Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mount Shasta and Joaquin Murieta

When deciding what to write about for this post, I found I really wanted to talk about the poem that Yellowbird, or John Rollin Ridge, had written about Mt. Shasta in his book Joaquin Murieta. There is much significance surrounding this poem and how it connects to the story of Joaquin Murieta. There is reason to why it was felt fitting to be put alongside the story told of a murderer and a bandit and how it connected to his tragic story.
At first in the poem, Ridge talks about the beauty of the mountain. How it stands everlasting and unmoving. How it survives all tragedies that attack its peak and how it is a wonder that many people admire. It is used to guide travellers, being seen from a great distance. And no matter the lashing of weather and such upon its mass, it stays steadfast. Made by the very hand of God. It is beautiful, eternal, and mighty.
Ridge then talks about how if California were to thrive and become the most it could become and be successful, it needed to make the law more pure, and lift itself such as the mountain was lifted. "That human feeling, human passion, at its base/shall lie subdued... (25)" He is saying here, that if California wanted to be all it could be as a state of America, that it needed to rise above human passions and stereotypes and discriminations. It needed to be unbiased and noble as the mountain itself was. Where it did not look upon any being different than another. That it was beautiful because of this. Eternal, and steadfast and that the state would become the same if they ruled with a law equal to all inhabitants.
The reason that it was fitting to put alongside the story of Joaquin Murieta is because Joaquin was a victim of such "human passion." He was not treated as an equal and was abused and hurt by the loss of his property, the raping of his wife, and the death of his brother. This inequality made the state unpeaceful, unlike the peaks of Mt. Shasta. Because of the discrimination that the law held towards Mexicans and the likes, the community was not tranquil. It was disturbed and was tearing itself apart with all the violence caused by unfair and biased treatment. If the state had laws that made it so every person would be treated as equal, then the state would be of high stature like the mountain. That it would be eternal because it would not tear itself apart with disruptions of the peace and would not destroy itself in the end. That it would also be a guidance to others to follow suit just as the mountain was a guidance to travellers.

1 comment:

  1. Your perception of the poem is correct, Ashleigh: the mountain is above human passions, as justice should be--but in Joaquin's case was not.