English 10: Writing Portfolio

Essay the first: Origins  
Essay the second: Literature  
  My family is well known for having a sense of humor. This story shows where we originally got it, from my great-grandfather, Charlie McCarthy. He lived in Dorchester and came from a very conservative Irish Catholic background, and wouldn’t think of using four letter words, even when telling a joke or story.

When my great-grandfather Charlie was a young man, he was married with a family, and lived in Dorchester, by the water. He worked nights on the railroad as a motorman. Late, one evening, as always he was coming home, little did he know he would be a bit later than usual. As he was walking home from work he passed under a bridge, on the other side of the bridge was his house and some neighbors’ houses. He passed under the bridge and found a familiar face, his neighbor, Mrs. Clark; no relation to me. She called to him, ‘Charlie, Charlie, help me find my ass.” Obviously, he knew she meant her donkey. They searched the neighborhood and the beach and eventually he found the donkey. He brought it back to Mrs. Clark’s barn and continued home. At this point, my great-grandmother was worried to death, since my great-grandfather was usually punctual. When he came in, extremely late she asked, “What kept you?” In reply, he said, “I was chasing Mrs. Clark’s ass!”

This story reveals that the sense of humor my family has today goes back for many generations. When I was younger, I never understood why family members would be laughing instead of crying at funerals. They usually tell jokes or funny stories about the person who has passed away. Now I understand that when things are serious or stressful it is our sense of humor that gets us through. Now I understand my uncles’ sense of humor.

A life lesson to be learned from this is when you are in a stressful or serious situation, instead of worrying keep a sense of humor in your life. Easily, my great-grandmother could have been upset and yelled at her husband for having her worry while she was home with six small children, but instead, she cracked up laughing when he said where he was. This lesson can be very helpful for everyone. Many people would be stressed in a situation like my great-grandmother was in, but to laugh it off is a good trait to have.

I try to use this lesson with my grandmother, his daughter, now. Since she has Alzheimer’s disease it can get a little stressful for her and for our family. To deal with this I laugh and tease with her, I tell her jokes and she tells me old stories, sometimes many times over. This is one place in my life where I see how much the sense of humor which has been passed down through my family has helped me. Without a sense of humor in my grandmother’s past, her life today could be very depressing. Although my grandmother is losing her short-term memory rapidly, she still has these humorous memories to brighten her day. As she relives her stories from the past our family benefits by learning about our family’s history and by cultivating our sense of humor.














Dear Alfred Lord Tennyson,

As always, while making a textbook it is challenging for me and my committee to choose which authors are to be published in the text. The textbook is being published across the nation and that information in the text tells teenagers what we think that someone their age should know. We cannot put information whether being short stories or poems in the text without being one hundred percent sure that this information is essential for them to learn. A short story and poem must have a well conceived plot and a more elaborate theme in order to be published. Some peoples have “reacted violently against what they considered your sappy sentimentalism, cloying moralism, and insensitive jingoism” to your poetry. This type of poetry may be acceptable for entertainment purposes, but chauvinistic, moralistic, romanticism is not recommended for tenth grade study. With this in mind, I regret to tell you that your poem Fragment will not be published in the 2005-2006 English 10 Literature text book.

After looking through the works of writers and poets throughout the 1800’s until today, myself as well as the specifically chosen committee decided your poem Fragment is not necessary for the children in grade 10 to learn from. One of the reasons we did not choose your poem is because of your not noticeable and unclear theme. Laurence W. Mazzeo agrees with me when stating in Alfred Tennyson: The Critical Legacy, “He has been alternatively sanctified and vilified for his choice of subject matter, social outlook, morality, or techniques of versification.” Throughout the poem you have not explained what the theme was nor explained what the poor chosen title Fragment means. Some may call this poem Eagle but you have not put this as your title, and the readers are just assuming what the poem is about. Throughout the poem you say he and his (“He clasps the crag”, “he stands”, “his crawls”, “he watches”, “he falls”) without identifying who “he” is. This is acceptable in poems when “he” is described in the text or the title explains who “he” is, but you have not explained who “he” is.

