This is an essay I wrote for my Politics and Civics class. It is how I perceived the interview he had with Moyers.
Walcott can see evidence of America turning into what it initially tried to
avoid: an empire. Poetry and poets are important in our society because they
help better lives in society. America is turning into an empire like society
and it is showing through a number of different characteristics. America also
is often viewed as an ideal society for numerous reasons. The American society
is displayed as a democratic ideal society through monosyllabic language that makes
our culture favorable. According to
Derek Walcott, society’s responsibility to the world is to recruit and attract
people with the art of poetry, which displays our ideal American society’s
empire while distributing our language that isn’t considered diverse.
Being a poet partly
means being a complainer but they play an essential role in our society. The
poet doesn’t complain about random topics but looks at things on a sociological
level, and thus brings up new insight for our society. “The poet doesn’t
complain only on the level of sociology.
The poet points out the discontent that lies at the heart of man-and how
can that be redeemed? It’s not redeemed
by better medicine, better roads, and better housing” (Walcott 62). Poets
believe that there is no perfection to be found materialistically or
spiritually but they offer a way to better society by using ethics or something
close to it. Poets have their own invisible ethics they follow when creating
poems that keep their discipline of writing the poem.
joy of construction of a poem lies in the ecstasy of keeping the discipline of
the poem. If you amplify these “ethics” of the aesthetics of poetry to the
ethics of society, you see that the responsibility of keeping order-not in some
Nixonian sense of ‘law and order,’ but in the idea of a created order-is
essential to civilization. (Walcott 65)
According to Walcott this poetic procedure can
be applied to society. Not all societies allow poetry or poets to speak their
mind due to they may believe everything is working well in their society and
doesn’t need complainers, but our American society does openly allow poets to
join our society as we grow as an empire.
The art of poetry
contributes to our society in becoming an empire by preserving our language.
“They get a great joy in reciting and keeping their private anthology of poems
that I have provided for them to remember. The act of memory is a preservation
of the language” (Walcott 64). Our
American society was initially started based on the view to avoid being an
empire and keeping our strong stance on democracy. America has gained some
traits of an empire and we mostly will turn our heads the other way from these
certain empire like aspects that emerge from our society. “Our hesitancy to
describe this empire as an empire is admirable in some sense because the
average democratic citizens says; ‘I don’t want to be an empire” (Walcott 66).
However, most of these components of being an empire are instilled by history
and cant and shouldn’t be ignored by our society, such as assuming that our
democratic language is superior to other languages. “There’s an inherent
superiority in English that says any other language is really not up to
it. Most empires have that” (Walcott
69). According to Walcott our society is reluctantly being turned into an
empire, which may be interpreted as our purpose as a society to the world.
The spread of America
as an empire is made even easier when our society is often viewed as an ideal
society. The reason that America is an ideal is because of the democracy and
initial rules that have been placed here such as equal rights, but Walcott
believes that our American society has started to move away from that as the
American society slowly turns into an empire.
“People come because America is an ideal. There’s no other country in
the history of the world that people want to go to do so much in their hearts,
not because of the money but because of what the ideal says: Everybody is
created equal” ( Walcott 69). Another reason why America may be viewed as an
ideal according to Walcott is that our language is portrayed as being superior
to other languages. “But if you have a democratic approach to speech, you don’t
really listen to other peoples languages because you think you’re speaking the
proper way. If you hear Spanish, you think immediately of saying, ‘well, it’s
an inferior people. They don’t really talk English.’ (Walcott 69).This also
ties back to how America is becoming an empire by pushing their language on
other societies. According to Walcott the truth about our society is that the
American society doesn’t always maintain ideal society guidelines that were initially
employed because of the meaningless language that is currently presented.
the man who gets up and says, ‘We’re not gonna take any nonsense’ does not
speak in the pitch of a dictator, nor does he speak with the polysyllables of a
dictator. He speaks with the monosyllables of America averageness. But he’s
still carrying the same force (Walcott 69). America has the responsibility as
being seen by the world as an ideal democratic society with superior language
and this language isn’t always live up to the ideal language standards.
According to Walcott
America as a society does not contain diversity in language. This implies that
our language is valued over other languages and without polysyllabic words our
language lacks meaning. This is because of our monosyllabic ways. “The
real language that should be up there on the podium should be a language that
contains the polysyllables of power. But
it is shielded by the mediocrity of monosyllables that makes it
interchangeable” (Walcott 70). Walcott says that society should have more
diversity in our language that conveys more of a message or meaning to deliver
throughout society. In order for the American society to become diverse in
language it needs a more polysyllabic distribution of language.”But the real
language back of that is a polysyllabic vehemence. So if Hitler gets up and
says, ‘we are going to exterminate our enemies,’ these are polysyllabic words”
(Walcott 70). Our position as a society in the world is that we do not have a
diverse language and our language should be backed up with vehemence.
Derek Walcott says,
that society’s responsibility to the world is to recruit and attract people
with the art of poetry, which displays our ideal American society’s empire
while distributing our language that isn’t considered diverse. Poets and their contribution to society is
preserving our language, and using the art of poetry’s ethics and applying them
sociologically. Our society is often viewed as an ideal society because of our
superior language and democratic society. The American society looks for this
diversity in language through our literature such as poetry, but it isn’t
always evident because of the superior administration of our bland language.