from The Emigrants by Edward Kamau Brathwaite
The poem from The Emigrants by Edward Kamau Brathwaite is the thoughts of an indigenous inhabitant, the persona, thinking of the invasion that has been so abruptly brought upon them which they must now face. We know that the persona is one of the inhabitants because in line four and twelve, the repetition of “my” personalizes what is happening, coming from an inhabitant’s perspective. The themes perception versus reality, power, discovery and war throughout the poem explain and break down the content of the poem. Columbus, an explorer is searching for new lands for Queen Elizabeth, these tie in with the themes of discovery and power. He is discovers a new land that is inhabited by a race that he had never come across before. Lines eleven and twelve continue to tie in with the theme power, “deck watched heights he hoped for,
rocks he dreamed, rise solid from my simple water.”
Columbus believes that by discovering this new land he will not only obtain power and glory and riches from the Queen but also much more that he can obtain from this land. War and danger are also major themes in this poem. “As he watched the shore, the slaughter that his soldiers…” this shows us that Columbus’ invasion brought death and suffering to the inhabitants as they tried to protect themselves. Furthermore while referring to how the island tried to defend itself, the poet talks of the response of Mother Nature towards the invasion. “Parrots screamed”, emphasizes not only the disruption of nature but also how the parrots may have reacted to defend their habitat. In addition, “birds harshly hawking, without fear” and “Crabs snapped their claws” both continue to show the response of the natural habitat towards the invasion and how they will defend their land, showing Columbus that he is not welcome. For this reason, Columbus men retaliate and fight the indigenous people’s defense resulting in all out war. These themes...
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