How is Derek Walcott's poetry a representation of a crossroad of cultural and linguistic richness?

Derek Walcott’s poetry could be described as a representation of a crossroads of cultural and linguistic richness because his works include an opulent variety of discourses, figures, places, and time periods.

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To answer this question, one should explore how disparate cultures and languages intersect in Derek Walcott’s poetry.

One poem where there is an identifiable crossroads between culture and linguistics is “Map of the New World.” The language of the poem brings together the ancient world of Greece and Walcott’s contemporary environment. More so, it’s possible to argue that Walcott’s poem is making a link between the wars recorded in Homer’s epic poetry and the wars brought about by imperialism. Remember, Walcott was born in the former British colony Saint Lucia.

Walcott’s “rich” crossroads of cultures and linguistics can be further evinced in his own epic poem Omeros. In addition to bringing together Greek and postcolonial discourses, Walcott represents Roman rulers, notable Western literary figures, the global slave trade, and the plight of Indigenous people in the United States.

Sometimes, the richness of Walcott’s diversity is relatively subtle. Take a look at the poem “Bleecker Street, Summer”. Compared to his other poems, this work may not at first call to mind an opulent tapestry of linguistics and culture. There is only a brief moment in the poem when the speaker notes another culture and language. The speaker hears Italian music and Italian speech (“ciao”). The fleeting, ephemeral nature of this observation might be what makes it rich.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 23, 2021
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