Star-crossed Flowers

daffodil muse

Image: © ELLE

Author: ELLE

Oh, to be born a daffodil,
An emerging seed of sundust
Waking from a numbing sleep
Reaching, slowly, the promises of the surface
Gently crackling the thin iced reminiscence of a silent winter.

The silky honey-coloured petals
Gracefully introducing the son of Céphise
To the distant sound of foreseen decay
For Narcissus’ reflection can only last for so long
Under the sky of spring.

*

Oh, to grow under the name of a rose,
Cursed symbol of serendipity;
Bound to hear the countless selfish soliloquies
Premises to dissatisfied infatuation.
Forced to see the solitude glowing in eyes that once knew love.

Does dusk know that dawn exists?
For the rose surely is unaware of the adversity of winter
And the daffodil is ignorant of the pain of thorns
And yet, –

Worms

Rainy Road

Image: © “Rainy Road” by Aelle (CC BY-NC 2.0.)

Author: Katharina Schwarck

“Worms” is a response to Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie’s ecopoetry that I wrote for a class on ecopoetics in Spring 2020. It is mostly inspired by her poem “The Spider” which struck me because it renders its true value to a spider, a generally strongly disliked being. It addresses the spider’s importance in the animal kingdom and humans’ unjust aversion against the arachnid (Jamie, 175). “Worms” follows the same dynamic of calling out wrongful antipathy and disgust. The piece deals with a young girl who, as opposed to her peers, is not repulsed by the worms but rather considers them her friends, more so than her fellow humans. I chose to play with pronouns; I employ several occurrences of “they” and “she”. On one hand, this opposes the young girl and her peers, from whom she feels distant. On the other hand, “they” is used for both worms and humans, eliminating their difference and bringing them onto the same level. The girl picks up the worms and tries to protect them, while the other children cry of disgust. She is angry. They step on the worms for the sole reason of being greater in size. She calls them out. The fifth stanza of the first visual shape is a reference to WB Yeats’ Chambermaid songs, the first one of which compares a human being to a worm

God’s love has hidden him
Out of all harm,
Pleasure has made him
Weak as a worm. (Yeats, 307)

I have reversed the simile in the last line and made mankind itself the vehicle of the trope. Humans do not become as weak as worms: for their contempt, they become as weak as themselves. The sixth stanza alludes to Goethe’s “Heidenröslein”, a metaphor for rejected love. A young boy espies a red rose on a heath and finds her so beautiful as to break her. The rose stings him in return, in vain, because she remains, however, broken (Goethe, 307). I find this image oh so representative of many plant and animal deaths, be it roses or bees or ants. The defence mechanism does not suffice against humans who are much more sizable than their fellow species. Consequently, humans need to take even more precautions to recognise and sustain other beings. I have juxtaposed the worms and the heathrose by making my poem “shud” the flower’s pain, giving the worms strength and protecting them from heathrose’s fate. The second visual worm takes the poem back from Goethe’s time to modern day. The worms still come out in rain, expecting no harm. In this stanza, a car kills the annelids, which echoes with Jamie’s “Frogs” (Jamie, 133). I have inserted internal rhymes in these lines; “flood”, “up”, “guts”. They contain plosive sounds which highlight the violence of the content dealt with in the stanza. This intention of drawing in one’s mind mirrors human blindness towards ecological or ethical issues. They are unmistakable, and yet, humanity often fails to pay attention to them. In the last stanza of the poem, the young girl is grown up. To mark this change, I have changed the preposition preceding the pronoun “as she” into “when she”. She still sees the worms, her old friends, and when her eyes meet their suffering, she still cries out.


Works cited:
– Goethe, Johann W. v. “Heidenröslein”. Goethe’s Schriften: Achter Band, Georg Johann Göschen, 1789, pp.105-106
– Jamie, Kathleen. Selected Poems, Picador, 2018
– Yeats, William B. “The Chambermaid’s First Song”. The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats: Volume I: The Poems, 2nd Edition, Simon and Schuster, 1997, p.307

Cosmogony of Silence

Zebrafish Blood and Lymphatic Vessels in Blue, Purple, Black, and Green. Galaxy-like image.

Image: © “Zebrafish Blood and Lymphatic Vessels” by Daniel Castranova

Author: Manuel Ferrazzo

           

             I. The Creator

            There.

            Then.

            There was nothing.

            Then there was something.

            The Creator never realised there was nothing before there was something. All these matters and colours scared him. Time was flying by too fast. So the Creator closed his eyes and slept.

            II. The Alchemist

            Aeons came and went, and men started wandering inside Creation. Amongst them was an Alchemist. The Alchemist knew many things but wanted to see the Creator, thinking that there had to be meaning to all of existence.

            Everybody said that the Creator lived at the top of the Mountain, so the Alchemist set forth to find and greet him. So he climbed the Mountain. For three days, he climbed, and, arriving at the top, he only found wind and loneliness. Cursing and screaming, the Alchemist wouldn’t believe there was Nothing where there could have been Something. So he decided that he would create.

            The Alchemist roamed the Earth amongst men and spirits, craving knowledge beyond the comprehension of anybody. He met monsters and beasts and tamed them all. He was growing in power, but he always wanted more. He wanted the Creator’s power, even if he didn’t think He existed.

