By Paula Burnett
This article deals an interpretation of the life's paintings of acclaimed St. Lucian poet, Derek Walcott. It discusses his special approach to fable, id, and aesthetics. What emerges is the image of an epic poet with impressive presents operating to impart the unique knowledge of Caribbean tradition.
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Additional info for Derek Walcott: Politics and Poetics
The literary mapping of place is a case in point. As Walcott has said, “There was no articulation of that vegetation. It was not sanctified by literature . . ” The rhetoric of “home” was obviously initiated by white, migrant colonists for whom “back home” had real meaning as a signifier of Europe as place of personal origin, but it became a widespread usage also among indigenous colonials of all races, so successfully was it disseminated. As a verbal code, the discourse of “home” as the imperial “motherland,” the “mother country,” implicitly relegates all things colonial, including the indigenous people, to a secondary status, always overshadowed by the privileged, European (or Europe-oriented) center.
The Caribbean personae he models are essentially plural and are shown engaging creatively with colonial trauma. The locus of “between” is, for him (in cultural just as in bodily terms), the site of fertility, product of interactive desire, where the generation of the new holds out the endless possibility of hope. Patriarchal Western preoccupations with origin, with retrospective lineage, are, in Walcott’s aesthetic, countered with the privileging of originality, here and now. Dennis Plunkett in Omeros is engaged in the sterile search for an ancestor as putative son, but the poem ends with the image of the heterosexual couple and the implied promise of Helen’s fetal child, whose lineage (the identity of its genetic father) is implicitly of relatively little significance compared with its future.
Literacy, literature, culture, the poem indicates, are ultimately unimportant compared to the daring of the primal utterance of self-consciousness, an elemental “wild” voicing. ” Walcott postulates that the continuum between individual and community requires both polarities to be given forceful representation, so that the multiplicity of intermediate possibilities can emerge. The creole principle is evident not just in representations of the body (miscegenation) and in the language (creolization) but in Walcott’s construction of the Caribbean subject position.