Derek Walcott the Antilles Fragments of Epic Memory Essay

Pages: 4 (1350 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

Poetry to Walcott is a gloss, a veneer on the original language. One has the phenomena of the original world -- houses, trees, vegetation, all creation let us say -- and then a veneer on this world that makes it present itself in a different way -- a more glorifying way to the humans that perceive tit and that, consequently, praise, or attempt to describe it. Poetry is the unreal foisted on the real. Put it this way, Walcott beautifully describes Poetry as an "island that breaks away from the main."

What he was spectator to in reality, what he was seeing was a group of Indian boys performing Ramleela, the dramatization of the Ramayana in some small Indian village. The actors were dressed in red and black. They were waving their arrows whilst acting in a background that consisted of low blue mountains, bright grass, and masses of fluctuating clouds. But this is not the way that Walcott perceived it. To him, the music and tonality that permeated the action, the performers, and this scene clothed everything with a different light -- clothed it all with the light of grace and love, and doing so transformed it into an aura of infinitesimal levels of transcendental meaning and character. In fact, the entire scene was transformed into one that Walcott described was fit for gods and goddesses.

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Poetry, therefore, for Walcott was an idealization of the reality. It was not the reality itself, but rather the way that the artist, or the individual person saw the scene, and, therefore, could be far removed from any actuality. It may be the way that the lover describes his beloved; or the way that the ecstatic person describes the day. The beloved may be an ugly, wretched hag. The day may be miserable. But, both caught up in their transportation, perceive the object and other in idealized, transcendental manners.

Essay on Derek Walcott the Antilles Fragments of Epic Memory Assignment

"Under an open shed on the edge of the field, there were two huge armatures of bamboo that looked like immense cages." In ordinary circumstances, these "two huge armatures of bamboo" would have been precisely what they were" simply two trees. Given the present circumstances, Walcott saw them as "the body of a god, his calves or thighs, which, fitted and reared, would make a gigantic effigy," correctly comparing his shift in perception to Shelley's conversion of a fallen statue into the King of Kings, Ozymandias and his empire. This is what poetry is: a distortion of reality.

It is interesting to note that the author seems to associate poetry in connection only with uniquely positive events. An unhappy person, too, sees reality in distorted manner, seeing a neutral day, for instance, in the exaggerated pitch of darkness, cloudiness, and heaviness. Bent under his suffering, percepts become distorted just as equally as they do to the transported individual. Yet, we do not describe reality in these circumstances to constitute poetry. And, it seems to me, that Walcott would agree. This, however, is thought-provoking for why should distorted phenomena during happy circumstances be described as poetic, whilst distorted phenomena to the unhappy individual is not normatively termed as such. It may be, therefore, that 'poetry' is not only a masquerade or concealment and elevation of substances, but is also an elevation of certain substances under a certain mood.

Poetry is a masquerade in the following manner: Using a Heideggerian approach, I see Walcott as endeavoring to say that the 'truth' is not 'truth' per se but rather percepts that the individual sees that is open to him or her and interpreted by him or her in his uniquely particular manner according to her particular perspective. The object, therefore, is open to the perceiver and is interpreted by her in her specific way. Each, for instance, sees the same trees that Walcott saw. To some they were simply trees; others may have perceived them in terms of their particular profession or vocation. To a poet in a particularly uplifting mood, they were "parts of the body of a god." To individuals… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Derek Walcott the Antilles Fragments of Epic Memory.  (2011, September 12).  Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

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"Derek Walcott the Antilles Fragments of Epic Memory."  12 September 2011.  Web.  29 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Derek Walcott the Antilles Fragments of Epic Memory."  September 12, 2011.  Accessed September 29, 2020.