The two poems, which I’m going to compare and contrast are written by Caribbean poets in the late 20th Century and are mainly focused on changing from one culture to the other. “A Country Club Romance” by Derek Walcott is about a white culture colliding into a black culture. However, “Two Old Black Menâ€¦” focuses on a black culture clashing into a white culture.
Both of the poems are very ambiguous that use their language, form and structure to make their points clear. For example, as Grace Nichols starts off her poem the readers are confused and baffled. But as the poem gradually develops the point made becomes clear and obvious. Both poems are about love in some form, but they portray it very differently. While Derek Walcott tells of a woman who killed herself for love, Grace Nichols talks about two men in a park who are constantly telling each other that ‘changing cultures’ can have terrible consequences. For example, in “Two Old Black Menâ€¦”in the last sentence it reads,Order now
“And the sun was traded long ago”
This quote tells us that in the Caribbean, the sun is always shining on you, but in England this does not happen. Many people associate the English weather with rain so this is how the two countries are viewed differently. The quote is basically telling us that the Caribbean weather was traded for the English weather, which included more job opportunities and better lifestyle.
These two poems equally contain push and pull factors considering their past and lifestyle. For example, in “Two Old Black Menâ€¦”in the third stanza it reads,
“O it’s easy to rainbow the past”
The men may have felt that they did not want to emigrate but had no choice, bearing in mind their quality of life and that is why they feel divided. This kind of situation would no doubt create some feelings of pain and hurt. It also sounds like they had brought everything to England apart from their culture and the precious sun. They have been divided and they feel that they can never fully fit into the English way of life and society. The way Grace Nichols fills the past with colours shows what it means to her as a Caribbean woman living in a different society and also in a different culture.
However, in “A Country Club Romance” Derek Walcott used a pull factor when the white woman is brought to the Caribbean for its wonderful weather and sunshine.
These two poems also differentiate in many ways. For example in “A Country Club Romance” Walcott has used tennis as the main theme.
This creates a desired effect on us and is known as an extended metaphor. It makes us as readers relate the poem to the theme used which results in clear understanding.
“They married and lay down like Slazengers”
The use of simile used here, which describes similarities between rackets and humans, makes this poem more active and imaginative. Walcott’s use of imagery for this specific quote makes the poem far more related to tennis. The tennis net is like barrier separating the couple and their culture, one could not cross it as the rules of the game will be broken and game will end, this imagery is similar to their relationship and Walcott uses this theme to show the couples’ relationship.
The imagery Grace Nichols has used in the following quote has an incredible effect on our sense of sight. It makes us vision the past and think of it as evil, or immortal.
“ghost memories of desire”
This quote also creates a pleasant meaning, which is like an old part of their life coming back to remind them about their culture and lifestyle its also just like a ghost haunting them about their past. The two men are reminiscing the past and filling it with colours as though they are trying to bring the image to life.
However, Derek Walcott suddenly horrifies his readers halfway through the poem, “And slapped her” this creates a brilliant effect on us making us as readers see a different side to him. He had slapped her because of her actions as she started to become alcoholic. This is a very emotive and shocking image. But however we can interpret this image quite differently and relate it to tennis the theme he had used throughout the poem.
“since your so damn frisky, answer this backhand”
I believe that Derek Walcott and Grace Nichols express their thoughts and feelings about living in discomfort, but having roots in another culture. I think both writers were successful in the way they expressed the other cultures, from the use of description and detail and the use of ways to describe their feelings throughout the poems. The poems are well written in a way that everyone could understand what the poems meanings are. For example, the way Walcott has written his poem, which ends up disturbing, adds to the overall effect it has on us. Walcott brings forward to our attention that two lovers having different cultures would occasionally end up separated. The poem is narrated by an obsessive lover, who considers his love as an image to the society. She cannot be with him because she is different she comes from a different culture. Obviously she is an upper class citizen and he is not, therefore they cannot be together in the public eye.
Furthermore, these two poets show that racism works both ways. For example, the way Walcott emphasizes the white woman’s desperate needs for love, adds to our attention that the culture she is put in will be different from her own.
The white woman is ‘ostracized’ from the rest of the society. However, Nichols strategic structure and language gives us the impression as readers that different cultures will be met. For example, the two Caribbean men are clashed into white society and are ignored because of it from the rest of the community.
Overall, both poems show how love is not an everlasting thing and that there are always moments when it hits problems. In its extreme, love can sometimes lead to death, as shown in “A Country Club Romance”.
However both poems, in my view, have similarities within the text, as they are both are very ambiguous. In my view this shows how uncertain love can be, as it is normally never what is expected of it.
Racism still functions in today’s world and many people are harassed, threatened and even beaten because of it. We need to work together as a society and tackle this sickening problem before it spreads out quickly like a virus. I believe these two poems have not addressed how we should tackle racism and the worst we could do is to isolate other cultures from our own.