Midsummer Background

Midsummer Background

Derek Walcott published his collection Midsummer in 1984. The collection is a sequence consisting of 54 poems, one for each year of his life at the time of publication. The title references the narrative conceit of the novel: a poetic examination of a single year in the life of the poet stretching one summer to the next as well as the midpoint of the year in which the days begin to grow shorter of daylight as winter approaches. The dominant theme is that of Walcott’s sense of sharing genetic and cultural ties to two different culture whose history has been one of conflict between dominance and submission and imperialist and colonist.

This same sense of duality in which his allegiance to both cultures are is pitting against himself is revealed subtly through the settings of various individual poems: Trinidad and Chicago, sultry Caribbean beaches and cool British countryside. Location is just one means by which Walcott situates his dual nature. Midsummer is dominated by narrative techniques, thematic motifs, symbols, memories and experiences which seeks to firmly cohere all the various individual pieces together to alleviate the poet’s anxieties about his cultural and literary identity.

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