Does Caribbean Poetry Reflect Our Shared History English Books Essay

As a collective group, the Caribbean people celebrate an eclectic melding of the variations inherent inside our ancestry with an understanding of the affects wrought upon us by the annals of the islands, and our development may be chronicled through an study of the poetry and poetic styles of the poets who seek to provide a words to the diverse, yet collective personal information of the Caribbean throughout our progress. The poetry of the spot reflects the distinct composite factors which characterize the advancement of individuals and the Caribbean islands: the difference is visible in the persons who constructed the poems, the subject matter, form, style, the target audience, and the ideological pursuits which were offered.

Initially, in the eighteenth century, at one end of the variety there have been poets who ascribed to the scribal traditions of the British verse as it got developed by that period. These poets hailed from the white get better at class and dealt primarily with a glorification of the "adventure" of colonization in the Caribbean. The target audience was the imperial Motherland - Great britain, and by expansion the other Western nations. The style of the poems adopted the blank verse, pastoral settings, personification, and a poetic diction regular with the European poets of the time, such as Milton. The topic subject praised an idealized idea of the natural beauty of the Caribbean islands as in Weekes' "Barbados" (1754): "When regular Rains, and soothing Show'rs descend, / To cheer the Earth, and Nature's self applied revive, / A second Paradise shows up! the Isle / Thro'-out, one beauteous Garden seems;" (Burnett [1986], 102). The poems therefore are typified by way of a grandiose, eloquent style, liberally interspersed with traditional allusions which celebrated the intended grandeur of the Western world Indies. Singleton, in his "A General Explanation of the Western world Indian Islands" (1767), illustrates this feature: "There hollow noises, murmuring thro' the vault, / Surprize the list'ning er; whilst from the deeps / The hoarse Cerberean yell dreadful ascends, / Three times full-echo'd from the faraway hills. " (106). Juxtaposed with the idyllic Caribbean moments detailed, these poets, such as Weekes in "Barbados" (1754), symbolize in their works a kind of superficial humane concern for the slaves, in conjunction with an approval of slavery as the ultimate great deal of the slave: "Close watch, ye Drivers! Your work-hating Gang, / And tag their Labours with a careful Eye; / But spare your cruel, and ungen'rous Stripes! / They sure are Men, tho' Slaves, and colour'd Black;" (102). "The poems' celebration of the grandeur of the tropics [italics mine] is really a celebration of the intended grandeur of United kingdom colonialism in the Caribbean. In most cases the poems work to uphold the slave-based socio-political system of the West Indian plantation culture. " (Baugh, 227-228).

At the other end of the spectrum, there are the anonymous, simple expressions of the dark slaves - their folk sounds, ballads, chants and work melodies - which articulate their observations and emotions while enduring the slavery experience. For example, you have the poignant lament: "If me want for get in a Ebo, / Me can't go there! / Since dem tief me from a Guinea, / Me personally can't go there!" (3). In the frustrated firmness, wracked with displacement and restriction of motion, the poem solemnizes the plea of the slave while voicing the collective strife of the slaves on the islands. Markedly contrasting with the poetry of the scribal custom, the poetry of the presumably uneducated Negro slave appeared to be fresh, insightful and engaging in its' convenience. The poems celebrated the oral customs of the Africans and were imbued with a creative potential that was forged from the melding of the British and Western world African dialects. Thus, even although poems were written generally in English, there have been distinct African features (for example, the folksong traditions), which was only improved by the blending of the European ballad traditions: "Guinea Corn, I long to see you / Guinea Corn, I long to grow you / Guinea Corn, I long to mould you" (4). Significant to notice is that the poet's concentrate is on the Guinea Corn of hie indigenous homeland, and not on the sugarcane of the plantations which exploited his labour. Topically, the slave would not have considered to romanticize the natural splendor of the hawaiian islands in which they now lived under such persecution. Rather, focal points of their poems might have been entrenched in the desire to preserve their indigenous identities and to find ways of re-defining their identities in the new context of the Caribbean.

While it stands to reason that the dichotomy shown here epitomizes the expected disparity of thought and should, in fact, focus on the distinctions among the Caribbean people, the advancement of the Caribbean towards the abolition of slavery gave birth to an innovative poetic words, one which emerged as a spokesperson chronicling the debacle of the slave trade and the slave experience:

Was there no mercy, mother of the slave!

