A Voice of Internal Conflict

        The most insightful and interesting stanzas can be found in a lyric poem. In this type of poetry, the voice in the writing is essentially that of the poet. An accurate example of this is “A Far Cry from Africa” by Derek Walcott. The attitudes of the speaker in this poem represent the same sentiments and experiences of the author himself. Walcott is a man of African descent, raised in the Caribbean on the ex-British colony island of St. Lucia. This history of growing up in an English environment, aware of an opposing descent, influenced the life and work of Walcott. In this poem, he expresses the theme through the speaker’s attitude, perception of his environment, internal conflict, and the tone and mood that are created by these elements.

        The feelings of the speaker toward the subject of the poem are very clear. He openly criticizes the brutality between the Africans and the colonial settlers. The language of the poem demonstrates that the speaker is angry at the entire situation and judgmental of both parties involved. Phrases such as “Corpses are scattered through a paradise” (4) and “his wars dance..”(19) combine the presence of violence with positive concepts. The speaker is mocking the brutality by describing it using the words “paradise” and “dance”, that are normally associated with celebration and bliss. He refuses to accept the motives of the white men and the attacks of the Africans. At one point, the speaker addresses the colonial policy and how it is justified and accepted. He points out that any validation of the colony’s actions is not worth anything to the people who are suffering from the ongoing battles. The voice in the poem observes and analyzes his surroundings and stands in strong disagreement with the white men whose lifestyle he shares, and the Africans whose blood he shares.

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        The setting of the poem holds the speaker directly between these two peoples. He tells his story from the damaged fields of Africa and sets a specific mood with his description of this environment. The first sentence, “A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt of Africa.” (1-2)  compares the country’s land to a dry, brownish animal skin. Next, we learn that savages are dispersed across the bloody land, which is covered by scattered corpses. The mood is dark, depressive, and violent. Images of blood and murder are created in the mind of the reader. The absence of compassion is brought ...

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