Even Tho Grace Nichols Essay Format

In this post you will find all of the poems that you will be expected to know from the Poetry Anthology - they are in the order that they appear in your book.  The Poems are written here and in some cases there are videos of the poems being read by various people.  There are also some summaries and analysis of the poems.

RELATIONSHIPS

Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Note:

In this intense love poem Duffy rejects traditional symbols of love, such as 'red roses' or 'satin hearts' in favour of 'an onion'.  This suggests Duffy is criticising conventional ideas and empty gestures of love.  She is promising her lover, and the reader that her love is more original, honest and true.

Duffy shows her wit and poetic cleverness by managing to keep the extended metaphor of the onion being like her love going throughout the poem.  By doing this Duffy turns an ordinary object, an 'onion' into an unusual symbol of love, and makes it seem a more appropriate symbol than traditional Valentine gifts.

A reading of the poem:

Rubbish at Adultery by Sophie Hannah 

Must I give up another night
To hear you whinge and whine
About how terribly grim you feel
And what a dreadful swine
You are? You say you’ll never leave
Your wife and children. Fine;

When have I ever asked you to?
I’d settle for a kiss.
Couldn’t you, for an hour or so,
Just leave them out of this?
A rare ten minutes off from guilty
Diatribes—what bliss.

Yes, I’m aware you’re sensitive:
A tortured, wounded soul.
I’m after passion, thrills, and fun.
You say fun takes its toll,
So what are we doing here? I fear
We’ve lost our common goal.

You’re rubbish at adultery.
I think you ought to quit.
Trouble is, at fidelity
You’re also slightly shit.
Choose one and do it properly
You stupid, stupid git.

 

 

 

 

 

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Note:

This sonnet attempts to define love, by telling both what it is and is not. In the first quatrain, the speaker says that love—”the marriage of true minds”—is perfect and unchanging; it does not “admit impediments,” and it does not change when it find changes in the loved one. In the second quatrain, the speaker tells what love is through a metaphor: a guiding star to lost ships (“wand’ring barks”) that is not susceptible to storms (it “looks on tempests and is never shaken”). In the third quatrain, the speaker again describes what love is not: it is not susceptible to time. Though beauty fades in time as rosy lips and cheeks come within “his bending sickle’s compass,” love does not change with hours and weeks: instead, it “bears it out ev’n to the edge of doom.” In the couplet, the speaker attests to his certainty that love is as he says: if his statements can be proved to be error, he declares, he must never have written a word, and no man can ever have been in love.

In this video the sonnet is read by Bertram Selwyn:

A modern reading of the Poem:

Our Love Now by Martyn Lowery

I said,
observe how the wound heals in time,
how the skin slowly knits
and once more becomes whole
The cut will mend, and such
is our relationship.

She said,
Although the wound heals
and appears cured, it is not the same.
There is always a scar,
a permanent reminder.
Such is our love now.

I said,
observe the scab of the scald,
the red burnt flesh is ugly,
but it can be hidden.
In time it will disappear,
Such is our love, such is our love.

She said,
Although the burn will no longer sting
and we’ll almost forget that it’s there
the skin remains bleached
and a numbness prevails.
Such is our love now

I said,
remember how when you cut your hair,
you feel different, and somehow incomplete.
But the hair grows – before long
it is always the same.
Our beauty together is such.

She said,
After you’ve cut your hair,
it grows again slowly. During that time
changes must occur,
the style will be different.
Such is our love now.

I said,
listen to how the raging storm
damages the trees outside.
The storm is frightening
but it will soon be gone.
People will forget it ever existed.
The breach in us can be mended.

She said,
Although the storm is temporary
and soon passes,
it leaves damage in its wake
which can never be repaired.
The tree is forever dead.
Such is our love

Note:

Our love now is a modern poem written by Martyn Lowery. The poem is a argument between two lovers. It is written in alternative statements, giving the mans point of view first and the woman's second. The man in the relationship believes that whatever that has happened can be mended or it will fade, but the woman thinks that it has ruined their whole relationship and cannot be swayed.

The poem shows different attitudes towards something that has happened between two partners. They disagree about the effect of something that has damaged their relationship. In the first stanza he compares the rift in their relationship to an injury. The use of the noun implies that something painful has occurred. The use of alliteration `skin slowly', give the impression that they will need time and patience. On the opposite side of the page we have the woman's honest and practical viewpoint. She believes that the relationship is permanently damages. On the surface it may appear all right but underneath there will always be pain and resentment `there is always a scar, a permanent reminder' she believes that one never truly recovers. The feelings of love have changed. Once again the poet has used an extended metaphor in the following stanza `observe the scab of the scald'.

The use of alliteration, the repetition of the `s' sound suggests that angry words have left them scared. He believes that they can bury the past, start again, hurt will be forgotten. She disagrees, she feels that resentment will remain; one can forgive, but never forget. In the next stanza he states that they are incomplete without each other. `When you cut you hair, you feel different, and somehow incomplete'. His life is empty without her and they should be reunited and enjoy the fulfilling relationship they had experienced. She disagrees and insists although she cut her hair by the time it grows again it will have changed `During that time changes must occur, the style will be different'. He finally compares the relationship to a raging storm. Here he uses nature imagery. Once the storm is over there is peace and tranquility this suggests even after all their quarrels there can be reconciliation `the storm is frightening, but it will son be gone' everything passes, memories fade `the breech in us can be mended'. She echoes his use of nature imagery but feels that the relationship is permanently damaged.

