Trinitarian Prime Minister, Eric Williams put it, is what the poem ‘Spirally Remembered’ by Manson Gonzalez is about. The economic and personal loss coming from the rise demise of the sugar industry is the central theme of the poem. The title of the poem suggests a duality of reminiscence and loss for an industry that is ‘gone’. The poem is told from the point of view of an old man reminiscing years connected with the sugar industry; fond childhood memories, readership and toil in the field as a young man and finally, dissatisfaction.
The use of figurative language and diction directs the reader to the theme of the poem. The poem forms a continuous pattern at the beginning with three stanzas of couplets followed by one trace or three line stanza. This is where Gonzalez talks about the sugar industry intimately, personally and at times, fondly: ‘carts laden with succulent stalks’, ‘collected the arrow pollen for so many restful pillows’. The imagery of ‘restful pillows’ connotes the tactile feeling of comfort and satisfaction.
His use of metaphors such as ‘iron hard hybrids that broke teeth’ emphasizes personal loss because the cane which, represents the author, goes from being ‘succulent stalks'(soft and fun) to ‘iron hard hybrids'(hard and dissatisfied). Gonzales use of alliteration is used to further emphasize contrasting emotions as well as the mood which the author chooses to convey. ‘Succulent stalks’ and hard hybrid’ is an example of contrasting emotions; contentment versus disappointment. The mood of the poem is also affected by the use of alliteration when the author writes ‘hustling, hanging around bob hunting, ‘scarred skin and cane soot’.
The mood is light regardless of the diction or word choice. The words in this poem are used to connote the meaning that even though the men were Job hunting, they were having fun doing so (managing around’) and even though they had ‘scarred skin’, they were rewarded well on payday (the sugared wallet bulged on payday). The pattern of the poem stops midway through signaling a shift in the tone: ‘The sugared wallet bulged on payday. The imagery of ‘sugared wallets’ engages the gustatory senses and emphasizes that the reward after irking hard was ‘sweet’.
It also signals the end of the prime of the sugar industry because the tone of the poem changes drastically to one of morose displeasure toward anything to do with the sugar industry. The pattern of the poem resumes to three stanzas of couplets but this time, it is followed by two stanzas of teeters. The shift in tone begins when the poet says today I know no one by name in the Canfield or sugar industry. This suggests that time has passed and now he has no connection to the industry or anyone involved in it. The poem also ends with similar words to further emphasize his loss: ‘.. ND know none by name in field or factory. The poem makes a political statement as well. It speaks of the political atmosphere at the time and the role that the political leaders played in the downfall of the sugar industry and thus economic loss. The author uses alliteration (parliamentary postures’) and personification (the cane arrows point upward’) to emphasize that the sugar industry has turned into merely a decoration to draw in tourists to the country and instead of eyeing the colonial cash crop it used to be, it is now a spectacle used to entice tourists to bring in revenue.
The figurative language, diction and imagery used in the poem senses and engages in the emotions of the reader to understanding the personal and economic loss experienced from the demise of the sugar industry. Gonzalez adequately and deliberately uses figurative language to reminisce on fond memories and to mourn the loss of an industry that was rewarding, personally and economically despite the hardships of the olden days.