The Poem “Poet’s Obligation” by Pablo Neruda
“Ode with a Lament” uses imagery and metaphors effectively to convey themes of death, sorrow, and brokenness. The speaker compares the woman’s skin to “a bell filled with grapes”, an image of illness that prompts the reader to readjust any presumption of the relationship at hand. In a world of “submerged hearts / and pale lists of unburied children / There is much death.” Here, the speaker confesses his humiliation at being protected while his love is sacrificed. He is overwhelmed by the burden of “an interminable / wet-winged shadow that protects my bones” and is tormented “while I dress, while / Interminably I look at myself in mirrors and windowpanes, / I hear someone who follows me, sobbing to me / with a sad voice rotted by time.” The closing invocation is to the love’s funeral self: “Come to my heart dressed in white, with a bouquet / of bloody roses and goblets of ashes…”
The poem “Poet’s Obligation” expresses the speaker’s sense of “obligation” to alleviate the internal pain of others. The main theme is freedom, particularly of the listener. The speaker references aspects of nature such as water, or the sea, and confinements. The poem is addressed to anyone who “is not listening to the sea / this Friday morning” or who is trapped in a “house or office, factory or woman / or street or mine or harsh prison cell.” The two opposing images of nature and imprisonment are brought together to represent freedom.
The poem aims to address the listener who cannot find his freedom. The speaker believes it is his “obligation” to help ease the mind of the trapped man. The speaker will open the door, enter his cell, and cause the first vibrations to occur. The speaker’s intervention will set in motion a soft rumble and then grow stronger over time. The speaker declares in the poem’s concluding couplet, “So through me, freedom and the sea / will make their answer to the shuttered heart.” Overall, the poem reaffirms the speaker’s objective and purpose in life, which is to touch his listener’s soul and “answer.”
Negritude is the sum of the cultural values of the black world as they are expressed in life, the institutions, and the works of black people. Senghor reflects on his forefathers and tradition in “Prayer to the Masks.” The narrator prays to the masks, which are shown as strong and significant spirits of the deceased. “You guard this place, that is closed to any feminine laughter, to any mortal smile / You purify the air of eternity, here where I breathe the air of my fathers.” The spirits safeguard and purify, bestowing onto them excellent qualities that the narrator honors and idolizes.
“Prayer to the Masks” is compatible with Negritude. The narrator of the poem admires the past; rather than dismissing African heritage and integrate into Western culture, the narrator recognizes the past, finding solace and ancestral kinship through the aforementioned masks. The poem is a quintessential Negritude work since it emphasizes black culture of remembering the past while looking forward to the future.
Aime Cesaire’s Notebook of a Return to the Native Land explores the narrator’s sense of self and cultural identity. Upon returning to his hometown, the narrator is taken aback by the locals’ implicit acceptance of poverty, colonialism, and self-hatred, “…this throng detoured from its cry of hunger, of poverty, of rebellion, of hatred, / this throng so strangely chattering and mute.” To establish a new identity that is more than just idealism, the narrator as to recognize his African origins as well as the legacies of slavery, poverty, and colonialism, “…I may as well confess that we were at all times pretty mediocre dishwashers, shoeblacks without ambition, at best conscientious sorcerers and the only unquestionable record that we broke was that of endurance under chicote…” Negritude can be expressed not just as a sense of pride in one’s skin color or heritage, but also as a journey of self- and culture discovery.
The short story does not give extensive details regarding either Twyla’s or Roberta’s races or backgrounds. “So what if they go to another school?” Roberta remarks to Twyla at one point. ” My boy’s being bussed too, and I don’t mind. Why should you?” Twyla and Roberta’s friendship is complicated by the patriarchal, racial period and location in which they live. They are differentiated by race and class, and because we do not know which woman belongs to which race, we cannot make easy judgments based on their personalities.
The writer denies the reader this information because she wants the reader to be aware of the practice of either party using a character’s race to assume a number of characteristics about that person. By denying the reader the information on the races of the characters, the reader must refrain from assigning characteristics based on race. Morrison’s decision to leave such a crucial component of identity undetermined raises awareness of how race has historically been written in American culture.
Idea-wise, “On the Pulse of Morning” is very strong because it deals with the voice of nature which is a token of optimism. Angelou read it at President Clinton’s inauguration because it shared many of the themes in his speech such as change and responsibility. To emphasize the reality that nature binds us, the poet alludes to the voices of the rock, river, and tree. The lines “I am that Tree planted by the River / Which will not be moved / I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree / I am yours – your passages have been paid” recognises that humans are one and that the price for their journey so far is paid. Angelou’s poem and Robert Frost’s “The Gift Outright” share some similarities and differences. The most prevalent theme in both poems is inevitability; yet, whereas Frost presents an absolutist viewpoint, Angelou’s viewpoint is open to interpretation. “The land was ours before we were the lands,” begins the first line of “The Gift Outright.” Angelou, on the other hand, holds a different viewpoint. She says that rather than having a definitive end, destiny is decided by one’s actions.
“My World of the Unknown” by Alifa Rifaat narrates about a lady who is learning her sexuality. The author of the narrative questions the patriarchal notion that female sexuality is dangerous. The account is contentious because it differs from the story of Adam and Eve. While the Judeo-Christian version of the narrative blames Eve for man’s banishment from paradise, in Rifaat’s version, the man, by killing the snake, expels the woman from paradise, an imagined Garden of Eden inside the confines of her self-made unknown universe. After killing the snake, the narrator is expelled from the house where she had learnt of love and enjoyed incomparable pleasures, “You have broken the pact and have betrayed one of my subjects, so you must both depart from this house, for only love lives in it.” The protagonist (wife) learns, like the legendary Cleopatra, the potential of sexual pleasure outside of heterosexuality, while the husband becomes the epitome of patriarchal aggression.
From a cultural standpoint, Rushdie’s narrative “The Courter” is a vivid picture of his homeland’s colonial people’s struggle to integrate into a dominating, conservative European society. The temptation of independence, personal growth, and escape from the authoritarian nature of what is deemed old and familiar inside his culture is presented by the dominant culture. However, with these liberties comes a new form of oppression — a reminder of the oppressed culture’s cultural and racial inferiority within their own country as a result of European colonialism. Part of the story states “The courter was lying on the pavement with blood leaking.” The stabbing represents a reaction to the loss of British colonial power. This story is controversial because it suggests the colonizer’s declaration of their desire to incorporate the colonized into a new empire, a domestic colony, where immigrants will remain as subordinates as they would be under a British Empire.
Angelou, Maya. “On the Pulse of Morning.” (1993).