Abandoning Dead Metaphors: The Caribbean Phase of Derek by Patricia Ismond

By Patricia Ismond

This ebook offers with the Caribbean section of Walcott’s poetry. The paintings is anxious with Caribbean identification and self-definition. leaving behind useless Metaphors uncovers the innovative attempt in a specific targeted course, that has up to now remained mostly unobserved.

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Extra info for Abandoning Dead Metaphors: The Caribbean Phase of Derek Walcott's Poetry

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While he looks to emulate the "brilliance of Stephen's reasoning", the emphases in his dialectic are not exactly those of Joyce's hero. The exclusive concern here is with the contradictions of the doctrine of sin and redemption, the bondage of flesh versus the doctrine of perfectibility. The crux of the argument is with a God who has made "imperfect piety with his perfect pardon". In the end, the iconoclastic spirit seeks grace and reconciliation, resolving to desist from mysterious probings in the manner of Prospero (Canto XII).

What characteristic features do these borrowings present and what is their underlying import; what do they reflect of the propensities and psychology directing Walcott's early efforts? As Epitaph shows, the imitation consists first of all in a close reproduction of the metaphoric contexts of the masters, extending to the effort to capture voices and methods intact. The vast composite of metaphors includes Homer's odyssey in the Iliad and Odyssey, its Christian counterpart in Dante's metaphor of quest/journey in The Divine Comedy, Shakespeare's Renaissance variant in the fictions of Hamlet and The Tempest, the redeployment of these classical/Christian configurations in Eliot's wasteland metaphor, in Baudelaire's iconoclastic "fleurs du mal", and the Stephen Dedalus metaphor in Joyce, Walcott's most representative point of entry.

This formal structure and its music give his "tragic twists" the kind of aphoristic impact typical of the sonnet. Chapter II, one of the most finished pieces in the sequence, will serve as a good illustration of the various aspects of Walcott's technical crafting and general aesthetic goals in the sequence. It tells the tragedy of Cosimo de Chretien, of French noble lineage, who must remain isolated from the black current of life in the island to maintain his white pedigree. The first ten lines, corresponding to the octet, present the portrait of Cosimo isolated in his setting, amid the decor and bric-a-brac of No.

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