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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Poetry Notes: West Indies USA by Stewart Brown


This poem is written in Free Verse and speaks to the presence of the United States in the West Indies as seen in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The poem is written from a first-person point of view and tells of the travelers`experience of different countries in the West Indies through their airports (stanza two). Nature is a major theme in the poem. Other themes include poverty and imperialism. Literary devices include similes (line 2), metaphors (line 9) and allusion (line 18).

Line 2: `baize`is the soft velvet like green material used on pool and card tables
Line 3: `pot` short for jackpot, reefrs to the most outstanding amount to be won in a casion game
Line 4-6: `Dallas...maverick`s gold ring` refers to the basketball team in the USA which would have been and possibly still is one of the most valuable and high earning basketball teams. Championship rings received by the winning team are made of the highest quality gold and worth thousands of dollars.
Line 8: `Calling card` literally identifies the bearer and istraditionally presented for introduction when making a social visit.
Line 10: `Piarco`is Trinidad`s national airport
Line 14: `Drawl`the lengthening and slowing down of speech
Line 17: `Uncle Sam` is a national personification affectionately used to refer to the United States
Line 18: `Re-enslave...island of the free`is an allusion to the Spanish conquest and colonization of the island.
Line 20-21:`America`s backyard...give me your poor`. America`s backyard is a direct reference to countries like Puerto Rico, Guam and the Phillipines who were under US rule in some way. `Give me your tired and poor` is an allusion to Emma Lazarus`famous poem about the Statue of Liberty. It also symbolizes a time in the decades after US occupation (1898) where Puerto Ricans were allowed to seek refuge in New York City after being hit by a series of natural disasters and the Great Depression.
Line 22: Introduces a series of contrasts visible in Puerto Rico as a result of the US presence. It is symbolic of the partial nature of the benefits from Puerto Rico`s affiliation with the US.
Line 29: `fools glitter`...Expresses the author`s cynical tone towards the relationship between the US and Puerto Rico. It is an allusion to the saying `All that glitters is not gold.`

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