South by Kamau Brathwaite

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South by Kamau Brathwaite

By | Jan. 2013
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The poem “South” by Kamau Brathwaite is a nostalgic poem. It focuses on everyday themes such as the longing for home, the idealization of childhood, the dislocation of people due to oppression and social unrest and personal conflict. The speaker is nostalgic, reflective throughout the poem as he speaks with a longing for and pride, joy and enchantment about his birth place. The title of the poem, “South”, refers to the southern hemisphere, which includes the Caribbean islands, South America and the southern states of the United States of America and of Africa, all of which are associated with the racial oppression of black people. In Literature, this is always juxtaposed with the North, where throughout history, slaves have often journeyed to the North in search for freedom. The poet seems to be dealing with a conflict of some sort. The speaker seems to be changing an opinion that is different from the one which he once held, possibly as a young adult. Through the poem, the speaker reminisces about the islands, its beaches and the lovely scenery – treasures often taken for granted by the island’s inhabitants. In the first stanza the speaker sees “the bright beaches: blue mist” (line 2) …. He looks out at “The fishermen’s houses… shores…” (line 4) and listens to the “sound of the sea…[as] life heaved and breathed.. with the strength of that turbulent soil” (lines 2 – 6). The language creates images of picturesque landscapes, glistening sunlight and blue seas. He personifies the earth with the phrase “life heaved and breathed.. the turbulent soil” (lines 5, 6) bringing it to life under one’s feet. In this place, he seems at one with the sea, as he possessed its energy and vitality, almost as though the island has a beating heart within it. Stanza 2 opens with the speaker’s comments that he has “travelled: moved far from the beaches” (line 7) and has faced many different climates. He has traveled from the beaches of his land and has resided around the world...

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