17 pages 34 minutes read

Derek Walcott

A Careful Passion

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2014

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Literary Devices

Form and Meter

Walcott uses iambic pentameter and end rhyme to underscore the whirling sense of repetition and cyclical entrapment that the speaker feels. Iambic pentameter, which mimics the rhythms of regular speech, allows Walcott to create a conversational tone that accentuates the speaker’s blasé attitude. This tone creates intimacy with the reader, drawing them in easily, and lulling them with a comforting sense of repeated phrases, images, and rhythms. Adhering to the unstressed-stressed pattern of the iambic foot, Walcott also employs an end-rhyme schematic that alludes to a sense of order and pattern without fully embracing it. In constructing this form, Walcott echoes his speaker’s perception of the cyclical nature of his life and relationships. Most of Walcott’s lines are end-stopped, ending in either a period or a comma, and marking the completion of a phrase or thought; effectively, they slow the poem’s rhythm and allow the reader more time to contemplate Walcott’s phrasing and the rationale for his repeated images.

Use of Dialogue

Walcott sets three lines in dialogue in the poem. Rather than italicizing them, as another poet might, the use of quotes emphasizes spoken word and draws the reader’s attention to the lack of conversation happening at the table.