21 pages 42 minutes read

Derek Walcott

The Schooner Flight

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1979

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Poem Analysis

Analysis: “The Schooner Flight”

Before the body of the poem even begins, the section title suggests the primary action initiating the narrative: “Adios, Carenage.” The poem quickly introduces its central character, Shabine, who is indeed bidding adios to his native Trinidadian town of Carenage, where his wife Maria Concepcion sleeps unknowing.

The first stanza anchors its action in colors. First, the unpeopled landscape is characterized by the “leaves of brown islands” (Line 2). Next, Shabine stands in his “yard turning gray in the dawn” (Line 6) before finally leaving his home and family behind. As the “route taxi” (Line 15) drives Shabine away, the protagonist in “the back seat […] watch[es] the sky burn / above Laventille pink” (Lines 19-20). Only once he begins leaving does Shabine see his Trinidadian home as colorful, as anything other than “brown” or “gray” (Lines 2, 6).

As Shabine leaves the island, he looks in the taxi’s “rearview [mirror] and see[s] a man / exactly like me, and the man was weeping / for the houses, the street, that whole fucking island” (Lines 22-24). This curious image accomplishes several things. First, it shows how Shabine’s desires are split; he is metaphorically leaving a part of himself behind.