Monday, January 26, 2009

Forty Acres: A Poem For Barack Obama... caesuras and enjambments

In Derek Walcott’s poem, Forty Acres: A Poem for Barack Obama there are ideas and images that are created by the unique word choice of the author. To help the reader or the audience see and understand them the Walcott also uses the literary tools, caesuras and enjambments. Using these slows down the pace at which the reader reads the text and pauses the reader at certain words so they know that there is some meaning and importance in the word chosen.
In the first line there is a caesura that is created with a comma to slow down the reader to comprehend the first seven word of the poem. Then the second line is ended by a comma which is an enjambment. This pause at the end allows the reader to take in the image that was created in the last line of “a young Negro at dawn in straw hat and overalls,”. Line three also has a caesura. This comma makes the reader think about the “impossible prophecy” or what is an “impossible prophecy”. It also allows Walcott to set up the next image of “a crowd dividing like the furrow which a mule has ploughed”. This is a strong image and also an image that can say a lot to a reader. Knowing this, Walcott used a caesura and an enjambment at the end of this line so the reader or audience can take in and ponder the meaning of this statement. The enjambment at the end of the line also sets up the next four word that are directed toward the previous statement. “parting for their president”, is an imaged that out of context might not make that much sense but with the use of an enjambment helps illustrates the allusion that a slave plowing the ground can represent the first African American President parting the way for a new life to grow.

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