Sunday, January 25, 2009

Forty Acres: A Poem for Barack Obama

Forty Acres, written by Derek Walcott is a very powerful poem. It contains a great deal of metaphors and symbols that capture the reader's attention and directly relate to the history of our country. I would like to analyze some of my favorite parts of the poem.

The first line stands out to me: "Out of the turmoil emerges one emblem". When Obama came out for his victory speech on the night of November 4th, I believe the nation began to feel passionate about our country for the first time in a while, amidst the hardships of the recession. Obama symbolically stood for something, and as Walcott puts it, an "impossible prophecy". Obama's campaign slogan "Change" is even referenced in the 4th to last line: "the young ploughman feels the change in his veins". The thought of having an African American President had seemingly always been a dream, however, in 2009 it has come true. Walcott's reference to the Jim Crow laws and forty-acres of land (a broken promise to former slaves) is also a powerful metaphor as the young ploughman (Obama) ignored the history that has gone against him. On November 4th, 2008, Barack Obama, the young ploughman, proved the naysayers wrong and re-wrote history despite the "gesticulating scarecrow stamping with rage at him".

The most powerful part of the poem is the ending in which Walcott is telling of America's future. "Furrows wait for the sower" stood out to me because of a specific portion of Obama's victory speech. Obama representing the "young ploughman" can only furrow the soil, however the seeds will be planted by the sower. In his victory speech on Nov. 4th, Obama stated, "The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there." This was powerful to me because although Obama has been elected President, he fully knows that the change he seeks cannot occur over night. It is a process, one that our nation must be fully willing to take on. I relate it to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He fully knew that the change he sought wouldn't occur overnight but he still held his peaceful movements in order for future generations to prosper. In this same light, Obama has ploughed the field, and even he himself is unsure of whether or not he will be the one to "plant the seeds", but at least the opportunity is now available for someone, someday to do so.

No comments:

Post a Comment