Kamau Brathwaite is the major Caribbean poet of his generation and one of the great poets of the second part of the 20C anywhere. While framed by elegiac writings of a personal nature, this volume remains profoundly political through a range of elegies for departed public & political figures, including what I consider one of the greatest and most poignant political poems of the era, namely Brathwaite’s “Poem for Walter Rodney.” The greatness of the work lies in the fact that the poet never falls into political rhetoric, but that his language, breathtakingly innovative & inventive at the formal level, always carries a lyrical and poetic charge of unequalled intensity.
& here the WUP Press release:
Modernist and post-modernist in inspiration, Elegguas draws together traditions of speaking with the dead, from Rilke’s Duino Elegies to the Jamaican kumina practice of bringing down spirits of the dead to briefly inhabit the bodies of the faithful. The book is also profoundly political, including elegies for assassinated revolutionaries like in the masterful “Poem for Walter Rodney.” Throughout his poetry, Brathwaite foregrounds “nation-language,” that difference in syntax, in rhythm, and timbre that is most closely allied to the African experience in the Caribbean. But this is never simple surface aesthetic, rather an expression of the turbulence (in history, in dream) depicted in the poems.
>down evening sun forever & for ever<
Heartease Which is where she is/in that
Soft distance shining & I”m suddenly & at
Last happy & very very sad & lonely at th
(e) same time because she feelin so lonely
but somehow at peace & there was noth
ing I cd do nothing nothing I cd do any<
more nothing I cd ever do ever & ever a-
gain but to lose her there & that way wh-
ere I cd see her & not see her beyond th
at valley high up here in the
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