Even Tho by Grace Nichols

Man I love
but won’t let you devour

even tho
I’m all watermelon
and starapple and plum
when you touch me

even tho
I’m all seamoss
and jellyfish
and tongue

Come
leh we go to de carnival
You be banana
I be avocado

Come
leh we hug up
and brace-up
and sweet one another up

But then
leh we break free
yes, leh we break free
And keep to de motion
of we own person/ality

Grace Nichols discusses finding her own voice as a poet. She touches on the use of 'standard' English and the use of Creole and talks about the choice of language for her poem 'Even Tho'.  A reading of the poem follows.

Kissing by Fleur Adcock

The young are walking on the riverbank
arms around each other’s waist and shoulders,
pretending to be looking at the waterlilies
and what might be a nest of some kind, over
there, which two who are clamped together
mouth to mouth have forgotten about.
The others, making courteous detours
around them, talk, stop talking, kiss.
They can see no one older than themselves.
It’s their river. They’ve got all day.

Seeing’s not everything. At this very
moment the middle-aged are kissing
in the backs of taxis, on the way
to airports and stations. Their mouths and tongues
are soft and powerful and as moist as ever.
Their hands are not inside each other’s clothes
(because of the driver) but locked so tightly
together that it hurts: it may leave marks
on their not of course youthful skin, which they won’t
notice. They too may have futures.

One Flesh by Elizabeth Jennings

Lying apart now, each in a separate bed,
He with a book, keeping the light on late,
She like a girl dreaming of childhood,
All men elsewhere - it is as if they wait
Some new event: the book he holds unread,
Her eyes fixed on the shadows overhead.

Tossed up like flotsam from a former passion,
How cool they lie. They hardly ever touch,
Or if they do, it is like a confession
Of having little feeling - or too much.
Chastity faces them, a destination
For which their whole lives were a preparation.

Strangely apart, yet strangely close together,
Silence between them like a thread to hold
And not wind in. And time itself's a feather
Touching them gently. Do they know they're old,
These two who are my father and my mother
Whose fire from which I came, has now grown cold?

Note:

This poem is about a daughter's views on her parents' relationship, dwelling on its emotional and sexual aspects. 

This is what her parents could have replied:

To start with Liz, this isn't any of your business. But seeing that your prurient mind is mistaken, here are the real facts.

1. We sleep separately because one of us tends to wake the other up. Sleep doesn't flow easily and continuously when you're past middle age.

2. We know exactly how old we are, thank you. In fact as age progresses we get more aware of it, not less. It's the young who aren't aware of time passing and how precious it is. 

3. We don't tend to show passion towards one another when the kids are around because it's unseemly; nor do we converse intimitely unless we're alone. But, seeing that you've raised the matter, we still love one another and each of our lives are made richer by having the other. Real love is always increasing, never decreasing.

4. You might be surprised to know that we even have sex now and again, especially when you're out with your literary friends. Sex is possible at any age, it's only ill health that prevents it. 

5. Chastity is a deliberate moral decision anyway - what you mean is merely abstention. We'll get you a dictionary for Christmas.

6. We suggest you stick to writing poems about things that you understand. 

A reading of the Poem:

A Song for Last Year's Wife by Brian Patten

Alice, this is my first winter
of waking without you, of knowing
that you, dressed in familiar clothes
are elsewhere, perhaps not even
conscious of our anniversary. Have
you noticed? The earth’s still as hard,
the same empty gardens exist; it is
as if nothing special had changed,
I wake with another mouth feeding
from me, yet still feel as if
Love had not the right
to walk out of me. A year now. So
what? you say. I send out my spies.
to discover what you are doing. They smile,
return, tell me your body’s as fi rm,
you are as alive, as warm and inviting
as when they knew you fi rst ... Perhaps it is
the winter, its isolation from other seasons,
that sends me your ghost to witness
when I wake. Somebody came here today, asked
how you were keeping, what
you were doing. I imagine you,
waking in another city, touched
by this same hour. So ordinary
a thing as loss comes now and touches me

 

My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—(which I have not)—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
—E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

Note:

This poem is loosely based on historical events involving Alfonso, the Duke of Ferrara, who lived in the 16th century. The Duke is the speaker of the poem, and tells us he is entertaining an emissary who has come to negotiate the Duke’s marriage (he has recently been widowed) to the daughter of another powerful family. As he shows the visitor through his palace, he stops before a portrait of the late Duchess, apparently a young and lovely girl. The Duke begins reminiscing about the portrait sessions, then about the Duchess herself. His musings give way to a diatribe on her disgraceful behavior: he claims she flirted with everyone and did not appreciate his “gift of a nine-hundred-years- old name.” As his monologue continues, the reader realises with ever-more chilling certainty that the Duke in fact caused the Duchess’s early demise: when her behavior escalated, “[he] gave commands; / Then all smiles stopped together.” Having made this disclosure, the Duke returns to the business at hand: arranging for another marriage, with another young girl. As the Duke and the emissary walk leave the painting behind, the Duke points out other notable artworks in his collection.

A reading of the poem by the English Actor, Julian Graves:

There now follows a verse video based on the classic poem by Robert Browning. With Jonathan Stern and Dana Peterson:

And lastly, here's a virtual movie of the celebrated English poet and playwright Robert Browning reading his much loved poem "My Last Duchess" - wonderful!