            III. The Lovers

            The Alchemist met two Lovers, a man and a woman. They had spent their whole lives together, and, despite their age, they still looked very young. They wanted their love to endure and were scared to see all their friends lose their love. So, having heard of the Alchemist, they asked for his help.

            The Alchemist felt blessed by the request of the Lovers to help them, as he could finally use his immense powers to create. He cursed the Lovers with an Eternal Love, but not the way they wanted: the man impregnated the woman, the first to do so. And when the woman gave birth, she died. She was also the first to do so.

            IV. The Liar

            Having lost his wife, the Lover was so full of rage that he did not care for his child, who died quickly after birth. The Alchemist was cast away and seen by all of humankind as a Liar. The Lover chased him to the end of the world and battled him to death. Their battle was so violent that it awakened the Creator, who looked upon Creation and wept.

            V. The Thief

            The tears of the Creator flooded Earth and destroyed most of civilisation. Only the Alchemist and The Lover left, battling in eternity, not even remembering why. One day, once the Creator stopped crying, they saw that the storm was gone, and the Alchemist tricked the Lover into making peace with him.

            Easing up, the Lover let his guard down, so the Alchemist stroke: using a powerful spell, he snatched the Lover’s soul from his body and attached it to his own. He did the same for all the souls roaming on the now-dead Earth, and, seeing that there was nothing left to make him grow more powerful, he retired at the top of the Mountain.

            VI. The Conqueror

            Aeons passed once again, and humanity was born again. Asleep at the top of the Mountain, the Alchemist was disturbed by a warrior calling himself Conqueror. He told the Alchemist he wanted to find the Creator at the top of the Mountain. The Alchemist was amused by this naive warrior and presented himself as the Creator.

            The Demiurge saw this and, for the first time, decided to mingle in the business of mortals.

            VII. The Devil

            The Creator sent the Devil, his agent, down on Earth to bring him the Alchemist. But the Devil had a will of his own and was jealous of the Creator. He wanted all of Creation for himself, to pervert it into what he found beautiful. The Devil, on Earth, found a woman, Eve, and seduced her, promising her Destiny and Meaning to help him in his dark deeds.

            The Devil then visited the court of the Conqueror, who thought the Creator blessed him and offered him Eve. Understanding she had been tricked, she tried to fight back but couldn’t do anything: the Conqueror wanted her for his pleasure.

            VIII. The Rapist

            The Conqueror impregnated her and thrived, invigorated by the woman’s suffering. Eve couldn’t take it anymore, so she killed herself, as it was the only way for her to be free. The Devil, disappointed by her lack of will, extracted the child she had been impregnated with from her womb and placed it in his own until it was ripe.

            IX. The Disintegrator

            The Devil gave birth to the Disintegrator, a child of burning grotesque masses, made of visions of rape, murder and perversion, and let him loose on the Earth. The destruction provoked by the Disintegrator forced the Creator to incarnate himself on Earth to stop him, but humanity feared him and quickly killed him. The Devil laughed as humanity crucified him and, now that the Creator was gone, started the journey to the top of the Mountain to claim the title of Creator to the Alchemist.

            X. The Hanged Man

            Since it was imperfect and perverted, the Disintegrator eventually died once he had destroyed humanity once again. The Devil climbed to the top of the Mountain and found the Alchemist there. The Alchemist was enraged by the Devil’s doing, so they started fighting. The Alchemist, now almost all-powerful, was an equal match for the Devil. They broke each other down and fought until they couldn’t walk. Using a trick, the Devil managed to take the upper hand and murdered the Alchemist. Bleeding out, the Devil then hanged the corpse of the Alchemist to a tree to make it the totem of his victory against the Creator. He then sat down beside the hanged man’s tree, and, listening to the deafening wind, feeling his wounds soothe him, he drifted off into sweet Death.

Instructions on how to forget me

Author: Mel A. Riverwood

Some people never hear the silence talk.

But to me, it screams, with every tick of the clock,

It says I will die, though I already know,

And tells me someday I won’t feel anymore;

What could that feel like, to not feel?

Do the dead still live?

I know I am young, I should not have such thoughts,

‘Forget, forget,’ they say, ‘forget time and laugh!’

But I feel death, and her hands are so cold;

They freeze all my dreams and everything I long for

And hold in their palms all the fear that I hold.

I wish to see spring and hear birdsong forevermore;

But the taste of the end is ever so near,

So I beg of you, blue and green mother, don’t let me disappear.

How I wish the whole world sang my humble refrain;

I knew not that hope came with such shattering pain.

I would give it all, but my words, just for a little more

Time and to live and live and live and live,

And encore;

Forevermore.

I am selfish and lonely, I am childish and afraid;

I would watch the world fade if it meant that I stayed.

Please, someone tell me, just tell me, where do we go?

Where do we go?

Where do we go?

WHERE DO WE GO?

Where do we go once we feel no more?

What are we then? How do we exist?

Please, someone tell me we have much more than this.

I will always know this fear that steals my thin breath,

But begging time for mercy will not work on death.

