Thursday, April 7, 2011
Sonnet 169 V.
Robert Southey’s poems on the slave trade are a series of sonnets expressing his objection and anger about the slave trade. In sonnet 5 Southey speaks on the issues of vengeance against the slave traders. The poem begins by painting an image of a slave murdering his master with sword. He uses strong, descriptive language to create a very vivid image for the reader like “thirsty blade” and “cold bosom”. These descriptions definitely work to put the reader in agreement with the actions of the slave. Southey feels strongly that the act would be justified and goes on to ask “who shall blame him?” Furthermore, the poem speaks to the simply liberties and freedoms that are now denied to the slave because of slavery. Things like friendship and love will never be able to be carried out by the slave how they were before being enslaved and that their homeland will forever be separated from them. All of these things forcefully traded for a life of slavery for someone else’s benefit. Southey is troubled, disappointed, and even enraged by the acts of slave traders. This poem explains Southey’s thinking that slaves would have had to feel the need for revenge against their “tyrant lords” to the point that their religion would have waivered. The Line “No more on heaven he calls with fruitless breath” gives light to his thinking that after praying and praying and seeing no results to better the situation of slavery many slaves must have given up on it altogether. The series of sonnets encompass a range of thoughts, emotions, feelings, and situations slaves went through and put a bit of Southey’s logic behind them.