Pity me not because the light of day by Edna St Vincent Millay

Pity me not because the light of day
At close of day no longer walks the sky;
Pity me not for beauties passed away
From field and thicket as the the year goes by;
Pity me not the waning of the moon,
Nor that the ebbing tide goes out to sea,
Nor that a man's desire is hushed so soon,
And you no longer look with love on me.
This have I known always: Love is no more
Than the wide blossom which the wind assails,
Than the great tide that treads the shifting shore,
Strewing fresh wreckage gathered in the gales:
Pity me that the heart is slow to learn
What the swift mind beholds at ever turn.

Note:

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) was well known in her day as a master of the sonnet.  Many of her works showed great lyrical style in the traditional Shakespearean sonnet form.  This fixed form is characterised by the inclusion of two stanzas: the first being an octave with two quatrains; the second, a sestet composed of a quatrain and a couplet.  The traditional themes of a sonnet usually revolve around the tormented lover (Kennedy 180-181).  Ms. Millay perfected this "tormented lover" role in her sonnets.  Millay "investigated her own nature with a ruthlessness that left nothing for any psychologist's analysis of the personality to shock her with" (Atkins 128). This role is evident in her sonnet, "Pity Me Not": In "Pity Me Not," Millay uses the cyclical forces of nature as a metaphor for her version of the cycle of love, a version that concludes a man's love for a woman always ends. Her comparison, however, becomes paradoxical as she moves from the rational mind to the emotional heart.

A video reading follows:

The Habit of Light by Gillian Clarke

In the early evening, she liked to switch on the lamps
in corners, on low tables, to show off her brass,
her polished furniture, her silver and glass.
At dawn she'd draw all the curtains back for a glimpse
of the cloud-lit sea. Her oak floors flickered
in an opulence of beeswax and light.
In the kitchen, saucepans danced their lids, the kettle purred
on the Aga, supper on its breath and the buttery melt
of a pie, and beyond the swimming glass of old windows,
in the deep perspective of the garden, a blackbird singing,
she'd come through the bean rows in tottering shoes,
her pinny full of strawberries, a lettuce, bringing
the palest potatoes in a colander, her red hair bright
with her habit of colour, her habit of light.

Note:

In this interview Gillian Clarke talks about her own Mother with reference to the poem:

BW: And yet she fills the place as in “The Habit of Light”.

GC: In one sense, as in “Letter from a Far Country”, she wanted to make things beautiful for people.

BW: Yes, “The Habit of Light” does create a particular image of domesticity.

GC: And making everything glowing! Unlike this cobweb-shrouded, dusty house, her house was pristine. And she worked from dawn till dusk making all this happen.

BW: And “Shopping” presents a similar image: “Brought up with make do and mend, she wanted nice things”.

GC: Yes, it’s meant to be a very frank look at my mother, but also loving look—because you can love a charmingly flawed person. She was certainly a flawed person, but then who isn’t? She had a touching faith in material goods, as many people do.

 

Nettles by Vernon Scannell

My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
'Bed' seemed a curious name for those green spears,
That regiment of spite behind the shed:
It was no place for rest. With sobs and tears
The boy came seeking comfort and I saw
White blisters beaded on his tender skin.
We soothed him till his pain was not so raw.
At last he offered us a watery grin,
And then I took my hook and honed the blade
And went outside and slashed in fury with it
Till not a nettle in that fierce parade
Stood upright any more. Next task: I lit
A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead.
But in two weeks the busy sun and rain
Had called up tall recruits behind the shed:
My son would often feel sharp wounds again.

Note:

Nettles is about a child - Scannell had six children - falling into a patch of nettles and seeking comfort from his parents. The speaker in the poem, after attending to his son's injuries - sets about destroying the nettles, only for them to return with the passing of just .

This poem explores the impulse for a parent to protect a child, using whatever means necessary. The emotive language used to present the child and the violence of the father's response suggests a powerful instinct has been provoked.

The poem is also about the inevitability of "wounds" being felt through life, whatever a parent may do to prevent it. The nettles grow back quickly and the speaker realises his son will feel pain again. The poem is about a parent realising that life will present children with hurtful situations, ones which cannot be avoided or prevented.

Martial imagery can at first seem out of place - after all, the events of the poem are very insignificant compared to the realities of war. However, the imagery and language is chosen to communicate the idea that such incidents are significant and important in the eyes of a parent. References to war might also suggest that the battle is futile. Whatever the father does the nettles will grow back and his son will probably be hurt again, just as wars will continue to occur, however violent the attempts to end them.

Now watch the following video -  a reading of the poem:

At the border, 1979 by Choman Hardi

‘It is your last check-in point in this country!’
We grabbed a drink –
soon everything would taste different.

The land under our feet continued
divided by a thick iron chain.

My sister put her leg across it.
'Look over here,’ she said to us,
‘my right leg is in this country
and my left leg is in the other.’
The border guards told her off.

My mother informed me: We are going home.
She said that the roads are much cleaner
the landscape is more beautiful
and people are much kinder.

Dozens of families waited in the rain.
‘I can inhale home,’ somebody said.
Now our mothers were crying. I was fi ve years old
standing by the check-in point
comparing both sides of the border.

The autumn soil continued on the other side
with the same colour, the same texture.
It rained on both sides of the chain.

