What might some of the main themes be in Derek Walcott's poem "The Walk," and how are these developed through the imagery used?

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In "The Walk," Walcott explores the creative process of a writer. This is one of the main themes of the poem. Indeed, the poem reads like a poet's anguished cry for inspiration. The poet is addressed to a "you," but this "you" seems to be the poet himself. The poem is thus a poet's conversation with himself. He is trying to push himself to do more, and trying to become more creative. In the second stanza, he implores himself to "pray for this brain that tires." He describes the process of writing as "haemorrhaging poems." The verb "haemorrhaging" implies violence and loss, implying that the process of writing a poem has become a draining, violent process. This idea is extended in the third stanza, when Walcott writes that "each phrase [is] peeled from the flesh in bandages." This metaphor is visceral, vivid, and painful. The implication is that each phrase is like a wound inflicted upon the poet, or like a piece of his body that is taken away. The word "peeled" also suggests that this is a slow and agonizing process.

Another main theme in the poem is domesticity and comfort. Walcott uses lots of domestic images, such as "kitchen laundry," "cats yawn[ing] behind their window frames," and the "neighbour's gates." These domestic images suggest that the poet's home is familiar, comfortable and secure. However, it is this familiarity, comfort and security which seems to be restricting the poet's creative process. He longs for his mind to journey further outwards, away from the domestic comforts of his home. But he says, speaking to himself, "you move; / your house, a lion rising, paws you back." The poet's home here is described metaphorically as a dominating lion. It refuses to let the poet leave. If the poet makes a move to leave and venture further afield, his home simply "paws [him] back." In other words, the poet finds it too difficult to leave his home comforts behind, even though he is aware that he must do so if he is to reawaken his creativity.



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