Another problem with your poem is your easy read rhyme scheme and the shortness of your poem. Almost anyone can use an A, A, A and a B, B, B rhyme scheme. An example of your use of this rhyme scheme is in the first stanza (hands, lands, stands) and on the next stanza (crawls, walls, falls). It looks as though you were taking the easy way out when you were writing this poem. The length of the poem is extremely short. It is a total of six lines. In conclusion we decided your effortless, easy-read poem should not be used in a high school text book but rather in an elementary schools text. It looks as though you have not finished this poem. I advise that you make these corrections and apply again next year when our 2006-2007 editions come out.


Michael Clark

Text Book Committee



























Throughout British literature there have been many authors who have used superstition in their work. One of these authors is Walter john De La Mare. DeLaMare uses ghosts and banshees to get the reader’s attention in the poem “Alulvan”.

In the children’s poem, DeLaMare’s use of ghosts and banshees convinces the reader to believe in superstitions. In line six of the e poem DeLa Mare writes, “The ghost of noonday stalks”. This eerie line can almost make you believe in ghosts, by being able to put a picture of someone following you. Another example of this is in lines twenty-five and twenty-six of the poem. He writes, “All night the fretful, shrill banshee Lurks in the chambers dark festoons.” Like the first quote, this line puts a picture of a banshee in one’s head. The reader can almost hear the banshee shrill as he or she reads on. Sometimes superstition in a poem can convince you to believe in it.

Superstition in literature can tell you a lot about the author’s background and what the people of his or her time believed in. De La Mare was born in 1873 started writing in 1912 and died in 1953. By seeing DeLaMare's use of superstition the reader can assume that he believes in superstition. The reader can also assume his family as well as the community that he lived in was surrounded by the beliefs of ghosts and banshees, and other superstitious beliefs. When we see things like ghosts or banshees in a piece of literature we are able to assume what nationality the author might be. In this case Walter John DeLaMare is English, and uses superstitious beliefs that he was brought up with. If an author used leprechauns we might assume the author is Irish.

Most people have not heard of this poem. This is due to the fact that some people do not take this poem seriously. The main reason for not taking the poem seriously is because it is supposed to be a children’s poem. Since it is lengthy and uses words children might not understand like the word “lurks” it is probably not common such as other children’s poetry for example Robert Louis Stevenson. This poem could be taken seriously if the author changed a couple of things. One change would be rather than making this poem a children’s poem, DeLaMare could make the poem for all ages.

One critic of his work is Vita Sackville-West who said De La Mare is a "poet of dusk". You can take this criticism two ways. One way, dusk meaning evil or haunting and that what you get from a lot of his poems but you can also look at as if meaning dusk as unknown or the mysterious. Criticism is important for a writer because it helps them perfect their works .Without criticism like the one above great authors like Shakespeare would not be able to produce work like he has created.
































Language is a vital aspect of human life. It allows us to communicate with others. Without language we would not be the sophisticated form of life we are. As we all know, there are many different languages based on geography and culture. These languages set our differences but when translated can connect humankind throughout the world. One of these many languages is the world known language of English. This complex language consists of more words known to humankind, including words with different connotation. A word such as “rhetoric” is an example of one. This word is not well known by definition and is non-beneficial to world progress.

The word “rhetoric” has many thorough definitions. Each dictionary gives various definitions for this word. The American Heritage 4th Edition Dictionary’s first definition is “the art or study of using language persuasively”. The definition from the Word Net Dictionary is “using language effectively to please.” Lastly, The Merriam Webster Dictionary’s first definition is “the art of speaking or writing.” As you can see there are many ways to interpret the word “rhetoric.” The root word of the word “rhetoric” is rhetor. A rhetor according to the American Heritage 4th Edition Dictionary is “a teacher of rhetoric.”

