An Exploration of Grace Nichols Resentment at the Legacy of the Slave Trade Through Her Poem ‘Taint’

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The Atlantic slave trade began in the sixteenth century and was abolished in the British Empire in the early nineteenth century. During four centuries American and Europeans nations obtained enslaved people from African slave-traders (although some were captured by Europeans slave traders). Born in Guyana in 1950, author and poet Grace Nichols moved into England in 1977 where she has compiled several books of poetry, many of which discuss the slave trade. Her poem “taint” is an illustration of her resentment at the legacy of the slave trade. The title of the poem itself is significant; a one emotive word impact: “Taint” which means spoil, stain or tarnish, a negative word that introduces the reader to what’s to come. I would also argue…show more content…
It also looks as if Grace Nichols is asking the reader to think about this and as I read the poem I could almost hear her voice asking me “Can you believe this?” The last two stanzas of the poem are much shorter (2 lines each) and for the first time the reader is introduce to Grace Nichols of today which brings her views in the actuality. Contradictory vocabulary is used: “forget” and “remember”. I think Grace Nichols is acknowledging that she has not come to term with her ancestral history which she seems to have absorb as her own and the fact that she uses the word “daily” seems to indicate that she is still very much dealing with these issues to today’s date: ‘Daily I rinse the taint of treachery from my mouth’ Grace Nichols has effectively uses numerous writing techniques in ‘taint’ to convey her ideas and feelings to the reader. As a white reader, I felt uncomfortable reading this poem as if the guilt of my ancestors (the white tradesmen) was lying on my shoulder. May be this was intended by the author who seemed to be, herself, carrying the suffering of her ancestors (the black slaves). Furthermore it could be argued that Grace Nichols is stressing an issues that is still of actuality in some part of the word and far from a selfish plea, I see in her words an appeal from all

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