Derek Walcott

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What is the rhyme scheme and poetic structure of the poem "Landfall, Grenada" by Derek Walcott?

There is no set rhyme scheme in the poem "Landfall, Grenada" by Derek Walcott, though there are a few half-rhymes and sonic echoes in the first stanza. The poetic structure focuses in the first stanza on the travels of the poem's addressee through life. In the second stanza, the poem focuses on the character of the addressee himself, as understood after his death.

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There is no consistent or regular rhyme scheme in Derek Walcott's poem "Landfall, Grenada." In the opening stanza, there are half-rhymes at the end of lines 1, 3, and 5: the words "anchored," "heard," and "lowered." These opening lines of the poem describe what seems to be an emigrant landing in a new country, and so perhaps these half-rhymes reflect his uncertain or gradual assimilation into his new country. Given the poem's dedication to mariner Robert Head and the frequent references to death—"you were lowered," "your death," "neat gravestone elegies"—it seems likely that the addressee has died, and that the poem uses an extended metaphor of travel by sea to address his passage from life to death.

In terms of the poem's structure, the poem is divided into two stanzas, the first consisting of eight lines and the second consisting of seventeen lines. The first stanza focuses for the most part on the contrasts between the place that the addressee has left and the place, likely that of death, to which he has traveled. This place is defined by what it does not have. It does not have the "groundswell of blue foothills" or the "blown canes struggling to cumuli," and it does not have a "tiered sea" full of "grandeurs." These are all characteristics of the addressee's native country, or his life, and they are conspicuously absent in his new country of death. Here, by contrast, the sea is not full of "grandeurs" but is "slow, seamless."

The second stanza focuses on the character of the addressee. The speaker maps the addressee's death onto images of mariners' travel. Indeed, the speaker says, "your death was a log's entry."

By focusing in the first stanza on the places the addressee has left and traveled to in life, and then focusing in the second stanza on the addressee's character or identity, Walcott perhaps indicates that one's identity is secondary to—and inextricably linked with—the character of the place in which one lives. This seems to be a logical implication of the poem's two-part structure.

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