The first use of the word “rhetoric” was in the west in Athens by a philosopher Tisias, a little before Socrates in 500 B.C.E., obviously, he used the word in the Greek language not English. He used it to teach others of lawyers and court justice. The first time it was used in speech is unknown but we can assume it was used in text in the early 1300’s. The first written use of the word is in the Seuyn. Sag. The text says “Geometrie, and arsmetrike, rettorike, and ek fisike.” Later in 1386 in Chaucer’s, Boeth II “rhetoric” was used saying “And wib rethorice con forbe musice a damoisel of oure house.” Obviously the spelling of the word is different because of the different author’s origin. Chaucer used the word as meaning “elegance or eloquence.” Some definitions can be obsolete and are not used anymore. A word may become obsolete if it is not used or is uncommon in literature or everyday speech. Another author who used “rhetoric” in an obsolete definition is Milton, in 1634 he says “Enjoy your deer wit, and gay rhetorick that hath so well been taught he dazzling fence.” The obsolete definition is “Skill or faculty of using eloquent and persuasive language.” Even though the definition may be obsolete it does not mean that it is not heard in speech.

By interviewing people one can identify how people today use the word “rhetoric” in speech. Through interviews one can conclude that the word “rhetoric” is not very common in speech. Michael A. Clark after being asked defined “rhetoric” as “blabbering or not making sense with words” which is close to the Word Net definition “loud or confused, empty talk”. Helen Gibbons’ definition was similar in saying “confusion”. “The way people say things including the different nuances” Mary Clark defined “rhetoric”. Although it is different from Mr. Clark’s form but it is similar to the second Word Net definition “high flown style, using language effectively”. Others definition were not even close. Daniel Clark’s definition “like an umm pattern or something” or Suzanne Clark’s definition “storytelling” which was too vague to label it right or wrong are two that were not used properly. Another common answer was “rhetorical questions” which was surprisingly said twice once by Kathleen Clark and a second time by Lauren Welch who are teenagers. Also Theresa Clark and John Mercurio who are both in their early twenties defined “rhetoric” as “having to do with politics” or “having to do with a lot of words or speeches”. By seeing this you can see that age group might have to do with the understanding of a word not so commonly used such as “rhetoric.” After being asked James Gibbons defined it as “someone on a soap box being rhetorical”. Joe McGonegal said that the word rhetoric reminded him of his sophomore year English teacher “Ms. Radcliff.”

“Rhetoric” even though it is not used commonly today it was used many times in the past especially by philosophers and writers with Greek origin. As said that Seuyn. Sag. was the first text there are many more. According to the Oxford English Dictionary there are many authors who have used the word “rhetoric” in literature. Another author who uses the word “rhetoric” in the same way as Seuyn.Sag is in 1741. Watts says in the text Improving Minds “rhetoric in general is the art of persuading.” Watts was the first to use the word correctly spelled in text. Whether it was coincidence or not it was the first. Another author who used the word “rhetoric” in a prestigious way is Shakespeare. In 1588, he wrote “The heauenly rhetoricke of thine eye.” Shakespeare’s use of the word is different than the other author’s uses. Shakespeare use of it is obsolete. He used it as “of the expressive action of the body in speaking.”

A strange use of the word that has not been used in text before is in the Stony Hurst Magazine it said “We are informed that any boy from rhetoric down to elements may join the class.” “Rhetoric” is meaning of higher or greater social class. In the magazine Current Anthropology a new and different way of using “rhetoric” is “This argument is illustrated through the analysis of American political-rhetoric supporting the invasion of Iraq.” Political-rhetoric is a new and different way of using “rhetoric”.

The word “rhetoric” can be difficult for someone who speaks a different language than English and then learns English. Maria Corasco who originally spoke Spanish used the word “rhetoric” improperly. She said “Do not act rhetoric toward others.” Obviously, she used “rhetoric” in the wrong way. Also when Juan Corasco was asked to use the word “rhetoric” in speech he said he had no idea on how to use it and laughed.

As you can see the word “rhetoric” is not beneficial to the world because it is not only hard for us as Americans to comprehend. For example, Daniel Clark or Suzanne Clark did not know how to use it, while also others who have to learn the language in order to live a better life in America cannot use it correctly.








































I walk along the rugged road
And watch the stream go by.
The heron waits for its daily meal
Grabs the fish and fly.
The leaves scatter round the tree
Blow away in time.
The squirrels run across the tree
They gather nuts to hide.
Winters coming, they all know
They prepared just in time

The stream is frozen over now
The heron has left to fly.
The leaves are replaced with the snow
The squirrels go inside.