“Homecoming: Anse La Raye” is a poem of moderate length, with sixty lines of free verse divided unevenly into four stanzas. The title of the poem indicates the work’s subject: the speaker’s return to the village of Anse la Raye on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia. This island is the birthplace of Derek Walcott, who can be identified as the speaker in the poem.
The poem begins in the first-person plural, but by the second stanza the voice shifts to the second person as the speaker begins to address his poetic self. The speaker states that his poetic self experiences many difficulties when he attempts to fulfill his desire to return and be an intrinsic part of his birthplace. The speaker’s tone is imbued with estrangement and meditative reflection as the problems of his return to Anse la Raye are examined.
The first stanza begins by linking the peoples of the Caribbean region with other cultures. The speaker indicates that in the island’s school the works of antiquity were taught but that these works and their mythological associations, although significant in some ways, were products of other cultures and soon forgotten. For the moment, the speaker’s poetic self concentrates only on the sea and a “well-known passage.” The speaker views the setting without romantic illusions. The “well-known passage” mentioned in the first stanza becomes a “fish-gut-reeking beach.” The ominous tone suggests something more threatening...
(The entire section is 522 words.)