded on a text by an author named M. Cursor who stated in c.1300, “He gaurdid sauders and her and aur, to strength his castles.” Although it is not perfect modern English, it is not hard to translate to an upgraded version of the old English style sentence. This just goes to show how an inevitable aspect of life can begin to wear down on any word in our coveted English language. When something as important as a language is used for so long and so often, there are problems that will eventually arise no matter how good of a condition it is in. The language itself might be compared to a used car. It was once new and fresh or clean and pure with nice windows and low mileage, but the owner used it for a long time on the road and then moved on. This can be similar to how the language has transformed, and among that language is the word “soldier”.

As a result of my search and researching, I have come to the conclusion that it is my job to redress the English language if at all possible. I started this by addressing a single word, building on it and several different aspects of that single word. This word I have chosen “soldier”, is usually refereed to as a military occupant or army personnel. However, through the research I have found several sources, specifically the OED that state otherwise. It is our job to try and establish a proper meaning for each and every word in English with every form it takes on. A seemingly impossible task, but with everyone’s interest and help we can begin to upgrade and make our English language better, one word at a time.