Aime Cesaire by Gregson Davis

By Gregson Davis

Objective? C?saire is the easiest identified poet within the French Caribbean. during this learn Gregson Davis examines C?saire's impressive twin occupation as author and elected baby-kisser. As probably the most profound critics of colonialism, C?saire, the stated inventor of the well-known time period "negritude", has been a highly influential determine in shaping the modern discourse at the postcolonial situation. Gregson Davis' account of C?saire's highbrow progress is grounded in a cautious examining of the poetry, prose and drama that illustrates the whole variety and intensity of his literary fulfillment.

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Sample text

In the chapters that follow we shall describe, with reference to specific poems, the peculiar form that Cesairean surrealism was to assume in the years of exploration during and immediately after the war. In the interim - and at the risk of grossly schematizing a very complex bundle of "influences" - we may usefully locate his inchoate aesthetic agenda at the interface between artistic "modernism"17 and black consciousness movements. The nature of this cultural and historical interface cannot be fully recuperated without reference to the visual arts.

In this view the authentic poet is necessarily liberated from the grind of inherited forms. Pursuing the question of form, Cesaire's verse epistle modulates, a few lines later, into a friendly conversation between revolutionary comrades, though not without a certain ironic distance on the part of the author: Camarade Depestre C'est un probleme assurement tres grave des rapports de la poesie et de la Revolution le fond conditionne la forme et si Ton s'avisait aussi du detour dialectique par quoi la forme prenant sa revanche comme unfiguiermaudit etouffe le poeme mais non je ne me charge pas du rapport j'aime mieux regarder le printemps.

As the poem opens the speaker is gently berating his fellowCaribbean poet for having abandoned his cultural resources of creativity in order to conform to the current French Communist party line: C'est une nuit de Seine et moi je me souviens comme ivre du chant dement de Boukman accouchant ton pays aux forceps de Forage DEPESTRE Vaillant cavalier du tam-tam est-il vrai que tu doutes de la foret natale de nos voix rauques de nos cceurs qui nous remontent amers de nos yeux de rhum rouges de nos nuits incendiees se peut-il que les pluies de l'exil aient detendu la peau de tambour de ta voix (It is a night on the Seine and as for me: I remember as though drunk the mad song of Boukman delivering your homeland with the forceps of the thunderstorm DEPESTRE Intrepid horseman of the tom-tom is it true you no longer trust in the woods of your birth our hoarse voices, our hearts that hoist us upward to bitter heights our rum ruddy eyes, our night in flames can it be From island to metropolis: the making ofa poet that the rains of exile have loosened the drumskin of your voice) The speaker, who is situated in Paris, reminds the Haitian of his own historical roots: the violent insurrection led by Boukman that helped to set in motion the full-fledged slave revolution (popular accounts tell of a meeting organized by Boukman in the woods, the Bois Caiman, during a severe thunderstorm).

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