Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Literature, Poetry, Poem, Frost, Passage, Religion, Poet, Flight

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/01/30

Poetry Walcott

The poems by Walcott, namely Laventille and The Schooner Flight tend to give the reader an insight into colonization and its effects. This essay will examine various themes in the poems, namely the middle passage as well as themes such as religion. Lastly, the essay would conclude with a comparison of another of Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Gift Outright.’
In the poem ‘ Laventille,’ Walcott begins the poem with a broad description of Laventille slums overlooking the city. The setting for the poem opens with the poet and a friend undertaking a journey on foot to the top of the hill. The poet primarily mentions the middle passage to highlight the similarity of the conditions of those living in slums in Laventille to those that he and his ancestors experienced when traversing the middle passage from Africa to the West Indies. In doing so, his intention is to draw the attention of the reader to the extreme poverty that the people of Laventville are experiencing and he feels compassion for them, having experienced a close connect to their poverty.
The importance of the middle passage arises in Walcott’s poetry time and again. In the fifth part of ‘The Schooner Flight,’ the protagonist Shabine encounters the middle passage once again. In this poem as well, the term middle passage is with reference to the path that the ships took when transporting Shabine’s forefathers from Africa to the Caribbean. The reference to the terms ‘We pass slave ships. our fathers below neck too deep,” (Section 5) makes it all too apparent that in this poem as well Walcott is trying to imply the same meaning for the term middle passage. In both ‘Laventille’ and ‘The Schooner Flight,’ one can see that the middle passage has a similar function – to convey the sea path that the poet’s ancestors took when being transported from their homeland Africa to the Caribbeans by the colonists.
In ‘The Schooner Flight,’ Shabine is of a mixed ancestry – Dutch, African and English. Due to his mixed heritage, he finds it extremely difficult to fit into contemporary Caribbean society. The contemporary Black people who are corrupt as well as the White people who are elitist in their outlook both tend to consider Shabine as an outcast. As a result, he does not fit into either one of the groups and is left out. The sea journey undertaken by Shabine, therefore, seems to the reader as a journey into the depth of his own consciousness, which he symbolizes as a descent into submarine depths. If one refers to Walcott’s essay, ‘The Muse of History,’ one sees that the writer of the lines “I say to the ancestor who sold me, and to the ancestor who bought me, I have no father, I want no such father, although I can understand you, black ghost, white ghost, when you both whisper “history,” for if I attempt to forgive you both I am falling into your idea of history which justifies and explains and expiates, and it is not mine to forgive, my memory cannot summon my filial love, since your features are anonymous and erased and I have no wish and no power to pardon.” The orator in this case is clearly disgruntled with his mixed ancestry since he refers with a sense of disdain to the ancestor that ‘sold me and bought me.’ The reference here would be to his Dutch and English ancestors who bought or sold his Black ancestors into slavery. Shabine shares a similar relationship with his ancestors who he views with a similar sense of disdain since he believes that they might possibly be the reason for his present disputed status in the Caribbean society and for his being a virtual outcast. Due to his mixed ancestry, he is also called ‘a red nigger.’ The black people do not want him while the white people spit at him. With this background, Shabine takes a conscious decision to leave his homeland.
In both the Laventille and The Schooner Flight, religion seems to have a strong presence in the poem. In Laventille, the poem opens with the poet on the way to the church showing in a sense that he is a Christian who acknowledges his religious belief in his poetry. However, a later line in the poem “Which of us cares to walk even if God wished those retching waters where our souls were fished,” tells the reader that he would not want to experience the things his ancestors did during their journey through the middle passage, even if God wished that way. This shows that while he is somewhat religious, he is also, in a sense, rational. In the Schooner Flight, in the first Section, the poet mentions “Christ have mercy on all Sleeping things!” In both the cases, the poet never seems to have a crisis about his religion or his religious beliefs, rather the crisis or confusion is more racial in nature rather than religious. Shabine seems to be losing faith in humanity, but probably not in God since he, time and again, mentions his ill-treatment in the Caribbean.
One could compare Walcott’s views with that of another poet, namely Robert Frost’s ‘The Gift Outright.’ In his poem, Frost, much like Walcott, endeavors to highlight the past and call for an action for the future. The poem employs pronouns in a manner that has a lasting effect on the reader without employing any central characters, which is the most important point of distinction to Walcott’s poems. Frost uses a historical idea to express the feelings of the Americans of those times – the inherent feelings of both oppression and desperation as well as the sense of inhabiting, yet not possessing the land they were on which ultimately lead to joy and triumph in the form of freedom. Frost’s outlook (involves the American freedom) does involve themes such as ideas of progress, colonization, triumph, suffering in order to gain freedom from the colonists. However, Frost’s poem leaves out other important themes in American History such as slavery and imperialism.
The other important point is that Walcott’s poems have a more somber tone as compared to the poem by Robert Frost. While Walcott’s poems tend to be critical of colonization, Frost seems to point out the fact that colonization, in fact, helped the progress of the New World and its integration into the World Order. Further, the presence of a central character in Walcott’s poem makes it easier for a general reader to identify with the message of the poem. However, in the case of Robert Frost, the specialized American theme as well as the lack of a central character makes it a poem that is more patriotic and much less critical of American society compared to Walcott’s poems. Thus, one can see that both Frost and Walcott have extremely disparate views in their respective poems, although the poems share the single common theme of colonization.

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WePapers. (2021, January, 30) Free Poetry - Walcott Essay Example. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-poetry-walcott-essay-example/
"Free Poetry - Walcott Essay Example." WePapers, 30 Jan. 2021, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-poetry-walcott-essay-example/. Accessed 12 August 2022.
WePapers. 2021. Free Poetry - Walcott Essay Example., viewed August 12 2022, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-poetry-walcott-essay-example/>
WePapers. Free Poetry - Walcott Essay Example. [Internet]. January 2021. [Accessed August 12, 2022]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-poetry-walcott-essay-example/
"Free Poetry - Walcott Essay Example." WePapers, Jan 30, 2021. Accessed August 12, 2022. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-poetry-walcott-essay-example/
WePapers. 2021. "Free Poetry - Walcott Essay Example." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved August 12, 2022. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-poetry-walcott-essay-example/).
"Free Poetry - Walcott Essay Example," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 30-Jan-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-poetry-walcott-essay-example/. [Accessed: 12-Aug-2022].
Free Poetry - Walcott Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-poetry-walcott-essay-example/. Published Jan 30, 2021. Accessed August 12, 2022.
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