Sample Essay

Another important image is that of ants which symbolise demise and devastation. At the very beginning of the poem the fishermen are compared to the army of ants as they are presented as cutting the trees. In addition the demise of Red Ant(a sailor on the sea) also shows the description of the ants for death. Ants are shown to crawl over the body of Afolabe.

Walcott’s mastery of employing various features of poetry is evident from the fact that Helen, ‘Beauty, terrible beauty/ A deathless goddess—so she strikes our eyes’[1], comes to personify the beatiful island of St.Lucia because Achille and Hector fight for her possession in Troy, ‘the men of Troy and Argives are suffered/ years and years of agony all for her’[2]. The ‘duel of these fishermen was over a shadow and its name was Helen’[3] Helen of Homer and Helen of Walcott have a common name as the poet invokes, ‘Names are not oars,/ that have to be laid side by side, nor are legends’[4] The use of personification is not uncommom in poetry and many poets often link female fertility with that of one’s native land by personifying women. Moreover Helen represents the nucleus of the struggles of men.

[1] Homer: The Iliad, trans. Robert Fagles (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993) 133, 134.

[2] Homer 133-134

[3] Walcott 17

[4] Walcott 312

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