Derek Walcott

Start Free Trial

What might the impact be of the rhyme scheme and poetic structure in "The Walk"?

The impact of rhyme scheme and poetic structure of "The Walk" are to express and emphasize the strong emotions of the poem. The sudden outbursts and jolting agony throughout can be seen in both the wavering line length and the unpredictable rhymes.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Sometimes, when we talk about poems, we tend to discuss them as if they were mere documents. We get caught up in trying to figure out what they're saying or trying to teach us that we forgot that poems have multiple dimensions. They have line break, rhymes, and rhythms.

With that being said, let's get into the impact of the rhyme scheme and poetic structure in Derek Walcott's poem "The Walk."

One thing I notice is that the lines are of varying length. Look at these two lines:

each phrase peeled from the flesh in bandages,
arise, stroll on under a sky

What does the fluctuating length do to the poem? How might it reinforce the emotion and pain of the poem? After all, emotions are rarely constant. They are often moving, shrinking, or expanding.

The rhymes, too, seem to lack a constant scheme.

Look at the second-to-last stanza. The end words are: "end," "clenched," "track," and "rain-drenched." So three out of the four lines end in rhymes or near-rhymes. These rhymes are rather obvious.

Elsewhere, the rhymes are more subtle. In the second stanza, the last two lines end with "read" and "poems." While these don't rhyme, there is a certain degree of assonance with the e sounds in the middle of the words.

It's interesting how these bursts of rhyme connect to the sudden emotion in the poem. "O heart, O rose of iron!" declares Walcott. We could say that this is a passionate, jolting poem. Its seesaw structure and unpredictable rhymes seem to be impacted by the strong, sudden feelings of our narrator.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team