Vultures and Limbo.
In this poem, Edward Kamau Brathwaite uses the game Limbo and limbo
dancing to represent his memories of the slave trade. The poet uses
the limbo stick to describe the action of the slaves: the stick is
lowered towards the ground - the slaves are being forced down into the
holds of the ship, becoming more down trodden as their lives are taken
Also Limbo can be seen as a 'child hell' for un-baptised Catholics,
the slaves on the ship feel as though they're in hell.
Dancing beneath the limbo stick is used in representation of the
slaves actually aboard the ship. Many slaves would die and a
combination of luck, chance and determination decided who would
survive, just as it is touch-and-go whether or not the limbo dancer
will make it under the stick without touching it.
The poet also uses the stick as a source of comparison: the whip used
to beat the slaves and the stick used to beat the drum, as the slaves
rowed themselves further towards life imprisonment. Finally, when the
slaves reach the shore and they climb up out of the darkness, in
chains, are criminals (which is ironic as it is the slaves as it is
the slavers who are evil and unjust), the stick is being raised and
the game 'won'. There is a constant reference to the words 'dark' and
'darkness' (e.g. 'the long dark night', 'the darkness is over me',
'the dark still steady' etc.) throughout the poem and this puts
emphasis on the mood the poet is trying to re-create.
Overall the poet's memories are saddening but not with anger. They are
written in first person singular, as if by the slave but also as if we
were the slave - seeing through t...
... middle of paper ...
...e. Limbo although written for chanting/singing, can be similar to
Vultures at the tempo they are read at. Limbo is quite basic in its
english and uses many short sharp words, whereas Vultures is written
using long complicated words all the way through. I believe both poems
are based on the treatment of humans and human feeling, but I think
Vultures takes the theme a step futher by looking at love/hate and
I believe Vultures to be the more interesting and involving poem as it
questions your opinions and beliefs. Limbo I feel is quite boring as
it is not really a challenging, or very enthralling read.
I think that Chinua Achebe has more hope for man even though there are
many failings, whereas Edward Brathwaite although he does finish on
the happier note of the slaves reaching a new home, does not seem to
posses any belief in the good of man.
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