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Yet they achieve an ultimate memorial: they blend their flesh with the beloved clay. The poem balances between a nostalgia for the past and for monuments to testify to that past and an acknowledgement of the futility and hubris of such a ‘monumental’ view of history. This tension is ‘resolved’ in the final two lines when the body becomes the land, albeit in a kind of ‘death-rite/right’. 45 The poem’s concluding stanza reads: The timbers will creak and my heart will break and the sailors will lay my bones on the stiff rich grass, as sharp as spikes, by the volcanic stones.

3) Allfrey also wrote a poem dedicated to one of her adopted sons, David, a Carib from the designated ‘Carib Territory’ in Dominica. Allfrey had considerable interest in, and some support from the Caribs55 and felt (somewhat naively) that the fact that their ancestries were ‘connected’ (via her distant relative, Thomas Warner, who had ‘married’ a Carib woman), gave her a special empathy with the them. ‘Trio by Lamplight’ recalls nostalgically, in its dedication, ‘For David once upon a time’, childhood and happier times.

It is certainly likely that part of the reason for the cryptic nature of Allfrey’s poetry is connected to the difficulties of maintaining privacy when living in ‘a small place’,42 but it is also related to her own perception of the role of the poet as somehow out-of-the-ordinary or ‘enchanted’. The fact that Allfrey is a white West Indian would also mean that her credentials as an ‘authentic’ West Indian would not have been readily assumed. Further, Allfrey seldom inscribes ‘West Indianness’ in obviously recognizable ways in her poetry; neither does she express dissatisfaction with colonially inherited traditions of poetry by experimenting with a range of forms, as did Una Marson.

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