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In his poem, ‘Flame-Heart‘, Claude McKay expresses his longing for his homeland in a romantic fashion with non-racial themes. He uses vivid descriptions to show a great love of his home, Jamaica, conveying it’s loveliness. Rhyme scheme and stylized nature also play a role in McKay’s highly reminiscent work.
‘Flame-Heart’ is a poem in the traditional romantic style, resembling the works of Shelley and Wordsworth in its fashion. Serving as a sort of introduction, the first stanza is free flowing and lovely in its descriptions. ’Purple Apples’, ’doves brown the fields,’ ’poinsettia’s red’ and other such descriptions permeate the poem almost to the point of painting it with color. The portrayals of every faucet of his youth are romanticized, from skipping school to the flight of birds. Words such as ’sweet,’ ’fling,’ and ’innocent’ romanticize the work, softening the descriptions used so prevalently. The rhyme scheme of the poem is a-b-a-b nearly throughout the entire second stanza, which is loosely styled as a sonnet. The last two lines end in a couplet using ‘remember’ and ‘December.’ Throughout McKay’s entire work, his homeland is pictured in the richest of words.
The descriptions in ‘Flame-Heart’ illuminate the type of landscape McKay would have seen in his youth. A semi-tropical place overflowing with fruit and flowers. ‘What time the apples come to juice, and what month brings the shy forget-me-not,’ expresses in detail two features now absent from his life. Several time’s the ‘poinsettia’s blood red in warm December’ is mentioned. This is the one thing the author recalls clearly and can not forget. Everything else in his mind is blurred together, like some lovely painting, but he can’t forget the poinsettias. It seems as if this memory opens up others, which he has stored in the back of his mind. Memories about his days as a schoolboy come back to ...
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