17 pages 34 minutes read

Derek Walcott

Midsummer XXVII

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1984

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Poem Analysis

Analysis: "Midsummer XXVII"

The speaker of “Midsummer XXVII” explores the way America encroaches on the island of St. Thomas. The speaker, who presumably represents a version of the author, Walcott himself, feels uneasy about these changing allegiances. As the island transforms from a place of natural beauty to a place of greater industrialization, class division, and conflict, the speaker becomes increasingly aware of the way his own loyalties are being shifted, seemingly against his will.

In the first lines, the speaker declares, “Certain things here are quietly American” (Line 1). The term “quietly” (Line 1) American suggests that the influence of America is subtle. Some may not notice it, but the speaker does. The first aspect he focuses on is the chain-link fence that divides the ocean from the baseball field. The fence signifies division between classes and cultures, introducing the speaker’s own feeling of being divided by two different countries. The speaker subtly notes that to become American means to cross a divide, to choose loyalty to one side of the metaphorical fence, and not to straddle lines.

The natural parts of the island, like the pelican and the ocean, are being transformed by human perception into products of industry, like an “engine” (Line 6) or “sheets of zinc” (Line 20).