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A Far Cry From Africa Analysis

Author: poem of Derek Walcott Type: poem Views: 10

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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 civilizations 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?

Anonymous submission.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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In the first stanza of the poem, the poet criticizes the system of colonialism, but in the second stanza the poet talks about natural laws whereas in the last part of the poem the poet is confused for to which side he should belong.

| Posted on 2013-05-14 | by a guest

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in this poem writer uses rhetorical question to persuade the reader as well as to get the attention which needed.poem basically iambic but Walcott alternates it with its extended version of anapest. poet uses anapest with its unstressed syllable with stressed syllable quickening the pace of the poem. it also makes the poem intense giving the theme of the poem a seriousness. the langusge used in poem s simple and mellifluous giving a visual image to make it easy for the reader to understand the meaning of the poem .

| Posted on 2012-11-29 | by a guest

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Behind this poem lies the tragedy of both external and internal conflict. The historical backdrop of the poem is the civil uprising of the Mau Mau against British colonialists in Kenya. In the late 1800s British colonies began to settle throughout a territory that native Kikuyu called home. As British colonies began to spread so did the injustices: natives were thrown off of their own land and impoverished by poor work and poor wages.
The subjugation and mistreatment of the Kikuyu only got brutally worse as time progressed. Finally enough was enough. In the 1950s he Muingi (also called Mau Mau) could no longer hold on to empty promises of reparation and economic equality, nor could they tolerate anymore passive complaints- they rebelled violently. As a result, British military forces rapidly expanded and, along with African loyalists, pursued and eventually put to death 11,000 of the rebel force.
Although it served as the catalysis for the independence of the Kikuyu and greater Kenya, the conflicts of the Mau Mau Uprising were savage, bloody, and cruel (both ways). Bitter memories and no doubt latent hostilities followed the bloodshed.
Which leads us to our poet.
Derek Walcott was of mixed heritage: both of (white) English and African decent. He was openly against the colonial subjugation of the people of Kenya (with whom he felt a deep connection). At the same time, and as a result of his direct connection to his English heritage, it grieved him to see them being killed during the Mau Mau Uprising. Thus an internal conflict of loyalty emerged within the poet. His poem ask a solitary question: “With whom do I side?”
The poem is essentially divided (in thought, anyhow) between a poetic narrative of the conflict (lines 1 through 21) and the conflict as it exists with the poet internally.
As one of mixed heritage, and as one knowing personally the challenges of \'ethinic loyalties\", the poem really struck a cord with me. I understand it. x

| Posted on 2010-12-14 | by a guest

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there is a war going on between the white man (british) and the blacks"the gorilla fights the superman", humans bring war with them wherever they go. the narrator is unsure of what they wish to do, the war is dangerous and he does not want to put up with the needless slaughter "how can i face this slaughter and stay cool", but he loves the country of africa and does not wish to leave "how can i turn from africa and live" this war haunts him for he does not want to make the choice to stay and put up with the slaughter or to leave
sorry for the bad grammer, but you get the idea

| Posted on 2010-04-19 | by a guest

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The tone of the poem is urgent. And you can see that within the poem itself, there is a cycle. It begins with questions and ends with questions. However, the only difference is that the being questions are rhetorical ones,ie, we can answer them, but the questions towards the end has no answer to them. There is paradox used in line 4 "corpses are scattered through a paradise" Corpses do not belong in the world of paradise, therefore contrdictory. Simile "quick as flies" and metaphor in the front line are also used to make the poem more energetic and interesting to read. This effect also gives impact to what Walcott is trying to suggest. The poem is very deep and needs great understanding of historical context to further your knowledge of "A far cry from Africa"

| Posted on 2008-08-05 | by a guest

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