The Discovery Essay

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The Discovery-Rebecca Camilleri The poem “The Discovery” brings to mind a historical event of Christopher Columbus’s ‘discovery’ of the New World on his 1492 expedition across the Atlantic Ocean, which is initiated to the process of the Spanish colonisation. This poem is gone by several different names: ‘The Caravels’,’The Sonnet’ and ‘There was an indian’. “The Discovery” is an ironic title because it has a double meaning within its historical context. The poet John Collings Squire (1884-1958) is a British poet, writer, historian, influential literary critic and editor of the post WW1 period. He is also the leading poet of the Georgian period. J.C Squire was born in Plymouth and was educated at Blundell’s School and St.John’s College, Cambridge. The structure of the poem is a simple sonnet which consits of two quatrains and a sestet. The rhyme scheme is a mixture of Shakespearean and Petrarchan rhyme schemes-ABAB,CDCD,EFEGFG. This rhyme scheme creates a steady, forward-moving motion similar to the movement of the waves and the inevitability of the oncoming Spanish vessels coming to the shore. J.C Squire uses simple language and images for the uncomplicated life of the Indian from whose perspective this historical event is retold. The discovery of the ‘New World’ often related from the perspective of the Spanish colonisers of the 15th and 16th centuries. Squire rightly reminds us readers that this was a two-fold discovery as the indigenous Americans discovered a new world of their own. In the first quatrain, it starts off with ‘There was an Indian’ which gives a sense of anonymity in the identity of the Indian who witnesses the arrival of Columbus. This indefinite article allows us to believe that this Indian represents all Native Americans. The opening line is reminiscent of a folktale. This style suggests a mythologising of this historical event, infusing it

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