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The genius of the late great Shadow compared to iconic poet William Blake by scholar and author Bukka Rennie.

Shadow - Winston Bailey

(May – 1999)

William Blake a British philosopher- a poet who lived in the period 1757-1827 wrote the following words in one of his poems: “O see a world in a grain of sand/And heaven in a wild flower/Hold infinity in the palm of your hand/And eternity in an hour..." Listen now to Shadow- Winston Bailey, in his calypso "Evolution": "I am locked in a dungeon/in the middle of evolution/can't find the key/to escape destiny..."

Here's Blake again: "A robin redbreast in a cage/Puts all heaven in a rage/A dog starved at his master's gate/Predicts the ruin of the State/The lamb misused breeds public strife/And yet forgives the butcher's knife... And listen again to Shadow: "Everything is in harmony/Until the farmer get hungry.../The farmer comes searching the nest/The cock bawl out loud in protest/Cook curry ochro!..."

If you make the connection between those quotes, the revelation comes. Nature and time and space and all social activity are directly linked, integrated and interrelated. As Blake once wrote: “The sun rises and humanity rejoices and moves, the sun sets and humanity stops and sleeps.” Similarly Shadow would sing in his "My Belief": " I believe in the stars and the dark night/ I believe in the sun and the daylight/ /I believe in the little children/I believe in Life and its problems..."

Unlike our numerous social commentators who comment on particular and specific events and issues of a political or socio-economic nature, Shadow contemplates natural phenomena and man's relations to the universe. It explains why his approach to most topics: poverty, pressure, friendship, honesty, jealousy, survival, truth, human rights etc, all of which are titles of actual Shadow calypsoes, signify that tendency of all philosophers including Shadow to draw concrete lessons from abstract treatment of subject matter..

Anyone can trace Shadow's use of these symbolic themes in all his calypsoes and show how he expands the symbols as he goes along to incorporate new imagery and new meaning. In short, Shadow turns all the norms upside down and around.

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Excellent thesis...

Absolutely powerful contribution to enhance our knowledge of the profundity of Shadow's work. There may be many years before the worth of his lyrics might be fully recognised. On the other hand, Blake I would think after 200 years is still in the curriculum for courses in English Literature at tertiary level education. What about a course--Trinidad and Tobago Calypso and Society?
Absolutely powerful contribution to enhance our knowledge of the profundity of Shadow's work. There may be many years before the worth of his lyrics will be fully recognised. On the other hand, Blake I would think after 200 years is still in the curriculum for courses in English Literature at tertiary level education. What about a course--Trinidad and Tobago Calypso and Society?

Interesting Title you chose, Ayesha!!!

I take it that you read this one:

Calypso & society in pre-independence Trinidad Paperback – 1990 Gordon Rohlehr

Yes Claude! Gordon Rohlehr's, a great body of reference.. I was a Lecturer in Caribbean Cultural Studies at 2 Universities. One Course was Caribbean Literature and Society, hence the reason I chose to suggest that title.

Well you could write a GREAT BOOK on "CALYPSO and SOCIETY"

I ready to START READING!!!

Thanks for the compliment! Wish I could, lots in meh head, but....However, I feel I passed onto some youngsters the significance of calypso..

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