Aime Cesaire’s poem does not tell a clear-cookie-cutter-cut story
Aime Cesaire’s poem is not very nice to cops.
Aime Cesaire’s poem is not idol in the wake of adversity and spine-chills and hunger.
Aime Cesaire’s poem does not lay down, wriggle, complain, and fall asleep again.
No, wait, does it?
Aime Cesaire’s poem tells the story of a nation. Abrevi-nate-ed.
Aime Cesaire’s poem provokes and insults authority and oppressed alike- “pick yourselves up”!
Aime Cesaire’s poem does something where words could get lost and caught in the spit and blood clots and croaking throats.
He beings with the sun –as he describes as the “earth great delirium of God’s mentula”.
It is going down
“At the end of daybreak…(pg1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6)”.
Here he is excellently using that beautiful anaphora, where he repeats himself in one phrase at the beginning of a line (similar to what I have done and what he continues to do even better than I can hope to be at this stage of life…).
Aime Cesaire uses the above phrase to mark the passing of time.
He writes it like a story, showing us the monotony of it all—
The monotony of Martinique
The monotony of Martinique’s life…or rather
The monotony of Martinique’s death.
He is giving snapshots of life on the Island, much like Whitman once did to give us snapshots of America and even the world. Both men were writing this way in order to change something they deemed as wrong and in need of severe alterations.
They do not sit as spectators, simply shaking their heads at the foolishness which surrounds them, only to trot off to their gardens and sit musing love notes to the sexy flowers they happen to come across (remember Whitman’s lilly?)….
Cesaire even warns us not to sit and watch all of it go by.
“And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear…”. He shall never be a tourist to this land.
This is faith in a changing of the world—this is something that these writers must believe in through and with their writing. And Cesaire does,
The only game I play is the millennium
The only game I play is the Great Fear”.
This Great Fear is referring to the gamble on a total transformation of the way things operate.
This is the game he plays in his writing. He is writing to move.
Look at the way he defamiliarizes us with our concept of time, space, and death:
Death: … “traces a shining circle above this man
Death stars softly above his head
Death breathes, crazed, in ripened cane fields of his arms
Death gallops in prison like a white horse
Death gleams in the dark like the eyes of a cat
Death hiccups like water under the Keys
Death is a struck bird
Death is a very shy patyrua
Death expires in a white pool of silence ”.
His words are tidal waves and title-caves. They are gates and gaping hungry mouths and lava and flies and peeling fleshy wounds and cities on fire and malaria and urine. They make us see and hear and taste and smell things we don’t want to.
A story-telling quality- to show us vignettes of time and space where he finds his anger flaring up. The sadness and despair and outrage of this Island- so vivid in mind because it is personalized with recognizable imagery. The Island is a woman pissing in the hot mud, standing straight, her legs stiff. It is the scabs on her arms, picked to sores along the ocean’s surface, bleeding and pustulating. The Island is a collection of blood and death that hangs in the air like clouds of flies or bunches of coral under the water—the sea that is described as “a huge dog licking and biting the shins of the beach, biting them so fiercely that it will end up devouring it…”.
This is the poetry that has been occupying my time in Lit class, all the while taking a toll on my writing style…I also did a weeks worth of Math homework tonight, and my left brain is all tuckered out. I made a heating pad for my back and some tea for my mouth…I also combed my hair tonight…it’s getting long.