Questions on the poem "Discovery of the New World" by Carter Revard
Who is the speaker? What is the occasion? What is the central purpose of the poem? By what means is the purpose achieved? I would like to check my answers as I fear that my interpretation of the poem may be incorrect.
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Carter Revard, a poet, was born in 1931. He is descended on his father's side from the Osage tribe of American Indians.
In "Discovery of the New World," Revard satirizes the discovery of the Americas by Europeans, who exploited and killed much of the indeginous population who became known as "American Indians" or "Native Americans."
The narrator [speaker] of the poem is a creature from outer space who is part of an invasion of Planet Earth that is parallel to the invasion of America by the European explorers. The narrator is reporting his findings to a fellow invader, perhaps his commander. He reports:
The creatures that we met this morning
marveled at our green skins
and scarlet eyes.
They lack antennae
and can’t be made to grasp
your proclamation that they are
our lawful food and prey and slaves...
The earthlings are of little interest to the invaders, except as food and as vessels for their "oxygen absorbers." The invaders learn about the earthlings' history "by tasting his brain." They consider the history to be no more than "quite an interesting sort of legends...[that do] not fit any of our truth-matrices." This is a parody of the European attitude that considered American Indian culture to be nothing more than some curious but primitive relic that deserved to be obliterated by the superior European culture.
The narrator also parodies the concept of "Manifest Destiny," by which white Europeans felt that the United States was destined by God to conquer the entire North American continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans--regardless of the consequenses to those who had previously inhabited the continent. Revard's alien says:
it is our destiny to asterize this planet,
and they will not be asterized,
so they must be wiped out...
the riches of this place are ours
and worth whatever pain others may have to feel.
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