Derek Walcott

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What are the themes in Derek Walcott's "The Almond Trees"?

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The main theme in the poem, "The Almond Trees," is the beauty and power of nature. The eponymous almond trees are personified throughout the poem to emphasize their power and presence. The speaker, for example, describes their "shining postures," their "writhing trunks," and their "aged limbs." In the penultimate stanza, the speaker exclaims, "Their bodies fiercely shine!" The implication is that the almond trees are alive, and that they thus have a will of their own. They are fierce and resilient, "endur(ing) their furnace" in the blistering heat of the sun.

The trees are also beautiful. Their limbs are "coppery," and their "lengthened shapes amaze the sun." To emphasize their beauty, the trees are also compared to the young girls sunbathing on the beach. These sunbathers are described as "brown daphnes," an allusion to the Greek nymph of the same name who was renowned for her beauty. At the end of the poem, the speaker declares that "Aged trees and oiled limbs share a common colour!" This comparison emphasizes the link between the trees and the young girls on the beach, and thus emphasizes the enduring beauty of the trees.

The power of nature is also emphasized throughout the poem when the speaker describes the "fierce acetylene air" and the "cold churning ocean." The heat of the sun is also emphasized with vocabulary like "toasting," "singed," white-hot," "fire," and "furnace." Thus, whether it's the fierce, dignified resilience of the trees, the relentless indifference of the ocean, or the scorching, burning heat of the sun, the natural world is portrayed and revered as powerful and dominating.

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