And Have Not Mercy, I Am Waiting: Conscious Inaction as Postcolonial Resistance in Patrick Kavanagh's "The Great Hunger" and Derek Walcott's "The Fortunate Traveller"

Christopher Lowell Stuck, University of South Carolina - Columbia


This project examines Patrick Kavanagh’s “The Great Hunger” and Derek Walcott’s “The Fortunate Traveller” as sites of postcolonial resistance. As presented in these poems, the main characters are caught between the memories of the colonial and anti-colonial pasts and the faltering promises of postcolonial independence. Instead of choosing between being defined solely by the past or accepting an independence under contrived terms, or attempting to reconcile the two, Walcott’s and Kavanagh’s poems propose conscious inaction in order to resist the apparent inevitability of the choice. Written at similar moments in their respective postcolonial regions, placing these two poems together for analysis preserves the particulars of Irish and Caribbean postcolonial experiences while allowing for cross-cultural solidarities to be drawn and the lingering preconditions of postcolonial experience to be examined.