So please, remember me, for as long as you can,

But if the world is to forget, then let me fade as I am:

When my ink-stained fingers will be writing no more,

Bury me in a forest and bury me on the shore;

For I cannot die where I cannot hear the sea,

And I cannot live where the blackbirds don’t sing.

But when you inearth me, please keep my hair

And burn it, then scatter it in the air.

So with my body to soil and water, and my locks through fire to wind,

I may finally be everything.

‘What of thy mind?’ you may ask;

‘For her,’ say I, ‘you have no task.

Wake up with the sun and listen to the birds,

Sing with the rivers and read all my words.

Then you will know her, remember her,

And that is all that I long for.’

I still wish I could stay just a little bit longer.

But I feel that my death has started to saunter;

She will take her time, as I will take mine,

As two sides of a coin that will be paid to time.

And when we will meet, I know my fear won’t have faded,

But I’ll kiss my death with all the love I’ll have created.

This is my wish. Farewell, my friend;

I may be years in advance, or this may be the end.

And when you, too, will be stepping in the darkest light,

Come find me “where the dreamers dream and the others go to die.” 1


from the song Bye Bye by Low Roar, which has helped a lot in the writing of this poem.

Late Night Wedding Menu Translating

Author: Regan Agrey

For the first time in MUSE, we are publishing a wedding menu! Regan’s message will explain its… creative translations. We had a good laugh reading it and we hope you will too! You will find the French original right below the menu in English.

Regan’s message:
“I don’t know if you’ve ever planned a wedding but if you have then you know that there are a billion different details that you have to think of to make sure everything is ready. Menu translating was at the bottom of my list and I begrudgingly did it last minute, way too late at night, half asleep on my bed with my wife-to-be. Our guests got a kick out of it so I thought that I’d share it with [MUSE].”


MENU

FIRST COURSE

Some kind of Gruyère cheese with some carrots, celery and leek Eggplant saucy thing and some crunchy parmesan love
Vegetable in a soupy Gaspacho
Salad with a bunch of fancy words…basically some sauce and pecans with an eatable flower

***

Rollin’ pasta with ricotta, Popeye’s spinach and the creamiest of cheese
Hearty pasta drowning in safran
Shots of guacamole for everyone, bruschetta, and a buffalo mozzarella ball
Spoon full of balsamic vinaigrette bubbles (quite nice actually!)
The cherriest of tomatoes with the greenest of olives
Chiacchiere “La vita e bella con Rak & Reg”

***

Raspberry sorbet
(with the choice of wildness in the air… alcohol)


MAIN COURSE

Mapley, cinnamony and gingery on top of some beef Seasoned juice…?
Grilled almonds hanging out with some apricot
Potato bake with some kind of french cheese : The reblochon
The whitest asparagus you know vs the greenest and meanest asparagus with special guests carrot and green bean

***

Or replace your meat with
PETA certified, 100% meatless lasagna
(no animals were harmed in the making of this lasagna)


DESSERT

Some fluffed mango and passion fruit relaxing on some coconut
Mom’s crunchiest dark chocolate
Wild berries invaded by Crème brûlée, vanilla style


FOR THE SMALLS

Creamy chicken pasta

***

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

§
§
§
§
§
§

French original:

MENU

ENTRÉES

Terrine de gruyère en mille feuilles aux carottes, céleri et poireaux
Caviar d’aubergine et tuiles de parmesan
Gaspacho aux petits légumes
Salade de jeunes pousses, huile de noisette et vinaigre de xérès
Noix de pécan et orchidée karma

***

Roulé de pâte à la ricotta et épinard, crème de fromage
Coeur de pâte crème de safran
Verrine de guacamole, tartare de tomate, boule de mozzarella buffala
Cuillère de caviar de vinaigre balsamique
Tomates grappes et olives vertes
Chiachéré “La vita e bella con Rak & Reg”

***
Sorbet arrosé
(Framboise / Alcool de framboises sauvages)


PRINCIPAL

Noix de veau de lait au sirop d’érable, cannelle et gingembre
Jus aux épices
Abricot moelleux et amandes grillées
Gratin de pomme de terre au reblochon
Asperge blanche vs asperge verte, accompagnées de carotte fane et de haricots verts

***

Ou remplace ta viande avec
Lasagne aux bons légumes
(aucun animal n’a été blessé pour faire cette lasagne)


DESSERT

Mousse à la mangue sur un lit de noix de coco et fruits de la passion
Croquant au chocolat noir
Mousse fruits rouges incrusté de crème brûlée à la vanille


POUR LES PETITS

Emincé de volaille à la crème, coquillettes au beurre

***

Glace

Landscapes – Guillaume’s poems

Image: ©️ Guillaume Amstutz

Author: Guillaume Amstutz

Rosy Dawn

A blinding light floods the sky
Stretches from the soil to mountain high
Dyes the land in the sweetest tones
Nourishes the leaves, brightens the stones
The droplets that hung in the air
Now shine bright, pink and fair
The world is a prism bathed in light
Reflecting life, banishing night.

