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Abby Broadhurst

IB English – Pd. 6
Mr. Jameson

CSI: “The Glory Trumpeter”

Throughout the poem “The Glory Trumpeter,” the author, Derek Walcott, incorporates

juxtaposition in combination with imagery in order to highlight the bitter and unrecognized

sacrifice that many make in order to support loved ones. This particular poem, which is narrated

by a nephew who presumably remains in Saint Lucia, focuses on the uncle “Old Eddie,” a man

repeatedly portrayed as old and worn down. As the poem develops, it becomes clear that Eddie

is just returning to the island, his homeland, from America, a place where he sought

opportunities to make money that he could send back to the island in order to better his peoples’

lives. His homecoming is not a particularly joyous occasion for Eddie, however, as is evident

through the resentment and bitterness that seems to permeate his very being. Clearly, Eddie’s

homecoming introduces mixed emotions as Eddie, worn down from years of sacrifice and

humility, recognizes the frivolity of his people and the lack of appreciation for what he has done.

This inner conflict is first introduced when the narrator describes Eddie’s eyes as “derisive and

avuncular,” thus presenting the bitterness that is preventing Eddie from fully embracing his

people and his homeland. The denotation and connotation of derisive are negative and indicate a

mocking anger. As the poem continues, it becomes clear that this anger is the result of years of

hard work suffered for others’ benefit. On the other hand, the denotation of avuncular is

significant as it conveys the familial friendly relationship that certainly existed prior to the

uncle’s, Eddie’s, departure. The narrator then continues to employ juxtaposition to highlight

Eddie’s emotions and the impact that his stay in America has had on him. He states that Eddie

could play his trumpet “with the same fury of indifference,/If what propelled such frenzy was
despair.” The use of the word “fury” to enhance Eddie’s difference is once again indicative of

the simmering recognition of his bitter sacrifice. The implication that it is despair that fuels this

indifferent fury is important as it enhances the idea that Eddie’s spirit has burned out and that his

experiences have burdened him to the point that he can no longer be the man he once was as he

has seemingly lost his passion for life. A more subtle instance of juxtaposition is evident in the

third stanza. The returning “compliant men” are described to have “bowed heads,” thus

conveying the subservience required of black laborers in America during the time period in

which this poem takes place. This depressed demeanor is enhanced through imagery of “limp

waiters’ ties” and “lard-colored eyes.” The juxtaposition is evident in the biblical allusion to

Joshua and the wall at the end of the stanza. Just as Joshua managed to shatter the wall of the

city, the peoples’ expectations of a grand homecoming have been shattered. The islanders’

expectation of a grand life in America and their perception of Eddie having good experiences

contrasts to the evident reality of hardship and humility embodied through Eddie’s drastically

changed appearance. It seems that this recognition of false assumptions begins to take form in

the nephew’s mind as he ends the poem relaying how “Eddie turned his back” on his people,

playing his horn in “lonely exaltation.” The imagery emphasizes the “Gulf” that has formed

between Eddie and the islanders who could never truly understand what Eddie has been through.

Additionally, his “lonely exaltation” conveys his isolation in that it is only those remaining in

“Mobile and Galveston” who can truly relate and understand him. This is juxtaposition as it

conveys the irony of the situation; Eddie cannot relate to his people but rather to those men

known only for a short while, met in a foreign country. Walcott masterfully incorporates

juxtaposition through his language and ideas in order to highlight the bitterness of devalued

sacrifice and suffering.