We waited while our papers were checked,
our faces thoroughly inspected.
Then the chain was removed to let us through.
A man bent down and kissed his muddy homeland.
The same chain of mountains encompasses all of us.

Note:

The poem is about someone crossing the border back into their homeland as a child. The family sound helpless and anxious.

The adults are very emotional about crossing the border back to their homeland and the narrator can't understand why it's so important to them when things look the same on both sides of the border.

It is actually supposed to be the border between Iraq and Iran, it is a kurdish family who had fleed Iraq and Saddam Hussein, and are now returning. Choman Hardi (the poet) was born in Iraqi controlled Kurdistan in 1974. She was 1 month old when her family fled to Iran and 5 years old when they returned.

‘At the Border’ is autobiographical. The border is the border between Kurdistan and Iran.

There follows a video to accompany a reading of Choman Hardi's poem:

Lines to my Grandfathers by Tony Harrison

Ploughed parallel as print the stony earth.
The straight stone walls defy the steep grey slopes.
The place’s rightness for my mother’s birth
exceeds the pilgrim grandson’s wildest hopes –

Wilkinson farmed Thrang Crag, Martindale.
Horner was the Haworth signalman.
Harrison kept a pub with home-brewed ale:
fell farmer, railwayman, and publican,
and he, while granma slaved to tend the vat
graced the rival bars ‘to make comparisons’,

Queen’s Arms, the Duke of this, the Duke of that,
while his was known as just ‘ The Harrisons’ ’.

He carried cane and guineas, no coin baser!
He dressed the gentleman beyond his place
and paid in gold for beer and whisky chaser
but took his knuckleduster, ‘just in case’

The one who lived with us was grampa Horner
who, I remember, when a sewer rat
got driven into our dark cellar corner
booted it to pulp and squashed it flat.

He cobbled all our boots. I’ve got his last.
We use it as a doorstop on warm days.
My present is propped open by their past
and looks out over straight and narrow ways:

the way one ploughed his land, one squashed a rat,
kept railtracks clear, or, dressed up to the nines,
with waxed moustache, gold chain, his cane, his hat,
drunk as a lord could foot it on straight lines.

Fell farmer, railwayman and publican,
I strive to keep my lines direct and straight,
and try to make connections where I can –
the knuckleduster’s now my paperweight!

 

04/01/07 by Ian McMillan

The telephone shatters the night’s dark glass.
I’m suddenly awake in the new year air
And in the moment it takes a life to pass
From waking to sleeping I feel you there.

My brother’s voice that sounds like mine
Gives me the news I already knew.
Outside a milk fl oat clinks and shines
And a lit plane drones in the night’s dark blue,

And I feel the tears slap my torn face;
The light clicks on. I rub my eyes.
I’m trapped inside that empty space
You float in when your mother dies.

Feeling that the story ends just here,
The stream dried up, the smashed glass clear.

This poem simply entitled ‘04/01/07’, was written about the death of his mother. This is a very poignant poem: it is so clear and honest in its sadness.

 

 

 

CLASHES AND COLLISIONS

Half-cast by John Agard

Excuse me
standing on one leg
I'm half-caste

Explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when picasso
mix red an green
is a half-caste canvas
explain yuself
wha u mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean when light an shadow
mix in de sky
is a half-caste weather
well in dat case
england weather
nearly always half-caste
in fact some o dem cloud
half-caste till dem overcast
so spiteful dem dont want de sun pass
ah rass/
explain yuself
wha yu mean
when yu say half-caste
yu mean tchaikovsky
sit down at dah piano
an mix a black key
wid a white key
is a half-caste symphony

Explain yuself
wha yu mean
Ah listening to yu wid de keen
half of mih ear
Ah looking at u wid de keen
half of mih eye
and when I'm introduced to yu
I'm sure you'll understand
why I offer yu half-a-hand
an when I sleep at night
I close half-a-eye
consequently when I dream
I dream half-a-dream
an when moon begin to glow
I half-caste human being
cast half-a-shadow
but yu come back tomorrow
wid de whole of yu eye
an de whole of yu ear
and de whole of yu mind

an I will tell yu
de other half
of my story

Note:

John Agard came to England from Guyana in 1977. Like many people from the Caribbean, he is mixed race - his mother is Portuguese, but born in Guyana and his father is black. One of the things he enjoys about living in England is the wide range of people he meets: 'The diversity of cultures here is very exciting'.

However, one of the things he doesn't like is the view of racial origins, which is implied in the word 'half-caste', still used by many people to describe people of mixed race. The term now is considered rude and insulting. 

The poem’s content starts by sarcastically ‘apologising’ for being half-caste – ‘Excuse me standing on one leg I’m half-caste’.   He is not really apologising.   This is satire – although the poem starts by apologising for being half-caste, Agard MEANS exactly the opposite.

The next section of the poem argues that mixing colours in art, weather and symphonies does not make a half-thing.  When he says: ‘Yu mean when Picasso mix red an green is a half-caste canvas’, he is arguing that mixing colours is a GOOD thing, and makes things better!   You could say the same for blood and cultures.

He then writes how he must be able only to listen with half-a-ear, look with half-a-eye, offer us half-a-hand, etc. – a sarcastic, even angry, denunciation of the word ‘half’ in ‘half-caste’.   He writes: ‘I half-caste human being cast half-a-shadow’ – here, ‘half-a-shadow’ has a sinister vampire-like tone, and the author seems to be pointing out that by using the word half-caste, people are saying that he is not really human, but inferring that there is something sub-human, even evil about him.

