Ruins of a Great House
Derek Walcott


Derek Walcott is a world known poet. His poems present the trauma undergone by the West Indians due to mixed identity.

West Indies are the group of islands with individual identities. The colonial rule has anglicized them very much.

In this poem he presents the enduring effect of the colonial rule even after freedom. He presents the ruins of a great house. Through great house he implies the mighty colonisers as well as the unified West Indian identity. Walcott is not for any kind of divisions among West Indians. He prefers an unified identity.

Through the poem the poet presents the West Indies which is in fragments. He further implies that the colonisers are responsible for the fragmentation.

What the colonisers left still stays there. The poem itself is in fragments. The poem itself is in ruins.

The West Indian life is very much influenced by the colonisers. The Kiplings and Donnes have become inseparable with the West Indian life.

The death and decay of the West Indian culture—though there existed nothing as West Indian culture—is well presented through the broken continuity of the poem.

The poem has a profound and deep thought. The pain and agony which lays hidden in the West Indian psyche finds an expression in this poem.

Derek Walcott has won Nobel Prize for literature in the year 1992. He rose to fame not only in West Indies but also all over the world. The hallmark of his poem is deep and profound thought.

The striking lines in the poem are:
1. and have our light in ashes…
2. The leprosy of empire
3. Deciduous beauty prospered and gone
4. The abuse of ignorance by Bible and by sword.
5. …vain expression of bitter faction

In this poem one can find more and more striking and thought provoking lines.

“The rot remains with us, the men are gone” is the most powerful expression in the poem which implies that colonial impact still stays on.
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