The World in Winter

The mountains are like the earth’s teeth
hungering for a dawn after a long, long night
and the frost takes hold in this barren heath
a potter’s field covered in white

The falling flakes are the cold ashes
of a fire that bright burns no more
on the meadow the snow crashes
burying deep the earth’s ardor

Under the rooftops covered in white
a quiet maze of vacant halls
bathed dimly in faint daylight
when in slumber the pale sun falls
and as the wind howls over the world
whittling the trees with its whistling
carving the rocks with runes all twirled
crushing the hopes and their kindling
a bitter cold devours the groves
turning the wood into splinters
while a waning moon rises up above
silent witness of the winter

The Shattered City

An organism of steel and concrete
spreads like a disease, far out into darkness
with skeletons adorning the streets
waiting for light to shine on the nameless

The dying stars flicker only dimly
as the towers are circled by haze
the ghosts are roaming limply
in this collapsed and dusty maze

Under the ground, hopes are buried
old love letters in the streets scattered
and hate letters in the chimneys burned
down to ashes, by winds carried

Broken wings caught in cobwebs
clipped apart by vicious hands
far below, the water ebbs
and crashes on the cliffs and sands

But far above, a faint glimmer
beyond the forest and the hills
a distant hope that still lingers
before diving in the landfills

Nightfall

It expands to the furthest corners
All the sorrows, the joy, the songs it covers
The darkness progresses, and soils, and gathers
But through the tears in its skin, the light shimmers

The Shop Window

Image: © Furaha Mujynya of Christiane Cornuz’s Cercle seul (1973).

Author: Furaha Mujynya

October:

No faces, no emotions, no warmth, just a train of black coats and umbrellas hurrying along the street, swallowed by the sound of water pouring from the sky. This lasted a week – a long week. A ray of sunshine then peered through the heavy clouds. Finally, headless bodies were given smiles, a pair of eyes and a variety of laughs and screams were to be heard again. I could lastly go back to my perverse search for a new life to follow to fill the boring day. And as expected, I was rewarded with the arrival of the signature seekers, hounding every passing shadow for a bit of their ink. They formed a shocking duo blocking every possible way in and out of the narrow street, rendering the I’m-busy-no-look technique pointless to avoid them. With cheery but loud voices they presented their endless pitch about the suffering of some almost extinct animal – or was it maybe about the destruction of the rainforest? Anyway, what’s truly impressive is their ability to pronounce so many words in such little time, to never tire and always happily accost the next unsuspecting pedestrian. They definitely have great potential for sales. One even managed to get a smile out of a hurried passerby, not that it made him stop to sign the petition.

November:

It’s getting colder, which means people walk faster and there’s less for me to observe and more time to get bored. Though, thanks to our dear drug dealers I get to have at least one Tom and Jerry scene a day. Usually, it’s more of a gentle trotting away including a few paranoid glances behind their shoulder. But this time, I witnessed two grown men running at full speed with their belted pants sagging almost down to their knees. Their pace was so intense that their steps echoed down the entire road. This sudden energetic impulse did not match their habitual nonchalance. Though, a few seconds after they ran past me, I saw what motivated them to sprint on sandy pavement in such an attire. A cop chasing them – with the widest stride I have ever seen – was screaming ‘STOP’, as if the word itself could make them stop. I wondered what possessed our dear policeman to run after the same two guys working this corner almost every day. Perhaps he was looking for an excuse to exercise, or maybe he had the same wicked desire as me to check whether they could actually run with sagging pants – if so, hypothesis proven. Not only can they run, but they can do it faster than a trained officer of the law!


January:

Because of the cold and the snow, we kept the door closed during most of the day. But even without sound I still get invested in the scenes I observe; I simply have to get creative. It was snowing heavily so almost no one walked down the Madeleine Avenue leaving me alone with my thoughts, which is never a good idea. When an unexpected glimmer of hope appeared in the shape of a woman, dressed in black from head to toe with a visibly soaked scarf around her head meant to shield her from the snow. She was openly wailing. Even though her cries were mute to me, I could distinctly see the tears running down her cheeks. She just kept on walking with her hands in her pockets, wind blowing in her face, snowflakes melting at the contact of her warm skin, adding water to her tears. She seemed so consumed by her own emotions that the outside world did not matter, it could have hailed, rained blood, she would have just kept on walking. I wondered what could get someone in such a state. Was it just one bad day in a sea of good ones? Was the weight of life simply too heavy to carry? No matter the reason, it seemed incredibly freeing to cry in the snow, almost tempting to do so. But then I remembered that’s how you get sick, by walking in the snow with wet hair, crying yourself to exhaustion.

February:

Today was unnecessarily noisy. Between the protesters’ chants echoing down the street and the funny but loud homeless man approaching every person he saw; I could have used the silence of January. Not that I’m ungrateful for the many tales I got to observe. The homeless man managed to ask for money in such a warm and cheerful manner that he got more people to stop than the association leeches. As for the protest, having people stare at you through the window because they don’t believe in masks and you’re wearing one – not the kind of scene I was looking for. I prefer to play the role of spectator in the lives of my wandering pedestrians. I do not yearn to participate in it.

