A Critical Analysis of Derek Walcott’s “a Lesson for This Sunday”
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Derek Walcott’s “A Lesson for this Sunday” is a steady buildup from a masculine persona lazily remarking a summer’s day; however it quickly turns to a source of annoyance as the cries of children shatter the reflective mirror of paradise leaving him introspective and critical of their actions as they destroy a part of nature. The poem in itself is melodic, not with a particular rhyme scheme however but with the way Walcott wove his words. The poem elicits a theme of deep introspection, contemplation, death and philosophy of human nature.
“A Lesson for this Sunday”, aside from being the title is a window of opportunity to view the poem at face, but a second read foreshadows the end conclusion. The first stanza follows in painting a picture…show more content… He remarks how the injured creature is now trying to escape, “teetering thing attempts its flight.” His tone is lyrically saddened, “Frail as a flower in this blue August air,” he compares the girl with the power of a simile to the very butterfly she has harmed. From this point onwards as it touches to the fourth stanza there is another shift in tone; the sense of irritation and annoyance changes more to a sense of philosophical introspection as he sees the true nature of man.
The final stanza opens doorways into the mind, “The mind swings inward on itself in fear” he begins to look into himself and he refers to the “Heredity of cruelty everywhere.” These lines imply that through fear, a culture of appropriating nature, abusing and mistreating it have become a biological imperative and just maybe man is inherently bad. The final line parallels the first “As summer grass sways to the scythe's design.” This parallel showed grass growing idly of its own accord, now after the reader has seen the nature of curiosity warped it grows to be cut when the scythe decides.
As the scythe decides, one also thinks of death, which is a theme of the poem, along with the nature of humanity, the necessity of introspection as he looks beyond the literal and his figurative draws one into his plight. Walcott’s personal theme of spiritually comes into play highlighting