North And South Poem Essay, Research Paper
In the poem “North and South” Derek Walcott displays it’s theme of anti-racism through vivid imagery and allusions with a style of graphic comparison. In this poem Walcott describes the north and south portions of the US, reporting the racist tendencies in both the north and the south. Walcott clearly conveys that it makes no difference which side, the north or the south, was fighting for equality, nor does it make a difference which army won the battle, for racism runs rapid through all parts of the United States.
-White Objects- the white objects in “North and South” display the culture of one culture covering up the culture of another culture with racist overtones.
- A reference to the destruction of culture. “And the sides streets of Manhattan are sown with salt” is an allusion to how Carthago was taken over by the Roman Empire and destroyed and out of contempt for their Phoenician culture salt was spread upon the ruins. This quote refers to the fact that after the civil war blacks in the north or being smothered with a foreign white western color, destroying their own.
- “The flakes are falling like a common language on my nose and lips, and rime forms on the mouth of a shivering exile from hi African province;” another reference to how white or western culture is covering up black culture in America.
- “with the snow still falling in white words on Eighth Street” describes how the English language is covering up black culture.
- “as the flakes whiten Sheridan’s shoulders”. Shows how the US corrupted Sheridan, a black union war hero, into fighting a war for America.
- “Fragments of paper swirl round the bronze general of Sheridan Square”. Allusion to the salt that was sown on the ruins of Carthago. Shows how the English language is taking over indigenous tongue of the colored race changing their culture.
- “Under the blue sky of winter in Virginia the brick chimneys flute white smoke through skeletal lindens”. Describes how the white influence clouds the clearest of air.
- “like the wraith of smoke that comes from someone burning-” Refers to when the KKK burned blacks in the south.
- Racist groups portrayed in “North and South” display how the memories of the worlds racist past still dominate over the struggle for equality.
- “The ghosts of white-robed horsemen float through the trees” describes how, even years after the civil war was over the presence and memory of the KKK is still exists and still evokes fear into blacks.
- “jaggedly screech like the square wheel of a swastika” compares racism in the south to the Nazi regime and how they murdered the Jews as does “a spaniel churns up a pyre of blood-rusted leaves”, since pyre refers to a pile of corpses about to be burned and the Nazi’s disposed of Jews in such a manner. Walcott draws a parallel between the Nazi regime and the prejudice in the south to show that racism is the same terrible thing anywhere in the world.
- With gentle persuasion Derek Walcott lures you into feeling the strong anti-racism theme of his poem “North and South”. Walcott argues that although the racism of the south has much more graphic images, such as the KKK, the north, with quiet distinction, is also ruled by racism.
- This poem ties in with the overall tone of Walcott’s work perfectly because it displays his major themes of alienation, loss of language/culture and oppression by showing how blacks in America live under western culture, speak the foreign language of English and live with the constant ridicule of racism.