March:

With sun came the long-awaited warmth of Spring. People are clearly happier when it is sunny, birds are chirping, and flowers blooming. I saw a dancing toddler walking way faster than her mother, stuck with carrying three shopping bags and pushing the stroller. Then I got to watch the usual cortege of preschoolers walking up the avenue, stopping every few seconds to giggle at the pigeons, gawk at the colorful bottles in the shop window or simply stare into oblivion. Their caretakers were forced to make the smallest steps possible to match the short strides and lack of focus of the little ones. There was also a cheeky little boy, no more than four, who came into the shop to hide from his dad behind the glass door, which he thought was hilarious – and so did I. Then his father, a bit annoyed, grabbed him by the arm and apologized whilst hurriedly exiting the shop. The memories of children’s quirks and weird ideas got me smiling for the rest of the day, making boredom tomorrow’s problem.

Sonnets to my Rodina

Image: ‘Protests in Belarus’ © Ang Bob.

Author: Nadia K. Bauer

I.
Когда увижу я —
The silver portal that you lock every night
With the same rusty nail
Olga laughing and you rolling your eyes
Когда почувствую я —
The humid moist the tall pinewoods
CAST alongside their shadows — on the little dachas
The smell of yellowed newspapers burning in the pechka
Will I ever UNsee —
The marks of JAIL on his smudged face
Her mother’s disappearance
The firebombs they threw just across the street,
Will I ever — on the earth of my liberated Rodina —
STAND again.

II.
Hold me —
Rodina moya
Give me SILU to watch you derive from under my feet.
Do not let go of your endless plains and of your
clear birch groves — of your teethless babushkas
who will keep — selling the same juicy blueberries
by the roadside — until I can embrace you again.
Let the shadows of the gaol bars slowly wash off his face.
Give her the strength to walk on our lines without me
— give her the strength to walk. Дай им more years —
rock them until I can take them in my arms from you.
To me, give надежду to believe
That I will feel my bare feet on your
WET and FREE earth again.

Crossword

Author: Katharina Schwarck


Across

2. Last name of the author of “Bright Star”.
4. The Faculty of Arts’ favourite animal.
7. One of the three rivers on campus. It is the Western-most river of the three. It has its source near Cheseaux.
11. Last name of the author of “Recitatif” and “Beloved”.
12. Le Château de …….
13. UNIL’s shepherd, Bob ……
14. The linguist who theorised the cooperative principle and the eponymous maxims.




   
Down

1. The English students’ association.
3. The number of printed MUSE editions there have been, including this one.*
5. One of the three rivers on campus. Etymologically, this river’s name means “crayfish river”.
6. Virginia Woolf’s androgynous character.
7. UNIL’s favourite animal.
8. William Warder’s last name. You know, the guy who created the publishing house that’s responsible for all the big books we have to buy in first year.
9. The Canadian city Cécile Heim went to on exchange during her MA.*
10. Harry Potter’s owl.
11. One of the three rivers on campus. This river is the only one that does not have a metro stop named after it.

Clues marked with a * correspond to answers that can be found in this edition of MUSE.








Answers:



Across
2. Keats
4. Fox
7. Sorge
11. Morrison
12. Dorigny
13. Martin
14. Grice

   
Down
1. SCOPE
3. Sixteen*
5. Chamberonne
6. Orlando
7. Sheep
8. Norton
9.Vancouver*
10. Hedwig
11. Mèbre

Literary Quizzes

Image: ©️ USA-Reiseblogger – Pixabay Licence. Source.

Complete the titles or authors’ names of the following works: 

I Know Why the ___ ___ Sings by Maya Angelou

The ___ Land by T. S. Eliot

Moby Dick by ______ _____

___ Lost by John Milton

“The ___ Speaks of ___ ” by Langston Hughes

Little Women by _____ ________

The ___ Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Le Morte d’Arthur by _____ _____

A Rose for Emily by ______ _____

Pick the right answer for the ending of each of these stanzas:

From William Blake’s “The Tyger”:

What the hammer? what the chain,

In what furnace was thy brain?

________________________

________________________

  1. And when thy heart began to beat, / What dread hand? & what dread feet?
  2. What the anvil? what dread grasp, / Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
  3. What immortal hand or eye, / Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

From Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death”

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground –

The Roof was scarcely visible –

________________________

  1. We passed the Setting Sun –
  2. My Tippet – only Tulle –
  3. The Cornice – in the Ground –

From Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

 And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

_______________________________________________

            ___________________

  1. Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door— / Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
  2. Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;— / This it is and nothing more.
  3. And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor / Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Guess the work and author the following summaries come from:

Emotionally damaged young adult boy drops out of school, consistantly rants about adults being a bunch of fakes, befriends a prostitute and a couple of nuns and keeps nagging everybody else about the ducks from Central Park asking them where the hell do they all go in the winter. Last but not least, he desires to preserve a child’s innocence. 

Answer: ________________________

Young prince deals with an existential crisis while his widowed mother marries his uncle (who we don’t like by the way) and his father’s ghost visits him every now and then to spook him into avenging his death. And of course, his solution to it all is (drumroll please) to pretend to go all nuts, procrastinating on killing his uncle, accidently stabbing the wrong dude, dramatically harassing his mom, driving his ex to insanity, and talking to himself instead of taking action. 