No friendly side to succor also to save,

While commerce thus thy captive tribes oppress'd,

And cutting down vengeance linger'd o'er the western?

Yes, Africa! Under the stranger's fishing rod

From isle to isle the welcome tidings ran;

The slave that been told them started out into man:

Like Peter, sleeping in his chains, he place,

The angel arrived, his night was turn'd to day;

'Arise!' his fetters dropped, his slumbers flee;

He wakes alive, he springs to liberty.

(Montgomery [1807], 1-5, 76-77).

This poetic voice also interwove the African oral tradition in to the cloth of the European poetic form, creating a fresh composite form which, for the first time, attempted to bridge the difference between the Standard English language and the words of the slaves. In his pioneer look at, Moreton's "Ballad" (1790) can be an exemplory case of this: " Altho' a slave me exists and bred, / My skin area is dark-colored, not yellow:" (Burnett, 112).

With this original foray into the experimental Creole art form, the actual fact that poets of Caucasian descent were prepared to both pen and publish poems in this "native" dialect spoke loudly to the impending communal emphasis of poetry in the Caribbean isles, and by expansion, the duality of distinctive peoples writing for the same goal: to track record a shared record and to provide a unique words to Caribbean literary works. That is not to say that all poems written in this time around period were imbued with a humane prospect on the Africans. Many poets who were associates of the privileged class ventured into this field, using the neighborhood vernacular in their scribal works, nevertheless the objective of poets such as Cordle and Mc Turk was a funny depiction of the everyday routine of the African so that they can appease the mark audience which was still predominantly Western. A prime exemplory case of Mc Turk's use of the vernacular to "poke fun" at the African people is seen in his poem, "Query" (1899): "Da Backra one fo go a hebben? / Da Backra one fo raise like lebben? / Da wa' a-we po Negah do? / Make a-we no fo increase up too?" (13). It may be noted however, that poets such as Apple pc Dermot, whose work exhibited a Tennysonian sound and feel, as was inevitable due to persisted reliance on Western european form, in "Cuba" (1950's), showed the redemptive electric power of Caribbean unity: "But we like fans twain / Are one in pleasure and pain, " (132).

The poets and poems of this era depicted, in essence, informative social history documents, however their depiction did not negate the fact that, inevitably, two unique histories were being interwoven through the medium of the poetry that was written. Without openly acknowledging the fact, the poets became "an integral part of the discourse of background that they shared with historians and travel writers" (Baugh, 230). The veer towards the vernacular in poetry which still embodied Western european varieties, and also now American forms in the writing, was extremely valuable as a representation of public realities which no longer distinguished between the people who filled the Caribbean islands, but rather reflected the distributed mother nature of the their history. This fact became more visible as the Caribbean and its own people persisted to evolve. The turn of the century was earmarked by poets such as Claude Mc Kay and Una Marson, whose poetic content outlined the didactic transfer towards a concentrate on black consciousness and, in Marson's work, a mostly feminist interpretation of the social relationships of the age.

Although his later works were penned totally in Standard British and exhibited the lineage of Milton and Wordsworth, the protest sonnets of Mc Kay, such as "If We Must Die" reflected both the black United States American situation and the Caribbean situation of that time period; the racial theme is employed poignantly, linking the Black diaspora and speaking for the Dark community generally, somewhat than singularly from the Caribbean perspective: "If we should die, O why don't we nobly expire, / In order that our precious blood might not exactly be shed / In vain; then even the monsters we defy / Will be constrained to honour us, though useless!" (Burnett, 144). If one examines Mc Kay's Creole poetry, there exists, as opposed to earlier works by Cordle and Mc Turk in which the African man was patronized, a definitive consciousness of the dark people: "I delivered right do'n beneat' de clack / (You unappealing brute, you tu'n you' again?) / Don' t'ink dat I'm a come-aroun' / I created right 'way in 'panish Town. " (Dark brown, 7).

