Review of Mass Man by Derek Walcott

Mass Man by Derek Walcott, is a poem written in free verse, that describes some points of taking part in mass in a Caribbean setting whereas alluding to the historical past behind the celebrations. Within the poem Walcott’s function is that of an observer. He's on the surface meticulously processing all that he witnesses whereas procuring it in his reminiscence in order that it might later be recorded for posterity. No element is simply too inconsequential; no motion above scrutiny. As an observer of a customized whose historical past is tied to the oppression of the individuals who created it, Walcott is just not celebrating together with his countrymen, fairly, he's mocking that they have a good time their freedom by impersonating and imitating their former oppressors. Walcott’s very description of the issues that he sees is due to this fact derisive and laden with double that means. In stanza one of many poem, Walcott is exhibiting how black males, the peculiar descendants of slaves, try to mimic those that as soon as enslaved them, through their mass costumes. “By a terrific lion’s head clouded by mange / a black clerk growls. At first look, it reads black man, who's a clerk, is sporting a fancy dress that's presupposed to be the pinnacle of a terrific lion, however as a substitute the costume seems to be haggard and diseased. Its symbolic illustration nonetheless, is tied to the literal illustration by the widespread historical past that unite each connotation. The black clerk represents the slaves that when inhabited the island, whereas the lion’s head denote their British oppressors. That the lion’s head is “clouded by mange” suggests the imperfection of the nice British conquerors. Subsequent, a gold-wired peacock withholds a person” signifies that the costume is overpowering the person who occupies its area. Right here Walcott continues together with his allusion to slaves and slave house owners. The slave house owners, just like the peacock had been proud, believed themselves superior, and exercised management over the slaves, very like the costume is getting the higher of the person. Similar to the costume “withholds” the masquerader, so too did the slave house owners use the whole lot inside their energy to suppress to the slaves. Slaves had been separated from their kinsmen and divided into teams so that there have been no widespread languages between them. Their tradition had been stripped from them as they weren't allowed to apply their spiritual beliefs, rituals or something that linked them to who they had been earlier than they turned the property of the slave house owners. They weren't even allowed to discover ways to learn and write. They had been deliberate methods to quell even the considered revolt and to maintain them oppressed. Walcott, continues his comparability of the slave house owners to a proud peacock with “a fan, flaunting its oval, jewelled eyes. ” By interesting to the reader’s sense of sight, Walcott is ready to current a picture that parallels the false delight of the slave house owners. Walcott’s makes use of alliteration - “fan flaunting” - to position additional emphasis on how supercilious the slave house owners believed themselves to be. They held their language, faith, schooling, customs and tradition as one thing that ought to provoke the admiration of the slaves, as of their eyes these had been the issues that it made them superior. The persona’s expression of “what metaphors! ” exhibits that he's not afraid of utilizing his acuity on himself. Right here the persona is mocking himself for having used such fascinating metaphors within the previous traces. What coruscating, mincing fantasies” continues his wry tone. In referring to how the boys are pretending to be superior to what they are surely, one can nearly hear Walcott’s terse vocals. Stanza two of the poem continues within the third individual narrative mode, because the persona provides extra info primarily based on his observations. The primary line - “Hector Mannix, waterworks clerk, San Juan, has entered a lion” merely informs the reader of the costume portrayal of one of many mass males. There is no such thing as a concrete proof that determines whether or not it's the similar lion costume talked about within the earlier stanza. Subsequent, Walcott makes use of a simile to match Boysie’s gait whereas in his mass costume to that of Cleopatra’s - “Boysie, two golden mangoes bobbing for breastplates, barges / like Cleopatra down her river, making fashion. ” In these two traces, Walcott continues together with his allusion to the slave masters perspective of superiority and self-importance. There's a refined change within the fourth line of stanza two. Whereas the undertone within the first half is reflective, the fourth line retains us strictly within the current. The mass males name out to a toddler to affix them of their celebration, then commented on the kid not with the ability to dance in an offhanded method. Symbolically, there seems to be a disconnection between the fourth line and the remainder of stanza two, as the next traces resumes the tone of the primary three traces. “However someplace in that whirlwind’s radiance / a toddler, rigged like a bat, collapses, sobbing” tells of the inhumanity of older folks to youthful youngsters each within the current state of affairs of taking part in mass, and previously the place youngsters had been additionally pressured into labour as slaves. The persona used alternating level of views, switching from third to first individual and even second individual narrative mode. Whereas each stanza one and two is written in third individual narrative mode, stanza three shifts to first individual mode. “However I'm dancing, look, from an previous gibbet / my bull-whipped physique swings, a metronome! ” is a metaphor that evokes an extremely perfervid picture of slaves being hung. Whereas Walcott’s allusions to slavery within the earlier stanzas had been considerably muted, with this metaphor, there isn't a dubiety about what he's referring to. It's a prodigious metaphor that compares the persona’s dancing kind to the movement made by the our bodies of slaves who had been left swaying on the gibbet after that they had been hung. The enchantment to the readers’ visible and auditory senses are graphic. One can see the scourged physique of a slave who had been hung, tied to a submit, swaying, maintaining time to some unheard rhythm that solely his/her useless ears can hear. Walcott’s tone right here could be very sardonic. Walcott used a simile (“Like a fruit bat dropped within the silk-cotton’s shade / my mania, my mania is a horrible calm”) to match his insanity to a fruit bat descending into the shade of a silk cotton tree. “Like a fruit bat dropped within the silk-cotton’s shade” is a picture that pertains to slavery within the West Indies. When Walcott says, “my mania, my mania is a horrible calm” he's being introspective. His repetition of “my mania” emphasizes the scope of his preoccupation with the previous, whereas his use of the oxymoron “horrible calm” exhibits the depth of his rumination. The fourth and last stanza of the poem, just like the earlier stanza, makes use of a special narrative mode. Within the fourth stanza, the persona by the usage of “your” has employed the second-person narrative mode. On this stanza, the mass portrayals have completed. It's the morning after, when those that took half within the revelry search penance. “Upon your penitential morning, / ome cranium should rub its reminiscence with ashes” conjures up photos of clergymen rubbing ashes on the foreheads of these people who come searching for atonement for the sins they dedicated whereas taking part in mass. Walcott’s tone right here is flippant, as if to scoff at the concept getting ashes on one’s brow signifies that one is so simply forgiven for sins which have turn into ritualistic. Walcott is referring to himself when he mentioned, “some thoughts should squat down howling in your mud, / some hand should crawl and recollect your garbage, / somebody should write your poems. ” It's precisely what he has been doing as an observer. He's saying that the identical manner by which somebody has to scrub up after the mass, so too, does he have a job to do. His job is to watch, keep in mind and doc all that he has witnessed for future generations. The poem Mass Man, although complicated, was fairly elementary in its symbolism. Walcott’s use of mass as a facade to speak in regards to the deeper affairs of slavery, whereas connecting each occasions, was skillfully accomplished. His detachment from what was occurring round him, allowed him to see and interpret the mass portrayals in a manner that somebody who was personally invested within the celebrations wouldn't.
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