Labeling Uncovers Social Biases within Inkle and Yarico Re-telling.

The Story of Inkle and Yarico

The story Inkle and Yarico first appeared in 17h century London, in Richard Ligon’s book A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes. The story follows Inkle, a British merchant who sets sail for Barbados to check on his family’s sugar plantation. He ends up landing in a region home to Black Caribs, and is the only one on his ship who isn’t slaughtered. His life is owed to a Carib woman named Yarico, who provides him with food, water, and shelter. As they grow fond of one another, Inkle is rescued and him and Yarico head to the island of Barbados. Despite being cared for by Yarico, Inkle ultimately sells her as a slave.

“A Poetical Version of the much-admired Story of Inkle and Yarico.”

During my search through Inkle-and-Yarico-related documents, I encountered a very similar telling of the original story. This version, however, is written as a poem. There are many comparisons to make between this version and Ligon’s original telling. The lyrical and rhythmic style of the poem creates a song-like nature to the story and gives it a more personal rendition. However, the same themes of colonialism, barbarism, and gender relations still permeate the seemingly happy story of the majority of the poem.

On SameDiff, I compared my document with the original story of Inkle and Yarico. The two had a .19 cosine similarity score, which is relatively low. The words found only in the poem were related strongly to emotions: “heart,” “breast,” “sighs,” “soft,” and “thrilling.” However, the words only found in the original version were “man,” “women,” “young,” “men,” “person,” and “old.” Words found in both documents were simply foundational elements of the story, such as “ship,” “wind,” and “maid.” A poetical telling of Inkle and Yarico toys with the tone of the story, which is evident through this comparison between the emotional words attached to the poem and the more straightforward diction of the original story

Research Question: Is there a relationship between the characterization in the poetic telling of Inkle and Yarico and the text’s most-used words?

While there are clear comparisons to be made between the poem and the origin story of Inkle and Yarico, there is a lot to be said about the poem’s own words in light of its characterization of men and women. After pasting the poem into WordCount, the tops words were “Inkle,” “Indian,” “heart,” “breast,” and “love.” I find it interesting how Yarico didn’t make it into the top words, despite this being the story of Inkle and Yarico. The poem is told in the third-person, so it’s clear the inclusion of Inkle’s name over Yarico’s name was choice from the poet. Words like Indian and maid are present throughout the poem; it’s almost as if these are Yarico’s “real” names in the eyes of the poet, or from the perspective of the original story. On WordCount, the document’s top bigrams were “in my,” “and with,” “the indian.” There seems to be a lot of emphasis on emotional diction, which may be due to the fact that Inkle’s betrayal and selling of Yarico doesn’t happen until the last stanza of the poem. I would say more than 80% of the story is a happy one. However, this still does not give clear reasoning as to why Inkle (a man) is referred to by his own name, while Yarico (a woman) is given these other labels.

I then put my poem into word tree, which wasn’t too interesting of a tool for this particular poem. Since it’s relatively short, and there were no words repeated more than six times, it was hard to get a layout that was telling to other aspects of the story. The most promising discovery I found was the word “maid,” showing up a few times after the word “Indian.” However, this was true for other version off Inkle and Yarico’s story as well.


Through analyzing a text by its individual words, new meanings to the text arise that can be culturally contextualized to uncover biases within a society. In this case, there is a clear imbalance in the way a man and a woman are labeled within this poetical version of Inkle and Yarico. A lot more might be discovered if we add a third reading of this story into the mix, or run this poem through another web-based tool.


Word Count: 1,145
Third Person POV
Genre: Poetry
Publication Date: Unknown; late 18th century-early 19th century
Publication Location: London, England
Publication Format: Magazine
Yarico’s Race: Native American

I decided to keep my metadata fairly simple. I included the point-of-view of the text as well as it’s genre because, as I explained above, these elements point out key differences between the original story and this one. The plot itself was written as straightforward as possible, leaning neither for or against a character. This third-person narration allowed me to understand more of the author’s biases without being clouded from the actual story.

This version was also published in London, England about 100 years after the original.