Describe two poetic devices used in "South" by Kamau Brathwaite to convey the narrator's attitude towards his homeland.

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“South” by Kamau Brathwaite is a poem told by a first person narrator. Its strong imagery describes the beaches of Barbados where the narrator begins his life before he travels the world, and then returns to the “islands’ bright beaches.” Two literary devices used by the poet to convey feelings toward the island are metaphor and personification.

The author personifies the small sea urchins. “Small urchins combing the beaches look up from their traps to salute us: they remember us just as we left them.” The tiny sea creatures seem to be as happy to see the travelers returning to their native shores as the travelers are to be returning.

The author uses metaphor as he writes about the sea birds. “And gulls, white sails slanted seaward, fly into the limitless morning before us.” He compares the gulls to white sails painting a vivid picture of the birds riding the wind over the sea. This makes it obvious that the narrator appreciates the beauty of the scene, even calling it a “limitless morning” which is symbolic of new beginnings in his native land.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kamau Braithwaite uses imagery such as the "bright beaches," the "blue mist," and the "sound of the sea" to capture the sensory details of what life was like in his homeland, Barbados. The imagery he uses in the first stanza conveys the brilliant sunshine, tropical waters, and soothing sea of his native country. He then contrasts these details with what life is in the north by using imagery that describes the north, including sleet and hail, oppressive shadows, and "the tepid taste of the river" (a phrase that also uses alliteration). This imagery conveys the coldness, darkness, and blandness of his life away from his homeland.

He later personifies the river to express his longing for home. Using a simile, he says rivers' "flowing runs on like our longing." As the rivers are always traveling towards the sea, slowly and patiently, they remind the poet of his desire to be at home, at the ocean's edge. He compares the river to a patient and slow-moving person who, like him, yearns to be by the sea in Barbados.

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