The Mercury (Review)
The Mercury, Gettysburg College’s undergraduate literary magazine, seeks to publish exemplary works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. Editions of The Mercury have been in production since 1899. Their publications hold a timeless sophistication, the product of their dedication to platforming the literary and visual arts.
The 2022 edition of The Mercury is a mosaic of eloquent, thought-provoking pieces. Though the student writers explore a wide range of topics and themes within their work, their voices blend into a cohesive written tone. To read The Mercury’s latest edition is to view the world through a kaleidoscope of perspectives, each offering distinct stories of identity, emotion, and much, much more.
The fiction pieces in The Mercury exhibit the type of writing that stays with the reader long after finishing the piece. One such example of this is “Trees with Veins,” a striking two-page piece by Hannah! Evans. This piece is the fiction recipient of The Mercury Prize, an award given annually to one piece in each genre. “Trees with Veins” takes a compelling approach to our view of nature, to the life that it sustains beneath our fascination with suburbia. The piece begins with a dream, following a narrator who searches for meaning in the essence of the forest. In reference to the visible lifeblood of a tree after it is chopped down, Hannah! Evans states “Now you see reflection: beating heart bare to the world, opened up and left that way.” The writer’s vivid imagery breathes life into the concept of nature in the piece.
Paralleling the prose writing in The Mercury is the poetry. One of this edition’s many remarkable poems is “Changing Seasons” by Sophia A. Kennedy. This poem portrays a narrator grappling with time, watching age take its toll on their grandmother as the seasons shift around them. The stanzas in this poem are of varying length, composed of short, moving lines. One line rests in a stanza of its own, simply saying “She withered away.” These three words are some of the most effective in the poem. Lines such as this, in tandem with descriptions of the seasons, delve into prevalent themes of life, death, and familial love.
In terms of nonfiction, there is “Born and Bred Purple” by Noelle G. Muni. This piece is intriguing because, unlike the numerous personal narratives in The Mercury’s nonfiction section, it tells a historical story. The writer develops Anna Komnene as a character, showing her efforts to succeed her father and become sovereign of Constantinople. Despite her strategy, Anna Komnene’s father passes his title to her brother, trading a woman’s skill for the traditional masculine heir. Anna’s disappointment culminates in Muni’s words which show the sad reality of her truth: “...the deep purple robe draped over his shoulder proudly asserting that only sons can truly be born and bred purple.”
Visual art intersperses itself throughout the journal’s written content. The presence of artwork and photographs neatly balances out the magazine’s sections of text. A notable photograph is “The Power of Thought,” submitted by Katherine Mangione. Set against a dark, blurred background is the in-focus shape of a lightbulb, a current of electricity just beginning to illuminate its wires. The image seems to represent a sparking thought process, the enkindling of one’s own ideas as they set the mind alight. When considering the creativity featured in The Mercury, this image was a pertinent choice for publication.
Within the pages of The Mercury, readers will find imagination and expressivity, tied together with the thread of excellent writing. Many talented voices fill the journal’s pages, aided along the way by the devotion of the editing staff. The works in The Mercury may leave readers with a smile, a tear, a question, or all three and more. And, despite their varying compositions, each and every piece belongs. There is a certain beauty in harmonizing the versatile. The Mercury seems to have discovered it, and is ready to share with all who are curious.