While there is the hint of an impending storm (“the sky was cloudy, a strong breeze”), the weather only marks the Caribbean islands’ vulnerability to hurricanes, today thought to be more intense and destructive than in the past, thanks to global warming—a legacy of the European scientific enlightenment, and thus also a legacy of European colonialism.
The Europeans, other words, are gone but they have left death, sorrow, and devastation in their wake.
But in order to revitalize that imagery, he infuses it with the tempos and cadences of Caribbean speech, dance, and and music.
This is a poem that celebrates the sound of the human voice.
But when Caliban echoes Ariel’s song, life becomes death.
Caliban’s modern island has become a world of dead ends: “out of the living stone out of the living bone/of coral, these dead/towers.” Caliban remembers political revolutions that should have brought freedom but resulted only in more oppression in the form of police abuse and even addiction to the toys of capitalism.
The city is awash in the grim debris of colonization.
As colonization’s high tide has receded and European powers have departed, the island peoples have been left destitute, invisible, erased by history.
Like many other Caribbean islands, Barbados has long had a large, poor population of African descent; its own name means ‘bearded ones’ in Spanish and might refer to the hanging roots of trees or to the beards worn by the indigenous people encountered by the Spanish when they arrived in the fifteenth century.
The island’s original name in Arawakan is “Icirougandin,” meaning red land with white teeth; today the people who live there simply call it Bim.