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A Far Cry from Africa
Transcript of A Far Cry from Africa
Family: Mother (Alix), Father (Warwick), twin brother (Roderick), sister (Pamela)
African and English Heritage
First Book- Named "25 Poems" printed at age 14! Education and Awards Education: Attended: University of West Indies in Jamaica Awards: 1965- Royal Society of Literature Heinmann Award for "The Castaway and other poems"
1971- Obie (Off Broadway Theater Award) for "Dream
on Monkey Mountain"
1992- Nobel Prize in Literature
2011- T.S. Elliot Award Adult Life and Jobs Married 3 times, has 3 children
Boston University "If you know what you are going to write when you're writing a poem, it's going to be average." -Derek Walcott Influences Social and Political: Divided Background Causes Conflict English Heritage African Heritage Mau-Mau Uprising Mau-Mau Uprising Background Information Dates: 1952- 1960
Casualties: Exceeding 12,000
Militant African anti-colonial group named Mau-Mau
British Military Campaign and rule
Surrender of Mau-Mau leader Dedan Kimathi ended uprising and the British Military's Campaign Dedan Kimathi Major Theme The poem's message is that Derek is torn between which side of the Mau-Mau conflict to support due to his divided background "A Far Cry From Africa" A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt
Of Africa. Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
Only the worm, colonel of carrion, cries:
"Waste no compassion on these separate dead!" Statistics justify and scholars seize
The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed?
To savages, expendable as Jews? Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break
In a white dust of ibises whose cries
Have wheeled since civilization's dawn
From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read
As natural law, but upright man
Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
Delirious as these worried beasts, his wars
Dance to the tightened carcass of a drum,
While he calls courage still that native dread
Of the white peace contracted by the dead. Again brutish necessity wipes its hands
Upon the napkin of a dirty cause, again
A waste of our compassion, as with Spain,
The gorilla wrestles with the superman.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose Between this Africa and the English tongue I love? Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can I face such slaughter and be cool?
How can I turn from Africa and live? 1st Stanza 2nd Stanza 3rd Stanza Forms and Devices Free Verse Poem
Mostly iambic tetrameter, starting as pentameter
Lines vary in length and stresses
Rhyme Scheme: ABABBCDDCE
Rhyme varies with pronunciation
Words like "Jews", "flies", and "seize" are irregular Analysis: General and Forms and Devices Dual nature + traditions
Emotional charging words: "savages", "expendable"
Comparing and contrasting humans and animals Analysis: Themes Man fighting himself?
Walcott cannot support either side, because he cannot condone the violence done by each Synecdoche/ Themes Ln 1. "Tawny pelt" relates Africa to an animal
Ln 2. Relates the Kikuyu (people) to flies, sucking the blood from Africa
Ln.5 Mau-Mau are related to worms, trying to expel the the settlers
Ln 12. White ibises = white farmers/ settlers, "Threshed" out by Africans Walcott is shameful of his people's actions Analysis: Themes Title: "A Far Cry from Africa" 2 Interpretations: Walcott hearing or seeing news from the tragedy in Africa
The tragedy is unlike the far beautiful place he knows and loves Analysis: Themes Comparisons: Ln 25. Superman (British) vs. Gorillas (Mau-Mau) Third Stanza- Read as outside
Sees flaws in both sides Walcott cannot escape picking a side because he has the "blood of both" Analysis: Personal "Corpses are scattered through a paradise"
Urgent tone = Need to pick a side
Unanswered right-wrong questions
THANKS! Word. *Awesome Statue THESIS Without Derek's conflicting background, he would not have had the emotional connection to his work, and therefore would not have become a famous poet.