Answer: ________________________

** Scroll down to see the answers :)

Answers:

First quiz:

  • Caged Bird
  • Waste
  • Herman Melville
  • Paradise
  • Negro ; Rivers
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Canterbury
  • Thomas Malory
  • William Faulkner

Second quiz:

  • For Blake’s “The Tyger” : 2.
  • For Dickinson’s poem: 6.
  • For Poe’s “Raven”: 9.

Last quiz:

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Spells

Image: ©️ Andres Stadelmann

Author: Andres Stadelmann

Spells
Toppled by storms
And strands
Born to brush a little with your feet
Sometimes with your hands
But never with your eyes

Sheets, smells
You kick with your feet
And you reach for those hands
But the touch is too far to keep away from those 


Those voices I hear
They can breathe
And sometimes think
And often drift
Into that land of dreams

But when my hands rejoin
To something offscreen
And try and stay awake
By that touch of fatigue
And I try and stay awake
Thinking of those brave, brave men
And the spikes in the bush
And the fire of that dream
Thinking clean
Thinking clean
A touch of a spleen

And those souls lost in paradise
How shall I think of thee
And that touch oh so dry
And that mouth oh so still
Only dreaming
Only dreaming
To that still of a hill

But when I try, when I try
When I try
To dream far
Just a foot
Just a touch
Of that fiery hill

Please
Please
Take me

Reasons to Postpone Suicide

Author: D. K.

The smell of grass
The smell of gasoline
The smell of garlic cooking with just a touch of olive oil and herbs 

Tuna sandwiches
The change of seasons in every breath I take
Smoking cigarettes in winter while your whole body freezes in pain and coldness
Smoking cigarettes in the warm and sunny beach after a long swim in the ocean
Smoking cigarettes anytime 

The ocean
Its salty taste, the aggressiveness that gets in your eyes, your nose, your skin 

Rainbows
Trees
Birds, how they walk
It’ll always make me smile
But also dogs, yes
Dogs

Driving in the city, at night
Thunder when in bed
Sex
Radiohead songs
How they understand me
The fact that it could always be worse

My sick father
My dead mom
Movies
Terrence Malick’s existential dread that is present in each of his works

Paris
Oh, and Spain
Yes
Gregorian Chants
Flamenco
The hope that I will once understand the lack of meaning and fulfillment in my existence
Tolstoy and Dostoevsky books
Poetry, any kind, any form but poetry 

Van Gogh, O’Keefe and Hooper paintings
The hope that one day I will taste the lips of that blonde girl on the 9h37 metro 
Mozart’s Requiem In D Minor K.626
Italian girls
The fact that I will end up dying anyway 

It’s too expensive
Too messy
Too lame
Too frightening

I still haven’t brushed my teeth 

Yes
Those are fine reasons
Today?
No, not today
Tomorrow?
Tomorrow is another day
And I, and the morning light, we will change

Exam Confessions

An exam room with a superimposed image of a person putting their index over their mouth in a "shh" gesture

Image: ©️ Montage put together by Lex Rodriguez with “Day 23 – Exam hall” by jackhynes is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. and “(245/365) Mwah shhh ponder” by Sarah G… is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Ever (gasp!) cheated on an exam? Ever seen someone else cheat? Or did you ever fail miserably and dramatically at an exam? You’re not alone! UNIL students tell us all about their scandalous secrets and epic fails surrounding their past exams. Don’t tell anyone!


✍?
“For some reason, when I was a kid, my classmates always thought I was really good at tests so they always wanted to copy my answers. However, growing up, I very quickly developed a very adult-looking and not always very legible hand-writing which prevented others from copying my answers and these kids had the AUDACITY to ask me to write more legibly so they could copy my answers. Shaking my head.”

?️‍♂️??
“Not me but a friend, who cheated on a German written exam so hard that they got a team of friends to help them: They wore long, baggy clothes under which they had set up a receiver for an earpiece (FBI-style), as well as a concealed camera which could capture images of the test sheet. One friend would get a streamed video of the camera’s feed and work on answering the questions in German. Another friend worked with a microphone to transmit the answers to my friend who would then copy them out. Two other friends were there to stand watch and make sure that the relay team wasn’t found out by the examiners. They ended up passing their exam :)”

?
“To this day after years here I still put my name where I have to put my surname and vice versa. But worst of all I put my student number where the teachers should put my grade”

??
“When i still was in middle/high school, the best strategy was always the post-it note on the chair, in between the thighs. Just slightly spread your legs, and poof, get all the knowledge you need.”

?✔
“My high school math teacher was too lazy to give us test sheets, so she’d always just tell us to bring a pad of sheets of paper. A few times we had to learn proofs of theorems by heart, so just copied those demonstrations on the last pages of the pad, and discretly check those out. I even once directly used a sheet with the proof pre-written and turned that one in.”

??
“I don’t know why, but during a preparation for my oral exam I found out that my phone was still in my pockets. I was prepared so I didn’t use it but I still sent snaps to all of my friends telling them about it. I was much more worried about hiding it once I entered the class LOL”

???
“I had my very first oral exam ever in 32 years of life this past exam session. I was really nervous for weeks leading up to it. The morning of the exam, about 10 minutes before go time, I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air on an Anthropole 5th floor balcony. I was nervous & distracted, & figured I should check to see if the door automatically locks from the outside after it was already closed. I locked myself out in the cold until the supervising prof came by and kindly let me back inside…. so beware of balconies with no ash trays!”

