Jennifer BartschLast Edited: Oct 8, 2009 9:32 AM

***I wanted to explain my poem and then provide insight into a PowerPoint presentation I created to go along with my written work.  For those who do not want to take the time to read through this extra information, just scroll to the bottom.  That's where you'll find my poem: The Mournful Circle.***


An explanation for my poem:

This poem is based upon a young Wampanoag man's perspective...which slowly transforms into a reflection of his descendent who struggles to listen to the whispers of his past...Two men... Each experiencing hardship... And each intimately connected to the Great Circle that never ends.

My initial response in creating a poem of an individual who may have experienced the first Thanksgiving was to try to capture the feelings of this individual through each of his keen senses: Sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. This poem begins with the experiences of a young Wampanoag man who gives thanks for life...but later realizes the pale-faced enemy's ways.  This Wampanoag man senses deep change stirring within his culture as a result of what he sees, hears, tastes, smells, and touches as he is ripped from his familiar life and forced into the white man's world.  

Slowly, the Great Circle begins to pivot.  Twisting, spinning, the young man finds himself a prisoner to the white ways.  "I am the People of the First Light!", he boldly proclaims.  He is fearless, but the deceptive forces of the pale-faced man prove more powerful. Slowly... slowly...his ways suffocate.  He is no longer himself.  Is this the end of his people?

As the circle slowly winds through generations of this warrior's descendents, a modern-day man finds himself longing for his past as he battles the consequences of the white man's infiltration hundreds of years in the making.  And like his ancestor before him, this modern man is gifted with the ability to realize change is approaching through his interactions of touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight that occur in his chaotic world.  However, this man's transformation is for the better.  He gives thanks to life after he breaks from his familiar ways that are rooted in forced assimilation.  He longs for the completion of the Great Circle...for a reconnection to his people. 

The People of the First Light.

This man's enemy lurks within the pollution, noise, frenzied lifestyle, and artificially-injected contemporary world that holds him prisoner.   Like is ancestor before him, this young Wampanoag is captive to the forces surrounding him.  And while he battles, his ancestors whisper melancholy reminders of his past.  Reaching, grasping, he struggles to listen to the voices that live within him...the voices of his Wampanoag people.  Even now, he is still The People of the First Light.  The voices of the past will whisper their ways.  Desperate, he mourns for understanding.  He searches the sunset.  Will he find them?  Will his life reflect his people?  Will he learn how to become himself?  Or is this the end?

Like the universal Native American circle, there is no beginning or end.  There is only continuation along life's journey.  And through persecution of the young Wampanoag man living during the infiltration of the pale-faced enemies, and even despite the near suffocation of the Wampanoag ways in the present-day culture, the circle cannot cease.  It will not die.  It will continue revolving throughout time and in and out of struggle.  And although change approaches, and transformation is certain, both well as the Wampanoag people...can boldly proclaim, "I am the People of the First Light."

Like their perfect circle that has no beginning or end, the Wampanoag will not be broken...


After writing my poem about the generations of the Wampanoag, I wanted to find a way to make this story come alive with the assistance of a visual art and music experience. I did this by creating a PowerPoint presentation, which I've attached to this post.

Please watch this brief presentation, if you have the time!  My hope is that through the words, imagery, and music that are intertwined, this simple poem that spans two generations of men would come alive for you as it has for me.

If you do watch the PowerPoint, read this first:

1.       Notice the circles throughout every frame.  These circles tie into the universal Native American symbol of continuation.  However, notice how many of the circles appear broken.  This was intentional.  I wanted to show how the white ways interfered with Native American continuance.  The pale-faced man intercepted their beliefs.  They infiltrated their culture and attempted to smash apart their symbol...their hope for survival.  As you'll see near the end of this presentation, however, the circle is complete once more.  It cannot be broken.  It will withstand time and hardship and endure forever.

