The Tropics in New York was written by Claude McKay in 1920. McKay was born in Jamaica in 1890 and immigrated to the United States in 1912. The twenty-two years that he lived in Jamaica gave him inspiration for this poem. The poem includes masterful imagery and other literary devices.
The poem starts with McKays somewhat cheerful description of luscious tropical fruits: Bananas ripe and green, and ginger-root, / Cocoa in pods and alligator pears, (lines 1-2). At this point, the reader is not sure what path this poem will take. Lines 5 and 6, Set in the window, bringing memories/ Of fruit-trees laden by low-singing rills, cause the reader to detect a sense of melancholy in McKays words. These two lines along with line 7, And dewy dawns, and mystical blue skies, combine to create an idyllic image of his lost paradise. This image contrasts heavily with his present surroundings in
It becomes clear in lines 9 and 10, My eyes grew dim, and I could see no more gaze; A wave of longing through my body swept, that the speaker is reminiscing and longing for a time and a place in his past; a place that seems unattainable to him now. By lines 11 and 12, And, hungry for the old, familiar ways, / I turned aside and bowed my head and wept, the reader understands completely why he has become overcome by grief. The grief is so strong that it brings him to tears due to a sense of hunger, not for the various fruits, but hunger for his native country.
The speaker in this poem is the poet,
The Tropics in
The Tropics in
The theme for this poem was sadness. McKay did a masterful job of using the first two stanzas to help the reader understand the wonderful memories that he had etched into his mind of his homeland. It allowed the reader to fully comprehend the depth and scope of the grief and longing he felt in the last stanza.