???
“I’m a nightowl, which means my alarms are set pretty late in the morning since I go to bed pretty late too. So, I had a written exam once starting at 8am. Around 10am I start hearing some Billy Joel music, and I was like ‘oh someone is listening to Billy Joel outside, NICE!’ and then it occured to me that it was my alarm coming from my phone in my backpack that was chilling against the wall x)”

???‍♂️
“I’ve always been terrible in maths. In high school the day I was going to pass my oral math exam I got to school early and ran into my maths teacher and the expert who was this little old man who seemed very kind. My teacher introduced us and told him that I was going to pass my exam with them later in the day, and I looked at the expert and told him ‘I’m really sorry for what you are about to witness.’ He laughed and with a sweet smile and look in his eyes answered that he was sure it was going to be okay and that I was just stressed out. I tried to explain to him that I wasn’t and that I simply already knew I was going to fail big time, and he wouldn’t believe me. Fast forward to my exam. It was going so bad, the little old man was growing more desperate and impatient and restless by the minute. He must have stood up 3 or 4 different times to come to the blackboard and correct everything I was doing wrong while growing frustrated at my lack of skills. My maths teacher was laughing the whole time. He knew how bad I was and I guess he was expecting this entertainement hahaha”

?❓❔⁉?
“During a written exam I once noticed another student acting a bit sketchy. I couldn’t quite figure out what they were doing and to this day I’m still not sure. They had a bunch of small cheat sheets, and they also seemed to be filming or taking pictures of their paper with a small device (it looked too small to be a smartphone, might have been an old timey phone or an iPod), while holding their exam sheet upside down for some reason (?!). They also kept looking around them which made them look extra conspicuous. An invigilator eventually noticed their strange behaviour. When I got out of the exam and met up with classmates I asked them if they had noticed and if they had understood what the heck was happening, turns out they were just as confused as I was :’) It shall remain a mystery.”

?
“It’s always a kinda funny when you meet a classmate for the first time at a department-wide end-of-year exam, and you had never seen them at any of the compulsory courses in the department. How did they manage to get a better grade than I did when they hadn’t ever turned up at any lecture or class?”

?❌?
“So I turn up at this written exam, super stressed out because I know I haven’t memorised everything well enough. When I walk in the class everyone but me has big binders on their desks, and I notice they’re not putting them away when the exam starts. Turns out it was an open-book exam and I managed to miss the information, so I turned up with nothing but my pencil case ? (spoiler: I did not do well at that exam)”

??
“So for the maturité end-of-year exams we had all the 4-hours written exams in the span of a week (maths, French, English, German, option spécifique) and they all started early, and that meant I had to get up at 6 am to get there on time. My sleep schedule being terrible I never managed to get more than 5 hours of sleep for the whole week, and sleep deprivation causes me to fall asleep anywhere.
Long story short I feel asleep face first right on my table at each and every one of my written exams. An invigilator once came to check up on me, they were scared I had fainted or something. But I was just taking an accidental power nap, oops.
I passed all my exams nonetheless, so next time you find yourself nodding off during a long written exam, consider taking a quick lil power nap ;)”

??
“I fantasize about getting really, really high before an exam and acing it.”

??
“A cute anecdote: I was asked on a date after the exams in January by a guy I met once before and who was in the same exam room. He found my email address and emailed me right after the end of the exam. And now he is my boyfriend.”

*responses have been edited for clarity and length

The Song of The Night I Couldn’t Hear

Blurry photograph of an amusement park with a big Ferris Wheel

Image: ©️ H.S

Author: H.S

1 Invited to a party I didn’t want to go to but went anyway because it was a girl who invited me:

Miserable numb dumb and drunk, standing still in a corner, stupid and silent – Drinking. Constantly silently unconsciously shivering for a sex dream. She has to work during the party – volunteering (that is to say she works for free) so of course she has no time for me. She invited me to this party and I know nobody except her so here I am – standing here stupid getting drunk on beer and sex dreams – Such assaulting sadness – the people here are not my style, no – they’re wearing fancy clothes – expensive but no style – A Great Gatsby of a party. She pleads, begs me to go dance and make friends while she works – “Go make friends” she says. And drunk I do! Some new overdue drunkard friends and despite everything they’re nice, cool and love to dance and Arab like me like I prefer. But I get carried away and truly crudely dance till two and then I see her again, but a guy is just all over her, arms around her – around her neck and all – So I confront her about it and really I just misunderstood this mysterious situation and she wasn’t interested in my body like I was in hers so too bad but hey at least I made drunk friends out of it all…

2 Trying to have a good time despite it all:

Rocks and blasted trees are those people! I walk amongst the lepers of the drunken night like Dante in the dark forest, music booming in my ears – I just nicely gently and softly push them aside to go to the toilet and get shoved and almost punched. Another guy interrupts us (me and my new drunk friends) dancing to strictly and stupidly insist I spilled his beer – which might as well be true. I didn’t fight him tonight but almost – I just wanted to have a good night a good girl a good life but now I have to play Jesus amongst brigands.

