Contemporary Wagner: An Essay on Jimi Hendrix

“Work hard in your mind / So you can come alive / You better prove to the man / You’re as strong as him / Cause in the eyes of God / you’re both children to him.” This is a small excerpt from the Hendrix composition “A Message to Love”. This piece was written an amazing poet who expressed his art with such precise and economic word choice that it can  sometimes border on the indecipherable. Johnny Allen Hendrix or more aptly, Jimi Hendrix very capably expressed his personal sentiment alongside what he was seeing happen in the people and places  around him. I am a large fan of this composition in particular for both its aesthetic beauty and the message he was trying to convey at a personal turning point in his life. For me, this poem is highly significant because it speaks for a purpose larger than personal or popular entertainment. It is a rare happening that any artist in our contemporary times composes a work that can have residual significance twenty, thirty, or even forty years after it was recited. To this end the “message” the writer was trying to imbue on the listener has never become passé.

At first listen, the song which the poem is encased within can seem to be a daunting endeavor to separate from some of the more ambiguous verbiage. But within the beautifully crafted framework which houses the poem you begin to see a usage of his medium as a platform for social issues. It is true that this has been done before by many artists to quite an indelible extent but no other attempt was quite made the same way Hendrix approached his craft. Hendrix emanated a certain charisma; this is an important aspect to mention because it is the basis of his whole philosophy and also the reason his work is discounted as a mere “spacey attempt” at coolness by so many. His refusal to do as everyone else for the sole reason of normality probably contributed to why he was viewed as eccentric by most or merely just an oddity or aberration of circumstance. But more importantly this separation allowed him to venture free from the restraints of stereotypical archetypes and explore and amalgamate new and foreign ideas with  his own ideas of creative expression.

His appearance at the height of the cultural revolution in the 1960’s was fortuitous to a great and many people. His influence was revolutionary and a much needed fresh point of view for music and how it was synthesized by its listeners at that time. He used his offsetting place as an African American playing predominately white rock and roll with such a nonchalant level of virtuosity. He tried to bridge cultural gaps with his music and create a unity that he believed could exist without the barriers of race or conventional mores of the day.

As a reward for his efforts he was often subject to ridicule from both races for being not like one or the other and this definitely had an impact in his music and writings. His compositions reflect a more personal tone and make no attempt to  excuse  his views as evidenced in his composition “If 6 were 9”. But in these toils there is still a genuineness and lithe sense of artistry in his wording and musical framing (which held its own independent auditory content that further impresses the words under it. Think: “Machine Gun” or “Star Spangled Banner”)

It is a sad truth that for all the greatness that he aspired to embody there were is personal shortcomings that constantly interfered with his success and eventually led to his untimely death. The events and times which he wrote about and were later disclosed have all been key to deciphering one of the most gifted minds in contemporary music today. I believe that it could be said that if it weren’t for the events and stressors he had to endure in his life then he wouldn’t have been Jimi Hendrix at all. And this would have been an unfortunate loss or void for anyone who looks to open a creative conduit and express themselves in a more striking light.


      That infamous moment when the music stops, the scrambling, clawing, kicking and screaming begin. This chaos is in sharp contrast to the preceding time that was spent making the necessary preparations to ensure that survival; alliances were struck to overcome stronger opponents, friendships made, plotting, planning and even scheming were all employed at some point. But in the end there are only a limited number of chairs which are cruelly disproportionate to the many who would lay claim to them. And only in that moment does Death reveal itself as an elemental player in this woeful game that has been with you throughout the whole time you were playing. We then realize that there will be no more days left to waste without even a thought of tomorrow. To not say the words we wished to say to someone because we simply cannot find the right time for them to be spoken. Or to make the preparations that are needed to ensure the ease of those left behind. Death is the moment when everything ceases. It is a natural response that does not favor any one person or time over another.  Death will lay its claim to us all at some point, some before their perceived time and others too late to be offered any justice.


          Love is when the time spent between two people does not seem to carry any relevance and it is just as there was no passing moment between the two lovers. Love is akin to the nostalgic feelings of youthful friendship and it commands a certain sense of wonderment about your lover that nothing can make plain or unexciting. Love is when you wake up one day and realize that you have been together for fifty years and you cannot place where the years have went.

