Coffee beans and lemon grass……….. The Poet Laureate of Jamaica.
One man’s dilemma is another man’s enlightenment. When the colonies revolted in North America and eventually produced the United States of America the revolution is considered only a part of Europe’s’ period of ‘enlightenment’. But for the citizens of the colonies it was a time and a place of such overwhelming importance that in the country itself there is no period of ‘ enlightenment’ as well most of Europe knows the reciprocal. This I believe to be true.
And what is the point? What we see and hear and learn, the knowledge one carries for their life is the compilation and assimilation of environment. Each generation hopefully and with wishful thinking becomes immune to repeating the lessons of the previous generation. At times there is success. At times a hundred generations still fight the same fight. Does the repetition of struggling comes from lessons never shared or possibly not learned? Just may-be we feel compelled to dominate what we cannot. Dominate nature, her mountains and seas….all creatures and man himself at the sacrifice of enjoining and communing of thriving and sharing. A human trait of arrogance which cannot exist outside of a humans mind. Behold the universe and apply arrogance, only misery will replace the falsity of that human vanity.
The country of Jamaica beginning in the 1960’s and lasting into the 80’s experienced something of a social revolution which appears lost to history. From those years came Mervyn Eustace Morris the Poet Laureate of Jamaica. Exploring life and death, living and surviving, Morris pens a social consciousness of his brothers and sisters. Not always quickly understood but timeless and accurate, his writings and observations of man, mankind and life stand today. Showing the reader a hallowed ground of allusion balanced with restraint. Indeed forcing the reader to earn the reward of reading, denying his fans and friends or family an instant fix of satisfaction. Writing in sparse and rhythmic verse, he writes as a Jamaican ….
“A Chant Against Death”
The thing of life, a heartbeat from start to end. He writes from the consciousness of himself.
As the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Morris produced with neither reluctance nor ambivalence, verse written in ‘International English’ of political ideology. His message being simple and unadorned. Do we too easily become what we rail (verb) upon, socially, morally and unconsciously, “once you choose a side“.
‘To An Expatriate Friend’
Colour meant nothing. Anyone
who wanted help, had humour or was kind
was brother to you; categories of skin
were foreign; you were colour-blind.
And then the revolution. Black
and loud the horns of anger blew
against the long oppressions; sufferers
cast of the precious values of the few.
New powers re-enslaved us all:
each person manacled in skin, in race.
You could not wear your paid up dues:
the keen discriminators typed your face.
The future darkening, you thought it time
to say good-bye. It may be you were right.
It hurt to see you go; but, more,
it hurt to see you slowly going white.
Poet Laureate Remarks at Investiture Ceremony King’s House, 21 May 2014
” As Dahlia Harris put it recently, speaking on behalf of Minister Hanna:
We hope for “poetry driven by a freedom to speak of ourselves . . . through forms,
content and language . . . more reflective of who we are as a people.” “
Jamaica in the early 80’s gave me many gifts I have never forgotten nor taken for granted. These children are now the men of their country. I cannot speak for them but only read the wisdom they share to this day….walden