3 Coming home drunk:

The sad and sorrowful song of the night I couldn’t hear – tinnitus from the terrible tittle-tattle of speakers – the haloed aura of the réverbère, my only protection against misery, the failed night – “at least I tried!” but she didn’t want me so I left, not wanting her either. No cars on the soft sweet saintly concrete – A fox emerges from a garbage can and blesses me with intelligent eyes – He sees me and flees. I walk home, away from that katabatic catastrophe of a city – tortured by the streets, martyred by sidewalks. That night home in drunken fear and trembling I see the fox in my dreams: the fox was the Writer-Director of deranged Thought-Movies Fathered Angeled and Revered in Heaven (Hell).

I wake up weary and write these lines.

Written, Directed, Played, Watched, and Forgotten by H.S

The Limb of Life

Image: ©️ Frederica Petriglieri & Kiljan Paris

Authors: Frederica Petriglieri & Kiljan Paris

Nothingness was eternal. Without pain or pleasure neither anger nor calm. It was the lack of everything, the erring of lost consciousness of those who weren’t aware of their existence.
Floating in infinity among stardust and lights. Carrying the emptiness of the universe.
All souls were one and one soul was all.

How am I supposed to remember our matterless past?
While I’m floating tenderly in Charon’s boat.
Why does my memory of the universe fade away?
For the first time of my ethereal wonderings
I’m forgetting everything.

The darkness starts to weigh over me.
The Acheron! Am I drowning?
Wasn’t I destined to cross it?
Sudden fears grow in my being.

As I’m sinking deeper in unknown matter
Away for my lost embarkation
The fluid is tickling my lips
An instinctive sensation.

The pressure grows and grows
My entire being is surrendered by warmth
The feeling of weight accentuates
Where am I?
I did not cross the stream where everything ends
So has it just started?

All of a sudden my hands grab a soft rope.
I let them go freely along it
But they’re ending touching a moving wall
Is it possible? In all the darkness around, am I in a defined space?
For all I know now I’m trapped and alone.

My consciousness is trembling
The surrounding moves again and again
The wall is forever dancing
I’m trying everything to reassure myself,
When, out of my touch
Something comes directly through my head.
Wonderful hot air, smelly yet irresistible.
The Acheron smells nice!

-No wait!
I’m not in the river anymore
So where does this come from?
Isn’t hell supposed to be filled by flame and toxic gas
And that all the unliving are suffocating for eternity?
So why does all I breathe taste unrealistically familiar?

All flavors flourish within me.
The more I feel, the more I forget.
Senses of deeper knowledge
Are drifting me away from all that I know.

I start to hear my own symphony.
My heartbeat settle the rhythm
While the pond over me is shaking
I thought the underworld bears two rivers
But my ears hears billions
From the depth of darkness
The songs of their endless streams
It is drifting me back to a sense of unity
For all the rivers are joining in one.

The tune is connecting me to everything
To all that is over me. I can feel it.
So why does my rhythm sound different
From all the rivers symphony?
-Am I not alone?

Far distant sounds make the wall trembling
Soft and insistent
Decided yet subtle
As pretty whining in the darkness
-Maybe it’s not that hard in the underworld
It must be the voices from those who successfully passed away.

But I’m still running in circles.
And my cell is getting smaller.
-Has my judgment arrived yet?
Am I a damned soul trapped in itself
Destined to question for eternity?

-LET ME OUT!!
I push the wall and pull the rope with all strength.
The voices answer me back:
“AHHHHHH”
“AMORE CALMATI”

I’ve no clue of what that means but surprised as I am
All the muscles within me freeze.
“HAHAH, GRAZIE”
Who the hell is talking?

To satisfy my curiosity
And also because it was itching me
I open one eye to glimpse beyond the fence.
Soft lights spread in my small nest.
But enough to see the whole of me
My arms, hands, feet and toes.

From darkness comes shadow.
On top of that I’m hearing voices.
I’m starting to be crazy for sure.
I need to act, to move and get out.

I’m taking again the rope with both hands
My feet are pushing in every corner of my prison
I hear the same voice shouting but now I’m not stopping
Voices become louder and louder.
But I continue to push.
I’m banging my head through the wall.

I’m sure it’s moving and I can pass through.
-That’s it! I found a fissure where the light breaks.
Even if I suddenly doubt about following the light at the end of the tunnel.
I know it’s the only way.

It’s as if the wall wanted me out.
Every now and then the tunnel squeezes me and pushes me forward.
“LET’S GO PUSH”
Well I can’t do better and my head is stuck.
“HAHAHA”

I look up again and the light blinds me.
I’m tired, my body aching everywhere and my muscles start to fail on me
“GO GO COME ON”
As I’m fainting, the ground under me collapses.
My lungs are exploding as I’m trying to breathe.

But it hurts, I’m suffocating
Yet the boundaries around me are gone…

I’m floating amongst the giant hands of the underworld
So I did cross the Styx and Acheron after all!
For I’m selfless, defenseless and vulnerable.
In the arms of two titans who sing lullabies.

I know nothing anymore.