A study of the speaker in Sir Walter Raleigh’s “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”



 DISCLAIMER!!!!!!!!!!    [ Make sure you guys read this first (unless you already know it :)]

This is an essay that dwells on a work by Sir Walter Raleigh. I found myself entranced by this selection’s eloquence and delicate beauty of form and structure. Below is my take on the point of view the poem is built around and hopefully demystifies any cryptic verbal passages therein.

The “speaker” in Raleigh’s poem is a nymph that is having a conversation with a shepherd about the state of the world as it is. This is a very interesting poem for me because it has so many implied meanings about the way the world has shirked its youthful innocence and become a little too hardened for the tastes of the nymph. It is my belief the nymph portrays; fancy, love, romance, playfulness and fantasy. These are all the common thoughts that lift us all out of the mire that can be our physical reality. I believe Raleigh is using this language to connote a longing for the world to be very much the poetic and emotional environment that exists only in the minds of writers, children, and lovers. This beautiful poem is brought to life with the use of many metaphorical implications that convey the authors meaning in a muted and understated way.

               The nymph articulates to the shepherd within the first stanza that the world is no longer young nor its inhabitants truthful. She goes on to mandate that if these obstacles could be overcome then she may be inclined to love the world and the shepherd again.  These statements speak to the way of the natural world we live as humans. Notions of these delicate tenets are not the practiced law of the land and we as shepherds have done much deceit to propagate our own existence at the cost of paradise on earth.

               Following the lead stanza the poem develops further on the idea of the comparison of nature and its seasons with the knowledge that everything will die or at its very least fade. In such lines as “Time drives the flock s from field to fold, when rivers rage and rocks grow cold” there is a melancholy sense that an era is passing and will be marked by a future that is uncertain in terms of its predecessor.

               The third stanza is speaking about a relationship and how it withers in the winter’s onset. It draws contrast from the waning of the fields by also explaining the symptoms of spring and its refreshing and renewal factor in life. This alludes me to believe the stanza speaks about the possibility of the fear of losing an older love to a new fresher more youthful lover.

               “Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy bed of roses, thy cap, thy kirtle and thy posies / Soon break soon wither, soon forgotten – in folly ripe, in season rotten” This is especially powerful verse in the prose. Here the descriptors are not metaphorical or implied but plainly stated and relatable to everyday life. In this stanza the feelings of the nymph are concrete and final. She knows that all the earthly items of love and womanhood are doomed to be loved less over time. She is saying that the way in which the shepherd acts now is not an honest reflection on the way he will act in future days and this is merely an act of lust not love.

               In the second to last stanza there are some comparisons made that relate nature’s beauty to a thing of ornate jewelry that is customarily given to ones lover and is symbolic of their commitment. The nymph is saying that these things cannot dissuade her to fall in love merely in and of themselves.

               During the last stanza the nymph mandates what would need to be done for her to love the shepherd. She wants everlasting youth, undying love and the bliss of wonderment for eternity. These commitments speak for the underlying thoughts in every lover when they want to be sure that their mate is feeling the same way as they do. This is the common link in all relationships at one point or another. I think that both parties know the answer to their problems at this point. It seems folly to believe these things can come true in any other realm than ideal.

               In this poem are many contemporary and basically human references that imply to our fondness of natural beauty and the change of the seasons and how it correlates with our lives. To me this poem can be construed in any number of ways, but considering that my reading is the closest to the author’s actual intent then I believe the poem is about earth and humanity. I think Raleigh is writing about the loss of innocence and the ideas of whimsy and love that go missing throughout the routine of our lives. I believe he wants to encourage the reader to embrace the simple beauty of life and make a marriage to the idea that we all need to be grounded and realize there are many beautiful things in our surroundings and make every opportunity to appreciate these less logical and inspiring moments. This is an almost tragic poem and maybe intentionally requires one to act in defiance of the terms it defines in its structure. I greatly enjoyed this reading and found it to be one of my more favorite selections.