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Slaves to SweetnessBritish and Caribbean Literatures of Sugar$
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Carl Plasa

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781846311840

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315701

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‘Muse Suppress the Tale’: James Grainger's The Sugor-Cone and the Poetry of Refinement

‘Muse Suppress the Tale’: James Grainger's The Sugor-Cone and the Poetry of Refinement

(p.8) 1 ‘Muse Suppress the Tale’: James Grainger's The Sugor-Cone and the Poetry of Refinement
Slaves to Sweetness
Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines James Grainger's The Sugar-Cane (1764). Grainger's text is as much a poem of evasion as of display, consistently censoring the racial and sexual oppression intrinsic to the plantation culture that inspires it. What is significant about The Sugar-Cane's gaps and silences is the parallels they suggest between aesthetic and economic orders, the making of the poem, and the making of the sugar it celebrates: Grainger's text excludes from itself those aspects of slavery the genteel reader might find unpalatable, just as the planter whom he repeatedly addresses, and with whom he identifies, refines out from his sugar those things that threaten its purity and hence its profitability also. Despite the poem's discursive vigilance, however, what it seeks to expunge remains stubbornly present, appearing in displaced, distorted and fragmentary forms that vitiate the saccharine portrayal of slavery its author seeks to uphold.

Keywords:   poem of evasion, poetry of refinement, racial oppression, sexual oppression, plantation culture, slavery, sugar

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