Walcott’s “Names”

28 11 2007

After re-reading over Walcott’s poem, “Names,” again it is interesting to point out his isolation of Africans as well as the repeated reference to “nouns.” The very first few lines of the poem state “My race began as the sea began,/ with no nouns, and with no horizon,”. This can relate to the very beginning of men and how language did not play a particularly important role to them. Then in lines 39-40, “except they first presumed/the right of every thing to be a noun.” He again focuses on “nouns” but has changes his views. He believes the change has made them view everything as nouns or the boundaries of labeling and language right then for them. Isolation of Africans begins right away when Walcott separates everyone and particularly states Africans are different then “them.” The line 41-42, “The African acquiesced,/ repeated, and changed them.” demonstrates this. I am unsure if this is Walcott trying to show some contradiction between his title, “Names” and how Africans are singled-out and labeled or if he is saying Africans are different then others therefore they do not have “names” in a sense.


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