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Exile, loss, and alienation in Walcotts The Schooner Flight - Essay Example

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This paper analyzes Derek Walcott’s narrative poem, “The Schooner Flight.” The speaker is a mariner mulatto, Shabine, who speaks as a poet and a “red nigger.” …
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Exile, loss, and alienation in Walcotts The Schooner Flight

Download file to see previous pages... The voice is conversational and narrative, at times detached, at times emotional, but always introspective. The poem also used sound and rhythm to reflect the sounds of the Caribbean’s ocean and the texture of their conflicted lives. The paper employs an eco-critical perspective and argues that the environment, both the nation and the sea, are depicted in different images, the nation both home and alien, while the sea, also uncertain, but lovelier because it allows flight and introspection. The paper argues that the writing poems and exploring the sea are similar to the process of exploring one’s individual and national identity that cannot be easily attained because of the Caribbean’s history of colonization and slavery that leads to themes of exile, loss, and alienation. Shabine experiences loss of identity because of being exiled and alienated in a nation where he is not considered white or black. Though he had personal conflicts with his division over his wife (and their children) and Maria Conception, the poem also touches on socio-economic and political issues of slavery and lack of freedoms and rights in the Carribean. Clearly, Shabine is a divided individual, as divided as the structure of his poem that has enjambed lines and caesuras, but as a poet and a mariner, he left a positive image of being one with his true identity. Derek Walcott’s “The Schooner Flight,” published in1986 as part of the Collected Poems 1948-1984, depicts a schooner’s life, its making and his becoming. The speaker is a mariner mulatto, Shabine, who speaks as a poet and a “red nigger.” His diction and choice of words manifest both his education as a colonized object and a subject-poet. The iambic pentameter maximizes inner rhymes that express his frustrations and ideals as a mulatto and a poet. The paper uses eco-critical perspective and argues that the environment, both the nation and the sea, are depicted in different images, the nation both home and alien, while the sea, also uncertain, but lovelier because it allows flight and introspection. The narrative poem compares writing poems and exploring the sea as the convoluted process of exploring one’s individual and national identity that cannot be easily attained because of the Caribbean’s history of colonization and slavery that leads to themes of exile, loss, and alienation. Walcott used a mixture of English and Caribbean language and the diction of a seaman to portray his cross-cultural identity from a colonized viewpoint that can help explain his nomadic tendencies. He selected words that showed different factors that shaped and controlled his identity. Carenage is located in Saint Barthelemy in the Caribbean. He is an islander, but he wants to be more of a mariner, which is asserted when the title of the first stanza is “Adios, Carenage” (Walcott). By saying these words immediately, Shabine expresses his original intention, to leave the island that is both alien and home to him. Shabine also used the word “bohbohl,” when he said: “But they had started to poison my soul/with their big house, big car, big-time bohbohl,” (Walcott, 1.30-31). “Bohbohl” means corruption that people in the government or anyone in power is involved with. It is a local word that describes local political issues. Shabine is tired of his nation’s corruption that he has been part of too. In addition, Meerzon (2012) argued that “The Schooner Flight” uses Shabine as a conduit for Walcott’s political and artistic ideas (p.76). Shabine expressed his racial and ethnic identity directly when ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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