South

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The poem "South" repossesses ideas of African heritage through the hybridity that "occur[s] in post-colonial societies both as a result of conscious moments of cultural suppression, as when the colonial power[s] [...] dispossess indigenous peoples and force them to assimilate to new social patterns" (Ashcroft, et al. 183). Hybridity is the force behind repossession in "South," and Brathwaite plays up what must remain from a hybrid (or colonized) identity. The poem reads, "But today I recapture the islands' / bright beaches: blue mist from the ocean / rolling into the fishermen's houses. / By these shores I was born" (1-4). The "I" in the poem, read as perhaps Brathwaite himself, has traveled from the beaches of his primitive home and has resided temporarily in cities with stone foundations. The "fishermen" have made paths to their houses offshore while the "We" resents the wisdom of the colonizer. Each has a hybrid investment in the landscape; thus, it is repossession that brings into question the land of "South," as it is repossession that brings the three figures (I, fishermen, We) to terms with their existential conditions. Because the speaker of the poem has, "walk[ed] the lands of the north / in sharp slanting sleet and the hail" (8-9) and now walks where "the only water is rain," (12) he can endure his surroundings. Although the "shadows" of ancestry oppress him in the forest near the house, his experience in the north--referring to his African homeland--allows him to achieve repossession in the foreign south. For the West Indian persona, the survival of his culture is a hybrid experience. Lines 14-20 place another spin on hybridity--one that, at first, seems to reject.
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