The new female consciousness presented by Marson was also linked to black awareness over a alternative level. This dark consciousness fuses with class awareness in Marson's simple diction and syntax, while her rhyme pulls greatly from the 'Blues" traditions of the American poetic form: "I like me dark-colored face / And me kinky wild hair. / I like me dark face / And me kinky wild hair. / But no person leves dem, / I jes don't tink it's reasonable. " (Burnett, 158).

What was seen to emerge was poets working conjointly to produce a new Western Indian poetic tradition. Thematically the poets wrote in the framework of the changing sociopolitical consciousness, exhibiting a fresh level of seriousness, characterized by a nationalistic slant, an exploration of the interpersonal realities of the time, and profoundly proclaiming a visit a shared Caribbean identity. The poems which grew out of the early on to mid-twentieth century offered more focus on the visit a unique voice and although typified by derivations from the modern English and North american poets of that time period, for example, Auden, Eliot and Pound, there is a decided break up from the Western tradition.

Nowhere does this split reveal to be more obvious than in the secular works of Louise Bennett. Written totally in the Jamaican Creole, Bennett's work legitimized the Creole in a way that no-one else's got as yet. Utilizing the primarily dramatic monologue, interspersed intermittently with the brief narrative form, and with heavy reliance on the dental customs, Bennett engages the reader vicariously in the grassroots intelligence of her personae. Her sharply probing yet objective eyes exposes the na‡veterinarian of the Caribbean people. Her shade which is sometimes chastising, reaches all times, even in the midst of her reliance on funny as a medium of exposition, satirical as she figuratively holds up a reflection to society's foibles. Her ideas dwell on the people's articulation of home and their put in place the history of the Caribbean. Distinguishing individuality becomes an inevitable condition as the folks establish themselves.

In her works, for example, "Colonization in Reverse", the reader can easily see how Bennett operates as a reporter and commentator on an event of both historical relevance and internal interest to the Caribbean people - the exodus of Caribbean nationals to Britain during the post-war period:

Wat a joyful news, Neglect Mattie,

I feel like me heart gwine burs

Jamaica people colonizing

Englan in reverse

Oonoo observe how life is funny,

Oonoo see de tunabout?

Jamaica live fe field bread

Out a British people mout'

(Dark brown, 32).

The delivery is seen as a a high amount of verbal and gestural expressiveness however the irony and counter-irony of the situation chronicle the poem. The dialect which is employed as the medium of delivery assists mainly to identify the unfolding drama of West Indian awareness as the speaker debates the issue of a counter-colonization of Britain, and the Western Indian national's seek out an identifiable background.

To many of the Western world Indian poets such as Bennett, the custom of British poetic form which was inherited as part of our colonial history became gradually constrained and oppressive as the islands and their people changed towards self-realization. The need for a Caribbean poetry which encapsulated the substance of the Caribbean peoples' shared history and drive towards progress and self-actualiaztion became the fore-runner of thematic impact for the poets' topics. The desire to have a poetry which spoke of, to and then for Western world Indians was begun by poets like Bennett and understood in poets such as Derek Walcott and (Edward) Kamau Brathwaite. Their poems portrayed a possibility for the creation of a new Caribbean world differentiated by its very divergence from European countries and America. Walcott's perspective essentially delineates the cultural realities which have to be changed in order for a new world vision to transcend into reality. His poetry reinvented the Caribbean scenery through the language which described the characteristics of the Caribbean life and folks. The vision, which was also affected by the plight of the center Passage reaches all races that comprised the Caribbean. Walcott's poetry didn't highlight distinctions among the people, somewhat when he speaks of contest he identifies all Caribbean people, and this vision further extends to embrace all individuals suffering and the necessity for success. The Native Us citizens' tragedy dished up only to deepen his concern for the Black color diaspora, his outrage and lament not singularly centered on the Cherokee Path of Tears nor the Gulag Archipelago, but a lament for the injustice of all systems of abuse and slavery which prioritized the profit of the business above the inhumanities inflicted on the individual. Walcott's poetry can be said to subsume the complete record of grief inherited by the Caribbean people. Background itself, for him, becomes a centrally thorough theme, such that the gnarled, sea-almond trees and shrubs on any Atlantic-facing Caribbean coastline represent for the poet the resiliency of the folks, their capacity to go through, and to create a culture out of the common catastrophe: "their leaves' wide-ranging dialect a coarse, / long lasting audio / they distributed along. " (Walcott, 23).

