In the sound of all music

I hear the sadness of the world

And still I say -- play, play.

The words of Trinidad poet Wilfred Cartey, read by Elliot Parris at the Smithsonian's Carmichael Auditorium last night, foreshadowed the Caribbean Independence Week concert.

The sadness was palpable at times in the poetry of numerous Third World authors, their verse frequently inspired by colonial oppression or the longing to return home. Sometimes, however, the sadness was more personal than political, as when Parris read the "Mother Suite," a moving portrait of motherhood in the islands by Barbadian Edward Brathwaite.

Even when the poetry was written in "nation language" -- part dialect, part ad lib -- the pride and passion that the Caribbean writers hold for their homeland was unmistakable.

And so, too, was the exuberance of the music performed by Image and the calypso monarch, King Obstinate. Image, a nine-piece brass and percussion ensemble, took the crowd on a tour of the islands with their infectious "road marches."

Then King Obstinate, whose music is a blend of calypso, reggae and soca (a cross between soul and calypso) entertained with several songs, some of them based on spontaneous and often hilarious exchanges with the audience. During his performance the sadness of the evening didn't vanish altogether, but the music clearly offered new hope and encouragement.