Monday, January 26, 2009

Forty Acres

As it has been said in the previous posts, Derek Walcott's poem, Forty Acres, is filled with many metaphors. Ingeniously, Walcott does not disguise all of these metaphors so deeply that an English Major at Wabash can decipher them. Just as Obama is politician for all people, Walcott writes this poem for all to enjoy. The "ploughman" of the poem is not merely an African-American laborer, nor is he simply Barack Obama, but it is a symbol for the African-American nation as a whole. There are many labors and trials that African-Americans have had to overcome, starting in slavery, then sever economic disruption, followed by years of inequality, and the continuing feelings of racism by many non-Black Americans. Through all this, African-Americans have persevered and prospered; and just as the ploughman of the poem finishes plowing the fields after a hard day's work, Barack Obama has made a great achievement by becoming the first African-American President. Its a symbol of hope and prosperity in a nation where a Black man can become the "Leader of the Free World."

Walcott cleverly inlays the notion of the arduous journey of the African-American with detailed allusions to the trials endured by the "ploughman." As he works, he is watched by a "tense court of bespectacled owls." These owls represent the eyes of the world. People all over the world are watching Obama's every move: some hoping that he succeeds in bringing his "Change", while others are waiting for his first mistake. Admist these owls is the edge of the field. The boundaries of the day's work, the single job of the ploughman, loom on the side, drawing closer everyday. This I see as the end of President Obama's presidency. He only has four to eight years to do the work in which he can do everything he can to lead this nation and hopefully bring about the change in which he has promised the citizens within it. At the end of the field is a "gesticulating scarecrow." This could be the next candidate, possibly even a party member that is upset at the loss of the candidacy. This scarecrow is agrily stamping, visually displaying its anger and frustration at the the ploughman, but it cannot do anything to stop the ploughman's progress. The scarecrow is also a metaphor for conservatism and tradition. Though the scarecrow has been left in charge of the field for a long time, the ploughman is now rising through the furrows of the field, making progress to its final goal. The scarecrow, once the protector of the field, is powerless to stop the progress of the laborer and can only show his disproval my displaying his frustrations. Just as the tradtional and conservative sect of America has held sway in American politics for a long time, i.e. Whites have always been elected President, the ploughman--the symbol of the African-American nation--have made their progress and now have attained the presidency through their hard work.

No comments:

Post a Comment