Derek Walcott

Start Free Trial

What is the rhyme scheme and structure in Derek Walcott's "Mass Man"?

Quick answer:

The poem “Mass Man” by Derek Walcott is written in free verse poetic structure and has no rhyme scheme. It is close to being a prose poem, but does still have line breaks. Walcott also plays it loose with grammar and traditional structures of English language and poetry.

Expert Answers

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

This poem does not have a formal poetic structure. It is written in free verse, and could almost be considered a prose poem but for the enjambment. Enjambment is a word used to describe the position of the line breaks. The poem uses complete sentences and punctuation. Some sentences are not strictly grammatical. For example, these lines use unconventional structure:

Hector Mannix, waterworks clerk, San Juan, has entered a lion,
Boysie, two golden mangoes bobbing for breastplates, barges
like Cleopatra down her river, making style. (lines 6-8)

While this is a run-on sentence, the enjambment makes it easier to read than if it were presented all together on the same line. The poet’s choice to have longer lines is also deliberate. If we consider that the poetic structure is free verse, the poet could have chosen to write only a few words per line. We can see that even within free verse, there is still poetic structure at work.

There is no formal rhyme scheme used in this poem, and there is very little slant rhyme or internal rhyme. Some internal rhyme can still be found, for example, “a man, a fan” (line 2), but the poet uses far more assonance. Rhyme is the repetition of full syllables, and assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds. Assonance is sometimes referred to as “vowel rhyme,” and an example of assonance in this poem is the “u” sound in “skull must rub” in line 16. While this is not strictly a rhyme scheme, it does add an element of musicality to the poem.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial