* Thle British Car
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~6 Gem, Bt. Johns,
" bstseript. Poetry J.
E. Clare McFarlane.
VOM 1S-by A. J. Seymour, WilsomaHarris, Martin Carter, Owen CampbeRl,
A. I'..._Prd%. Risil Ilo~aimrn e, Hbrold Telemaque.
The Genus of the Place
. 4t(A Short Anthology of Co~monwealth Poetry)
: No6. : ''TWO
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Cities of the British Car
Basseterre, St. Kitts
Belize, British Hondu
St. Georges, Grenada
S St. John's, Antigua
.A. J. S.
ras Donald Ching
Guiana .. .. A.J.S.
.. .. .. A.M.L.
ad .. .. Fred M. Boland
Victor C. Jcsse
.David I. Mitchell
.F. H. S. Warneford.
The Prospect of West Indian Poetry
Letter to Frank Collymore
Music of the Oil Drums ..
Two Fragments, "Returning" (poems)
The Caribbean and Education
Notes on the Antiquity of Creole Remedy
The Beggar is King (poem)
The Artifice of Eternity ..
A Criticism of Contemporary Criticism
A. J. Seymour
J. E. Clare McFarlane
J. A. Ramsaran
Jacqueline de Weever
S. Singh .
* Vol. 5 No. 16
Poems (Four Translations from the French)
Choucoune (Oswald Durand) ..
If You Wish, Let us Make a Dream
Poem (Jean Joseph Rabearivelo)
The Hurricane (L. Sedor Senghor)
Churchill at the U.C.W.I. ..
Note on the Calypso
The Letter ..
The Genius of the Place
(Personal Anthology of Commonwealth
The Weather in Middenshot ..
Children of Kaywana
Ordeal of Free Labour in the B.W.I...
Origin and Development of the People
Jaccb and the Angel
trans. W. Adolphe
trans. Malcolm Delph
A. N. Forde
Harold Telemaque ..
chosen by Celeste
Dolphin and A. J.
. Seymour ..
Ten Poems .. .. .. .. Sherlock .. .. 194
Bim No. 17 .. .. .. ......... 195
Timehri No. 31 .. .. ..... 199
Personality and Conflict in Jamaica .
Social and Economic Studies, Caribbean
Quarterly Vol. 3 No. 1 .. ......... 200
Notes on the Contributors .. .. ........... 201
Contributions and all letters should be sent to the Editor "Kyk-
Over-Al", 120, Fot!.th Street, Georgetown, British Guiana.
-This is a publication of the B.G. Writers' Association.
Cities of the British Caribbean
In this issue of Kyk-over-al the special feature is a descrip-
tion of some of the Cities of the British Caribbean in which the
West Indian spirit .is finding a local habitation and a name. Mere-
ly to describe the history of a city and its principal outlines gives
little indication of the spirit which informs its people, or as little
as the face gives of the quality of the mind behind it. But we
have allowed imagination to body forth in the hope of capturing
some of the content with the form.
The cities of the British Caribbean are social laboratories
which house a continuous ferment of intellectual and spiritual
activity, as the people of the West Indies develop a way of life
peculiar to themselves, and deepen their realisation of the values
of the new society which is being created in this region.
In these cities there are people writing poetry and critical
articles, beating out music from converted dustbins, and trying to
educate themselves. Because intellectual man is a social animal,
these passionate few gather with kindred spirits and found clubs
and societies so that they can help one another attain higher
levels of achievement. Scattered like seed all over the British
Caribbean, these groups and clubs are some of the growing points
of the new society, exerting a moulding pressure and an influence,
far beyond the proportion of their, numbers, upon the more
psasive sections of the communities. Their names are a roll-of-
honour in Caribbean society-the Young Men's Guild, the British
Guiana Union of Cultural Clubs, the Readers and Writers'
Guilds in Jamaica and Trinidad, the Young Men's Progressive
Club and the Association of Cultural Societies in Barbados, the
Trinidad and Tobago League of Literary and Cultural Clubs, the
Poetry League of Jamaica, the Alliance Francaise, the Bolivarian
Society. Now that the University College of the West Indies is
in our midst, the students of the Extra-Mural groups have
joined the members of these clubs and societies in the great
Endeavour of creating quality in the British Caribbean by their
In 1950 an attempt was made to found a great all-embracing
tertiary society, the British Caribbean Association of Cultural
Organizations, to which would become affiliated some primary
groups, the clubs themselves, and all secondary organizations like
the Unions and Associations of Sooieties. Unfortunately thief
tertiary never began to operate because of initial difficulties of
There is an important point relating to Cities in the British
Caribbean which is raised by L. Broom in Vol. 1 No. 1 of Social
and Economic Studies, the Journal of the Institute of Social
and Economic Research, University College of the West Indies.
Mr. Broom, who was a Fulbright Research Fellow at the Insti-
tute, claims that the most significant social trend in the Carib-
bean today is the progressive concentration of people in the major
city of each island. As we understand it, this urbanisation of
agricultural population is associated with changes in employment
and even a fall in production. The concentration of agricul-
tural people of low productivity in a city does not necessarily
mean that the city is ready for industrialisation, but the con-
centration of buying power in a city tends to encourage small
On the other hand, Mr. Broom suggests that the fertility of
the West Indian peoples will decline with this trend to urbanisa-
tion.In the immediate future there is no outlet for West Indians
into places with a higher standard of living, e.g. Canada or the
U.S.A., the natural regional trend, and none also into Great
Britain, the Metropolitan country, with its own high density and
Federation is the only hope of a concerted effort for improv-
ing our British Caribbean standards and the cities are the grow-
ing points of our problems.
To improve the housing and other amenities throughout the
British Caribbean, everywhere cities are undergoing surgical
operations to remove slums, give assistance to those who desire
to own their homes, and in the shopping centres to offer an
increasing range of goods that should banish drudgery and en-
hance living.It will probably take decades before our private
lives and public institutions will approximate to the standards
set by metropolitan countries, but always there is the urge of
the people in this infant civilisation to improve quality both in
their intellect and their housing, and to see that inside and
around them, the manifestations of a richer and fuller life keep
pace with the effort to put the region on a sound financial footing.
So we come back to the people, the creative minority, the
poets, novelists, painters, sculptors, musicians and all those who
take into themselves the apparent chaos of an outer world. The
chaos includes the poverty and instability of the British Caribbean
economic condition, the explosive, unsettled human and linguis-
tic relationships that arise from the lack of an ordered society
inherited from ancestors, and the inadequate educational matrix
in which British Caribbean peoples are born. And these creative
people absorb these intractable materials, reconcile them with
their discipline and transform them into art, because poets and
painters believe in the ability of art to influence others, to start
a tradition and so affect the course of history.
During 1951 and 1952 I had direct experience of the work of
British Caribbean poets, reading them as a first step towards the
publication of an Anthology of West Indian Poetry in Kyk-over-al
No. 14, and the periodical issue of the slim booklets of the Minia-
ture Poets Series. I think I can reassure Mr. Clare McFarlane
that a positive faith manifests itself in the poetry of this region.
There may be some expression of European malaise but even
where this is exhibited, there can be found mingled with it an
exhilarating consciousness of the new and exciting tradition to
be built here in the region.
Literature, and especially Poetry, is partly prophetic in its
expression of the spirit of a people and it is no coincidence that
the upsurge of poetry has expressed itself at the same time that
British Guiana receives Universal Adult Suffrage and that Bri-
tish Caribbean governments discuss federal proposals.
1953 is a special year in many ways. With due ceremony
the uniting symbol of the Crown will be placed on the head of
the Queen who reigns over the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The Queen-in-Council signed an Order conferring a new Consti-
tution with universal adult suffrage and ministerial responsibility
upon the people of British Guiana. A London Conference dis-
cussed what steps are to be taken to bring into being a Federation
of those British Caribbean territories which have agreed to
In the Coronation, the Constitution and the Conference,
there is the common element of quality being improved, the sense
of reaching up to higher levels of achievement through the
Mutual Aid which Kropotkin has so ably described as a factor
of evolution complementary to Darwin's "Survival of the fittest."
Basseterre, St. Kitts
by Laura Ting-a-Kee
It was at ten o'clock at night, I remember, that standing on the
deck of the "Lady Nelson" I caught my first glimpse of St. Kitts -
an oval-shaped island some 23 miles long and about 5 miles wide at
the broadest part.
I remember, too, that as the boat dropped anchor about half a mile
from the pier at Basseterre, the capital and port, which lies at the
southern end of the oval (the shallowness of the sea prevents boats
docking alongside), the thought involuntarily came to me: "Oh, how
lovely !" And neath the 'witching drapery of the night, concealing the
scars of ugly buildings and dirty streets, lovely indeed the town was !
Girdled on three sides by the rolling hills of the Olivees and on the
fourth by the sapphire sea, the lights twinkled in a graceful horseshoe
from the higher land down to the seashore.
By day, however, Basseterre proper is disappointing. Almost com-
pletely destroyed by fire in 1867, and by a flood caused by a cloud-burst
in 1880, it has, today, a shabby, unkempt, shopworn appearance.
It is interesting to compare the town today with the Basseterre
of 1775. Janet Schaw in her "Journal" describes Basseterre thus. "The
best houses lie up the town and have an extensive prospect and airy
situation, tho' all of wood, they are very neat, and scnm'e of them
ornamented with carvings on the outside. They generally lie more off
the street than those at St. John's (Antigua), and have very pretty
parterres before them and are shaded with cocoa or palmetto trees."
The architecture since then has undergone a complete change. Gone
are the houses with ornamental carvings, gone are the pretty parterres
and the cocoa and palmetto trees. In their stead are drab ungraceful
houses, some of wood, some of concrete, without any beauty of line
or design. Gardens are rarely to be seen, since the few there are, are
situated behind the houses.
The macadam roads are dirty and unpleasing to the eye and to the
great dismay of the newccmner, the main roads (Cayon Street, Central
Street, Bay Road) are crossed by two tiny rivulets, making their way
from the Olivees to the sea. These are known locally as gutts. Thus
when you are driving along say, Central Street, you drive down into the
gutt and out again. When first I was confronted with these gutts I must
confess to a little uneasiness as to how exactly I would succeed in riding
through them and toiling up the steep slope. But once you are used to it,
it is not difficult at all. You simply pedal as fast as possible on approach-
ing the gutt and the speed at which you are travelling takes you down
and up again. Lest I tax the credulity of the reader too much, let me
hasten to explain that these gutts are generally dry with but a thin trickle
of water running through them. When however, it rains heavily,
then the roads are impassable, as the gutts are changed into raging tor-
rents bringing silt and sometimes huge boulders from, the mountains and
Depositing them in their course.
The western fringe of the town, however-known as "Fortlands",
being the site of a former fort-forms a delightful contrast. Here a
residential section has recently sprung up. Sleek, modern, concrete bun-
galows with cool verandahs, colourful gardens and spreading lawns
everywhere dot the landscape.
Unlike many other towns of the West Indies, Basseterre boasts no
Botanical Gardens, no zoo, no museum, no sea-wall. It only beauty-
spot is, strangely enough, the cemetery; and it is the island's boast-
rightly so!-that the cemetery is the loveliest in the West Indies. The
blue blaze of its neatly trimmed hedges, the lush green of its spacious
lawns, the riot of colour of its flower-beds, the orderly rows of gleaming
tomb-stones almost reconcile the reluctant to death. To some of you,
Such perfect symmetry will probably be too regular, too artificial for
real beauty. But I like it, I like to gaze on its tranquil harmony, and
gazing, feel like Keats:
"Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain...."
Dominating the town is the tall silver chimney of the single fac-
tory of the island-a constant reminder that King Sugar reigns supreme.
Sugar is Basseterre's chief export and the sugar factory is among the
most efficient in the West Indies. In 1952 it produced 50,000 tons of
sugar, comparing very favourably with Barbados with its thirty-six
factories, Jamaica (24), and British Guiana (15). The labourers them-
selves are comparatively well off due to trade union action.
The people are polite and hospitable, and always willing to help.
Side by side with this, unfortunately, are the numerous beggars who
pester the passers-by. On pay-day, they line the steps of the two banks,
and the poor Civil Servant who has just drawn his salary is besieged by
their pleas for alms. Intransit passengers too are often taken aback at
this onslaught of beggars.
And yet in spite of all of this, Basseterre is lovely in a quaint, rustic
way. At eventide, when the shops are closed and traffic is more or less
Sat a standstill, a quiet peace, a restful silence pervades the whole town,
a silence broken only by the laughter of children playing in Pall Mhll
Square and the muffled click of tennis or cricket balls. At dusk as we
stand at Fort Point and look down cross the town, at the encircling
mountains dwarfing the houses, at the tall factory chimney rivalling the'
silvery whiteness of the foam-crested waves of the Caribbean, as we
drink deep of the quiet serenity which reigns everywhere, we feel at
Space with the world and with mankind in general, and our hearts are
lulled into forgetting, e'en though for a moment, the cares which daily
Belize, British Honduras
by DONALD S. CHING
To the English-speaking world,, Belize is a city; to the Spanish-
speaking world, it is a country Belice. Behind this variance lies a
chapter of history which is not yet closed. Behind the name itself, and
at the beginning of the chapter, is a pirate whose name the Spaniards
could not pronounce, for it began with the letter W.
Asturias, the Guatemala historian, identifies Peter Wallace with Sir
Walter Ralegh's first lieutenant on the quest of El Dorado on the Orin-
oco in 1617. He was not the first buccaneer to settle in what today is
called (in English) British Honduras; he was preceded by Captain Daniel
Elfrith, Captain Axe, Philip Bell, Captain Camock and many more. But
it was he who saw the strategic value of the Old River estuary, protected
to landward by miles of swamp and! to seaward by cays and shallows.
Here his settlement grew, dwarfing the others, and bore his name a
name which, by the double erosion of time and Spaniards, changed from
Wallace to Valys, and through Bullys Bellise and Belice to Belize.
The Spaniards could not say Wallace, but they would not say British
of any territory in Central America. Indeed, Wallace's own countrymen
have only called it British for a century past, and it became a British
colony as late as, 1862. To the Spaniards it was a nest of outlaws; to
the Spanish-speaking Republics which border it today it is still a .
pirated portion of the Spanish Main, Wallace's theft-Belice.
While settlers in the fertile regions a hundred miles to the north and
about the same distance to the south of the Old River took to one form
or other of farming on a small s tale, Wallace's settlement throve on the
country's greatest wealth-trees. Logwood and mahogany were its first
important exports, and in later years the sapodilla or chicle of our forests
enabled the United States to attain a position of pre-eminence over all
the world-in the chewing of gum. British Honduras is a land of great
savannahs, having also mountains rising from the Cockscomb to the
Maya ranges. But Belize grew and prospered' in the estuary swamps
where Wallace founded it, for hither the great logs came floating from
the lumber iamps to the sea, and hence they have gone to furnish
nomes in all the earth; it is hence we have helped America to find its
earthly heaven in the delicious mystery of prolonged mastication. It
is here in these swamps and on this trade in woods of various kinds that
the commercial wealth of Belize has been established, and a standard
of life, educaon and culijare which compares favpurably with any
British land of the Caribbean area.
In no conditions can slavery be anything but evil. Yet it is worthy
of note that here, as in some other places, slavery was less vile than in
lands where it was sanctioned by the laws of Civilization. Where master
as well as slave was outlawed, brotherhood was more quickly found.
Where slave as well as master was in constant danger of atrocity at Span-
ish hands, the bond of a common cause became more significant than the
bond of servitude. In the camps, master and man were woodcutters;
in the repulsing of the Spaniard, they both bore arms and defended each
other's rights: both were Baymen. The Baymen were the descendants
and successors of the Buccaneers, and the one name is fair as the other
was often foul. The tradition of the Baymen is of a liberty, worth and
glory such as any nation might well envy. In spirit as well as in his-
tory, Belize is the capital of the Baymen.
Wallace was a Scot. and he brought with him men f:c,.m all parts
of the United Kingdom. The slaves were from Africa and from the
islands of the sea. Into the heritage of the Baymen came also Caribs
from St. Vincent, Mayas from the oldest civilization in the world, inden-
tured labourers from India, Spaniards driven here for refuge from troubles -
in the neighboring lands, merchants from the Far and Middle East.
All have made their contribution, and partaken of the glory: Belize is
all of them.
You will see them all on the 10th September, which is our day of
national celebration. In carnival and spectacle, in the gay rivalry of
sport and of art, their various parts make one symphonic whole. That
date marks our triumph and our grief. On the 10th September in 1798
the Baymen repulsed the most pretentious onslaught ever made by the
Spaniards upon us a victory as great to us (and not unlike in kind)
as that over the Armada to the English. It was on the 10th September
in 1931 that a great tidal wave, impelled by hurricane, submerged our
low-lying city in the swamps and laid it waste, leaving the slain to be
counted not in hundreds but in thousands.
Out of the mists of swamp and river, out of the ruins of the storms,
out of the battles of the past, out of the glory and the pain, rises again
Belize. What is it a city or a country, a people or a dream? Its
houses are built of wood as its wealth is based on wood, but 'what is its
essence, its truth, its soul? Who can say?
I only know that as I came home last night through wooden thor-
oughfares lit more brightly by the white moonlight than by the yellow
street lamps, I iret Wallace down by the East Canal. And thronging
behind him, so that I had to stand aside to let them pass, came Burnaby
and Barrow nd a hundred more. Baymen past or Baymen present -
I know not how to call them. I only knew, as I turned into Albert
Street, that in Belize all Baymen are at home.
Georgetown, British Guiana
Cities lean on. a river, will oppose
Their station to her flow, and people carve
Habits and houses in their honey-comb
Laying a gracious residue of living
With the years, adding, renewing value
Until the unique spirit gathers wing
Into a brave tradition and towers above
The city's busyness in a deathless word
Thus Athens, Rome, London, Jerusalem.
More than the shell of buildings in which people live and move and
their being, a city takes on the character of its inhabitants and in turn
lends them a distinctive air. Georgetown is a city of well-balanced pro-
portions and Georgian architecture, described as "probably the most
complete early 19th century town in the world", and there is a placid
air of broad streets turning on their rectangular axes, and flamboyants
flanking the processional avenues which were once Dutch canals.
Between 1781 and 1784, three European nations co-operated to found
the city. It was conceived by the British Lieutenant Governor, Lt.-Col.
Robert Kingston who chose to develop the area around the old brandwagt
(set up in 1748 as a guard-house against smugglers on the site of the pre-
sent St. Andrew's Church) into the seat of Government; the French engin-
eers prepared the plan, fixing the size of the lots, and when the colony
changed hands again, the Dutch christened it Stabroek, in honour of the
chairman of the West India Company.
A glimpse of the town of Stabroek in 1796 can be found in the pages
of Dr. George' Pinckard. He describes how his party came with great
relief on the causeway of bricks running between two long rows of houses
for one mile along the present Brickdam, after they had slipped over the
wet clay route to the town and ploughed ankle-deep in mud. Henry
Bolingbroke in 1799 noticed the red wood which roofed the wooden houses
in Stabroek, and the black and tawny children plunging about like di-
dappers in the canals enclosing the main street, (Brickdam).
In those days a carriage way ran between the tiny hamlet of Stabroek
and the "English Village of Kingston" but as the population increased,
areas near to Stabroek (renamed Georgetown in 1812 in honour of the
Prince Regent) became populated, the canes growing to the edge of the
city were pushed back and these new areas were added as wards to the
municipality created in 1837 when the town was granted a charter by
Queen Victoria, elevating it to the status of a city, the See of the Bishopric
of Guiana. Alberttown, for instance, was bought collectively by the
freed slaves and settled as a village, and the names of the streets and the
wards preserve the names of the owners and citizens in this growing city-
Joseph Bourda, Wm. Robb, L. H. Albouy, John Croal (the first Mayor),
Henry Wortman and D. P. Lacy.
S Fire early proved to be the enemy within the gates of this wooden
city. The first severe fire in Georgetown was said to be that of December
29, 1828 the water front, recorded by Dalton in his 1858 History of British
SGuiana. But 1864 was the year of "the Great Fire" when great damage
was done to the city, and almost in every decade of the succeeding years
fire struck, and set back progress, so that inhabitants date events as before
or after the Charlestown fire of 1913, or the Great Fire of 1945.
But fire can prove to be a blessing in disguise and the magnificent
shopping centre that has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of the
S1945 conflagration is the best to be seen anywhere in the British Carib-
bean and is also evidence of the wisdom of planning. Greater George-
S town is a river-city of 100,000 people bounded on the north by the sea
and on the west by the Demerara River, and a Town Plan to guide
the expansion of the city over the next 50 years has been agreed upon,
allowing the growth of the middle-class suburbs eastwards along the
coast and of the housing of the industrial population southwards along
the river bank.
The city is still small and compact, with the commercial houses and
public offices concentrated along the river front, and people still travel
by cycle or bus or car frcen office to home for the midday meal The
predominant character of the citizens is middle-class, wage-earning, and
commercial, as the city depends largely on imported articles arriving by
sea from abroad. Viewed from the river the approach to the dingy
wharves is depressing, but this serves only to enhance the newcomer's
surprise and admiration of the broad tree-lined streets and the many
splendid modern concrete buildings standing back from the roadway.
One of the regrettable casualties of the new building and architec-
tural styles is the disappearance of the intricate and curious wood-
carving which decorated the facades of the old-type wooden white
cottages standing upon their stilts. Georgetown is six feet below the
level of the sea and the city's drainage system cannot take off
i immediately the results of a heavy downpour, of rain.
But wet or dry or with flooded streets or yards, Georgetown always
retains her special quality of rest and spaciousness, which the broad
tree-lined streets invoke. And at night there are always people seated
on the broad sea wall facing the strong North-East Trade wind which
comes blowing from the Atlantic, and looking at the numberless eyes
of heaven that watch dreamlessly over the city's lights.
The grey-blue light of dawn was becoming clearer, but the night
shift of the stevedores had not yet left the wharf. I could hear many
voices singing what seemed to be a folk song, it was about "Woman
a heaby load when Sat'day morning' come". The atmosphere was no
different from any other day, but for me it held so imtany images of the
past -because I was revisiting Kingston on the day it became 150
Around the ship one could see the young boys, preparing to delight
the tourists, by their daily adventure of retrieving coins from the white
sand covering the sea-bed, 'which one sees through the clear blue water
of the harbour. The harbour which has survived hurricanes ana
bombardments, and which is best remembered by its association with
Port Royal. Of Henry Morgan the buccaneer who in 1674 became Lieut-
enant-Governor, of Horatio Nelson, and of a bleeding Port Royal after
the earthquake of 1692.
As soon as I could, I set off to see a City enjoying its 150th year.
At the gate of the wharf a group of beggars, many young, and appar-
ently active, held competition to impress the unwary traveller. I
wondered wbit this City 'was like in 1802 when King George III give
his Royal Assent making Kingston a Corporate City under the style of
"Mayor, Aldert-an and Common Council of the City and Parish of
Kingston." At that time there was no freedom to beg, because the
young and able would have been slaves on one of the many sugar planta-
tions. The City was then hardly more than a trading post, which first
among the British Colonies received the King's grant of a Charter. To
one who knew the City then my Kingston would appear a very different
place. It had grown larger to 12,000 acres, and in population to
242,500 of which there are Negroes, Chinese, East Indians, Syrians, Jews
and Europeans, living and working side by side.
I left the wharf and walked into the City. I stopped to look at the
flowers cut and arranged into bouquets, and sold by negro flower
sellers squatting in the shade of the palms. Now and then I 'would hear
the shrill voices above the traffic noises, crying "Lady buy hair-pin,
comnnon-pin, shoulder-strap-pin, fine teet romb, shoe lace and crochet
needle", coming from the higglers (street pedlars), who, as I moved far-
ther away from the centre of the City offered "fresh oil, sweet potato,
yellow yam, dry coke-nut, s-napper and b'un' tongue fish." The six
Municipal markets had become too full and the higglers had overflown
into the streets of the City, some narrow and dusty and hot Kingston
will never be described as a 'garden city', but along many c' the streets
one shares intermittent shade offered by the cassias and lignumvitae, with
the unemployed who loiter around the thin trunks, discomfiting the
passer-by with their remarks. Juvenile delinquency is a real problem.
The commercial centre is now predominantly Syrian, but one sees
scores of shop assistants from all the racial groups. Even the Banks
employ coloured Jamaicans. The groceries and bakeries are largely
cwned and run by Chinese, and the legal and medical professions are
filled by men and women of the racial groups. Gasolene and motor
service stations, which stend like so many beacons in and around the
City are, like corrm.arcial agencies, largely run by negroes or people of
mixed origins. Everyone I met was 'Jamaican', indeed nationalism in
full bloom had seized the country and found full expression in Kingston.
As I walked away from the heat of the City towards the suburbs,
about three miles from the wharf, I could feel a change of atmosphere.
I was conscious of spaciousness and elegance in landscape. The buildings
are of no period, but the modern American architecture has had a strong
influence. There is hardly any distinctiveness about buildings in King-
ston. The visitor can see the squalor of slusm shacks made from a
variety of material, and without pattern; or the concrete and mortar of
old Kingson, erected with stout frames to combat its inevitable storms
and hurricanes, o: the gracefulness of straight lines and decorative
facades in suburban Kingston, set in a background of lawns, and gardens
and laden fruit trees, reflecting the influence of the United States of
America in an age dominated by air travel for Miami is only half a
day's flight away. Perhaps th, only distinctive architectural pattern
exists in Church buildings which are predominantly English in design
and setting, with stone walls, high steeples and surrounded by tomb-
stones. The people of Kingston are church-goers, and like so many
other West Indian Cities Kingston has churches of every denomination,
including a Jewish Synagogue.
The Church ha- had a strong influence upon education and one
finds that facilities for high: education are largely provided by Church
schools, partially financed frcmr. State grants. In this respect also there
is a strong English influence, and many of the institutions for higher
education are boarding schools of the pattern of the English public
On my way stopped to look at a white-helmeted policeman on
point duty. He stood on a small circular platform controlling incessant
traffic. The City had become busier. Municipal passenger transport
had been taken over by a private Company, and there was no reminder
of the electric tram-cars. The bus routes total 75 miles but they can-
not cope with the demands of the growing population The streets are
straight, and foran rectangular blocks with intervening lanes. The names
Sof the streets are uninteresting Duke, Princess, East Queen, Charles,
King etc., but I 'walked up and down the lanes and laughed again at
their sequence Rose, Rosemary, Rum, Maiden, Love: with Darling
Street to finish. And the lanes named after the Gospels Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John, with Text lane to round it off.
A swelling population and expanding boundaries made restaurant
and hotel services popular. There are no less than 17 first class hotels
in Kingston and St. Andrew. There are four banking houses, a Govt.
Savings Bank and a Co-operative Bank. There are 23 foreign consulates
and easy communication with the world through the many airlines which
operate on the outskirts of the City. There is one radio transmitting
station, a small Museum and the West India Reference Library which is
famous for the valuable books and documents it contains on the history
and development of the Area. I walked through many of the streets.
Kingston was still, in a way unique among the West Indian cities.
Modern reinforced office buildings reached above the dilapidation of the
old Kingston shacks. The sturdy stone buildings of old Kingston stood
defiantly among the new. Among the new ones is the Institute of
Jamaica which houses the Museum, the West Indian Reference Library
and a Public Lending Library.
Perhaps, to the visitor the West Indian Reference Library has the
greatest attraction, for in here will be found romantic chronicles of the
growth and development of Kingston, and if the many fragments are
put together one will learn that more than 400 years ago the Spanish
used Port Royal, then called 'CAYO de CARENA for careening ships,
until the English adventurer Sherley sailed into Kingston harbour in
1597. It was here that the Spaniards in 1603 repulsed an attack by
Christopher Newport, and here also the English finally conquered when
Admirals Penn and Venables attacked in 1655. Port Royal had becca m
notorious as a battle ground, but Kingston, then scarcely founded, out-
shone that famous Port after its destruction by the great earthquake in
Kingston first became a flourishing port of smugglers, then, as if
becoming respectable, a port of trade and business enterprise. The for-
mation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland helped both
phases and many of the Scots who came to Jamaica settled in Kingston
as traders, and acquired political power which their Jewish colleagues
were denied. Not the least interesting feature of the development of
Kingston as a trading port about 1750.-1760, by Jews, among others, is
the fact that the Jewish population concentrated mainly in Kingston
because only there could ritually-clean meat be obtained. Kingston
had become a seaport, and now demanded skilled artisans for the car-
'"pntry benches, the ship yards, the black-smitheries and the fishing
pens. Slavery was no longer confined to the sugar plantations, a new
outlet for slavery had been found and so many slaves fulfilled the
demands then being made by a commercial Kingston.
Perhaps one may see among these exciting chronicles of Kingston
this extract from a record by H. P. Jacobs
"The sharp distinction preserved between the whites and the
free people of colour forced the latter, where they were numerous
enough to form a community, to acknowledge their kinship with
each other and with the slaves. This prepared Kingston for a new
place in history.
There was in Kingston a general movement of thought, a flexi-
bility of mental habits, which was rare elsewhere. The newcomer
of slender means might, if he survived, quickly acquire a compet-
ence or even a fortune. Contact with the fleet, the presence of a
garrison, created new currents of ideas and raised the tone of
The Battle of Waterloo was over, and Kingston decayed economically,
while politically it came alive. The period bequeathed two stalwarts.
Hector Mitchell, an Englishman, and Edward Jordan, the son of a
Barbadian immigrant. Jordan fused into one unit all the second-class
citizens of Kingston the Jews, the Roman Catholics, and the free
coloured people. His fusion influenced all Jamaica and as a result
S equality of Jews and Christians came in Jamaica earlier than it did
Kingston became the capital of Jamaica in 1871 after many hard
years. The steamship had lessened its importance as a port of call for
ships, the exodus of slaves from the plantations reduced its export trade,
and the newly-won independence of the Spanish colonies in America
diminished its contraband trade. The Jewish businesses had, in spite
of all, held firm, and Kingston was gradually restored to commercial
prominence. In 1923 the corporate area was extended to include
St. Andrew, and now I see a Kingston with a quarter of a million
people living and working as if it had always prospered.
It was time to return to the boat. The shops were all shut and
Kingston, or part of it, was dead. All the shutters were down, the
doors barred, the pavements empty. The policeman on point duty had
p gone too, and even the beggars had disappeared.
As I sat on deck a cool wind blew from the towering Blue Mountains.
Kingston is set on the northern shore of the curving bay, protected by
the Palisadoes a strip of land 7V2 miles long, from the open sea.
And many large ships lay at anchor alongside the wharfs. The land
slopes upward to the mountains and the City climbs with it, spreading
meanwhile to the east and west as new factories are built.
Some cities in these colonies have the awkward air of country folkl
dressed in town clothes, or pushed suddenly into the public eye. But
Kingston wears an air of sophistication which is a result of her contacts
with the outside world. She is impersonal and casual to all, and within
her life runs at an alarming pace.
I wondered what the tourist passengers would think of the Jamaican
variety of that popular institution the night club. I sipped my
drink rum and coconut water, and I saw again a stretch of road, a
cart drawn by a donkey and filled with freshly picked nuts. In one
corner of the cart a branch of the coconut waved and the higgler
cried "Water coconut 0 Water....nut".
by F. M. BOLAND
A tour in the Caribbean would lack much of its attractiveness if
the itinerary does not include a visit to the island of Trinidad with a
stay at least for a couple of days at Port-of-Spain its capital city.
Port-of-Spain is a port in the north-west of the island on the shore
of the Gulf of Paria. Its population is approximately one hundred
Trinidad's geographical position places it more or less about midway
on both the sea and air routes between the big cities of South America
at one end and the countries of Europe and North America situate on
the Atlantic seaboard at the other. Port-of-Spain, possessing a deep
water quay and with a safe anchorage for the largest vessels in the
Gulf of Paria, is as a shipping and trans-shipping centre without a rival
in the Caribbean. The development of air navigation has brought the
Island into much prominence, and Port-of-Spain has derived much
advantage because of its being easily accessible from and to the well-
maintained airport at Piarco which is about twenty miles away by the
Churchill-Rooseveldt Highway, a road as smoothly surfaced as any in
If the visitor travels by the sea the ship enters from the Caribbean
Sea into the Gulf of Paria through one of the "bocas" or narrow
channels formed by three small hilly islands which lie between
ChaguariTmas, the promontory at the north-west end of Trinidad, and
the republic of Venezuela on the mainland of South America; then after
proceeding along slowly in the calm waters of the Gulf for about an
hour, the ship gets into the dock at Port-of-Spain where will be seen
other liners each occupying a berth at the landing place.
The slow cruise from the bocas to Port-of-Spain will have thrilled
the visitor. The scenery here has never failed to fascinate persons going
along this route into Port-of-Spain for the first time, and even those who
have done the journey several times cannot escape a sense of renewed
charm on each occasion. Only a pen of a Charles Kingsley giving a
description such as appears in his "At last" can do adequate justice to
the scene at the Bocas in daylight. Entranced by the scenery, the
visitor will have had pointed out to him, places of hsitorical interest.
There on the starboard side is Chaguaramas Bay with its waters as calm
and peaceful as those of an inland lake, reflecting the greenery of the
vegetation of the hills that almost enclose it on every side. It was
just here that in the year 1797 the Spanish Admiral Appodacca, on
learning that Rear Admniral Harvey had entered the Bocas with a British
fleet, burnt the Spanish ships under his command. General Sir Ralph
Abercrombie, famous for his military exploits in Egypt, was bringing
troops on board Harvey's ships for the conquest of Trinidad. The Spaniards
surrendered Port-of-Spain to Abercrombie with very little resistance.
The sunken Spanish ships are reputed to have had large stores of gold
on board, but attempts made in later years to redeem the sunken
treasure have proved furitless. It is believed that if there was any
such treasure it remains buried deep down in the muddy bottom of
- Chaguaramas Bay. But there is another type of treasure now to be seen
at Chaguaramas Bay. Here on the shore is the depot for bauxite which
Y is brought in ships from British Guiana to be re-shipped abroad. It is
Trinidad's good fortune that the sandbanks at the mouths of British
Guiana's large rivers prevent the latter colony from shipping this
valuable mineral product won from her own lands directly overseas to
North America where it is processed into valuable aluminium which
is so much treasured in equipping aeroplanes.
Nearer Port-of-Spain and before one can discern in the distance
towering above the city the imposing dome of the Red House the
building in which the principal departments of the colony's administra-
tion and the Supreer. 'Court are housed there will be noticed also
to starboard an extensive group of buildings near the shore at the foot
of the northern hills. This is the American Naval Base at Chaguaramas.
On entry into the war the United States Government under treaty
with Great Eritam obtained a long lease of this site fr::m the Govern-
ment of the Colony and there constructed a naval base for the defence
of the Western Hemisphere at a time when Nazi attack seemed imminent
from the jumping-off ground at the port of Dakar on the French West
African Coast then under control of Vichy France. Those who knew
Port-cf-Spain before the Americans came to Trinidad under long lease
cannot but perceive the effect of American influence on the life of the
city and of this British possession generally.
Perhaps the section of the city that comes most prominently to
the view from the sea is Laventille Hill on the east with its chapel
dedicated to Our Lady at the crest of the ridge. Below the chapel are
clusters of houses clinging to the steep slope overlooking the city.
Conspicuous from the sea because of its elevated position this settlement
at Laventille in the days before the deep-water quay was constructed
must have seemed to visitors in ships anchored out in the harbour as
being the main part of the city. The houses at Laventille Hill are
chiefly the homes of Port-of-Spain's more humble citizens. The gradual
taking over by cc nmerce of most of the southern part of the city where
many of the lower classes'used to dwell, has caused an increase in the
number of workmen's cottages up Laventille Hill and also further east
Sat Movant and Barataria outside the city's limits.
On disembarkation at the dock the visitor will be grateful for useful
information as to where he should go and what he should do obtainable
from the Tourist Inquiry Bureau, and leaving the Customs he will find
that he is in the ccimrmmercial part of the city. Port-of-Spain's streets
are well surfaced with road-making material, in the preparing of which
petroleum products and asphalt obtained in the south of the Island are
used. There are well concreted side-walks on each side of a street.
In the main the streets run at right angles to each other which enables
a stranger to find his way about without much difficulty. The city stands
on a plain which slopes gradually from the foot of the hills in the north
towards the sea in the south. Park Street which runs from east to west
is more or less the dividing line between the north or residential part
of Port-of-Spain and the commercial section in the south. In the day-
time, commercial Port-of-Spain is a veritable hive of activity. Motor
vehicles of the most recent model including buses and trolley cars go
up and down the streets. There is so much vehicular traffic that but
for enforcement -of one-way regulations and the control by automatic
traffic signal lights chaos would prevail. The shops are well stocked
with all commodities which one may require just as if he were in a
big city in Europe or America. On display can be also seen articles 4
produced in the colony itself. Not many of those who throughout the
world enjoy the flavour of Angostura bitters in their drinks are awa:e <
that its factory is in Port-of-Spain.
Perhaps the feature of the city which is most striking to the visitor
is Port-of-Spain's cosmopolitanism. Every race and nationality will be
seen in the streets of Port-of-Spain. Yet all these different peoples live
The writer who had many years' experience as a Police Magistrate r
in Port-of-Spain can hardly recall any case of a breach of the peace
which resulted from strife between racial groups. It would be a good
thing for those in other parts of the world who advocate racial segrega-
tion or apartheidism to pay a visit and have the object lesson of seeing
so cosmopolitan a people as those of Port-of-Spain living side by side
without racial friction or antagonism.
Not very many of the .buildings in Port-of-Spain are of great
architectural merit, but a visit may well be paid to the two Cathedrals,
that of the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Church of England and the
other the Cathedral of the Imniaculate Conception which is Reman
Catholic. It would be surprising to a stranger to see so many com-
mercial houses with balconies overhanging the side-walk. 'These though
convenient as affording places of shelter for the pedestrian during a
heavy tropical downpour of rain do detract from the architectural
appearance of the shop buildings. The overhanging verandah or balcony
is a heritage from the days of the Spaniards.
In speaking of rain, it may be stated that it is not unusual after
a heavy shower to see the streets, especially those running from north
to south, become roaring torrents of 'water making c:cssing over from
one side to the other inconvenient pedestrians and threatening to
flood even the side-walks. These flood waters come frcm the hills to
the ncrth of the city and course down the sloping plain towards the
sea, after heavy rain, in volunire which is too much for the drains to
control. But, it is surprising to see how dry again the streets become
very shortly afterwards, leaving no trace of the recent downpour.
Port-of-Spain, it should be stated, had a 'well defined natural channel
running through the middle of the town along which this storm water
flowed towards the sea. Jose Maria Chacon, the last Spanish Governor
of the Island, who transferred the capital from St. Joseph to Port-of-
Spain caused this channel to be diverted from the centre of the town east
to the foot of Laventille Hill. This diversion is known as the Dry
SRiver. Some years ago the Dry River bed was paved with concrete
/ at much cost to the city, resulting in great improvement in the
sanitation of the Dry River area.
S After several decades of suffering from an inadequate supply of
drinking water which used to be collected in reservoirs from river
sources in the hills to the north, the citizens of Port-of-Spain now
enjoy a sufficient quantity of water for dcnmestic use which is chlorinated
and fit for drinking. This is because of the augmentation of the city's
o-iginal supply by water led into the city's water-mains from the Colony's
waterworks at Quare Dam at Caura, and also from a supply drawn from
wells within the city's precincts.
While Port-of-Spain's business section is in the south the residential
quarter is up in the north that is north of Park Street. Within
Recent years the residential district has spread laterally towards the
west. To the north is the spacious Queen's Park more usually called
the "Grand Savannah" an extensive area which has been aptly described
q as the city's lung, providing as it does a place for open-air recreation
such as cricket, horse-racing, hockey, football, netball and such other
) outdoor games. The Governor's residence and the Botanic Gardens lie
north of the Grand Savannah at the foot of the Northern Hills and there
are beautiful residences and the commodious Queen's Park Hotel lining
the road around the Grand Savannah. Quiet and peaceful during the
work hours of a week-day, the Savannah becomes lively about four
a o'clock each afternoon, -when groups of young people of both sexes are
there indulging in out-door games. There is an asphalt foot-path
known as the Pitch Walk around the Savannah's three and a half mile
circumference. Here at this hour may be seen nursemaids with their
wards enjoying the cool breeze and the afternoon's bright sunshine,
some making use of the comfortable seats provided on the many
benches along the Pitch Walk. Here too and at this time the older
folk take their afternoon constitutional walk, and on Sunday after-
noons, when the Police Band plays on the Government House
grounds, there is a parade of fashion of Port-of-Spain's stylishly-
dressed womenfolk while cars roll each way on the roadway which
encircles the Savannah and Pitch Walk. While the commercial part of
the town is quiet at night, residential Port-of-Spain is till late
bright with its social activities including those of its many social
clubs.. Dancing is popular in Port-of-Spain which is the home of the
Outside of the city's limits with no separating gaps between there
are attractively built modern bungalows, fronted by well kept lawns
and flower gardens which enhance the splendour of Port-of-Spain's
environs. Here are indeed beautiful suburban homes within a few
i minutes drive by motor-car from one's office or place of business in
Indeed Port-of-Spain is a commercially busy centre 'with social
amenities which provide opportunity for a bright and happy life for the
majority of its inhabitants.
By Victor C. Josse
In Atwood's History of Dominica written in 1795, we see for the 4
first time, especially in the Chapter on Roseau, the modern mingling
with the past and Dominica herself beginning to emerge as a distinct <
British Colony, no longer dominated by 'Caribs, or a theatre of war
between the English and French. At that time it appears that
the most developed section of Roseau was Newtown or Charlotteviile in
tihe South end; in the later nineteenth century continuing to our own
time, growth has been rapid in the centre, while future possibilities rest
with Goodwill in the north end.
Gone are the odd little lanes and paved irregular streets. the quaint
custom of Sunday market and the public buildings all built of wood.
French patois as a medivun of speech, although not as widely used as in
the past, and queuing for meat on Saturdays remain strong links with
the past. .
Throughout this century, at least, Roseau has been well known as a
"Caribbean Garden City". Though founded long before the Garden City
idea became popular, it has developed on the artistic and aesthetic
lines advocated by the disciples of that excellent movement. The town
has been laid out on a plan which admits of the fullest scope for urban
beauty. There is a Iwell-thought-out basic grid of streets alternate
criss-crossing of wide traffic streets and narrower access lanes, and a
most generous disposition of public open spaces. In the words pf
R. Gardner Medwin, lately Town Planning Adviser to the Comptroller
fo: Development and Welfare in the West Indies, "Roseau is blessed
with an abundance of green spaces which modern planners would regard
as ideal in any new-planned European or American town of the
Roseau is fortunate in possession! famous Botanical Ga:dens one
of the largest and rmost beautifully landscaped in the West Indies,
picturesquely situated in a hollow under the great promontory of Morne
Bruce which presides over the town at the head of the Roseau valley. ,
From the Morne, the mountain grandeur of the Roseau valley coupled
with its swift river beggars description. Morne Bruce also has the Vi
distinction of being the best residential area at the present time. In
addition to the Botanical Gardens, the recreation grounds of Windsor
Park, the tree-lined walk along the river wall, there is the interesting
feature that the other open spaces are associated with the building. most
worthy of note.
S Good examples of these are the Government House, Court House,
Public Library and Victoria Memorial Museum not forgetting
"Peebles Park" flanking the old Fort Young (now Police Headquarters)
/ which was built in 1771 when Dominica was important enough to be a
Colony under the separate governorship of Sir William Young, Bart. If
the three first-named buildings have pretensions to architectural beauty,
some others certainly can lay still greater claijrns as the magnificent
Roman Catholic Cathedral, completed in 1855, by the first Bishop of
Roseau, Bishop's Palace, and the Anglican Church.
Although the description which has been given of Roseau might
pass as propaganda for a tourist pamphlet, it would be wrong not to
mention the widespread slums which mar almost every residential area.
Roseau, potentially as fine a town as any in the West Indies, has for
its size a greater mass of slum than any of the principal housing towns.
A redeeming feature perhaps may be found in the fact that the problems
of the building of the cc-namunity, as well as houses, cross in the
question of urban accommodation, and it may be that from a
sociological point of view, there has been some advantage in
promoting better understanding and neighbourliness in the conditions
existing in Roseau. Of course this is not to say that such social advan-
tages could not have been obtained in having mixed housing develop-
ments in a neighbourhood without slums. The fact is that Roseau
forms a heterogeneous ccrmsmunity, and the visitor from overseas will find
that in comnron with any other character worth the name, the people
of Roseau have their idiosyncrasies, but that they are cheerful, friendly
Sand hospitable to a degree which can hardly be surpassed, and anxious
to extend a warm and genuine welcome to one and all.
A visitor from overseas recently gave it as his impression that
Roseau was a city where merchants lived above their capital and below
their income. He was obviously referring to the custom of residential
flats over shops and offices which may be regarded as somewhat unique.
Implicit in this arrangement, however, is the absence of gloom and
solitude, or that sense of loneliness and desertion which creep over so
many other West Indian towns when business is over for the day.
Roseau maintains by night and day a charm and serenity all its own.
In the evening the day's politics are discussed with much argument,
but without rancour, by a group of intellectuals on the Jettv, some
smoking cigars a product of the Roseau Tobacco Factory of rather
more than Caribbean reputation.
The population of Roseau which was a little under 4,000 out of a
total of 22,500 according to the census of 1844, has grown to 12,000 out
of an estimated total of 55,000 of which over ninety per cent are Catho- *
lics. Roseau is particularly proud at this time that Rev. J. O. Bowers,
S.V.D.,, who thas .been nominated Auxiliary Bishop of Accra, Gold
Coast, is the first coloured person in the Western Hemisphere to be a
Bishop of the Catholic Church.
Unlike Portsmouth, the second town, Roseau does not possess a
natural harbour, but none the less seems destined to remain the chief "
market and export town for island produce for many years to come,
especially fcr citrus, bananas and cocoa, as well. as the canned fruit
pulp and juices of the modern factory situated at Goodwill.
There has been within recent years a stirring of dry bones in the
island, and, shortly, there will begin an impressive programme of
developmental works in and about Roseau on a scale unprecedented in
living memory of this capital town. Included in the plans are such
major projects as the Goodwill town-planning extension scheme; new
Colony hospital, farm prison, central livestock farm at Goodwill; new
Roseau jetty, Police and Fire Station.
These schemes represent largely the efforts of the Central Govern-
ment but the Roseau Town Council are expected to co-operate in the
execution of those projects. The Council have been keenly interested
for several years in reclaiming land between the Roseau River and Bath
Estate, which it is estimated will add about two acres to the size of
Windsor Park and afford a race track of reasonable size. The Council
have made, and do make, valuable contributions to the promotion of
sport, especially cricket and football which are a Sunday feature.
The Council consists of eight members five elected and three
nominated the Chairman having the title of Mayor of Roseau.
A new Church is also being built by the Roman Catholic Authori-
ties at Charlotteville. In a few weeks it is expected that the Colonial
Development Corporation's hydro-electric plant will open up yet another
vista of progress and happiness, which will not only benefit the present
inhabitants but generations yet unborn.
Meanwhile the social climate is steadily improving; various pro-
gressive movements are striking significant roo!, adult education,
co-operative credit unions, Co-operative Bank, voluntary social welfare,
trades union, Building and Loan Association.
It will be difficult to predict at the present time the for-
tunes of the Roseau of tomorrow; they should be vastly better than
those of today. One thing is certain: an inescapable part of the picture
of the future will be the abiding scenic beauty whijh remains as nature's
gift for the inspiration of residents and visitors alike.
St. Georges, Grenada
by David I. Mitchell
iome years ago, this city had a quaint unique air with its old stone
buildings built in the old French colonial style, wth its narrow streets
winding up and down the steep old hillsides on which the town is built.
The passing years and the change which the War has brought, has helped
it to lose a little of that colour. Along the waterfront and in the com-
mercial, centre modern architecture is presenting a strange contrast to the
nostalgic air of those old buildings. The houses all seem to rise from the
backyard of their neighbours, perched lower down the hillside, and pro-
vide many a pleasant view for the armchair occupants who sit and gaze
S out of the windows. This is a great boon to old folk who can no longer
trudge up and down the steep roads.
The city is centered on a promotory which faces south and which
forms the western end of a beautiful land-locked harbour. This harbour
is in the shape of three horse-shoes linked together at their mouths and is
surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills. The harbour is scarred by a
long ,ine which represents an effort to provide modern docking facilities
in the shape of a long greenheart pier. In the distance it looks as if
four railway marriages had been struck on piles and connected by a
deck of planking. In the pre-war days, before this pier was built, pas-
segers ships used to anchor outside in the great half-moon bay and
visitors would descend the ship's gangway and embark on the agents'
motor launch or any of the innumerable rowing boats. These were
about 30 feet long and were manned by two oarsmen and a boy; and
many a traveller has had a hair-raising five seconds stepping from the
rather slippery gangway on a large ship over a tossing waste of water
into the bobbing row-boats. Now most of the ships steam slowly into the
harbour and can dock alongside the pier; disembarking is a comparative-
ly simple and unexciting process.
Many visitors catch a glimps of the town from the surrounding hills.
SFor the airport is situated 23 miles away on the other side of this moun-
tainous island, and the taxis take an hour in bringing these travellers
into the capital over the protecting circle of hills.
Their town has many ancient landmarks reminiscent of the days
when French and British struggled for the supremacy of the Caribbean.
The island was reputedly colonized about 1653 by the French who
bought it from the Caribs in exchange for axes, guns and the inevitable
cask of rum. When no more of the latter article was forthcoming, the
Caribs rose in revolt anl the French began a systematic extermination
of the race. The remnants fled to the north of the island and entrenched
7 themselves behind a hilly precipice. One of the women of the tribe is
reputed to have betrayed the entrance to two French solders who were
her lovers, and when the tribe was surprised they all preferred to jump
over the 150 feet cliffs to their deaths rather than surrender. So. they
have given the name to one of the towns of this island-Les Sauteurs.
On the promotory overlooking St. George's harbour the French built
their first fort. This is now the site of the Police Station and has the
Colony hospital in lovely and rocky coastal scenery on the one side and
a small public park and band-stand on the other. In the cool of the
evening this is a most delightful place to visit. After climbing through
the steep trees, visitors sit on the benches while the breeze rushes down
the hillsides and across the harbour to where they sit; and sailing boats
with their white sails dot the waters below. On occasions the Govern-
ment Band renders enjoyable music. Other sites around the harbour are
also crowned with the ruins of old forts. Strangely enough, some of the
underprivileged citizens enjoy the best scenery, for in the shadow of
these old forts, perched on the hillside just below them, we have the Burial
Ground, Mental Asylum and the Prison!
The harbour is of volcanic origin and records show that as late as
1863, there was a submarine disturbance whii'h caused a miniature tidal
wave with consequent loss of life. When this was over, it was dis-
covered that a former "deep hole" in the harbour was now a mass o.
reefs. At certain seasons one of the three "horse-sholes", called the
Belmont Lagoon, is reputed to bubble with some gaseous discharge and
to boil. Indeed, the first settlement of the French Port Louis was
built on a spit of land which .once ran aross the entrance to this Lagoon
and due to the periodic disturbances, the settlement was later trans-
ferred to the other side of the harbour. This spit disappeared below
the waves in a later disturbance.
The town presents a deserted look in the evenings such as it com-
mon to most of the Caribbean cities, but people still live in the old-
fashioned flats above the stores and business places, and what life is stir-
ring there is one of social and cultural activity. But people are moving
out into the suburbs, up on the slopes beyond the crests of the surround-
ing hills. This means transport must be provided and the increasing
flow of motor cars has presented a traffic problem. Anyone who can
drive a car up and down the winding roads and steep hillsides of this
town should be able to pass a driving test in any part of the world. It
is a test of nerves and skill to be able to stop just before cresting a hill,
wait for the major road traffic on the crest to clear, and then to proceed
without rolling back or stalling.
There are many exits from the town and over the surrounding hills
into the country beyond, and the net-work of roads that comb the island
bring the agricultural produce, -or which Grenada is noted, to the
wharves and warehouses of the waterfront to await shipment to Europe,
America and Canada. Trucks are mostly used in the transport of Sugar,
cocoa, nutmegs, mace, citrus products and bananas. There is another
commodity which reaches St. Georges not by road, but by sea. This
is the Sea Island Cotton which is grown in the neighboring dependency,
the small island of Carriacou. The cotton is picked and ginned and
packed into bales which are stored in the holds of small sloops that
Srun down the coast at night and arrive in St. George's harbour in the
early morning. These bales are stored in the warehouse to await the
arrival of steamers, and the sloops return to Carriacou with cargoes of
_ imported foodstuffs, dry goods, and hardware. So, old and new, sail
and steam, meet together in St. Georges.
Grenada has always been noted for an intellectual landed middle-
Sclass, unlike some of its neighbours. Charles Kingsley mentions this
fact in his Memoirs where he found that gentlemen of colour were the
cultured possessors of the sugar estates that flourished during his visit.
This was in strong contrast to the absentee European ownership found
in Barbados and Trinidad and some of the other colonies. So the colour
bar never presented its serious problem to Grenadian society in the way
experienced in other places. But in common with the rest of the
Caribbean, there has been a neglect of the basic peasant population and
the theory arose that these could never amount to much in spite of
whatever chance they were given. This has led to resentment on their
part, and the apparent explosiveness of the political and labour scene
centering around the person of Eric Gairy is the result of that attitude.
St. Georges is not noted for any great events. It was visited by
the young Princes, grandsons of Queen Victoria, during their West
Indian tour of 1887 and the story is told of an elderly spinster who
loved to relate how at the Government House Ball Prince George (our
late King George V) was bouncing around the room with the Governor's
daughter and bounced into this lady and her escort several times. He
seemed to enjoy her discomfiture-16-year-old schoolboy as he was. At
last she turned around in exasperation, and shaking her finger at him,
said, "Young man, you had better behave yourself".
The town was visited by the Prince of Wales in 1921 and a few days
later by a hurricane. But the island is singularly free from the ravages
of hurricane. For heavy weather only presages the start of one of
these "blows" in the neighboring latitudes, starting on the long,
curving, death-dealing trip to the islands in the north.
Not far away is the lovely two-mile stretch of incomparable white
sand, called Grand Anse Beach-a heavenly picnic spot for jaded spirits
Without the usual glare of the modern tourist resort.
St. Georges is well worth a visit and the visitor will soon make
friends with the inhabitants who are always eager to extend hospitality.
In this way visitors recapture the ancient nostalgia of bygone colonial
days and taste the breezy cheerful welcome of the present age.
We can say that St. Georges is on the back water of the modern
world and avoids much of the artificial rush of Western Civilization
while at the sawrne time it incorporates some of the more acceptable and
useful features of our age.
After all, this is as it should be for the Latin Motto on the Grenada
c oat of arms, when translated, reads "Brighter out of darkness".
Neither in the glare of modern artifi-iality nor in the darkness of
primitive culture, it offers a restful holiday to any visitor.
St. John's, Antigua
by F. H. S. Warneford
St. Johns, Antigua, is situated on gently sloping ground at the head
of a large picturesque, land-locked harbour, which unfortunately is too
shallow to admit any but small vessels. The town 'which is laid out
in rectangular blocks with wide streets running frcm the sea to the
Victoria Park is dominated by the Anglican Cathedral, a large cruciform
building with twin towers at its western end, whose appearance is
rendered more imposing through the fact that it stands on a small hill.
Most of the buildings in St. Johns are wooden, the aftermath of a
great earthquake in 1843 which destroyed most of the stone buildings
in the island, but recently a number of important buildings have been
constructed of re-inforced concrete.
The cathedral is the largest and most interesting building in the
town. It is probably unique in ecclesiastical architecture since it is a
wooden building enclosed in a stone one. The Diocese of Antigua was
created by Letters Patent dated August 21st 1842 but before the
enthronement of the first bishop took place the cathedral church was
destroyed by the earthquake of 1843 and when the new cathedral was
built (1845-48) this method of construction was adopted in an attempt
to secure the building from ruin both by earthquake and hurricane.
The church provides seating accommodation for over 2,000 people:
it is a fine building and worthy of being the cathedral church of the
diocese. There are many fine trees in the surrounding churchyard and
there is a beautiful view from the upper windows over the town and
the far off hills to the south and the harbour to the west.
Another interesting building is the Courthouse, a massive two storied
building built in 1747. The Council Chamber, a spacious room with the
portraits of former governors and paintings of some of the Kings and
Queens of England, is situated on the upper floor.
The Police Office in the middle of the town, and the Prison at the
eastern end of the town are both old military barracks, but the former
has been added to in recent years.
Antigua is the seat of government of the Leeward Islands and the
Governor's residence is in St. Johns. It is a somewhat rambling wooden
structure in indifferent state of repair set in small but pleasant grounds.
There are two banks in St. Johns. Barclays Bank (D.C.&O.) and
the Royal Bank of Canada. Market Street is the main shopping centre
but some of the largest wholesale and retail businesses are on Thames
St. and near the landing stage.
There are two hotels; the Kensington in the city and Happy Acre
on the Fort Road on the Northern outskirts.
The Victoria Park which contains playing fields and the former
Botanic Station is not unattractive and could be made much more so
if sufficient money was available for its upkeep. There is a King George
V Memorial Park on the southern outskirts of the city.
The Holberton Hospital situated on a hill southeast of the town has
for years ben inadequate for the needs of the island but the buildings
are now receiving long needed extensions and renovations.
There are seve-al schools in St. Johns which provide secondary
education. The largest are the Antigua Grammar School and the Anti-
gua Girls High School.
The Airport, Coolidge Field, in the deactivated U.S. Anmy Base is
about three miles from St. Johns and is served by both Pan American
and British West Indian Airways.
St. Johns was founded over 260 years ago and became a city in 1843.
The growth of the city was however very slow until quite recently, but
it is now rapidly expanding and is becoming linked with the nearer
villages. Ribbon development is unfortunately very obvious. About 20
years ago a high class residential suburb started to grow on the north
east side of the town and would no doubt have become quite a large
development had not a more attractive area been opened up on the
northern seashore about five miles from the city.
St. Johns is situated on the Leeward coast of Antigua and con-
sequently it is not as cool as other parts of the island. Most other West
Indian towns suffer from the same disadvantage and it can hold its own
with them as regards climate, cleanliness, sanitation and health. The
population of St. Johns is about 12,000 not including the adjacent villages
ci' Greys Hill, Greys Farm and Green Bay. The bulk of the population
is black o: coloured. There are no Chinese or Indians. The white
population is mainly of British descent. Antigua has been British ever
since its colonisation, with the exception of a period of seven months
(1766-67) whea the French occupied the island and there are no French
or Spanish elements in the population. There are, however, a few people
of Portuguese descent and a number of Syrians.
St. Johns is quite a busy little town during the day. It is the sole
port in Antigua and the island's shopping centre. Sugar from the
Antigua Sugar Fa:,tory is brought to the wharves by railway line, and
cotton is ginned in the city. The Antigua Distillery is situated on Rat
Island which is connected by a causeway with St. Johns. Locally pro-
duced food-stuffs, fish, fruit chan.oal and pottery are sold either in the
Public Market near the landing stage or in a rapidly growing market
S along the main road leading south.
St. Johns is quiet after business hours except near the stations from.
which motor buses leave, for the out districts or save when a Steel Band
with its attendant followers passes along the streets. There are no night
clubs, and little or no "night 1ife". There are several sport and social
clubs in the city and a golf club just outside. First class sea bathing is
found at Fort James one of the best of Antigua's many excellent
The two outstanding events of historic interest connected with St.
Johns both were centered in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral.
In 1805 Admiral Lord Hood was invested with the Insignia of the Order
of The Bath in the church which then stood on that site, while in 1710
Colonel Daniel Parke, Governor from 1706-1710, who appears to have
been one of the worst governors who ever ruled over the destinies of a
S British Colony, was killed by an infuriated mob of colonists in a house
just across the road. Despite this violent incident the history of St.
Jchns has been a peaceful one, and very many years have elapsed since
there has been any serious trouble.
by CELESTE DOLPHIN
Some months ago I travelled by sea from the West Indies on a long
vacation and the ship made a slow trek to Liverpool by way of some
ports in the Southern States of Acmerica. At the Editor's invitation I
am writing this Postscript to the series of short articles on cities of
the British Caribbean to show some cities of the Old World and the New
World outside the Caribbean as seen by these West Indian eyes. Of the
places I visited, I have chosen five cities, two in the United States of
America, New Orleans and New York together with London, Edinburgh
I was in no one city long enough to know the character of the
place and the people in the way in which a native would know them,
but when I left each city I took away with me a sharp emotional
New Orleans in March 1952 and indeed at any other time was a city
of fine fretwork balconies and racial tensions. As it was Spring the
grass was very green and the houses in the wide streets had a grace
to them. There were clubs at night 'with negro-music pulsing through
the doors, and buses in day-time with the sign "Colored" that is moved
row by row to the back of the bus as white people filled up the front.
In the buses where only the poorer coloured people travelled (as the
well-to-do ones used their own cars) the sitters at the back seemed to
look on the floor all the time as if they didn't want any trouble. Even
the public conveniences had the sign "White Women only" and if one
walked down the streets with an English girl, people looked back to
see what was happening.
There was an indefinably French atmosphere about the place, a
quality that one later experienced more fully in Paris. It had some-
thing to do with the fretwork balconies outside and the spiral staircases
inside the houses and there 'was one quarter with shops and houses
where French people lived and French was spoken.
It is true that the coloured American sailor scraping the side of the
ship next to ours both ships were anchored at the Celeste Wharf -
worked for money beyond the dreams of a West Indian artisan. One
was told of beautiful hcimres where successful coloured Americans made
a life of their own, away from the frustrations of prejudice and
One can hardly pass through New Orleans without becoming
conscious of the meaning of "colour".
We were in New York for Easter 1952. The public flower show
was magnificent. The city with its impossibly tall buildings and neon
lights the colour of twinkling rainbows breathed opportunity. One
had visited New York before but there was still the same feeling of
exhilaration, the same impression, even if it might be a false one, that
here was opportunity for peoples of all sorts to progress and make the
1a.t f +homcphlr in thp chanWIr nf' thecp r n1nsal1 hnildines. There
A was the same surprise at the rapid rate at which people hurried down
Fo:ty-Second street. Maybe people weren't as successful as they seemed
to be, but they carried their leather briefcases under their arms with
a bravado as if to say "Nobody can stop me".
New York had a tonic effect which age did not affect. In fact one
was either under 21 or 21 plus as in the census classification.
The children of course were different from the children of the West
Indies. Surer of themselves by West Indian standards, brazen and even
precocious, if one lost one's way, any of the children around could
help with the necessary information, adding a cheeky remark at the end.
Then there were the Numbers. It is supposed to be against the
law but many people "played" the Numbers machines hoping against
hope and mathematics that fortune would be on their side that day.
If one were lucky, one could put in a coin and break the bank.
But it was true that one could perform the most menial task in
S New York with dignity. All that mattered was the inmoney one got for
the job. The window cleaner received a dollar per window plus a tip
but he could step into his own limousine at the end of his assignment
and go down town to a concert and hear any of the world famous
London meant tradition and history books come alive because what-
ever else London may be it is the capital of the British Commonwealth.
It is the town of the Jingle
London Bridge is broken down, broken down, broken down
"London Bridge is broken down my fair lady".
For most of us born in a British territory, "London Bridge" is
about the first game we play as soon as we are old enough to go to
school, and as we sing through the verses, until London Bridge is built
Right up, so, quite unconsciously, we begin to form impressions
For me, London is full of the memories of Trafalgar Square and
the lions and pigeons as old friends; of the Tower of London with its
treasures of history, the Beefeaters and soldiers resplendent in their
) uniforms, the room with the magnificent Crown Jewels, unbelievably
beautiful; and the Old Curiosity Shop; of Westminster Abbey where I
walked among Kings and the great men of History as an organist played
for an hour and a half. (As I looked at the Coronation chair and the
stone that lay beneath, I wondered how much the music influenced my
appreciation). Here was History come alive.
The people of London, what do they do? They judge distance by
telling you it's about a three-penny or a four-penny ride. They
queue patiently for hours to get the weekly meat ration or standing
tickets for a Toscanini concert; they jostle and push into the under-
ground trains to get home after work. These people, who ask you,
immediately on entering their homes, to have a cup of tea, these same
S people who argue heatedly in Hyde Park during the question time of
the Box orator, these are the people whose spirit makes England great,
and in spite of wars, it is their spirit that builds back London Bridge
so that we can sing "London Bridge is built back up, my fair lady".
After London, Edinburgh was a city in a fairy tale. You take a
walk and then suddenly, you ccime upon a mountain with a castle on
the top and the castle has real embrasures in the walls as for ancient
warfare. The castle dominates the city; wherever I walked maybe
I was walking round in circles I. could look up and see King
I was in Edinburgh at the time of the Festival and I experienced
fully the charm of the people of Edinburgh who cannot do enough fo:
strangers, and strive to have everything pairrfect. I remember: standing
one evening in Ann Street in Edinburgh gazing at the Georgian houses,
each with a lovely garden (later I was told that the famous Raeburn
lived in that street) when a lady came up, possibly attracted by my
absorbed gaze and asked if I had lost my way and what nuimrber was
I looking for. When she understood that I was not lost, she invited
me to walk with her down the braes and charmed me with her rich
rolling voice and her stories concerning Castle Edinburgh.
Whenever I think of Edinburgh, I think of the music of Prince
Igor and the friendliness of the Scottish people.
Nothing had quite prepared me for Pa:is.
I had heard of course that Paris was the intellectual capital of the
world but that for me meant James Joyce and Picasso lived there and
that Paris was for the French West Indies what London was for the
British West Indies. But to nse Paris was to mean living at the Coll6ge
Franco-Britannique and having community meals at the Maison Inter-
nationale with Poles, Greeks, Egyptians and Americans at the Cite
University and with the others, engaged upon the common pursuit of
trying to learn to speak French. The surroundings in which we followed
this common pursuit were ideal. It was autumn and the buildings at
the Cite were covered with large ivy-shaped purply-red leaves. The
,walks behind the buildings were lined on either side with trees that
had a stately beauty all their own.
As a member of the Alliance Francaise, I knew about the Alliance's
aims and objects the teaching of French language and literature and
the dissemination of French culture. My visit made real for me what
before had been mainly words. I could understand, for instance, why
the French could not allow their treasure-house of a capital city to be
bombed, because in Paris objects have not only utilitarian value but
they are beauty and art. I recognized the atmosphere I had sensed in
New Orleans in the fretwork embroideries of the balconies, but in a
more splendid setting. The cities of the New World by a coincidence
bore the word New before their names, but here in Paris, the Old
World was supreme. Colour was no bitterness here, but only another
of the diversities that were harmonised. History had her own place and
classic beauty and warmth of fellowship were ever present.
I think Paris must be one of the loveliest cities in the world and
I hope that in the centuries to cdme that there will be in the Caribbean
a city with the elegance that is Paris.
A. J. SEYMOUR
Easter and the Time of the
Let me speak with the hurrying tongues of the rivers
Trapping the crystal light
To challenge the ocean with their coffee wound.
From sunken land the speechless kokers stare
Hollow with the teeth of the guillotine
Awaiting the influct tides to stain her womb.
But there are angels in the sky
In the great void of holiness
Blessing the green rice sanctuaries
Ringing inaudible caves of blue and golden bells
Above the hurrying waters.
Poem of Courtship
Lover, you there,
photographing that girl's drowned eyes like a hypnotist
I charge you
christen the unuttered islands of her desires
to strategic saints
in the lake of your influence
chart the lascivious glossy palms
in her caribbean waters
on your second voyage
you may carry a compulsion,
this transatlantic of your season
will saviour ancient bitternesses
But know this, lover
the gales and their mother
the insane hurricane
will bully and greyhair your heart
in the sargosso
despair and death will clasp
the keels of your passionate quest
the battered legend of your name.
Time spirals upright this unflowing river
This waterrise through the earth safely miracled
This phallus from the deeps unbound and liquid,
Reversal of the dying in the desert
No sea, no river but water tamed and rooted.
Drums are struck wells see how the sound drops fathoming
Deeper than touch, than sense dark in the rhythms
Where consciousness turns in the layers of darkness
Drowned past the memory frozen and dantean
Through the human into animalean layers.
Mirrors are secret wells huge coins of light where y
The spirit plumbing opens the dark portals
As lovers find themselves in their beloveds
Or artist vision, or the mystic, God,
(O grace of dark flame in the iron silence)
Identity all worn and frontiers gone
Below where image quickens to its power
A screaming hawk: pain dives to rake
The virgin doves of our calm sense
She ironbeaks the hooded eyes
And ploughs the warm promethean breast
To a flurry of blood and feather and bone.
Bury the hawk in the holy hill
Where shapely springs of Easter rise.
Through her glistening grief of hair
(thrice had her womb fruit quivered itself
into a still sculpture of sacrifice)
a woman screamed the curse
that struck their multitudinous bellies,
"no more, no more,
these pulped entrails around the knife
cherries in the sunlight,
these smallbones made
after my lust had drunk
deep in tne night,
no more, no more,
has stained the people's sap
and rusted every lover's child.
living is holy
birthing set apart
no more, no more
this murderous slow blood
snaking on the stone
shrieks to the sky"
in a horror of silence
she drew the altar knife
across her entrails
a gaping sacrifice
"these massive works in stone
shall split before the forest roots
and the trees
topple this altar
your skill shall shrivel in your brains
time shall forget you
you shall be
a nameless people
I curse you all, I curse -"
when they bore her away
they knew the curse was true.
To a Calypso Singer
A thousand running radios blare your words
And the people sway smoothly to the rhythmred chords
Pulsing forth in the Colonies
Scattered among these sun-drenched seas
Morality to misery
You celebrate for the world to see
There you stand swaying in your uniform
A baggy Zoot Suit to keep song warm
Harlem hat, all careless roughed
And your hair peaked up to a bearded tuft
Your voice is hoarse with shouting
But it claims the ear
In a Trinidadian mouthing
For the world to hear
Morality to misery
You celebrate for the world to see
You're calling on Norah and her womankind
Telling them all your Calypso-mind
Dark flowers of sex grow slim and strong
For the laughing lurching people who surround your song.
You flower frcim generations of Carnival
"Some o' them a holler and some a' bawl"
Lurching stamping through Port-of-Spain.
Flinging music in the streets like rain.
Morality tc misery
You celebrate for the world to see
Leaders of a music aristocracy
Dukes and lords and baronets you claim to be
Obsessed with what a wily woman .will do
You don't remember that the children have fathers too.
When will you grow, when will you grow
Soar up your singing into Caruso
While you stand singing your merry mood
You're singing us all into nationhood.
Morality to misery
You sacrifice for the world to see
Obsessed with what a wily woman will do
Remember that the children need fathers too
A thousand running radios blare your words
And the people sway smoothly to the rhythmed chords.
For the New Constitution
To those who lean an ear history hangs echoes
From the old bells that clashed and clanged and pealed
A mi llon slaves free in the Caribbean
Transfixed no longer to the farm and field.
In this land now the people gain the freehold
And ultimately own the earth, the air, the sun,
Invisible bells are now alive with clashings
The time of freedom-with-power has begun.
Age with its infinite brushes
Traces a gauge of rivers
On old beloved faces
And moulds a map of furrows
Where morrows add tender touches
Both races and sexes confounding.
Faint sorrow is always wounding
To lines the beauty of woman
And love will deepen to duty
The sleeping care of the lover.
Time in spite of his raging
Will cover beloved and aged
And nameless wrinkles all singly;
No shame to old age attaches.
Love and old age are anonymous.
Old people no race possesses
In the wrinkled map of their faces.
Uniquely stirs the beloved
But music as starry is hidden
In quiet unrippling thighs
And these dimples old age belies.
With a Great Swirling
With a great swirling of the Gulf Stream
(The waters drained the thorns upon His hair)
Rose the vast form of Christ in the Atlantic
Until the Saviour stood waist high and clear,
And touched one hand on the American continent,
The other on a wasted Europe lay,
And looking through the blue of highest heaven
Jesus began to ease His heart and pray.
Throughout the world men heard the mournful thunder A
Some looking saw the TT-2mense Love-Crucified,
But that past symbol had lost its ancient power
The world forget3 the Pascal Lamb has died.
Over the vast abyss brooding unerringly
Taking the tissue of the soul to fashion
Monuments of art, temples of music, statues
Where spirit breaks through the tracted material,
Poems, that vertebra of glory to the world,
Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Sophocles, Beethoven, -
Inte:est-free, borrowing power from eternity.
But they too
Shaped from divinity, deep in His being,
Dynamos stamped with His original trade cnark
Set in colonial fields by citizens in heaven
Pouring out plastic rhythms, brilliant light, power.
And He the secret of all.
The Prospect of West Indian
by J. E. CLARE McFARLANE
My dear Seymour,
Your invitation to me to send you an article on
"Literature and Society in the West Indies" encroaches to some extent,
cn my plan to deliver an address to the Poetry League, similar in design
and intention, but on a somewhat broader basis, on the occasion of my
demitting office as President in September next. I am reluctant to anti-
^ cipate what I shall have to say then. I should, however, be glad, if you
desire it, to let you have the address for publication when the time comes.
In the meanwhile would you permit me through the medium of a some-
what rambling letter tc express a few thoughts on the prospect of West
Indian poetry as it appears from my standpoint?
The significance and urgency of sociological developments in the
West Indies, and the spiritual and intel'lctual ferment which has accom-
7panied them, was sensed by me nearly twenty years ago and expressed
in my book, "Jamaica Crisis", partly in these words:-
"The circumstances are unique. Never before, perhaps, in
the history of the world have new lands been settled by
simultaneous trans-plantations from the foremost civilization
on the one hand and the most primitive peoples on the other.
It is not a case, as sometimes has happened in the past, o'
the new being grafted on to the old. It is a case of both old
Sand new being cut off from their antecedents and, with all
their contrasts and antipathies, left to find their way to some
common ground a common humanity on which a new
social order might be built. This is what is taking place in
the West Indies............ I have no doubt whatever that
something of great import to Mankind will ultimately be
evolved out of the material here brought together."
It was inevitable that from such novel circumstances there should
proceed a creative urge which would seek to express the conflicts, the
contradictions, albeit the possibilities of a basic harmony, inherent
in a new society in the making. Much of the poetry of the last twenty
years has been perplexed and agonised in its effort to give vent to these
spiritual realities. It has travailed without quite knowing with what
it was burdened, or what it was likely to bring forth.
The fact is that recent West Indian poetry has not found its proper
venue; and this explains why, for the most part, it is expressed in jerky,
spasmodic half-utterances which may convey intellectual or spiritual
symbols to the initiated but are entirely outside the reach of the common
man and could never win his heart, even if he understood it. I am con-
vinced that the new Elizabethan Age (like the old) demands a poetic
drama for its proper expression; for much of what must be said about
our infant society may not be properly conveyed in poetry; that is to
say, poetry in its purer forms. Action, often crude action, has to be
expressed; raw emotions, dark passions and fierce resentments must find ,
their place in the portrayal of an unfolding society. Such is the con-
text in which the majority of present-day West Indian poets will find it
necessary to set their divine passion: the gold amidst much dross; the
eternal and imperishable amidst the topical and ephemeral. These lines <
of my son's, Basil's, for example, might be highly significant placed in
the context of an evolving human drama:
"Our price........ our.........true inheritance
possesses in its turn the earth and sky;
invests dull earth with wonder, aims its noose
at the remotest of the glittering worlds."
But by themselves they are merely vivid, arresting, like a flash of light-
ning past and gone.
Most modern West Indian poetry needs to struggle with, and master,
the problem *of form. So long as it remains in its present amorphous
state, it will fall short of being poetry, which is a creation (the poet
being its maker) capable of sustained and independent existence. How
will most poetry fare in another fifty years? Will it make any impression i<
on men then living? Will it, in fact, be alive and breathing? Will it be
significant in the experience of those who will read it then, or regarded
merely as a curiosity out of the museum of a dead past, mummified and
Let us face these facts squarely. It is not ideas that our young poets
lack; not enthusiasm; but merely the patience and the industry to ham-
mer and chisel out those ideas, as the sculptor wins his dream from a
block of wood or stone. Let them get down to the task of expressing
their country's evolving life in dramatic form. The genius of West In-
dian peoples is essentially dramatic.
I am not, of course, suggesting that the West Indian poet may not
express himself in other forms of poetry (I should by this token be deny-
ing my own existence). The narrative (epic) and the lyric will always
retain their power to convey human thought and feeling in forms of per-
ment beauty. The narrative, especially, embraces the whole qualities of 4
all other forms and is capable of expressing the whole range of human
emotions. But mastery of this form requires much patience and a de-
tachment and serenity which, in the nature of things, are not to be
expected of the young people who are seeking to express creatively the
hazards and perplexities of the world in which they have come to birth.
Instinctively they reach out for a form which will satisfy their sense of
urgency; and that form must be dramatic if it is to be effective.
Another stumbling block in the path of high poetic achievement (and,
in a sense, more formidable than the lack of form) is the lack of faith.
This blight of unbelief is today almost universal; yet I cannot help feeling
that in the case of these islands the disease is very largely an affectation,
in much the same way as small boys will ape the tremulous voices of
aged men, mistaking as the badge of venerableness what is, in fact, a
sign of weakness. We are, as a people, ardent believers with a profound
faith in the future. If our poets persist in affecting the unbelief which
has overtaken Europe, they will be but dry limbs on the young tree of
West Indian society and will be discarded and forgotten as the tree
pushes forward in its development. What Goethe said is even more
true today than at the time he wrote it: "The one and only real and
profound theme of the world and of human history...... remains the con-
flict between belief, and unbelief. All epochs dominated by belief, in
whatever shape, have a radiance and bliss of their own, and bear fruit
for their people as well as for posterity. All epochs over which unbelief,
in whatever form, maintains its miserable victory are ignored by pos-
lerity, because nobody likes to drudge his life out over sterile things."
That is the position. As I told Edna Manley years ago, posterity
will not read poetry that is lacking in faith, and therefore lacking in
courage; for men need courage by which to live.
So after all, I have discussed in a measure Literature and Society in
the West Indies! Years ago I predicted that there would be a literary
renaissance at the turn of the century. Now I can see it taking shape;
and I believe the West Indies have much to contribute to this time of
spiritual refreshment. Let us then grapple with our problems in every
field. Hard thinking and travail of soul are as necessary to literary
excellence as to economic and political salvation.
THE LANGUAGE WE SPEAK III
Letter to Frank Collymore
By RICHARD ALLSOPP
Though we have never met I take the liberty of addressing you
thus as a bye-product of our common interest in the speech of our
respective countries. I enjoyed immensely reading through your glos-
vary of Barbadian dialect in the December 1952 issue of 'BIM' and,. as
several comparisons at once struck me, I thought it a good idea to
respond to the suggestion I read into the last two paragraphs of your
introduction and put forward the points of coincidence, as far as I have
noticed, between the shapes of your tongue and ours. Ours, of course
has more sides to it than yours as our history and ethnic constitution are
both more colourful I think. But yours is sharper and probably more
I offer no criticism, correction, nor of course addition to your
glossary as only a root-and-branch Barbadian may properly enter upon
these things. I simply wish to comment very briefly on all the words
in our Glossary A to D* (as has so far appeared) which to my know-
ledge appear also in B.G. dialect. I shall omit those words which, as
far as my knowledge goes, are not in current usage in B.G.
Before proceeding I think the following extract from the Foreword 4
of J. G. Cruickshank's "Notes on Negro Dialect in British Guiana" pub-
lished in 1916 fully explains the reason for the similarities in our
respective modes of expression:
"A hundred and seventy years ago (i.e. about 1746) at the instance
of Commandeur Storm Van's Gravesande, Demerara and Essequibo
were thrown open to settlers of whatever nationality. The Barbados
nation took prompt advantage of the open door. Many planters
removed themselves, lock stock and barrel, from Barbados and came
and struck root in the ample mudflats of Guiana. It was to the
advantage both of Barbados and Guiana that they did so. It miay
not have been to the ultimate advantage of the Dutch nation.
"Now, when these planters from Barbados chiefly came
down to Guiana they brought down with them the last man,. the
most recent pickny, of their Negro Slaves. And these brought
along with THEM it was all many of them had whatever they
had picked up of the King's English! The Barbados Black was the
missionary of King's English to the Guiana Black. He scattered the
seed some of it already quaintly affected by the new environment
and it fell on the Guiana mudflat. The harvest of that seed is the
English of. Sarah in the next yard, of Peta at the stand-pipe, of the
beggar with wrinkled black face and head like cotton. The De&nerara
Black did not get his English direct from the Englishman. He got
it at secondhand. He got it from the Barbados Black."
I may add firstly that at the time when this immigration took place
our B.G. ancestors were under Dutch masters and so I must emphasize
C:uickshank's point that the first real wave of "'English" came to them
frci- your Island; secondly that this immigration from Barbados has
never really ceased, only lessened, and today it is often said by many
resident Barbadians that there isn't a single "coloured" family of worth
which can deny some Barbadian footing which is not the same thing
as a Barbados leg, though this may also have its place in the genealo-
acid as per Glossary, but the expression "fire the acid", if it exists
here, is certainly not common currency.
again rather equates to the parenthetic than the temporal "now";
you say "I'm, not going to town again" mans "not now"
(temporal). In B.G. the word turns up in the expression -
"What's his name again?" i.e. now? parenthetic and almost
unnecessary). In the B.G. expression "again" does not mean
(*N.B.: Only A and B are herein published R.A.)
that the questioner has just heard it and wishes to have it
repeated, as it may in Standard English. It means the
questioner knows the name but has forgotten it and wishes
to be reminded. Your "again" is almost the same as the
ifn-mous Trinidadian "again", or am I wrong?
all about (IV) all two (but not "all two both") (V) all you
or you all in the Barbadian sense apply exactly in B.G.
(VI) at all in the sense of "whatever" as "But what it is at
all you saying?" is possible but rare in B.G. We rather take
the emphatic at all in S.E. "Who are you at all?" and
apply it also in "'Is me you talking to at all?" where the
sense is "really?" and is hardly satisfied by the S.E. "at all".
We have further (a) and all in the sense of "too" e.g.
"You and alll want a lickin' ". Also the reproachful "too"
e.g. "But dey might gie de child a chance. It ain he fault
he late! Dem an all dey too unreasonable." (b) all-in-
cone: rice cooked with peas, shrimps, salt beef, meat etc.,
and flavoured with coconut milk which is an essential
To our (V) above we may also add all you dis (=this)
which probably used to be emphatic once but is common-
AEambys, The Is of course not known in B.G. There must be some
interesting background to your expression "In the hands
of the Allambys". Every island and country must have
some equivalent expression covered by anecdote. Ours,
belonging to my parents' generation, is up (or in) Jackson
fowl roost. The origin of this is unknown to me too.
arzow as per Glossary.
*S.E. Standard English
apple as per Glossary, adding also in B.G. monkey-apple, abundant
along streams in the countryside. Whether each name
applies to the identical fruit in both places is, of course, a
matter for further investigation.
as as per Glossary.
., asked out invited out (but rare). I have never heard your pun used
rare in B.G. and when used strikes one as a spontaneous
invention engendered by a need for a violent though seini-
polite epithet of rebuke. For instance I have heard one
politician use it of another, the term being applicable, I fear,
to both of them.
at as per Glossary, entirely applicable in B.G. and no doubt through-
out the West Indies. This probability and the fact that the
influence of French chezz" is inadmissible in Barbados,
would indicate an African dialect origin. Our at is modified
often to a in country areas: "Me bin a Miss Pompey".
away as per Glossary. An interesting new adjectival use 'was brought
to my attention the other day when an Indian milkman,
confronted with the standard pint measure and shown that
his pint fell below the line, complained that "Da is away
pint!". He meant "foreign", "imported" and therefore of
a higher standard, as is to be expected in all imported
articles; hence the comparison was unfair if not uncalled
for..! How meaningful a usage!
aunt the circumlccutions "She got to call you aunt" etc. are still
current in B.G. among my parents' generation. But the
same folk do use the term in reference to an uncle, unlike
the Barbadian. Aunt does however reserve for itself some
peculiar significance which may find some explanation if we
knew something of the traditional West African family struc- 4
ture. I have heard a woanan protesting to a child "Me na
you lie-lie aunt! Me a you true-true aunt!! by which she -
seemed to imply that some special dignity belonged to her,
as against the numerous good friends, no doubt, of the
child's mother, whom the child is also taught to call aunt as
a form of respect. The term uncle has been, by way of
respect, used to me recently by a lorry driver who was
obviously many years my senior.
baby Your Barbadian usage (ii) "the baby of the eye" is also current
back-back as per Glossary. Another example of the same type, in
B.G. is "out-out" used only in reference to extinguishing,
backra In B.G. contempt is by no means the usual function of this
word. Rather is it a familiar, without being friendly, form of
reference to white people, as in th; proverb now fallen into
disuse: "Bakra man like dactah-bird-he fin' sweet flower
pon mo' an wan tree", referring to the promiscuity of the
backyard as per Glossary except that backyard cricket as a term is
not so frequent as bottomhouse cricket in B.G.
bad this word has a much higher frequency in B.G. than it appears
to have in Barbados, unless your note on it is not complete.
Bad bowels, bad sick occur here in the senses you have
stated. We would say bad feelings, not bad feels, and this
exclusively for an upset stomach. We say bad-lucked for
your bad-lucky. In addition, there are in B.G. the follow-
ing uses of Bad. (a) bad (adj.); to play bad=to b? aggres-
sive or rude. Used cf children, or moknkmgly of grown-ups.
(b) bad (adv.) to take in bad=to become seriously (and
suddenly) ill; to train a child bad (badly) (c) Bad (adv.)=
very well: to fight, run, play any game bad. The jocose
exclamation "You bad! You bad!" means "You're very
good" (at whatever you're doing). If there is such a thing
as colloquial creolese, I think this may fairly fall under
that heading. (d) Bad (adj.) as in "bad teeth" is applied to
nearly any part of the body as a basic substitute for such
words as "broken, sprained, dysenteric, deaf, inflamed, cut.
wrenched, enlarged, swollen, ulcerated, etc. Thus: bad arm,
ankle, belly, ear, eye, finger, foot, hand, kidney, knee, leg,
stomach, toe, wrist. The expression "My head is very bad"
refers to a bad memory, hence also: "a bad head for faces,
names." (e) bad-blood: (i) the clotted blood of a bloodshot
resulting from a blow. (ii) the flow of blood immediately
following a cut from something unclean: "Go wash it under
the pipe and get rid o' dat bad-blood."
(f) bad-eye (apart from the usage (d) above) supposed evil
power of the eye of an envious or malevolent person, -
now mostly jocose: "Don't put bad-eye pon eme anthurium
lily!" (g) bad-flesh: the unhealthy tissue or affected skin
immediately surrounding a festering sore, ulcer, etc. (h) bad-
minded: mostly "malicious" but also "dog-in-the-manger,
envious, covetous, malevolent" another basic word. (i)
bad-people: usually a family reputed to dabble or deal in
obeah (though this is not an exclusive usage). "Don't
trouble demr. deh yeah! Dem is bad people!" (1) bad-talk:
(1) noun: malicious or scandalous gossip: (ii) verb: to bad-
talk a person (or person's name) with another to damage
the person's name in the other's esteem by gossip or scanda-
lous news. (k) bad training: (with reference to children)
(i) no training at all (ii) encouragement to evil-doing: "Is
bad training mek yo see two o' dem in jail today". Some-
times also synonymous with bad ways. (1) bad-woman: a
prostitute. A girl starting in this career is said to have
"turned out bad" or "gone bad'.
bake as per Glossary.
Bajun is of course a well-established word here. The spelling how-
ever presents a problem. Badian seems the most reasonable
spelling, though the S.O.D. lists a species of plant under this
name (q.v.) Bajun is a more dangerous spelling as there is
a semi-primitive East African people of mixed origin, partly
Arab, who are thus designated (though the pronunciation
is probably different) and of whom the January 1953 issue
of the (British) Geographic Magazine says, in an article: "In
appearance they range from yellow to black in colour, from
kinky to straight-haired and from broad noses and thick lips
to aquiline features. They are devout muslims. Fishermen
and traders they inhabit the north-east corner and coastal
islands of Kenya."
baller: as per Glossary, except for the metaphor "out to the baller"
which, though excellent, I have never heard in B.G.
(banka, bunka) In B.G. one hears of a benga foot, and this means a
"deformed" foot. The linguistic development banka, banka,
benka, benga is quite possible though only the last form
Barbados (often pronounced Bubbaydus) Barbados leg as per
Barbados Pride in B.G. is a large plant (caesalpina) bearing
a red and yellow flower which is also called Doctor Doodle.
Barbados paper is, in B.G. the brightly coloured thick paper
used for kite-making.
bat Your usage (1) a small moth or fly is unknown in B.G. (II) bat
and ball: as per glossary.
bateau In old writings, published in the Daily Chronicle's Guiana
Edition the spelling batteau is frequent. A recent D.C.
editorial also carried this spelling which the S.O.D. by the
way, lists as erroneous. The spelling as per Glossary is
however usual. The B.G. bateau may be flat or round-
bottomed and admits of several designs. They are seen in
numbers on our waterways, mostly being used by farmers.
The redundant bateau-boat is sometimes heard.
bath, bathe as per Glossary.
bay rum as per Glossary.
beforetime as per Glossary.
behave as per Glossary.
being as per Glossary, including the note on by. The typical dropping
of the g in all-ing words has caused this ,word to become
bein' whence, nowadays, been, by which it is almost com-
pletely replaced: "Been I was sick I say bes' don' go to the
belly another word with a high frequency in B.G. though I know none
of the three uses you mention, to exist here. We say belly-
ache, not belly-hurt, though we do say "Me belly hurtin' ".
(By the way,. can it be that your bellY-conscience derive
their name from "belly-conscious"?) The word belly in B.G.
refers to any and all of the internal organs of the abdomen;
hence the high frequency of which the following are some
(a) belly bus': (-belly-burst)-- a swimmer's bad plunge
causing hia. to come down with a splash on his belly.
(b) belly swipe (i) a murderous slash, from the belly up-
wards, with a razor, reputed to be once the favourite
weapon if not method of murderous attack among B.G.
Barbadians; (ii) a similar upward sweeping motion of a reck-
less batsman in a game of cricket; also known as cow-swipe.
(c) belly-working, belly works: dysentery.
(d) girl-belly: a woman who bears only daughters is blamed
with having a girl-belly. The obvious analogy "boy-belly"
is almost unknown; perhaps because the connotation of blame
which attaches to the former, would not attach to the
(e) two-belly basha a type of scale fish.
() white beliy shrimps the small or "fine" shrimps, one
to two inches long, caught in large quantities when in
season. They are the young of the Penaens azatecus and
besides as per Glossary.
big as per Glossary, except for big-grain rice which does not apply
in B.G. We also have (a) big-big, big-up: falsely important,
applied to persons who forget their past or poor relations,
who are more important in their own esteem than in fact
they are. Often used in the expression "big-big with him-
self, herself" etc.
Bim as per Glossary, though the history of the word, in spite of Mr.
McClellan's writing, is not known here.
Bimlshire applies in B.G. both to Barbados and to its dialect.
biscuit (Barbados usage "the knee-cap" not known in B.G.) the now
rarely seen flat-topped Maurice Chevalier straw hat. Also
called the daddy-biscuit.
bite as per Glossary; "biting toes" are taken by scr.e people as an
indication of impending rain.
(bissick) does not occur in B.G. There is however the word bizick:
an ace, pro, someone showing an experienced ability in any
pursuit; but this usage differs from yours.
S bit the coin is still in circulation in B.G., so that your note should
read "In British Guiana the bit is (not was) eight cents".
bit, bitna hall (12 cents), tubbits (16 cents) are commonly
heard here, and some old country folk still count in bits
as far as ten-bits. Thus you can hear people asking three-
bits-and-a-gill (twenty-six cents) for ground provisions.
Four bits make a guilder, which, though there is no coin
of the denomination, is still said by some people instead
of 32 cents.
black does not appear in B.G. to have the high frequency it does in
Barbados. Of the compound mentioned in your Glossary
only blackeye .(singular not plural) peas, cccurs in B.G. But
there is also (a) black-pot soot. The word (b) black is
used as a pejorative noun meaning censurablee behaviour
attributed as a racial characteristic to Negroes". Now often
jocose and often said by Negroes of others: "Da is de black
black up as per Glossary.
blame as per Glossary.
blou' as per Glossary. Also a man's jacket.
body as per Glossary, except for body line (1) Also, of course, a re-
cognised type of bowling.
boiling-house as per Glossary, and now historical, in B.G. The word
hub means (i) the foam that crowns the bottle of mauby;
(ii) a drink prepared by mixing shave-ice, syrup or sugar,
nutmeg and milk, and whipped up with a swizzle stick. Its
popularity is now passed, it being replaced by the great
variety of bottled sweet drinks.
babshop is "colloquial" creolese for cake-shop.
boo Your usage does not occur in B.G., but we do call "mucus from
the eyes and nose" bao-boo. As for bugaboo, some hundreds
of old boys of Queen's College over the last forty-five years
have had the word added to their vocabulary with the mean-
ing "idiot", insufferable fool, dunce thanks to Mr. E. O.
Pilgrim, who is a Barbadian by birth. Whatever may be
the actual meaning of this word may well be lost in B.G. due
to this fact. You did not say what the Barbadian bugaboo
bosie as an independent term is rare in B.G., but there is the jocose
expression half-a-hand bosie for "a one-armed old man".
b.x-cart as per Glossary. Also called hand-cart.
boy Of the compounds mentioned, at least yard-bOy and boychild are
heard in B.G., the former being a disparaging reference to
the urchin in shirt-tail, who lives in a range-yard. Garden
boy would only mean a boy employed to keep a garden in
order, and would have no more semantic significance (does
it in Barbados?) than the hundreds of compounds of this
order being made and used every day.
bram as per Glossary, but hardly bram-house.
Spread as per Glossary, but not breadkind. Bread and cheese in B.G.
is the pod, or fruit, of a large ornamental tree. The pod is
long and twists itself into a spiral shape. When ripe it is
light yellow in colour, shot with rust red. It bears black
seeds surrounded with white starchy tissue and it is this seed
and tissue which gives the name to the tree, as the tissue is
loved by children. Is this the case in Barbados?
breakfast as per Glossary.
brew as per Glossary.
bruise as per Glossary, but the expression stone-bruise in your sense
does not occur here. The S.E. "bruise" we would call a
bucket a drop as per Glossary.
buck pot a three-legged pot, of various sizes, and without cover, used
mostly by Indians when preparing large feasts. Commonly
also called Nigger Pot, invoiced as Negro Pot. Amerindians
(Bucks) keep soak (pepper-pot gravy) in such a pot for
many days. This does not seem to be the saerrm variety of
pot as yours.
Building, The would refer, when used by estate labourers, to the
The Barbadian verb "The rain building" is not B.G. usage.
bull as per Glossary, but bull-roarer (?) is not known.
bull-cow as per Glossary.
bung-navel as per Glossary.
bupp is an all-purpose sound-word in B.G.
burn The usage in "That lump of ice burn me mouth" is heard, though
rarely, in B.G. But the rest o' .your usage is not known
Sbush-tea as per Glossary, and B.G. offers an impressive list of plants
for this purpose too.
butt (verb) (1) butt up B.G. usage would require butt up with rather
than "but up ,c" which the Barbadian sentence has; (II)
"butt out on the main road" would be an individual rather
than a general turn of phrase; (III) "butt (a) bout in the
dark" applies exactly in B.G. Many accredited leaders of
public opinion do this too.
by (=-because) as per Glossary. The par in French parce que excites
an interesting comment.
Music of the Oil Drums
by LYNETTE DOLPHIN
In the past twenty years the steel band has travelled a long way
from being labelled "an insult to the morals of our generation" by a writer
to the Trinidad Guardian, to being described by the reviewer of the
Birmingham School of Music as "the most important musical develop-
rrnt of the century".
I made my first close acquaintance with the steel band some years
ago when I was in Port-of-Spain and was invited to a backyard in
Tragarete Road to hear Mr. Elliot Manette's band, the Invaders, beating
it out on their pans. The instruments were metal drums whose faces
had been tempered into wedge-shaped sections of varying sizes pro-
ducing the full diatonic scale when beaten with rubber-tipped sticks.
The Ping-pong was highest in pitcn and carried the melody,, alto ping
pongs and tenor kittles (Kettles) somewhat larger in size were lower in
pitch and carried fewer notes, while the tune-booms and brass-booms
were full-sized upright iron drums which supplied the harmonic basis
and the rhythm. With the help of the chac-chac or maracas which is
an accessory to every band, the band played in sections and all entries
were guided by the leader with a sign or a nod of the head, while he
extemporised endless variations of the melody on his ping pong.
Mr. ManeTte, known to his band and indeed to all Trinidad as Elly,
was kind enough to allow me to try the different drums and he ex-
plained the arrangement of the notes. I discovered that the succes-
sive degrees of the scale are not placed adjacent to each on the drums,
the reason for this being that most of the steel-band melodies contain
scale-wise passages and the existing arrangement of the notes prevents
the simultaneous vibration of adjacent segments. When the effect of
a rest is required, the players damp the drums with the palm of the
hand in much the same way as do players of the harp.
The appearance of the instruments varies according to the prestige
o' the band. Some retain the appearance of discarded metal drums,
while others adopt a distinctive colour scheme. If I remember rightly,
the drums of Mr. Manette's band were all painted in red and silver and
each carried a crest of leaves under which the word INVADERS was
clearly painted in black.
The early history of the steel band is very interesting. A riot which
took place in Trinidad in 1881 was supposed to have started with the
Carnival drum and torch band, and after that the drurns3 were banned
by law. The players switched to playing on varying lengths of bamboo
and created the "bamboo-tamboo" bands but when rival bands clashed
and did battle with their instruments, those too were banned by law.
The poor and unemployed people, however, had found an outlet for
their feelings in the incessant rhythmical beating of drums and nothing
Could stop them. When the police raided the backyards on the eve of
Carnival in 1934 and confiscated all the drums, the players merely
helped themselves to all the dust-bin lids within sight and carried on
Soon the Steel Band Association was formed, and several youth
"* organizations helped to encourage the bands. The bands themselves
carried exotic names the Rising Sun, the Cross-fire. Hell's Gate, the
SFree French, th- Fascinators, while the players themselves bore names
such as Sweet Jackie, Red Man, Spree, Sabu, Muff Man and Long Shark.
The steel drums have gradually improved in quality and in range
and now carry two chromatic octaves. Lieutenant Griffith, now police
Sbandmaster of St. Lucia encouraged players to read from music by
numbering the notes of the music and correspondingly numbering the
"r segments of the pans. Each band has a pan-tuner who keeps the
instruments in tune; any segment that goes flat or sharp is expertly
tapped with a hammer or a mallet until it is restored to the correct pitch.
A wide variety of music is performed by the steel bands. Besides
a full repertoire of calypsoes and all the current jazz and Latin Amerisan
music, certain European songs, Brahms' Lullaby. Ave Maria and Bless
This House are favourites with steel band audiences, and the ring of
steel has added an extra beauty to the 'well-loved carols of the Christmas
Trinidad is the home of the steel band but steel bands have taken
root and flourished in many West Indian islands as well as in British
Guiana. Bands from Trinidad have visited other territories in the
Caribbean and inspired the formation of new groups if players. Many
Schools and colleges in Trinidad have their own bands and there was a
proposal some time ago to start a steel band at the University College
-of the West Indies in Jamaica. In 1952 for the first time a Steel Band
Class was introduced in the syllabus of the Trinidad Musical Festival
and shortly before that, Elliot Manette, the leader of th? Invaders, was
offered a scholarship to the Birmingham School of Music.
Steel bands have gained much prestige and popularity within recent
years. They are popular at private parties as well as at night clubs,
and they have been invited on different occasions to perform at Govern-
ment House in Trinidad and in British Guiana. Perhaps the greatest
indication of the recognition which the steel band has gained however,
was the appearance of TASPO, the Trinidad All Steel Percussion
Orchestra, eleven of the best steel band players in Trinidad. conducted
by the Lieutenant Griffith at the South Bank Exhibition of the Festival
'of Britain, two years ago. The people of Trinidad showed their
enthusiasm and goodwill by raising the large sum of money required to
send TASPO to London as their own special contribution to the Festival
of Britain. Londoners gazed in amazement when the steel drums were
unloaded from the special bus which conveyed the band to the Festival
Site, but long before the end of the programme they 'were captivated by
the compelling rhythm of the vibrant music which the players produced.
The more perceptive among the audience recognized that here was a
completely new medium introduced into the field of music, with untold
scope for development.
In referring to the steel band as an orchestra, it is perhaps unfair
to create the impression of a comparison with the symphony orchestra
with its sections of strings, woodwind brass and percussion, capable of
producing such sharp contrasts and rich variety of tone. Since all the
instruments of the steel band are metallic, such variety as is produced
must necessarily be confined to differences of pitch, volume and
Once every year choirs and groups of instrumentalists and dance s
from all parts of the world meet at Llangollen to compete in the Welsh
International Musical Eisteddfod, and there is one specially interesting
p:ogranrrne in which different groups of musicians perform on their
national instruments. Who knows but this competition may one day bt
won by a steel band from the West Indies.
Two Fragments of "Returning"
From heavy iron
from twisted leather
from wet cord stung with cruelty
through the hot jungle thrusting to a mountain
and into rivers leaning on a stone
he ran exhausted, spitting out his tongue
drumming his belly tearing out his throat.
Tattered white singlet
three quarter trouser underneath bo h knees
one roasted green plantain, a drink of the creek
the edge of sand, the pad of skin and nerve.
Rocks explode and scatter in his head
then settle down a lizard and a man
a frog a ship a leaf another hand
another heart another flow of blood.
This hidden mark among the centuries
confusion birds who speak like squat brown men
the stretch of Asia over Africa
the block man's leap, the alphabet of stone.
Between his vast surprise of sleep and wake
between the whip and then between the wind
between the wind, between the pain of wind
between the gap of footprints and the coin
the trembling nerve the lake of crystal sweat.
From things unseen
to things forever watched.
From hidden stone
to naked delicate heart.
From works forgotten and from works to be
these waters ripple shaking up the sky.
The wet convulsions striking everywhere
and the fling of passion turning on itself
renew the light to cleanse the pure sun witness.
I lay back on the blue walls of heaven
I count the fine lines of morning etched out before me
I dissolve like mist and turn myself to air
golden as liquid fire green as a bunch of grass.
The father of wind stands howling on the roof
sea 'waters crumble, goats and sheep in pens
and fowls in feathers wood around my head
earth bending nearer like a tree.
The cold foot moves silently in the midst of rain
fires awaken and blown ash goes whirling in
a touch commands a voice is mingling
all things commingle rivers rise and ebb.
The point of life in strict suspension vibrant
the blazing seed but no blue smoke nor fuLr r
the rich dark earth and the heavy smell of air
no thunder and no lightning and no sound
no visible looming only conscious strife.
Behind morning, behind the drawn lines of morning
behind the gold fires and the green fires
and behind myself and behind the light and behind
the wood around my head
and behind the crumbling sea waters behind the
regions of daylight
to the place of the mountain the big big nmuntain
the high sky of humanity lifted by a child.
The Caribbean and Education
By PHILIP M. SHERLOCK
The Caribbean is the Mediterranean of the New World. During
the four and a half centuries that have passed since its discovery, five
imperial powers have striven for its mastery, and peoples from four
continents have established themselves around its shores. Few areas of
comparable size in the Americas possess so varied a history or exhibit
more diverse social and political conditions.
The territories with which this article deals are the islands that
hem in the Caribbean on the north and east. Their total area c- com-
paratively small being about 90,000 square .miles (approximately the
a:ea of Great Britain), but the islands are strung out in a great arc
2.000 miles in length. In addition there are the two mainland colonies
of British Guiana and British Honduras. This wide geographical separa-
tion makes difficult the growth of a feeling of common identity amongst
the Caribbean people.
The social origins of the population a:e diverse. Three main streams
of people have poured into the Caribbean from Europe. from India #
and from Africa, and each territory possesses in varying degree a society
that is multi-racial in character. At one end of the scale is Puerto Rico,
where about two-thirds of the population are white, rnostly of Spanish
descent; at the other end is Haiti. where there are few white people.
With the exception of Puerto Rico more than 90 per cent of the total
population of the islands is black or coloured. There is no one race
and no common history.
Caribbean society has been profoundly affected by sugar and slavery,
the two central facts in its history, but this does not make it unique. In
the preface to the first Brazilian edition of ',the Masters and the Slaves",
Gilberto Freyre points out that
"The same influences deriving from the technique of production and
of labour that is to say, the one-crop system and slavery have
combined here in this English-settled portion of North America (i.e. the
Deep South of the United States) as in the Antilles and Jamaica. to
produce social results similar .o those that are to be observed in ou:
country", and he goes on to refer to "a monoculture that absorbed other
fcrirms of production" and "a semi-feudal society, with a minority of
whites and light-skinned mulattoes dominating, patriarchallyand poly-
gamously, from their Big House of stone and mortar".
Sugar and Negro slavery meant the development of a caste struc-
ture. This rigid social structure was based on a one-crop economy that
was, and is, subject to frequent violent fluctuations because of its depen-
dence on world markets. The result has been economic insecurity and
a sense of instability.
Sugar is' still supreme in the Caribbean. In the phrase of Dr. Eric
Williams, it is the spinal cord of Caribbean economy. Before the last
war sugar was responsible for 60 percent of all exports from the Carib-
bean and for 68 percent from the British Caribbean. The West India
Royal Commission of 1929 found that the proportion of the population
directly employed in the sugar industry was 20 percent in Barbados, 33
percent in Antigua, 12 per cent in St. Lucia, 16 per cent in British
Guiana, 10 per cent in Trinidad, and 5 per cent in Jamaica. The pro-
Sportion has increased in Jamaica, where the 1943 census showed that
13 per cent of the total number of wage and salary earners in the
island were connected with the industry.
Like sugar, slavery also is still a central factor in the Caribbean.
Emancipation struck the bonds from the body, but Caribbean society
still bears the marks of a system whose dividing effects m(ay be seen
in race-feeling; in hidden antagonisms and resentarnnts; in a perverted
Swork-standard that puts a premium on indolence and display, and
despises manual industry; and, as Professor Simey observes, in "pro-
found feelings of inferiority, which stand out as the most powerful single
factor in moulding the personality of the individual, and in shaping the
patterns of social intercourse. A society cannot be a healthy one in
which so many people suffer from a constant regret that they are what
they are, and do their best to give their children characteristics com-
monly supposed to be better than their own".
The most important of all the effects of slavery, however, is the
weakness in family and social organisation. This is true in spite of the
strength of the kinship structure noted in Haiti, for instance, by Dr.
George Simpson. The figures for the British territories are revealing.
The Jamaica census of 1943 showed 272 persons per thousand married as
compared with 645 per thousand in Britain in 1931. The corresponding
illegitimacy rate in Jamaica is approximately 70 percent. 'Even after
giving full weight to the existence of 'common law marriages' the posi-
tion is still grave. The chief Registrar's figures show that over the period
since 1881 for which records exist, the illegitimacy rate in Jamaica has
actually worsened by as much as 10 percent......Such statistics show
a really serious disorder, arising frctm the fact that the people of these
territories are without a clear pattern of human relationships which is
accepted by all classes". It is further to be observed that the lack of
Sthe father in the home compels the mother to work. This frequently
means insufficient supervision and little: if any, schooling for the child.
School enrollment does not mean school attendance or a long school
life. Barbados is an honourable exception, since, as the memorandum
on educational policy in Barbados points out, the system of education in
that island "may be said to cc lpare more than favourably with the
progress of other West Indian islands, and in one respect-the com-
prehensiveness of its elementary provision-it is probably outstanding".
On the other hand, Jamaica, which contains about one-half of the popu-
lation of the British territories, had in 1943 a total of 924,278 persons of
ten years and over, and of these 218,127 had never attended school.
Compulsory education exists in a few areas of the island, but is not
enforced. It is estimated that one child in every six receives no educa-
tion of any kind, and that, by reason of irregular attendance and absorp-
tion into the wage-earning section of the family at the age of 12 or 13
years, not more than eight in every hundred complete the elementary
"Similar conditions exist in many of the other Caribbean colonies.
In Antigua, which is about the size of the Isle of Wight, and in which
the number of children of school age is estimated at 10,500, there is
an average attendance of only 5;.0.0, this low figure being due mainly
to unsatisfactory home conditions and lack of parental control".
The quality of education given in the primary and secondary schools
is usually high, because of the magnificent efforts of the teachers and of
the local departments of education, but as the figures show, there is
far too little primary education. One result is that a grave threat to
the future of the Caribbean society lies in the untold thousands of
children who are without homes, education, or employment.
Another significant fact revealed by Mr. S. A. Hammond's analysis
is the extremely mall number less than 2 percent of the total school
enrolment-receiving secondary education. This limitation of educa-
tional opportunity means a high wastage of ability. It is all the more
serious, and becomes a dividing social force, because educational oppor-
tunity is often gained by money rather than by ability.
The tale of inadequacy extends to adult education, inspite of the
valuable pioneer work done by the Church. Generally it is true to
say that if the child has been neglected the adult has been forgotten.
Lacking technical eduaction, Caribbean society has grown up with
its hands untrained. Lacking adequate facilities for higher education
it has grown up without a cerebral centre. It has kept its eyes averted
from its origins and circumstances, and has fixed them in the ends of
Tomorrow is not 'without hope. Dynamic forces are at work in the
Caribbean. Attitudes are changing. There are signs of a changing atti-
tude in education, and there are in progress experiments modest in scale
but charged with potency. This final section refers to scinme of these
There is a growing recognition of the fact that economic develop-,
ment and educational reform are bound together. In an area where
there is widespread ignorance and widespread distress, the .two <
immediate needs are food and education. For the first time in Caribbean
history, planned development is being undertaken in Puerto Rico by
the Puerto Rican Government and in the British West Indies 'with the
help of the Comptroller for Development and Welfare.
It involves also the immediate development of the resources of the,
area and it is a hopeful sign that in this planning there is active
participation by the people themselves. For the first time in Caribbean 'H
history the regional aspects of economic development can be considered
because of the creation of the Caribbean Commission. The British and
United States Governments are giving substantial financial aid to the
West Indies and to Puerto Rico respectively. The subsidies are not
inconsistent with the growth of political responsibility if the objectives
are clear, and if the methods permit both parties to become partners in
a g:eat prograrmne of social engineering.
Thus Dr. Jaime Benitez, Chancellor of the University of Puerto
Rico, has emphasised that "the key educational problem in Puerto Rico
is not that we need more schools which we do; or more teachers -
which we do; or that our students should be willing and able to stay
Longer with us which they should. I believe that it is far more
important to give the whole educational system a sense and purpose
in terms of the realities and potentialities of our life."
This involves the deliberate use of education as a powerful social
force to bridge the divisions in Caribbean society to encourage the
feeling of community, to break down false attitudes, and to equip
children to become good individuals, good citizens, good partners in
human relationships. It involves the recasting of the curriculum in
primary and post-primary education and in the institutions for teacher-
training. It involves the use of new methods and techniques.
The aims were to stimulate a community to take action under its
own leadership to improve conditions; to instruct a ccirranunity by
devising a programme of adult education closely linked to daily life,
Easily understood, easily communicated, and to undertake through
individual and group action the projects which form an essential part
of the educational programme. A method of organisation was sought
which would engender the dynamic, which would spread the services
of trained officers as widely as possible, and which would develop and
use voluntary leadership. Theory by itself was largely a waste of
time, but theory became effective when rooted in practical activities
like the making of conpost heaps; voluntary leadership was available
and could be increased in effectiveness rapidly through carefully planned
training programmes based on "study and action"; interest in literacy
developed when villagers saw that it was related to their daily needs.
THE EXTRA-MURAL PROGRAMME
Why do people attend extra-mural classes ? From what groups in
the community do they come ? What are the subjects in greatest
demand ? What is the quality of teaching and of class work ? A report
from Trinidad gives in part an answer to these questions. A study of
1,060 students showed that 52 per cent. had been to secondary schools,
44 per cent. to elementary schools, and the remaining 6 per cent. had
had post-secondary or technical education. One half of the total group
were middle-class people !working as civil servants, teachers and nurses;
every tenth person was a technician, tradesm an or artisan. Most
students were between 18 and 30 years of age. One of the most
important results of the extra-mural class programme in Trinidad has
been the emergence of what may be called a student population, that
is to say, a group of people between the ages of 20 and 40, usually in
the teaching profession or the civil service, whose main interest is to
study and who are entering in large numbers for external examinations
of the University of London. The Resident Tutor has paid special
attention to the needs of this group in planning the class programme
with the object of helping the students to broaden their education
while pursuing their courses.
Resident tutors soon found that there were important groups whose
needs were not fully imet by the class programme. There were civil
servants, teachers, welfare officers and others, who wished to increase
their professional competence and to satisfy their intellectual interests.
There 'were persons who were aware of the profound changes that were
taking place in West Indian society, and who were anxious for the
opportunity of discussing and studying the social problems of the region.
There was a need for the training in social responsibility and for an
understanding of the techniques and methods that have been developed
in other communities to improve relationships between such groups as
employees and employees, or within such movements as the trade unions.
Only a beginning has been made in this whole field of extra-mural
studies and of adult education in the West Indies. The expansion and
development of this work depends on the people of the West Indies;
on their realisation that adult education is an indispensable part of all
program1mes of economic and political development; on their creation
or a voluntary movement. The report on the work of the Department
for the period ending August 1950, closed 'with these words :-
"The voluntary movements in Britain, in Scandinavia, in the
Caribbean exist because of a dynamic; in Denmark it was expressed in
Grundtvig's 'living word'; in England, in education for social
emancipation; in Jamaica Welfare, it is an appeal to "build a new
The voluntary movement in the West Indies may ccair in one or in
both ways. It may spring out of the people's movements themselves
or out of the growing number of extra-mural class students. Already, 4
quite spontaneously, there are signs of this happening among groups
of extra-mu:al students. The Department will seek to encourage its
developirmnt within the people's movements. It is already clear that
in most places the dynamic is to be found in the words, 'Education for
Nationhood' and this 'will become the recurring theme in the work of
the Department. If the programme of the work can be organised in
such a way as to engender and preserve the dynamic, education will
cease to be regarded as a ritual suitable to the immature years of class-
room, and will be seen as a process rich and deep as life itself; not
formal and static, but vital and dynamic."
(This article is condensed frcim an article by Mr. Sherlock on
"Education in the Caribbean Area" and reprinted with permission from I
the publishers of the Year Book of Education, (Evans Brothers Ltd.,
Montague House, Russell Square, London, W.C.I., England), and also
from "The Extra-Mural Programme" by Mr. Sherlock as Director of
the Department of Extra-Mural Studies of the University College of the
West Indies" (published in, Caribbean Quarterly Vol. 2 No. 3) also
reprinted with permission.) Editor.
Notes on the Antiquity of Creole
By J. A. RAMSARAN
In Trinidad one still hears about Spanish Mbedicne and Ceole
Remedy-both signifying simples, or compounds (like the melancholy of
Jacques) extracted from many simples, which are resorted to in cases
of illness by rustic folk who pin their faith on traditional native remedies.
"Bush teas" of various kinds are prescribed as febrifuges or "cooling";
syrups, and other specifics fo: coughs, are concocted from a brew of
flower and leaf buds; barks steeped in water supply potent disinfectants
against skin infections; and the "warm bath", which is supposed to act
almost like a panacea, owes its efficacy to the numerous herbs whose
leaves distil their virtues in the steaming tub. Traces of what may
be called the West Indian pharmacopoeia are to be found in sixteenth
century herbals, and in numerous references by English. French and
Spanish writers to the medical properties of the New World flora.
It is natural that Spanish pioneers in the field, attracted by the
medicinal uses to which the Amerindians put several of the indigenous
herbs, should have left substantial records of their observations. Fran-
cisco Hernandez' Quatro librcsde la naturaleza y virtues de las plants
y animals de la Nueva Espana (Mexico, 1615), with twelve hundred
coloured drawings, is the monumental example. Sent out by King
Philip II of Spain to study the medicinal plants of Mexico: he incor-
porated in his work many of the observations of Ximenes, a former
physician in the hospital of Mexico City, who had studied the simples
of Haiti and other Caribbean islands.
But even before these two writers, another Spaniard. a Doctor
Monardes of Seville, had published a series of descriptions of medicines
from the New World. An English translation of his work by John
F!rampton first appeared in 1577 with the title-Joyfull Newes out of
the Newe Founde World. It treated of "singular and rare vertues of
certain Hearbes, Trees. Oyles, Plantes, Stones, and Drugges of the
West Indies". The most famous of these was tobacco, "a herbe of much
antiquitie, and known amongest the Indians". This "Indian weed" has
maintained its pre-eminence for other reasons than its medicinal quali-
ties so highly praised in the early days.
Another Englishm.an, who had been held prisoner in Spain for
some time, learnt of its uses as a curative drug and specially recom-
mended it as an antivenene. In 1598 he wrote:
The iuice of the Tobaco, is very excellent to expel Poyson, and
is the ordinarie remedie used by the Indians, and many other savage
people, when they are poysoned, and bit with Scorpions, or other
venemous creatures. But they presently make some kinde of in-
cision, where they are bit or stung, a4nd wash it with iujce of To-
baco: then applying the same bruised thereunto, two or three dayes,
they heale it up with dried Tobaco.
As noticed in Frampton's translation of Monardes, tobacco was used
also in the treatment of syphilis (popularly known in the English of the
tisne as "pox"). But in 1604 appeared A Counterblast to Tobacco which
denied that the herb was of any use:
There is come forth a little book called a Counterblast to To-
bacco, with no author's name to it (but credibly said to be written
by His Majesty's own hand), very invectively condemning the taking
of this herb. Herein the author noteth that tobacco is used by the
barbarous Indians as an antidote to the pox...., denieth it t) be
a sovereign remedy for diseases, and declareth the taking of it to
be a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to
the brain, dangerous to the lungs, etc". (G. B. Har:ison, A Jacobean
It appears that the sovereign remedy for the "pox" was guaiacum.
The Oxford English Dictionahv derives the word through Spanish from
a "native Haytian origin", and defines it as "1. A genus of trees and
shrubs.... native to the West Indies and warmer parts of America 2.
The hard and heavy brownish-green wood.... used in medicine, lignum
vitae. 3. A resin obtained from the tree; also the drug prepared from it.
The O.E.D.'s quotations are also enlightening: "He told me that his
Majestic taketh Guaiacum, and is far better now than he was a xii dayes
"His afflicted female....feeds him with beds of guacum for his
In Volpone Jonson mentions tobacco and guaicum along with
sassafras, another American plant:
No Indian drug had e'er been famed,
Tobacco, sassafras not named;
Ne yet .of guacum one small stick, Sir.
The mention of sassafras recalls sarsaparilla, for both were used as
alternatives in the sixteenth century, and were described in Frampton's
The New World savage's use of medicinal herbs was well known
to many Elizabethan writers 'who had a strong interest in herbals,-
if one may judge by the numerous references to the subject scattered
throughout their writings, and by the popularity of Gerard's Herball,
1577. Sir Walter Ralegh travelling in search of El Dorado noted that
the forests had a sufficient variety of plants to fill several herbal; and
Edmund Spenser, his contemporary, mentioned the application of herb
dressings by a savage in The Faerie Queene. Coming to the aid of
Serena and Calepine, a "salvage man" dressed the latter's wound.
And running straight into the thickest wood,
A certain herbe from thence unto hism, brought,
Whose vertue he by use 'well understood.
The juice whereof unto his wound he wrought,
And stoptd the bleeding straight, ere he it staunched thought.
Then he conducted them to his rude hut where they recuperated
During which time that wyld man did apply
His best endeavour and his daily paine
In seeking all the woods both farre and nye
For herbes to dresse their wounds.
The colonisation of the West Indies during the seventeenth cen-
tury considerably widened the Englishman's knowledge of the West
Indian pharmacopoeia. Richard Ligon wrote "Somewhat of the Diseases
of the Country, as also of the Physitians" in A True and Exact Histo:y
of the island of Barbados, 1657; but Sir Hans Sloane, physician to the
Governor of Jamaica from 1687 to 1689, 'was the first Englishman to
make an extensive field study of West Indian flora. His book included
many examples of the diseases in Jamaica, and the creole remedies
employed by the negroes. His observations may be read in A Voyage
to the Islands Madera, Barbados. Nieves, S. Christophers, and Jamaica,
with the natural history of the last of those islands etc., 1707. About
three years later there appeared a satire on this work by William King
which he called The Present State of Physick in the Island of Cajamai
Sloane attributed the negroes' knowledge to their earlier contact
with the Indians, from whom he supposed they had learnt the use of
certain herbs, for, he maintained, "they use the same remedies for the
sanme diseases in Mexico and Brazil". He had himself seen the writings
of Hernandez and Ximenes, as 'well as those of du Tertre of one of the
French Carib islands. Towards the close of the century Lionel Wafer,
a buccaneering physician, testified to the skill with which the Darien
Indians applied herb poultices in healing his knee which had been badly
scorched by gunpowder. In a Spectator PapeL- of 1711 Addison could
state categorically that "we repair our bodies by the drugs of America".
And eight years late:, Daniel Defoe made Robinson Crusoe resort to
rum and tobacco in order to cure himself of the ague which afflicted
Shim in his West Indian island home.
It is therefore evident from a combination of factual and fictional
writing, (unfortunately still largely inaccessible to us in these regions),
that Creole Remedy-(Spanish or Bush Medicine-call it what you will)
-of the Caribbean area is of considerable antiquity. An attempt has
been made in these notes to trace especially the contribution of the
S Amerindians to the corpus of native medicine; but it is quite probable
that careful research will show that African influence was not negligible
in producing the West Indian pharmacopoeia as it is known today. The
collation of recipes and prescriptions for local remedies should -prove
most fascinating and revealing.
The Beggar is King
(Vindication of earth)
a home where the noble are just and the beggar is kiun
time is the harbour that men imust build
Broad-based vigour and the unkempt look of disdain
mark the labourer going to the fields at sunrise. Proud of his strength
disguising his royalty in an expression at once earthy
he is the giant that carries the courtly destinies of the world.
He appears yet is lost to the eye that roams over the fields for
when the irAst of the mind parts every now and then
to confuse the origins of consolation, the most necessary union,
of labour and the sweets of the world. Splashed with sun, broad earth
is still confused with mist, the incessant drums of the sea pound time
in heavy rollers: furious tractors shake the ground like iron
wheels that roll under a lighted sky. The beggarly and living land
makes a strong uplift
in protest. Wherever the earthquake seals, it leaves a scar
like blood on the floor of a house.
For the:e is no real concealing the vengeance in the mind,
the witness of waste and distress.
The unhuman wave returns to broad daylight again like a cre3t.
Necessity is the suitor
that urges the violent caricature of royalty to test
t.ic internall habit of convulsion, the fever, the seal of distress,
the one sensation violently shaping time, broad-based and solid,
or a vanishing point and intrepid. The one mountain
and the one plain internally convulsive, the passion or the order
of the mind
to squander or preserve its real basis for all time.
To squander or preserve its true strength and to promote or
vanquish its every weakness
like a crime against mankind.
Each leisurely step is a measure in the fields,
each day the coercion or willingness of sweat, the building or
release of tension, the sun,
the fruitful or fruitless climax in the muscles, the intimate contact
barefoot and internally satisfying but breeding rebellion against
an unending flat, absolute necessity, bitter unfreedom.
On the one hand red and noble and grand, the royalty of blood
on earth !
on the other hand, the same performance blinded by its own sweat
tortured by its own sea of excess. Injustice so begins and neve:
a broad back lifts to divest every unreal pretension from itself
to brandish aloft every vain mask and every beggar's dress!
this timely arrest only
will be able to tell that the pleasures in the world have no reality
in subtraction from the strong
round nourishing earth
are no magical equal in the bright broad
to a terrible conviction of want like a brandished
gun. Mighty giant
grows giddy above like a stomach breeding sickness,
the base and the brow
of an all-enduring circuit between heaven and hell lift aloft
the helpless root or grain, blossom or leaf to the drought and the
rain and the sun,
to the sensation of storm, to the devil
of the noonday sky that wilts the earth
leaves hunger in its trail like suspended dust griming nature's lips !
This is the unhuman taste of a violent suit: in its own destructive
(The vindication of earth)
Still pointed detail and perfection
more perfect than reality itself in a dark mirror.
The unreal forest more real than the real forest hiding the dry
of faded leaves: a lush identity of the world that seems and the
7 world that is
seems absolute in each detail
is reflection of the sky shaded and darkened
to sombre steel profoundly beautiful, the cruelty of sensation
or agony gone in a dark mirror. The blue resigned background
of the world forms its minute range
of altered shadow
investing each leaf with the black glory
of absolute fire free of torture or flame
standing before a burning sky. So fire becomes black
and the resigned becomes the sensational humanity can endure.
Passion wears a perfect garment, a modulation of all fever
and tone. No riotous colour alive but darkened and perfected
are the pointed furies of blossom in the depths of reflection.
So deep is the human soul. A floor of polished mirror is the world
dripping unreal blood that is real: the red leaves of time fading
in relation to what is faint or strong
stand out in the certainty of each outline
in the clear release of every design.
Where the sky is glare all vision is lost
in a fusion of matter, the batteries of sensation
alight together. These combine and fester into a sore
like flame that burns, yet never burns
so alive. This living sore is agony
that seeks to render all distinction accidental and vain.
Heaven is but vanity. But the assault too is vain against
a solitary tree, every leaf gone, every branch bare.
Stripped against the sky
it forms its faint but living existence dark or pale
surviving to test every luminous sensation, to conquer the
of its soul. It flows with the flooding light
or the shadowed noon into a colourless solid
an uninhibited fever
neither hot nor cold, not any condition
save all conditions. This is the promise of suffering humanity
to change sensation into a beaten fury
the uproar into a quiet
vestibule of time that opens and closes light:
the dark night is framed
to curtain every homeless inmate : exposure is a sun that shines
with acquired luminosity against gloom. This outline
that climbs is sensationally alive
a feature of the everlasting rescue of time.
The prisoner chained to the sky
is fashioned out of materials of sensation, architecturally altered
to find peace outside when turmoil is within, to tone the harsh
of mind for greater construction still: divine turmoil more real
than outer strife
is the absolute mirror in man
re-arranges life to fathom its reflection. This is fire that burns
and never burns, so alive. This is spirit that rules
and never rules, so wise. This is time that suffers
and never cries to the heavens above. Only cries
in the bottomless labour of heart tiny and whispering, yet clearer
than the elements of destruction. A child or an infant
unable to walk, yet stumbling with wings
in the draught of the wind. This is man
who crowns the mercies of space. Makes frail and tender
and blue his sky as he climbs
the changing steps of time, faint balustrades of existence
like feathers shading the body of life
toning the rebellious fire, the brightness that glooms
to flash again in every reflection light.
r Like an inner and active dawn of design,
like the overwhelming sensation of the earth-lover to come. Like
who sets out for the fields early morning to court the sun,
tremendous magic of space, vast
aerial suspension in the fields of time, the overwhelming
light that shoots to paint on shadow pools of space
sends the earthbound labourer into an otherworldliness of life.
Space is that coming world,, the dynamism of sensation. To climb
into the heart of matter, bewilderment and intoxication, to glimpse
tide that races like a high-point of change
is the magic of space, the beginning of expedition. That early
is the outline of man eternally vindicating the earth
aware of the innermost violence of life. Outer activity
resolves inner grief and tension, so labour redeems time:
the waste fields come to life, the unpeopled spaces of the sky
are brought to earth, like pools transforming dark walls
of grime, like interior fires lighting waste externals.
Drowned in the pools of space time emerges out of shadow
into the strengthening morning light. Like a fish that lives truly
in its own element, the vast swimming pool bordering extinction
changes form into a creature of depth and reflection.
Deep the underworld caves of life: the balance and equilibrium
creation alone sustains. The body of time freeing pinioned arms
discovers a garment of movement and light
puts on and off at will violence or suspension
brightness or shade, the balance or the tension of mind
it has made.
power the suspension lives to warn the elemental kingdom
of earth that a grounded and more solid basis
must truly exist. Not above or below but on the broad plain
of earth, not in the consequences of unjust thought and action, not
power and its attraction,
only in sources and interaction, the muscularity of space,
the strong husband responsive tj the incomparable earth.
The Artifice of Eternity
by Jacqueline deWeever
In the realm of nature and in the realm of Man, beauty is of a
decaying kind. It was the artifice of eternity to make unto itself some-
thing permanent; so it was given to man to create beauty and express
the spirit within him. In every age certain men have been set aside, as
in a priesthood, to give permanency to this beauty of the human spirit;
these men are called artists.
Beauty is the creation and expression of the spirit, which is intan-
gible, needing a mind to give it physical form, whether that form be one
of exquisite perfection or one that thunders with power and feeling.
There is the changing beauty of nature, the disturbing and transient
beauty of Man, and the eternal beauty of art. Nature and man are the
creation and expression of the Spirit and Mind of the Supreme Artist,
and art is the creation and expression of the spirit of man.
In the realm of nature, beauty is always changing and inconstant.
The skies, for example, are never the same for a whole day. There is
the first delicate flush of dawn, which changes by noon to the powerful
heat of the sun, then by sunset to a riot of glorious colour. The tangled
vigorous growth of trees in the tropical jungle, the wide, rushing rivers
and dangerous cataracts are as beautiful as the constrained, ordered in
comparison, European wood or, dell; for the jungle is beautiful in its
wildness, in its seething life as the wood is in its placid conservatism.
There is the beauty of the rugged stoney mountain, the soft rolling
hills; the calm blue sea, the pillars of angry muddy waves; the flam-
bouyant tree in full bloom looking as if it were tongues of flame, the
"beauty too of twisted trees", or even the bare tree that has become
dead. The realm of nature is limited to material things such as form,
colour, and balance, and to manifestations of energy as in huge trees,
rough winds or high seas, or the exquisiteness of flowers and leaves; but
there is lacking a spiritual content, for although it is the creation of the
Spirit of "The Artist", that Spirit does not live in its creation, and the
beauty of nature is the lowest order of beauty.
With man, beauty is again the expression and creation of the Spirit
of God, inspite of the fact that there are some learned men who imagine
that they have proved that the beauty that is man just "happened". And
it is the spirit of man within him that gives him his beauty. There are
two kinds of beauty in man: the full sensual kind, and the thin intel-
lectual flame. The human body may be said to represent the first, and
the human spirit bodied forth in its influence, may exemplify the second;
it is a rarity indeed to find an intellectual mind in a beautiful body
Fashions in the beauty of the human body change as often as do
women's clothes. Beauty in woman may mean the shape of her body,
the colour of her eyes, and hair; some people feel that there is a reason
for the loveliness of woman- that of procreation. If such were the case,
if women were created only to populate the world, then it was a waste
of good materials and time. A more plausible way of thinking may be
that men and women, being the creation of the Divine Mind are works
of art in themselves, not created for any moral purpose, or bound by any
moral law to reproduce themselves; and this involves the question of
sex. Thomas Mann says that "Beauty is sex made visible"; sex is one of
the most beautiful things that has been given to man, but if the spirit-
ual side is divorced from it, it sinks to the level of the beast and loses
its beauty; this certainly happens when beauty in human beings is held
to be created only for the purposes of procreation, as is the purpose of
the beauty of animals.
The other side of human beauty is the beautiful mind and spirit
which shines through the body, and herein constitutes the true glory of
the human race; for where the beautiful spirit resides must necessarily
be lovely after some fashion even if it is not the fashion of the moment.
There is the beauty of the well-trained and disciplined mind which is
the creation of man's spirit coupled with the will to have such a mind;
every one is given a mind, but it is left up to the owner to do as he
will with it. A fine intellectual mind is something which few people
crave, (and women even less than men), all of which is a great pity, for
while it is said that all men crave beauty, it is also true that man is
too easily satisfied with pastiche and imitations than with the real thing
which they have within them. Beauty of mind and spirit is of a higher
order than beauty of body, not because it serves a higher order, (that
would be attaching a moral to it, and morality has nothing to do with
beauty), but because it is of a more satisfying kind. While physical
beauty must decay with age the intellectual and spiritual kind becomes
fuller and more beautiful with age, and does not end with death for the
spirit and mind of man are immortal, and of its new life and beauty in
the next world we have no idea.
These lines from W.B. Yeats' poem adequately express the longings
of the artist when he sets out to create beauty. They are from his poem
"Sailing To Byzantium"....
O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
S And be the singing masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
To be "gathered into the artifice of eternity" is the yearning of
every artists soul, and he believes that giving expression to the spirit
'within him he may achieve this desire. All art is expression as beauty
is expression, and art is the expression of the spirit of man. In order
that permanency may be achieved in the realm of art, the artist must
necessarily be true to his perceptions, true to the vision which it is given
to him to express; and here, as elsewhere whatever man touches becomes
contaminated to a certain extent. A price has to be paid for this gift
of being able to give expression to one's spirit and so create beauty, and
not all artists are willing to pay the price. Often it is the price of
worldly possessions, sometimes the price of health, or, rarely, that of
human love. It is known only of one man who has had to pay that
price........ Beethoven, who had to pay two prices-human love and
health. It was not permitted to him to find an answering in any woman
or to marry. He rebelled at first but soon realized that he had to sub-
mit. He paid the price. He created such mighty music that through the
centuries, through the fashions and rages of the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries Beethoven is still the supreme master of music.
Since there is a price, some artists do not always keep their integrity, and
turn their art into a job, something to give them the comports and con-
traptions of life. Only a few names shine in the heavens of eternal art.
In art, size has nothing to do with beauty, for a thing is no less
perfect for being small. In art "beauty is truth and truth beauty"; when
an artist upholds his artistic integrity he creates beauty and it is not
given to any artist to express vulgarity as such. There must however,
be some action on the part of the artist, the organisation of his material,
or that which he must express, and this is the final test; for the greater
a man's power of organisation the greater and more beautiful will his
work be. In the realm of art, not only the delicate pieces are beautiful,
but also the mighty ones fraught with much spiritual content, where the
artist has been successful in expressing his spirit and in such wise the
spirit of mankind.
For a work of art to be beautiful there must be some kind of form,
but form must not be the master. That first place must go to feeling.
This is not meant, however, to imply that there are rules to which art
must conform or no beauty is achieved; but any artist will agree that
there must be some mould into which to pour his matter, he may even
make his own form; and they will also agree that there must be bal-
ance. After feeling, form and balance, anything goes, so long as
the artist is being true to his perceptions. Then again art need not be
perfect in order to be beautiful and it is doubtful whether all perfection
is beauty. In the world of letters George Campbell's "Litany" or his
poem beginning "A cloud that was the faintest breath within a time of
gentian blue" is just as beautiful as Shakespeare's "King Lear". It is not
strange that "King Lear" may be called Beautiful because it is terrible
asd mighty, but it is the expression and creation of a great mind and
therefore beautiful. Not everything that is soft is beautiful; what is
pleasing, or arouses pleasant emotions may not be beauty; if so one
would have to be content with the equivalents of ice-cream which
soon sicken the stomach; to be content with Grieg and Chopin (to be
had on rare and special occasions) and miss out the mighty Bach and
the spiritually profound Beethoven (to be thad every day).
Sir Walford Davies has said in his book "The Pursuit of Music" that
for music to be beautiful there must be certain constituents such as re-
petition and change, form, wholeness, energy, and he seems to have
thought energy one of the chief qualities of beauty. Look at the songs
of Schubert; the world has voted them extremely beautiful and they
surely are not energetic, for example, "The Trout". It may be said, leave
energy out of the picture, it may or may not be there, as it surely is
there in Beethoven's fifth and seventh symphonies. The Fifth is mighty,
beautiful, because it is the creation and expression of a great and power
ful mind; no less beautiful because of its might, just as Schubert's
songs are no less beautiful because of their lack of energy.
A work of art needs human interpretation in order that it might
live. A play or poem can only be known to be beautiful after it has
been acted or read; a symphony only through the members of an or-
chestra; but a painting has to be seen and the individual gives his own
interpretation; a work of art is therefore at the mercy f its interpreters
But once seen or heard the beholder is hardly the same because he has
S.ad an experience of beauty-there is a "feeling of growth and a con-
sciousness of heightened powers"-he has experienced beauty-the
creation and expression of spirit like his own, like, higher in quality
perhaps, but of a similar nature.
There have been many definitions of beauty, some more satisfying
than others. A mystic poet, Kahlii Gibran, has said "beauty is an ecs-
tasy.... a heart inflamed and a soul enchanted.... beauty is life when
life unveils her holy face." There is another one, more akin to ou:
definition, given by two men, equally great; one a Greek philosopher,
the other a Florentine artist. Plato says; "Beauty belongs to the world
of final truths", and daVinci adds; "The final truth is that Divine Power
which lies in the mind of the painter (or poet or musician) and trans-
forms his mind into the likeness of the Divine Mind",
Beauty is the creation and expression of such a mind.
A Criticism of Contemporary
An aesthetic analysis of sources and resultants in relation to form
and content-(By S. Singh)
In a letter to the "Daily Chronicle" during the month of May 1952,
I attempted to evaluate the position of contemporary literary criticism
in the West Indies in relation to the aesthetic revolution in the Carib-
bean. It was pointed out that the evolutionary leap in the creative value.
of.current poetic works had outstripped the critic completely; and in
such a manner that the critical material at our disposal could no longer
establish simultaneous equilibrium between the work of art and its
evolutionary foundations man and society in continuous function
and formation. What was it that was needed to bridge the
gulf in the cultural debade that had ensued? The method I adopted in
that letter I termed the critical objective analysis and in this article I
shall amplify this method to show that there is no borderine between
science and art; and furthermore that valid aesthetic criticism or the
emergence of a genuine aesthetic is only possible when the critic or
artist accomplishes the interpenetration and integration of rhythms in
horizontal and vertical dimensions. The vertical rhythms going down
and under as it were revealing and uniting the most complex levels of
experience, conscious and unconscious, one world, the fusion of the in-
ternal of the external; and the horizontal rhythms encompassing the en-
tire range of human activity. So we see that art emerges in the form of
what we may call an ideological solid, a three dimensional unity of rhy-
thms complemented by the fourth dimension time; the organic unity of
art and human activity as a resultant or relative value and man as the
source or creator of relative value.
But what is the inner nature of complex levels of experience and
how shall we discover their organic unity so that they become consciously
integrated to the process of evolution? On this issue I take the stand
of Thomas Mann who in a talk on the Third Programme of the BBC
declared "the principles which seem to me to delimit the existence of
the poet and eman of letters are knowledge and form: these both and
one at the same time. The characteristic feature is, that for him these
two, knowledge and form are an organic unit in which each determines,
requires and produces the other. This unity means to him spirit, beauty,
freedom-everything. Where it is not there is stupidity just average
everyday human stupidity, which manifests itself both as ignorance and
formlessness-and the artist does not know which of the two annoys
him more." This I regard as a profound penetration into the soul of
valid aesthetic activity applying equally well to both critic and artist -
the organic unity of knowledge and form. It is the organic unity of
knowledge and form which must serve as an axiom or starting point
for what I have defined above as the establishment of simultaneous
equilibrium between the work of art and its evolutionary foundations.
But at this point we must make an important observation on the complex
implications of Mann's analysis.
As soon as organic unity becomes the informing source of the artist's,
spiritual realisation and extension it is a starting point and yet not a
starting point but "both at one and the saema time" as Mann says.
But why is this so? Some might object on the ground that this is a
contradiction in terms. This is because the organic is not a fixed entity
but an evolutionary process created by man and functioning in time.
Its absolute value lies in the fact that it reveals a relative truth at any
moment in the evolutionary process between man and his external
world. Any work of art fed from organic sources has a resultant form
constituting a fusion of two forces that move in opposing directions.
The work of art is only valid when the organic is tapped and the fusion
of these forces accomplished. The critic in order to attempt any truly-
critical evaluation must also be able to envisage iu its total complexity
the problem of sources and resultants in the realisation of an organic
unity of form and content. Let us go into this problem more deeply.
the artist at any moment of history works in relation to two time factors
-the past and the future. Therefore to animate or capture the momen-
tary present in its true objective perspective he must accomplish the
four dimensional ideological unity of art (that we established above) and
link it to the problem of sources and resultants. To accomplish this he
must realise that a source is one and at the same time a source and a
resultant that is, it is a resultant of other sources that have created
its essential condition and at the same a creator of resultants that will
materialise in the future. Thus the realisation of a valid humanism
necessitates an infinite probe into sources prehistoric, and historic in
such a way that they will be integrated to the interior being of man.
For what is art, and what is life? Art, culture and life are inter-
woven and inseparable from each other. To understand the organic
unity of knowledge and form I shall even attempt to go deeper and
explore the true nature of aesthetic and scientific activity. All human
activity consists of the continual interplay of two forces the psycholo-
gical and the physical. One force, the psychological is internal to the
human being constituting the integral unity of all the subjective com-
plexes of the psyche. It must be clearly understood that the subjective
unity of the psyche is indivisible and one of the reasons for the failure
of literary criticism to keep apace with contemporary West Indian poe-
try was the result of an attempt to split this unity. One critic went
so far as to play intellect against emotion in an analysis of a contem-
porary poet thus attempting to divorce the subjective unity of the psyche;
but this is only a secondary failure which is the inevitable result of
a more primary failure which has created a serious debacle not only
in literary criticism in the West Indes but in the entire skeleton art of
Europe on which I shall elaborate in the second part of this article.
Unity of the internal and external as the basis of realism
(a) Only on the basis of the contradictory unity of the external
and internal in variations does the external passing into the
internal become the basis of development. (H. I. Houjdin -
(b) External and internal forces are separate illusions that more
beyond the glitter and the gloom with a knife to cut
inner and outer times from each other
as they weave and interweave in the tapestry of life:
Sometimes the severance is a product of moments so
alien in content or history
to shatter each other in a contrary vacuum or external device.
(Eternity to Season-Wilson Harris).
(c) You may try to escape frcnm the dilemma by talking about
cultural policies intellectual trends (emotion vs. intellect-write:s
interpolation) as opposed to...... All that you accomplish is to
confirm the indivisibility of the problem of humanity which
never and nowhere has a narrower significance but embraces
within itself all human activity. (Thomas Mann the Artist
and Society-II,-B.B.C. Third Programme).
In part one we defined human activity as the continual interplay
of two forces the psychological and the physical. We also developed
the subjective unity of the psyche when considering the internal being-
of man. But what is it that fashions and moulds the development of
psychological forces. The subjective unity of the psyche is conditioned
by and conditions forces 'which are external to the human .being in the
form of a physical or external world. The differentiation of a physical
world outside of the human being is only possible because of the psycho-
logical or inner make up of the human and the extension and realisation
of the self through the resolution of complex levels of experience is
only possible due to the independent existence of forces external to
the human being, upon which he acts and which in turn reacts upon
him. A Third unity now arises: the organic unity of knowledge and
form from which emerges all the truth and beauty of a valid and genuine
aesthetic. In the ir.thod of sources and resultants which I have devel-
oped in the critical objective analysis I define this third unity to be the
resultant of two sources interacting within each other; the subjective
unity of the psyche fused into the objective unity of the external world
and vice versa. It is the establishment of simultaneous equilibrium
between inner and outer times forming one time-evclutionary time. It
must be said to the credit of Mann that he is one of the few Europeans
who through force of circumstance admitted to a great extent the
need for the organic unity of internal and external forces as a valid
basis for the realisation of realism. As a matter of fact the entire
cultural debacle in European aesthetics today is due to the fatal divorce
of inner time frcen outer time in such a manner that inner time has
been given precedence to outer time; from the spires of Notre Dame to
the Waste Land of T. S. Eliot their "severance is a product of moments
so alien in content or history to shatter each other in a contrary vacuum
or external device".
In recent times I have discovered that there is no induced alcoholic
intoxicant which has the effect of releasing and extending the hunan
spirit as the "tying in" of scientific enquiry and aesthetic capture to
the organic process the unity of knowledge and form. This is because
the alcoholic intoxicant is at the most a temporary or for some a per-
ranent escapist activity, -while the discovery of the organic process is
at the same time the rediscovery of man and the integration of per-
sonality; personality in both its individual aspect and the totality of
the social process. The integration of science and art must therefore
be the basis of the cultural revolution that lies ahead of man. In the
quotations that preceded the second part of this enquiry I utilised
material from the researches of a biological scientist, the work of a
West Indian poet and an excerpt from a talk by Thomas Mann who is
a European essayist and novelist. These three quotations serve to show
That in any valid scientific or aesthetic discovery the universal and the
Organic interpenetrate each other in such a manner that what emerges
is the release of an inescapable truth. Beauty, aesthetic, art, science,
Truth are at the same time synonymous and unified. Houjdin the bio-
logical scientist uses as his basis for the extension of biological know-
ledge and form the contradictory unity of external and internal forces.
S One might claim that the poet is fed by sources different to that of
Sthe scientist; sources which are primarily feeling emotion etc. This is
precisely the failure of the European idealist artist, who concedes to
inner time the sole creator of human values. The institution is then
consecrated as eternal and absolute. Mr. C. Day, Lewis who recently
" gave a series of talks on the Home Service of the B.B.C. on contem-
Sporary poetry expresses this point of view admirably when he declares
'the kind of truth with which a poem is concerned is not objective
I1 truth; a poecm is not a factual, scientific description; it may be even
wrong in its facts but it must not be wrong, or anything but most
delicately precise in its feeling for its specific truth emerges from the
-, interpenetration of feeling and theme. The tragedy of Mr. Lewis is the
tragedy of one who has lost touch with or has never found the organic
Sunity of knowledge and form in relation to objective truth. In the
Quotation I have used from "Eternity to Season" the poet has aesthe-
tically animated an objective truth which is basically fed from the
same organic source as that of the biological scientist the unity of
the internal and external. The poet poses the problem in this manner.
To divorce eternal and internal forces as separate entitities is a grave
illusion that severs inner and outer times from each other.
Thomas Mann the essayist and critic further reinforces this concept by
"confirming the indivisibility of the human problem which nowhere has
a narrower significance but embraces within itself all human activity."
An inescapable, essential truth yet a relative truth at that emerges
from the three quotations; but what is the absolute generating force?
It is not the institution, nor sentiment or theme, but the organic evolu-
Slion of human process. What therefore is the essential criticism of con-
-, temporary criticism? It is the tragedy of divorce: matter from spirit,
inner time from outer time, and no critical evaluation will emerge until
the gulf has been successfully bridged.
HAITI'S MOST CELEBRATED FOLK POEM
By Oswald Durand
(Translation by W. Adolphe Roberts)
Behind the big patch of pinguins there
The other day Choucoune I met.
She smiled on me when she saw me stare.
I cried: "Good Lord, what a pretty pet !" (Repeat)
She said: "You really think so, my love ?"
And the little birds heard us from above. (Repeat)
When I think of that, my grieving pains.
Since then, my two feet are in chains. (Repeat)
Choucoune is a sambo; she has eyes
That shine like candles lit for you.
Her breasts are firm, and straight they rise.
Ah, if Choucoune had but been true -
We stayed there and we chatted long,
And the birds in the woods were glad, with song.
Better forget, for the grieving pains.
Since then, my two feet are in chains. (Repeat)
Choucoune's little teeth are white as milk.
Her mouth star-apple colours took.
Not large, she is plump and smooth as silk.
Such women please me at a look.
But yesterday is not today!
The birds heard what she had to say !
Perhaps they know how grieving pains.
Since then, my two feet are in chains!
I went with her to her mama's hut:
As good an old one as there could be!
Who while we drank chocolate and coconut
Said plainly, "This young man pleases me !"
O little birds in the woods that fly,
Is it really all finished and gone by ?
Better forget, for the grieving pains.
Since then my two feet are in chains (Repeatj
The furniture 'was ready : a fine, deep bed,
Two mattresses, a wardrobe beyond compare,
Round table with napkins and cloth to spread,
Curtains and cane-chairs and a rocking chair.
Just fifteen days I had to wait......
Little birds, little .birds, hear my fate !......
You will understand that my grieving pains.
Since then, my two feet are in chains!
A little white fellow came down there,
With a little red beard and rosy face,
A watch in his pocket, pleasing hair.
He was the cause of my disgrace !
He found Choucoune a pretty dove,
He spoke French to her...... She fell in love.
Better forget, too much it pains.
Choucoune left me with my feet in chains !
A wonder, the saddest in all this song,
The thing folk cannot forget so soon
Is that in spite of my cruel wrong,
I love and shall always love Choucoune.
She is going to make a little quadroon!
Look, birds! Her belly is now a full moon!
Be still! Close your beaks! The grieving pains.
The two feet of Pierre his two feet are in chains !
The rendering of Choucoune should be in the form of a chant, with
incidental musical accompaniment on a banjo or an accordion. Often
the recite improvises a mere thread of a tune.
If you Wish let us make a Dream
S (Freely translated from the French of Victor Hugo by Malcolm Delph)
If you wish, let us make a dream,
Our palfreys wait us here:
Let's go to the land where all things seem
And castles are built in air.
I am your Lord and yet your prey;
My steed Joy, Love his mate,
Come hasten, 'tis the end of day,
Make haste, 'tis growing late.
The paths we take will not be rough
For either graceful steed,
Of fodder they will have enough
On kisses they will feed.
Away, our phantom horses stamp:
Ah, see how swift mine flies;
Winged with my dreams yours longs to tramp
The far pale of the skies.
Then must me take along some store:
We'll take with us Love's prayer,
The troth we plighted o'er and o'er,
The red rose in your hair.
Lo! eve has turned the oaks to gold
The sparrow mocks the sound
Of clanking chains by which you hold
My heart with yours fast bound.
'Tis not my fault as on we ride,
If woods and hills above
Seeing us pacing side by side
Don't murmur, "Let us love !"
Come, dear, be sweet to me, my heart
Is full: the butterfly
Will leave the green, wet woods and start
To follow if you sigh!
Night's gloomy bird, the owl, will frown
And open wide his eye;
The nymphs will put their pitchers down
Seeing us passing by.
Let's journey to the rising sun,
Rich and mighty we!
Shall we not 'wax and flourish on
Our own love's ecstasy ?
Let's go all over the wide world,
Borne by our prancing dreams,
To where night's azure flag is furled
And the magic moonlight gleams.
We'll put up at the inn awhile,
And pay the keeper's fee -
You with your sweet and virgin smile,
I with my scholar's glee.
Lord and Lady clothed with the glory
Of love and the heart's delight,
Let's go and share our wondrous story
With all the stars of night.
by Jean Joseph (Madagadcar)
Translated by Miriam Koshland
she whose eyes are prisms of sleep
and whose lids are heavy with dreams,
whose feet are buried in the sea
and whose slimy hands stick out of it
filled with corals and blocks of glistering salt.
She will: put them in little heaps near a bay of mist
and sell them to naked sailors
whose tongues were cut out -
until the rain begins to fall.
Then she will no longer be visible
and one will only see
her hair flying in the wind,
like a clump of unwinding algae,
and perhaps some grains of insipid salt.
Leopold Sedar-Senghor. (Senegal)
Translated by Miriam Koshland.
The hurricane uproots everything around me
And the hurricane tears cut within me leaves and
Whirlwinds of passion blow in silence
But peace on the dry tornado, on the flight of winter!
You, ardent wind, pure wind, wind of beautiful season,
burn each flower, each empty thought
When the sand falls again upon the dunes of the heart.
Servant-girl, suspend your statuesque gesture, and you
children, your games and your ivory laughter.
You, that it consumes your voice and your body,
drying the perfume of your flesh
The flame that lightens my night like a column, like a palm.
Embrace my lips of blood, Spirit, breathe on the
strings on my k6ra*
That my song will rise, as pure as the gold from Galam-
(KBra a kind of harp. It has 16-32 strings.)
Mr. Churchill at the U.C.W.I.
The Sunday morning was bright and clear. A sharp sun was high
in the heavens. A few drifting clouds broke the monotony of an other-
wise blindingly blue sky. There was a slight breeze which made the
heat not too unbearable. In the near distance, the mountains, a rich 4
green in parts, in parts a naked brown, were covered with that bluish
haze usually associated with scenes from "wild western" movies, but
which is familiar to Monites. On the lawn in front of the Library, a
laughing, gaily chatting crowd of undergraduates, in coats of many v'
colours (it was not an academic occasion), the scarlet of their gowns
predominant of course, were gathered a truly West Indian group
against a typically West Indian backdrop. Such was the scene that met
the eyes of Britain's leading staternman on his arrival at the University
College, on the eigtheenth day of January.
He was greeted by a spontaneous cheer from the undergraduates v
and after acknowledging their welcome with a wave of the hand, he
entered the Library, accompanied by the Principal, Dr. W. Grave.
He was shown around this impressive building by Mr. Holdsworth, the
Librarian, and Miss E. Woo-Ming, the assistant Librarian. There he saw
on exhibition the beautiful collection of rarely bound books, presented
last year by H.M. Queen Mary, the University College Charter signed
by King George VI. portraits of Sir James Irvine, and Sir Thomas
Taylor, the fonm'er Principal, and, together with his wife, signed the
As he was leaving the Library, he was presented with a rare first
edition of Matthew Gregory Lewis' "Journal of a West Indian proprietor
kept during the residence in the island of Jamaica", published in 1834,
Miss Daphne Pilgrim, on behalf bf the Guild of Undergraduates,
presenting the book to Mr. Churchill, said: "The Undergraduates of
this University wish to present to you this book to mark the occasion
of your visit here: Please honour us by accepting it."
Mr. Churchill replied : "I am greatly honoured by this mark of your
kindness and I shall long preserve this book in my family as a memento
of my visit here and of the welcome whiih you have given me. It
interests me very ,much to come to this new University. I have been
for a quarter of a century the Chancellor of the University of Bristol,
and therefore I have some acquaintance with the work which is done
by these priceless institutions of civilisation. I hope you will all feel
who are here today, that in a free country, every man, every young
man and woman have the right to have their virtues and abilities and
perseverance rewarded by a free pathway through the difficulties and
adventures of life. I trust you will all rejoice in this fact and not
forget the old land where the roads were planned and paved, which are
influencing large portions of the human race to move steadily forward
on their destiny. I thank you very much for your kindness."
The Prime Minister then shook Miss Pilgrim's hand. He then
catch a last glimpse of him, and holding aloft the (now proverbial)
"V" sign. Passing by Irvine Hall and the Science Laboratories, the
party then continued to College Common, where a short reception was
held at the Principal's home, and where he met the Heads of the
I Faculties and the Senior members of the University Administrative
Note on the Calypso
SBy Martin Carler
In a little booklet containing fifteen calypsoes the preface states
regarding the calypso, that "its basic origin is of the African folk songs
and that it was "the saviour and friend in the darkest days of slavery
S I have chosen one of the fifteen calypsoes printed in this little
booklet in order to attempt to understand the literary structure of
the calypso. Of course this is a very superficial observation, but I feel
that it indicate how we should examine the original literary fori m of this
I choose a calypso called "My experience as a Taxi Driver in
S Venezuela". It narrates how the calypsonian meets a young lady who
wants a taxi. As a driver of experience the calypsonian sends the taxi
to the lady for inspection. A dramatic passage centering around the
mechanical behaviour of the taxi on the young lady takes place. At a
subsequent demonstration the taxi falls to pieces.
The technique used in this calypso is the detailed description of the
taxi done in rhyme, relating the mover..ents of the curious parts of the
taxi to those of the woman, with a great amount of sexual references
in suggestion. Afte- having dealt in detail with the taxi the calypsonian
ignores the specific reference to it and makes a series of statements
which could be recognized as erotic by the audience. None the less the
suggestion is of the subtlest, for example :-
"And the car start a robust shaking
The slightest jerk affect her brain
Her back might get strain
And then she'll feel an after pain."
Here the image of a shaking car is firmly established in the first
line. Then the words "jerk" and "brain are introduced; next "her
back" and "strain" (note the shift of the image over the physical subject
of the woman); next follows "she'll feel an after pain" which completes
the image and clirnches the suggestion, as the words "after pain" link up
with "after birth", implying sexual intercourse etc. At the end of the
passage quoted above, it is understood that the effect is two fold that is-
on two levels of consciousness.
On one level is the rhyme and verbal attractiveness of the passage
which works on the sense of sound and rhythm and keeps up interest in
the calypso. The other level is on the level of imagination the sug-
gested content of the calypso.
Thus the auditor is kept listening and thinking. The contradiction
arising between what the calypsonian is stating and what he is barely
suggesting gives rise to a creation by the auditor of a concrete situation.
In other words the auditor takes part in the creation of the calypso to
which he is in fact listening.
From this calypso we can see that the theme and the verbal structure
enclose another theme which the auditor extracts and fashions in terms
of his own experience. The function of the calypso then in an artistic
sense is to tease or tantalise the auditor. It is an art based on the prin-
ciple of tantalise. And where is the West Indian who does not agree
that in the field of "tantalise' the man of African descent excels.
Dry is the skin of the earth
And the river's voice grows weak
In the sun's white brazen boast.
Cracked is the skin of the earth
And the river's blasphemy
Sinks to a whimper slowly
And dies to a grief.
Leaf quails, burns to a brown death,
Breaks when the wind is a hearse
In a wild unburial.
Earth is the colour of rust,
The colour of burnt dead leaves,
The dead, ghost whispering leaves
When the day grieves.
Now field is a fallow grave,
Boneyard of stubble and leaf
Tangle of twig grass and root
Lie on a stone hard soil sealed,
Caught in a posture of death.
Air is warm and its breath
Is a minstrelsy.
Sigh softly oh minstrel wind,
Harp lightly on these dry bones
Of spite and a killer sun
Sky-prided that stalked all day
Since rooster cry and strangled
The streams to silence, mangled
Those green tided limbs.
Down a soul-shorn sky, away
Slinks the red guilt, barefaced sun,
Down, down past the heart-worn winds
And a witness cloud that blazed,
Glazed in a glory of guilt,
GleeiLrings of gold that it built
In the evening airs.
Evening sky mates with the sea
And a phallic sun goes home,
Sinks in the depths of the sea
From cloud; and a nervous sky
Lowers in the failing light,
Comes down in the false twilight
On land and the sea,
Over the great quiet trees
Brown limbed and brave in the dusk
That begged appeasement all day
With proffer of blood flower
That fell, petal by prayer, -
Like anxious lover awake
Tree waits for the moon tonight
Bringe: of soft light and shades -
Moon is the sun's quiet 'wraith -
Jowl-faced it comes not fighting,
Light-hued it glides not smiting
The leaf stirring airs.
Sunburst is the life......
Noonday rhythms are blotted
With the dusk. Joys flash, splutter
In a carnival of fires.
Sorrow seethes, and the spilled sigh
Simmers with the tears that dry
Before next burbling.
This is the sun's land......
And here is temple of flesh
Chalice and altar of soul.
Time turning, Phoenix love comes,
Burns to an ash and is born
Before time coldens, is gone
For the long respite.
A. N. FORDE
From your high window
You lean to let
The scraps fall
The scraps of the letter
That once had all.
The fragments of a passion
Too fall with those torn
Bits of paper: a
With a new sign for sale.
It falls from you
A little shower of a
Frail story on blue paper:
A broken memorandum
Stripped by memory.
No pain in your glance
Seems to follow
It down the spine of rigid air:
Your poise in the rectangle
Of the window tells
Renunciation can be
Greater than acceptance.
How unlike you seem
To the busy shopping
Girls along the curb
Whose cheap green loves
Are verbal in their hungry lives
Dear to their frivolity.
And whose light steps
Mesh with the wanton
Beat in their bosom
Who are faithful only
In their infidelity.
Whose breath is set
To the cacophony of our time
To the mechanical device
And our superficial
But you are our epitome
Standing over the ledge
Of the horizon you looking out
Knowing that looking back will not
Restore the forgotten pledge.
That future gain
In gold or nation's rapture
Is the mead of vivid pain
Passed: the deep cut closing
Into flesh again.
A scarlet sun cn a scarlet sea
Flamingoes beamed to their evening tree
My thoughts awing from the hunt of the day
Out from the waterside far away.
Like filled flamingoes evening red
My thoughts sail high with wings outspread
And I capture the mood of the scarlet ring
That the scarlet sun is fashioning.
And my thoughts are spent upon scarlet blood
On waging wars in a veinal flood
But I dream of a limb on a peaceful tree
Across the path of the scarlet sea.
The poem we know will come like force a fusion
of all moments known unknown; will stand unsummoned
flaming instant that devours Time;
O world 0 wilderness
enchanted by a word.
Faith is the matchless word.
Faith is the poem.
BRITISH COUNCIL BROADCASTS
The Genius of the Place
Personal Anthology iof Poetry from the British Commonwealth ccm-
piled by Celeste Dolphin and A. J. Seymour).
Cd.-Before we deal with poetry which always is the flower of lan-
guage, let us look together at the English language itself and let us
notice the significance of certain facts which we take for granted. We
live in an age which has witnessed and is witnessing among other unfore-
seen changes and events, the important part that the English language
is playing in the history of the world. In the days of Queen Elizabeth I
the language Shakespeare spoke and enriched was spoken by only five
and a half million people. In the three and a half centuries that sepa-
tate the reigns of the first and the second Elizabeths, the English lan-
guage has spread like a sea into all parts of the 'world, accompanying
English seamen and traders and missionaries. English is now spoken as
the first or mother language of more than 200 million people, and it is
read and understood by many million more. If it is to remain the most
widespread language in the world, the future of English will depend,
as Simeon Potter says, upon the energy and enterprise of the people
who speak it.
This great tide of the English language bearing the traditions of the
British Isles, flowed into all parts of the world. Everywhere it en-
countered other traditions and it flowed around them and anong them .
in a process of mutual interchange. Sometimes the needs of the en-
vironment affected the speech of the inhabitants, and sometimes the
old traditions which the new language encountered caused modification
and change, because language, after) all, is primarily a function of
society. We have only to think of the way in which the English lan-
guage has undergone astonishing developments to become a separate
speech of its own as the American language spoken by 150 million,
people. When we do so, we realise that in Australia, in Canada, in
South Africa, in New Zealand, in the Caribbean and in other parts of <
the Ccermon-wealth, the same process of modification has been at work._
A.J.S.-So far for language. Let us pass now to the flower of lan-
guage which is literature and especially poetry. It is in poetry that
people express their rarer moods, their more elevated thoughts andr
their more impassioned feelings. In recent decades the countries of the
British Commonwealth have passed beyond the stage of putting down
roots, and a unique way of life is beginning to emerge in each country,,,
The traditions in each environment (or what we may call "the genius
of the place") now have an opportunity of using the English language
as a mouthpiece in the distinctive poetry that begins to be written;
The tide of meaning and value now begins to flow in the other direc-