Folklore exists in many cultures throughout the world. Folklore in the form of tales, myths and legends is passed from generation to generation through the oral tradition. Folklore in the Caribbean has been drawn from the rich and diverse backgrounds of our ancestors who came from various parts of the world. Our ancestors brought with them their language, culture, religious beliefs and practices, and their tradition of storytelling. The tales of demons, ghosts, zombies and spirits have been fascinating for the young and old alike, and variations of these stories have been told again and again. “Le Loupgarou” and “Ol' Higue” share similar characteristics as they are both based on Caribbean folklore.
“Le Loupgarou” means werewolf or lagahoo. Fittingly, Derek Walcott's poem tells a tale of a man named Le Brun. He sold his soul to the devil and so he changes into a werewolf at night. He is ostracized by the village and lives all alone in a small old house. Similarly, “Ol' Higue by Mark Mcwatt is a poem about what Caribbean people would call a soucouyant which is in essence, a female vampire that takes off her old skin at night and turns into a fire ball, lurking through the nights to feed on her poor victims. Interestingly enough, the soucouyant is the female counterpart for the lagahoo. The old woman is “Ol' Higue”, like Le Brun, lives alone in an old house. She almost never comes outside during the day as her feeding is done at night. She doesn't like children and isn't amiable by nature which are also characteristic of Le Brun.
Walcott’s poem opens with the line “A curious tale” suggesting that we, already from the beginning, should be questioning the verity of the story since tale usually is associated with fiction. “Ol' Higue” doesn't indicate that it is a fictitious story but as Caribbean people, it is easy to come to the conclusion just from the first stanza that she is a soucouyant. “Le loupgarou” is written in a... [continues]
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