He finishes by saying: ‘but yu must come back tomorrow wid … de whole of yu mind’ – here he is pointing out that it is us who have been thinking with only half-a-brain when we thoughtlessly use the word ‘half-caste’.   In this way, he challenges the readers to change their thinking, and come up with a better word.

Here is a video of John Agard reciting it:

The Link below will take you to a video of John Agard explaining why he wrote this poem (and it contains another recitation)

John Agard recites Half-cast

This film is a mix of words and pictures:

The following film was made by a student and features the Music of Usher, amongst others - I think you will like it.

Parade's End by Daljit Nagra

Dad parked our Granada, champagne-gold
by our superstore on Blackstock Road,
my brother’s eyes scanning the men
who scraped the pavement frost to the dole,
one ’got on his bike’ over the hill
or the few who warmed us a thumbs-up
for the polished recovery of our re-sprayed car.

Council mums at our meat display
nestled against a pane with white trays
swilling kidneys, liver and a sandy block
of corned beef, loud enough about the way
darkies from down south Come op ta
Yorksha, mekkin claims on aut theh can
befoh buggering off in theh flash caahs!

At nine, we left the emptied till open,
clicked the dials of the safe. Bolted
two metal bars across the back door
(with a new lock). Spread trolleys
at end of the darkened aisles. Then we pressed
the code for the caged alarm and rushed
the precinct to check it was throbbing red.

Thundering down the graffiti of shutters
against the valley of high-rise flats.
ready for the gateway to our cul-de-sac’d
semi-detached, until we stood stock-still:
watching the car-skin pucker, bubbling smarts
of acid. In the unstoppable pub-roar
from the John O’ Gaunt across the forecourt,

We returned up to the shop, lifted a shutter
queued at the sink, walked down again.
Three of us, each carrying pans of cold water.
Then we swept away the bonnet leaves
From gold to the brown of our former colour.

Note:

In ‘Parade’s End’, the author imitates Yorkshire ‘council mums’ who complain that ‘darkies’ (i.e. Indians and Pakistanis).   Nagra's verse also tells of the growing affluence of British Asians. By the 1980s, his parents' shop was doing well and an attack on his dad's "champagne-gold Granada" inspired the poem.  Their store was robbed so often they found it cheaper not to insure it.  "People just didn't have jobs. It was Thatcher's era, the early 80s.  The shop did OK because people lived hand to mouth.  I guess in the poem I didn't want to say, 'Oh, the whites are terrible, they are attacking us' because we were doing quite well.  We lived in the nearest area that felt safe."

Daljit Nagra talks about his poetry in this short film.


Belfast Confetti by Ciaran Carson

Suddenly as the riot squad moved in, it was raining
exclamation marks,
Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys. A fount of broken type. And the
explosion.
Itself - an askerisk on the map. This hyphenated line, a burst
of rapid fire...
I was trying to complete a sentence in my head but it kept
stuttering,
All the alleyways and side streets blocked with stops and
colons.

I know this labyrinth so well - Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman,
Odessa Street -
Why can’t I escape? Every move is punctuated. Crimea
Street. Dead end again.
A Saracen, Kremlin-2 mesh. Makrolon face-shields. Walkie-
talkies. What is
My name? Where am I coming from? Where am I going? A
fusillade of question- marks.

Note:

'Belfast Confetti' is a local euphemism; meaning nuts, bolts, and other pieces of industrial steel thrown at someone in an attempt to harm them.

In Ciaran Carson's poem a riot squad is trying to break up a local riot (probably during the Northern Irish 'troubles') and the crowd is pelting them with iron débris. The speaker of the poem tries to make a joke out of the situation by comparing the conflict to a typographical mess on page: it was raining exclamation marks, Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys, and then says that there is an explosion. (The Belfast Confetti is compared to exclamation marks, the explosion then becomes an asterisk).

The speaker of the poem tries to remove himself from the scene, but finds all obvious routes of escape blocked by uniformed police: all the alleyways and side streets blocked with stops and colons. 

Carson now lists off the names of the streets in this part of Belfast: I know this labyrinth so well - Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa Street -.   It turns out that all the streets are named after famous aspects of the Crimean War (a nineteenth century war which proved far more bloody than Britain had expected, and almost impossible to get out of - just like the riot).

At last panic sets in, but Carson again makes a dark typographical joke of this: What is My name? Where am I coming from? Where am I going? A fusillade of question- marks. 

The film that follows is very atmospheric and a great recitation of the poem:

The next video analyses the poem and tells you what it is about:


Our Sharpeville by Ingrid de Kok

In March 1960 at Sharpeville in South Africa, 67 black Africans were killed and 186 were injured when police opened fire on a peaceful protest against the pass laws:

I was playing hopscotch on the slate
when miners roared past in lorries,
their arms raised, signals at a crossing,
their chanting foreign and familiar,
like the call and answer of road gangs
across the veld, building hot arteries
from the heart of the Transvaal mine.

I ran to the gate to watch them pass.
And it seemed like a great caravan
moving across the desert to an oasis
I remembered from my Sunday School book:
olive trees, a deep jade pool,
men resting in clusters after a long journey,
the danger of the mission still around them
and night falling, its silver stars just like the ones
you got for remembering your Bible texts.

