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Post-colonial literature: "A far cry from Africa" by Derek Walcott.

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Introduction

Post-colonial literature: "A far cry from Africa" by Derek Walcott In essence, this poem is about Walcott discussing his divided loyalties, between his ties with Africa and to Britain. The title of the poem hints at Walcott's cultural instability. He seems to believe that he is somewhat 'cursed' because of his mixed race: "I who am poisoned with the blood of both,/Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?" . The poem is in a sense the poets cry for help. The first stanza invites sympathy for the settlers, members of the oppressing class who may nevertheless be innocent, like "the white child hacked in bed." But the next line notes bitterly that black "savages, expendable as Jews," have also been victims of mass-murder. ...read more.

Middle

The fact that Walcott is of mixed race is advantageous by the fact that he is able to contemplate the faults of each culture without reverting to the bias created by attention to moral considerations. Walcott portrays the African Kikuyu in a negative light: "flies/Batten upon the bloodstream of the veldt". Here Walcott is likening the Kikuyu to savages who abuse their countries fertile resources, insinuating that the arrival of the British appears beneficial not only to the inhabitants, but also to the suffering land. However, Walcott contrasts this image of the British as liberators by giving an unfavourable description of them in the subsequent lines: "The worm, colonial of carrion, cries:/'Waste no compassion on these separate dead!'". Here Walcott likens the British to worms, animals which are at the bottom of the food chain. ...read more.

Conclusion

In these more positive lines Walcott identifies the aspects of each culture that he admires. He prefers the African terrain and way of life, and favours the English language and literary tradition. Both of theses two cultures hold various attractions for Walcott and the tension which this causes for Walcott increases as the poem continues. The final lines of the poem show that Walcott has by no means found an answer to solve his dilemma: "How can I face such slaughter and be cool?/How can I turn from Africa and live?" . Walcott feels burdened with guilt by his split loyalties. He wishes to adopt the "civilized" culture of the British, but cannot substantiate their abuse of the Africans. The fact that Walcott cannot resolve the inconsistency of his mixed races is revealed by the dismay he shows throughout the poem. Richard Stephens 28/04/2007 1 ...read more.

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