Derek Walcott: Collected Poems

Analysis of Derek Walcott’s ‘The Almond Trees’

Derek Walcott’s poem ‘The Almond Trees’ expresses the overwhelming power of colonial memory and the brutality of the colonial enterprise. Through his central image of “coppery, twisted, sea-almond trees”, Walcott justifies the critic Mark McWatt’s view that Walcott is “distanced by vocation, by a habit of perception” as he shows the intensity of his personal struggle with the dualities of his character through the persistent memory of the colonial past. Through simply observing a scene on a beach, the physical juxtaposition of the sunbathers (“girls toasting their flesh”) with the “sea-almond trees” leads Walcott to consider the not “visible history” of the situation – the consequence of “a habit of perception.”

The almond trees serve as an extended metaphor to represent the brutality of the colonial past. Slavery, violence and torture characterise the focus of the majority of the poem although, somewhat characteristically of Walcott, this becomes more ambiguous and possibly hopeful in the “metamorphosis” at the end of the poem. Walcott is generally implicit throughout ‘The Almond Trees’ and uses his...

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