Then my grandmother called from behind the front door,
her voice a stiff broom over the steps:
‘Come inside; they do things to little girls.’

For it was noon, and there was no jade pool.
Instead, a pool of blood that already had a living name
and grew like a shadow as the day lengthened.
The dead, buried in voices that reached even my gate,
the chanting men on the ambushed trucks,
these were not heroes in my town,
but maulers of children,
doing things that had to remain nameless.
And our Sharpeville was this fearful thing
that might tempt us across the wellswept streets.

If I had turned I would have seen
brocade curtains drawn tightly across sheer net ones,
known there were eyes behind both,
heard the dogs pacing in the locked yard next door.
But, walking backwards, all I felt was shame,
at being a girl, at having been found at the gate,
at having heard my grandmother lie
and at my fear her lie might be true.
Walking backwards, called back,
I returned to the closed rooms, home.

Exposure by Wilfred Owen

Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us...
Wearied we keep awake because the night is silent...
Low, drooping flares confuse our memory of the salient...
Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,
But nothing happens.

Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire,
Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles.
Northward, incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles,
Far off, like a dull rumour of some other war.
What are we doing here?

The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow...
We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.
Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army
Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of gray,
But nothing happens.

Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence.
Less deathly than the air that shudders black with snow,
With sidelong flowing flakes that flock, pause, and renew;
We watch them wandering up and down the wind's nonchalance,
But nothing happens.

Pale flakes with fingering stealth come feeling for our faces -
We cringe in holes, back on forgotten dreams, and stare, snow-dazed,
Deep into grassier ditches. So we drowse, sun-dozed,
Littered with blossoms trickling where the blackbird fusses,
- Is it that we are dying?

Slowly our ghosts drag home: glimpsing th sunk fires, glozed
With crusted dark-red jewels; crickets jingle there;
For hours the innocent mice rejoice: the house is theirs;
Shutters and doors, all closed: on us the doors are closed, -
We turn back to our dying.

Since we believe not otherwise can kind fires burn;
Nor ever suns smile true on child, or field, or fruit.
For God's invincible spring our love is made afraid;
Therefore, not loath, we lie out here; therefore were born,
For love of God seems dying.

To-night, this frost will fasten on this mud and us,
Shrivelling many hands, puckering foreheads crisp.
The burying-party, picks and shovels in shaking grasp,
Pause over half-known faces. All their eyes are ice,
But nothing happens.

Note:

'Exposure' gives a worm's-eye view of the front line, based on Owen's experiences in the winter of 1917, and passive suffering is what it is all about. 'Nothing happens', as he says four times - nothing except tiny changes in the time of day, the weather and the progress of the war. The men appear trapped in a No Man's Land between life and death, and the poem's movement is circular. When it ends, they are exactly where they were in the first verse.

'What are we doing here?' the poet asks in verse 2. The real cause of their suffering is that they are lying in the open under freezing conditions, with some psychological force forbidding them to get up and walk away. The parallel is with hanging on a cross, and verse 7 examines the possibility that they are suffering for others.

In this film the poem is red by Kenneth Branagh:

The following is the poem in words, music and pictures - very moving .....

Catrin by Gillian Clarke

I can remember you, child,
As I stood in a hot, white
Room at the window watching
The people and cars taking
Turn at the traffi c lights.
I can remember you, our fi rst
Fierce confrontation, the tight
Red rope of love which we both
Fought over. It was a square
Environmental blank, disinfected
Of paintings or toys. I wrote
All over the walls with my
Words, coloured the clean squares
With the wild, tender circles
Of our struggle to become
Separate. We want, we shouted,
To be two, to be ourselves.

Neither won nor lost the struggle
In the glass tank clouded with feelings
Which changed us both. Still I am fi ghting
You off, as you stand there
With your straight, strong, long
Brown hair and your rosy,
Defiant glare, bringing up
From the heart’s pool that old rope,
Tightening about my life,
Trailing love and confl ict,
As you ask may you skate
In the dark, for one more hour.

Note:

Gillian Clarke says that this poem answers the question: "Why did my beautiful baby have to become a teenager?" The poem contrasts the baby's dependency on her mother with the independence and defiance of the teenager. In a sense, therefore, this poem is for all mothers and all daughters. Gillian Clarke writes that "It is an absolutely normal relationship of love, anxiety and exasperation."

There follows a reading of the poem, with pictures, from an unknown reader:

Your Dad Did What? by Sophie Hannah

Where they have been, if they have been away,
or what they’ve done at home, if they have not –
you make them write about the holiday.
One writes My Dad did. What? Your Dad did what?

That’s not a sentence. Never mind the bell.
We stay behind until the work is done.
You count their words (you who can count and spell);
all the assignments are complete bar one

and though this boy seems bright, that one is his.
He says he’s finished, doesn’t want to add
anything, hands it in just as it is.
No change. My Dad did. What? What did his Dad?

You find the ‘E’ you gave him as you sort
through reams of what this girl did, what that lad did,
and read the line again, just one ‘e’ short:
This holiday was horrible. My Dad did.

