Do the lines of Derek Walcott's poem, "because we serve English, like a two-headed sentry / guarding its borders? No language is neutral;..." contain personification, internal rhyme, irony or...

Do the lines of Derek Walcott's poem, "because we serve English, like a two-headed sentry / guarding its borders? No language is neutral;..." contain personification, internal rhyme, irony or caesuras?

Derek Walcott in Midsummer (1984):

      "Have we changed sides ...
because we serve English, like two-headed sentry
guarding its borders? No language is neutral;
the green oak of English is a murmurous cathedral ..."

 

Asked on by rts-18

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In my opinion, there is both personification and a caesura in these lines from Walcott's poem.

I think that there is a caesura in the lines you cite.  The caesura comes when there is the question mark after borders.  At this point, there is a break that is caused by the rhythm of speaking, not by the meter of the poem.

One might be tempted to argue there is personification here because in the poem English has borders and language does not have borders.  However, this is not personification because English is being compared to a country, not a person.

So I'd go with caesura.

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Caesuras are breaks at the middle of poetic lines, which correspond with metric features of stressed and unstressed syllables. Caesuras may be strong and incorporate punctuation or they may be weak without punctuation. Caesura are said to follow normal breathing rhythms. Both of Walcott's lines have caesura, and both incorporate punctuation, so both are strong caesura. The first is after the comma in "serve English, like a." The second is after the question mark in "borders? No language."

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