Brathwaite distributed Walcott's eyesight as he "clearly founded [a] single-minded pursuit of an alternative tradition for West Indian poetry. He grounded it in the retrieval and acknowledgement of African ethnicities and of communal knowledge lost or submerged in the Middle Passing" (Baugh, 255):

stories trunked up in a dark attic,

he stumps in the stares

of our home windows, he stares, stares

he squats on the tips

of our language

black burr of conundrums

eye corner of ghosts, ancient his-


(Brathwaite, 165).

For Brathwaite, his poetry utilizes black musical expressions from both attributes of the Atlantic and combines them with dark vernacular and Standard British to re-enact or evoke significant moments of Dark experience. His goal may be seen concerning renew a feeling of community and shared purpose on the list of dispersed African individuals. Brathwaite's poems are simultaneously a lament and a celebration of the black diaspora, his heroes and audio speakers composites of all the changing faces and voices of the new Caribbean. Renewal and community emerge as the desired home out of your legacy of exile and fragmented id. For both Walcott and Brathwaite, their representations of modern world resound with the knowledge of the colonial legacy bequeathed to the Caribbean people.

The latter 50 percent of the Twentieth Century heralded the emergence of another poetic tone of voice. This tone of voice was that of the Western Indian feminist who wanted to establish the value of the contribution of the female number in the West Indian community. Poets such as Merle Collins and Lorna Goodison spoke out forthrightly against male-dominated electric power structures and engaged questions of the girl role in issues of history, class and race. Goodison's poetry for example resonates with a deep sense of history, generates a feeling of creative imagination and targets the multi-dimensional roles of women in the society, sharing with Brathwaite and Walcott that lively sense of id evident in her works which characteristically screen Caribbean and African-American people music in just a social and local consciousness that this kind of music includes:

Mother, you have the stone on the hearts of some women and men

something as an onyx, cabochon-cut,

which hung on the wearer seed products bad dreams.

Speaking for the small

dreamers of the globe, plagued with nightmares, yearning

for healing dreams

we want the natural stone to go.

(Goodison, 4).

Poems such as this encapsulate the breadth of the female form, claiming the woman's place as the social regenerator of individuals.

Also extending the range of imaginative use of the dental tradition into the current century, infusing it with the urgency of new, deprived generations and speaking the 'vocabulary of the avenue', the poetry of poets such as Linton Kwesi Johnson gained new reputation as 'dub poetry', a poetry which could track its lineage to the dental inventiveness of the tenement yards and ghettos. However, even though the poetry reaches times interspersed with impressions of assault, it affirms the deep cultural significance and id of the Caribbean people who have social protest:

dem is awftin decried an denied

dem is awftin ridiculed an doungraded

dem may also be kangratulated an celebrated

dem is sometimes suprised an elated

but as yu mite have already guess

dem is awftin foun wantin more or less

dus spoke di wizen wans af ole

dis is a tale nevvah told

(Dark brown, 274).

The authors explored here aren't all of one and the same technology. Nonetheless they identify in essential ways the Caribbean's roots; their sense of location is creatively problematic and their postcolonial sensibility appears uneasily chronicled. Nevertheless the notion of a divided 'immigrant' to the Caribbean will not hold true. Rather, one can practically trace the introduction of the Caribbean, and its continuing development, through the words which these poets give to their works of art. There's a specially defined romantic relationship of the Caribbean nationwide to his 'home' and 'personal information', however multi-faceted it may appear to be. His colonial redefinition is still incomplete but the process, however postponed, is unavoidable. Poets of the Western world Indies, through their thematic content, their use of words, their adaptation of form and their potential to get a target audience which was, in effect, a locally appreciative entourage, all distributed in the singular rhetoric which captured the distributed connection with the Caribbean people and provided to the hawaiian islands a unique form of individuality. As Eric Roach notes in his poem "Love Over-grows a Rock" (1992), the expect the Caribbean individuals' future lays summarily in transcending insularity through the shared regional identification and fantasy: "So, from my private hillock / In Atlantic I become a member of cry: / Come, seine the archipelago; / Disdain the ocean; gather the islands' hills / Into the blue horizons of your love. " (Rohlehr, 284).

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