Click on the link below for a reading of the Poem:

Your Dad Did What? by Sophie Hannah

This short film was made by a group of year 10 students to help revision:

The Class Game by Mary Casey

How can you tell what class I’m from?
I can talk posh like some
With an ‘Olly in me mouth
Down me nose, wear an ‘at not a scarf
With me second-hand clothes.
So why do you always wince when you hear
Me say ‘Tara’ to me ‘Ma’ instead of ‘Bye Mummy
dear’?
How can you tell what class I’m from?
‘Cos we live in a corpy, not like some
In a pretty little semi, out Wirral way
And commute into Liverpool by train each day?
Or did I drop my unemployment card
Sitting on your patio (We have a yard)?
How can you tell what class I’m from?
Have I a label on me head, and another on me bum?
Or is it because my hands are stained with toil?
Instead of soft lily-white with perfume and oil?
Don’t I crook me little finger when I drink me tea
Say toilet instead of bog when I want to pee?
Why do you care what class I’m from?
Does it stick in your gullet like a sour plum?
Well, mate! A cleaner is me mother
A docker is me brother
Bread pudding is wet nelly
And me stomach is me belly
And I’m proud of the class that I come from

Annotated video of the poem "The Class Game":

Cousin Kate by Christina Rossetti

I was a cottage maiden
Hardened by sun and air,
Contented with my cottage mates,
Not mindful I was fair.
Why did a great lord find me out,
And praise my flaxen hair?
Why did a great lord find me out
To fill my heart with care?

He lured me to his palace home--
Woe's me for joy thereof--
To lead a shameless shameful life,
His plaything and his love.
He wore me like a silken knot,
He changed me like a glove;
So now I moan, an unclean thing,
Who might have been a dove.

O Lady Kate, my cousin Kate,
You grew more fair than I:
He saw you at your father's gate,
Chose you, and cast me by.
He watched your steps along the lane,
Your work among the rye;
He lifted you from mean estate
To sit with him on high.

Because you were so good and pure
He bound you with his ring:
The neighbours call you good and pure,
Call me an outcast thing.
Even so I sit and howl in dust,
You sit in gold and sing:
Now which of us has tenderer heart?
You had the stronger wing.

O cousin Kate, my love was true,
Your love was writ in sand:
If he had fooled not me but you,
If you stood where I stand,
He'd not have won me with his love
Nor bought me with his land;
I would have spit into his face
And not have taken his hand.

Yet I've a gift you have not got,
And seem not like to get:
For all your clothes and wedding-ring
I've little doubt you fret.
My fair-haired son, my shame, my pride,
Cling closer, closer yet:
Your father would give lands for one
To wear his coronet.

Note:

The poem’s female speaker recalls her contentment in her humble surroundings until the local ‘Lord of the Manor’ took her to be his lover.  He discarded her when she became pregnant and his affections turned to another village girl, Kate, whom he then married.  Although the speaker’s community condemned the speaker as a ‘fallen’ woman, she reflects that her love for the lord was more faithful than Kate’s.  She is proud of the son she bore him and is sure that the man is unhappy that he and Kate remain childless.

Throughout Cousin Kate, the cottage of the speaker is contrasted with the ‘palace home’ (line 9) of the lord of the manor.  Social and class differences are highlighted by their living conditions.  The speaker recognises that, before she was spotted by the lord, she was ‘contented’ with her fellow ‘cottage mates’ (line 3). After her position changes and she becomes his lover, she speaks of her former dwelling place as a ‘mean estate’ (line 23).

Since she was an unmarried mother, she would have been categorised by many in Victorian Britain as ‘fallen’ and as an outcast.  Yet because of the sexual double standards that operated in the nineteenth century, the lord of the manor would not have been outcast, despite fathering a son outside of marriage.  It was the women who received all the blame for falling short of the moral standards of the time; men were generally excused.

Hitcher by Simon Armitage

I'd been tired, under
the weather, but the ansaphone kept screaming.
One more sick-note. mister, and you're finished. Fired.
I thumbed a lift to where the car was parked.
A Vauxhall Astra. It was hired.

I picked him up in Leeds.

He was following the sun to west from east
with just a toothbrush and the good earth for a bed. The truth,
he said, was blowin' in the wind,
or round the next bend.

I let him have it
on the top road out of Harrogate -once
with the head, then six times with the krooklok
in the face -and didn't even swerve.
I dropped it into third

and leant across
to let him out, and saw him in the mirror
bouncing off the kerb, then disappearing down the verge.
We were the same age, give or take a week.
He'd said he liked the breeze

to run its fingers
through his hair. It was twelve noon.
The outlook for the day was moderate to fair.
Stitch that, I remember thinking,
you can walk from there

This poem is a monologue of sorts, in which a man confesses to murder. We notice that he is at once like, and yet unlike, his victim. Briefly, the speaker in the poem has been taking time off work - feigning illness and not answering his phone.  Being threatened with the sack (losing his job), he goes in to work again.  He gets a lift to his hired car (a short distance we suppose).  As he drives out of Leeds he picks up a hitchhiker who is travelling light and has no set destination.  Some little way later (coming out of Harrogate) he attacks his passenger, and throws him out of the still-moving car. The last he sees of the hiker, he is “bouncing off the kerb, then disappearing down the verge” - we do not know if he is dead or just badly injured. The driver does not care.

Pupils from another school Hitcher bring this poem to life.


The Drum by John Scott

I hate that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
And lures from cities and from fields,
To sell their liberty for charms
Of tawdry lace and glitt'ring arms;
And when Ambition's voice commands,
To fight and fall in foreign lands.