2.      Notice how each circle has two layers.  In the ancient Wampanoag man's reflections, the inner circle represents the actions, beliefs, and words of the pale-faced man that have seeped into his Native American culture.  In the modern day Wampanoag man's reflections, however, the inner circle represents the calling of his ancestors...the whispers that flood his mind, body, and spirit.

3.      Notice the colors I chose for each circle.  I used varying shades of sunrise and sunset to tie into each man's observation of the sunrise (the beginning of the pale-faced man's infiltration of the Wampanoag culture) and the sunset (the end of the pale-faced man's destruction of the entire Native American culture).  From shades of dawn to dusk to bright white (which symbolizes the climax of each man's struggle) to a blood red (symbolizing the wounds caused by each man's battle with the pale-faced culture), these circles transform...but they continue nonetheless.  Change approaches.  Transformation is certain.  Both are true in each man's life experiences.

4.      Notice the fonts I used throughout.  I began with writing that reminds me of beautiful scripted lettering.  It's very earthy...very natural.  It just feels right.  In contrast, I later used fonts that remind me of modern-day graffiti to symbolize the contemporary man's lifestyle within the white-man's frenzied, noisy, polluted world.  Slowly, however, the fonts change....just as the modern-day man learns to listen to the voices that whisper to him and call him home.  In the end, this present-day man learns to embrace and understand his people.  The People of the First Light.

5.      Notice how the structure of each "side" or perspective of the poem is like a mirror image of the other.  What the ancestor fights against, the modern man works backward from in order to return to harmony.  And each side is connected with the other.  Forward, thanks for life...sunrise, sunset...the order of the sensorial experiences...they mirror one another and each reflects the Great Circle's idea of connectedness and continuation.

6.      Notice the music I used.  I began with a very mournful song.  This music reminds me of someone weeping...someone who is cold and all alone in the world and is near death.  In a very real sense, this instrumental selection makes me think of someone who is deeply mourning a loss.  This music climaxes just as the ultimate struggle in each man's life nears.  And almost as a faint whisper drifting upon the breeze, these sorrowful melodies resonate and continue to call out to those who will hear them. 

7.      One more mention of the music: The last frame has a spoken song embedded in it.  Please listen to it.  I think it is very fitting for this entire presentation.  And through this young man's eloquent poetry, we are called to remember when the world had four corners...before everything familiar was suddenly ripped away from...


The People of the First Light







The Mournful Circle   PP Poem


There is no Beginning


I offer Thanks


Change approaches. Transformation is certain.


Watching...Facing East.  I look ahead toward the sunrise and see them.

They are the pale ones.  Foreign.  Strange.


Listening...The mournful whispers warn. I am the People of the First Light.

Their words are halting.  Broken.  Clumsy.


Tasting...This land and water nurture each soul.  We give thanks for every provision.  Honor.

They give thanks to their God for every provision, yet they desecrate.  Steal.  Consume.


Smelling...The fragrance of the land intoxicates.  Full.  Rich.  Familiar.

They kill.  Shred away the perfumed garments of this land.  Naked.


Touching...I grasp our ways.  Pulled.  Pushed.  Slipping away.  Falling.  Lost.  Who am I?

They are a shadow over this place.  Distorting.  Sinister. Overwhelming.


The circle never ceases...


Touching...Reminders of my ancestors.  Foreign.  Strange.

Their voices cry out to me in mournful whispers.


Smelling...Industry.  Progression.  Coughing.  Choking, I breathe in the perfumed garments of this land.

Drifting breezes flood my memory.  Good.  Right.  Pure.


Tasting...Artificial.  Toxic.  Once my people hunted and fished and were Thankful.  Unknown to my tongue.

They flood my soul with reminders of what was.


Listening...Sirens.  Violence.  Incessant noise.  These are the melodies of my world.

Softly, they echo back with glimpses of yesterday.


Watching...Facing West.  I look toward the sunset and see them.

They are my history.  No longer foreign.  Strange no more.  My beginning.


Change approaches.  Transformation is certain.


I offer Thanks


There is no End