Discourse on Colonialism
A poem is a piece of writing that in one way or the other partakes in the nature of both song and speech, and it is often rhythmical, uses metaphors and exhibits other formal elements including rhyme, meter, as well as a stanzaic structure. It is also defined as a piece of writing that arouses emotions of readers because of its beauty and flow (Wainwright 7). Many poets have used poems to channel their disagreement, disgust and opposition to various global practices such as poor political leadership, violence and colonialism, as in the case of famous poets like Aimé Cesaire. One of the perspectives highlighted by Aimé Cesaire in his poems is “revolt” against practices such as colonialism. The term “revolt” refers to the rise in rebellion or an attempt to put to an end a certain belief or authority as demonstrated by Cesaire when it comes to the issue of colonialism. Kelley argues that Aimé Cesaire’s credentials as a colonial critic are impeccable. These arguments are further showcased in Cesaire’s argument that colonization neither placed civilization in contact nor was it the best way to establish contact as was believed. With these perspectives in mind, Cesaire’s “Discourse on Colonialism” can be defined as a poem about revolt.
At the start, Cesaire argues that a civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems, creates a decadent civilization. From these words, the use of metaphor is evident where he views colonization as a symbol of civilization, which underscores the reason why the writing can be regarded as a poem (Wainwright 85). This said; the poem conveys Cesaire’s disgust and opposition to colonialism that was praised by the Western world at the time. It is a revolt poem because Cesaire stresses on its bad sides such as its incapability to solve the problems it creates as a decadent civilization and the fact that it closes its eyes to the most crucial problems in society. Some of the crucial problems Cesaire refers to, in this case, include racism, torture, inequality, poverty and others. In the real sense, colonialism did little or nothing to address these challenges, and by highlighting these, Cesaire’s reading or poem is about revolt.
“Discourse on Colonialism” is a piece of writing that arouses emotions of its readers because of its flow and the beautiful way it is written. Cesaire makes his points clear through short sentences and paragraphs. The first three sentences are short and clear and thus are like verses in poetic stanzas. There is no doubt that the line “A civilization that uses its principles for trickery and deceit is a dying civilization” is a poetic line. It showcases meter, which is one of the formal elements in the poetic language (Wainwright 121). In this line, Cesaire still showcases his strong opposition to colonialism by arguing that it uses its principles to trick and deceive the colonized individuals. As such, the reading can be defined as a poem about revolt.
However, there are several perspectives that distance “Discourse on Colonialism” from being a poem about revolt. Unlike poems that are stanzaic structures, this writing has a paragraph structure that makes it more of a story than a poem. Also, Cesaire appears critical of the idea of colonialism, which makes it more of a critic than a revolt.
To sum up, “Discourse on Colonialism” could be defined as a poem about “revolt” as it uses metaphors and arouses emotions of readers while strongly opposing the idea of colonialism. However, it could not be defined as a poem about revolt because it does not have a stanzaic structure and appears to be more of a critic than a revolt.
Wainwright, Jeffrey. Poetry: the basics. Routledge, 2015.