Abandoning Dead Metaphors: The Caribbean Phase of Derek Walcott's Poetry

By Patricia Ismond | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Apprenticeship
Juvenilia to In a Green Night

In Another Life, where he returns to his beginnings in St Lucia to search the roots of his creative endeavour, Walcott characterizes the initial phase of his career as a “divided childhood”, and clearly identifies the source of this dividedness in his deep attachment to the “borrowed metaphors” of the Western tradition. What has crystallized in memory captures the most important truths about that beginning: the reality of a young talent strongly fired with the ambition of being among the first pioneers of a West Indian art, and at the same time, deeply drawn to the artistic achievements of the colonizer's world. He had, however, given direct utterance to this underlying dilemma in the well-known poem “A Far Cry from Africa”, written at the early stages of his career. Responding to the shock of the Mau-Mau crisis in Kenya (early to mid-1950s), the extreme violence of that racial collision between British colonizer and native African, Walcott had been moved to express his own sense of conflicting allegiance between a victimized Africa and “the English tongue I love”:

I who am poisoned with the blood of both, Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?

-17-

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Abandoning Dead Metaphors: The Caribbean Phase of Derek Walcott's Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments viii
  • Abbreviations x
  • Chapter One - The Caribbean Focus 1
  • Chapter Two - Juvenilia to in a Green Night 17
  • Chapter Three - The Castaway and the Gulf 43
  • Chapter Four - Revolutionary Creed, Race, Politics and Society 103
  • Chapter Five - Alter/native Metaphors in Fulfilment 140
  • Chapter Six - Towards Another Life 225
  • Notes 281
  • Bibliography 295
  • Index 304
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