I hate that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To me it talks of ravaged plains,
And burning towns and ruin'd swains,
And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
And widow's tears, and orphans moans,
And all that Misery's hand bestows,
To fill a catalogue of woes.

The short films below gives different readings of this poem:

Oh What is that Sound by W H Auden

O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
Down in the valley, drumming, drumming?
Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
The soldiers coming.

O what is that light I see flashing so clear
Over the distance brightly, brightly?
Only the sun on their weapons, dear,
As they step lightly.

O what are they doing with all that gear,
What are they doing this morning, this morning?
Only their usual manoeuvres, dear,
Or perhaps a warning.

O why have they left the road down there?
Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?
Perhaps a change in their orders, dear,
Why are you kneeling?

O haven’t they stopped for the doctor’s care,
Haven’t they reined their horses, their horse?
Why, they are none of then wounded, dear.
None of these forces.

O is it the parson they want, with white hair,
Is it the parson, is it, is it?
No, they are passing his gateway, dear,
Without a visit.

O it must be the farmer who lives so near.
It must be the farmer, so cunning, so cunning?
They have passed the farmyard already, dear,
And now they are running.

O where are you going? Stay with me here!
Were the vows you swore deceiving, deceiving?
No, I promised to love you, dear,
But I must be leaving.

O it’s broken the lock and splintered the door,
O it’s the gate where they’re turning, turning;
Their boots are heavy on the floor
And their eyes are burning.

Note:

The man (who speaks in lines 1-2 of each stanza except the last, which is spoken by the poet) is a traitor or rebel who is hiding out with his mistress in a house on a mountainside; he is the "quarry" wanted by the soldiers.  Knowing himself wanted, he is alarmed at the sound of troops in the distance, and his terror mounts as they approach.  When they leave the road (stanza 4), he kneels so as not to be visible through the window.  (In stanzas 2-4 his questions concern what he sees through the window; in subsequent stanzas he is dependent on the woman to report what she sees.)  Having no reason to think his hiding place known, the man tries to convince himself that the troops are headed elsewhere--the doctor's, the parson's, or the farmer's--but they are coming for him.  They come directly; they do not have to search or make inquiries; obviously, they have been tipped off. Who has tipped them off?  Clearly the woman, whose vows have indeed been "deceiving," and who may be a secret agent.  At any rate, she has betrayed him, just as he has previously betrayed, or plotted against, the government of his country. Her knowledge of the situation accounts for her coolness, so markedly in contrast to the 
hysteria of the man, and her purpose has been, by minimizing the import of the situation, to hold the man in the house until the soldiers can get there. (The drumming sound, she tells him, is "only" the soldiers, and they are "only" performing "their usual manoeuvres.")  When it is too late for him to make a break, she leaves, so as not to witness any violence.

Auden's poem concerns terror, menace, and betrayal in a world where politics rule, not love.

In this video the Author recites his own poem:

Another reading:

Conscientious Objector by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death.

I hear him leading his horse out of the stall; I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle while he clinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself: I will not give him a leg up.

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip, I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where  the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his pay-roll.

I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much, I will not map him the route to any man's door.

Am I a spy in the land of the living, that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city are safe with me; never through me
Shall you be overcome.

Note:

As its title suggests, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Conscientious Objector” contains heavy anti-war tones; but it can also be read as a simple, but potent, protest against death in general.  Millay is unabashed in her views right from the get-go, opening with, “I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death”.  The poet recognizes that death is inevitable, but she is not pleased about it.  She is willing to give herself over, but she is not going to do so without putting up a fight first.  In the next stanza she creates the image of Death riding a horse to travel for his “business”.  She writes, “But I will not hold the bridle while he cinches the girth./And he may mount by himself:  I will not give him a leg up”.  Millay will not make it any easier for Death to do his job; she will not give him any special assistance.  Her use of the phrase “leg up” has two meanings here: both that she will literally not help Death get up onto his horse, and that she will not help make Death more successful.

The following stanza reveals an even more defiant Millay. She writes that no matter what Death does to her, even torture, she will not give him any details about where anyone is.  This she refuses to do, even if “he flick my shoulders with his whip”  and has “his hoof on my breast”.  Millay is resolute in her stance against Death.  She makes her point more blatantly in the next section of the poem: “I will not tell him the whereabouts of my friends nor of my enemies either”.  Millay feels so strongly about her position that she even protects her enemies.  She reinforces her opening point, and the metaphor of not being Death’s assistant, by stating, “I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his pay-roll”.  Because Death doesn’t pay her anything, Millay feels no duty to him.  Therefore she doesn’t have to help him in any way.

The last lines of the poem show the loyalty Millay has for mankind: “Brother, the password and the plans of our city are safe with me; never through me/Shall you be overcome”.  By using the word “brother,” Millay shows her compassion for others.  Though in this context it’s likely that Millay is referring to soldiers in the war, there is no doubt she feels this sentiment toward all people.  She will never be the agent of death; no one will be “overcome” on her account, and she feels a distinct pride in this role of protecting people’s lives.

The following is a film that was inspired by the poem:

In the following video Mary Travers gives us a musical version:

August 6, 1945 by Alison Fell

In the Enola Gay
five minutes before impact
he whistles a dry tune

Later he will say
that the whole blooming sky
went up like an apricot ice.
Later he will laugh and tremble
at such a surrender, for the eye
of his belly saw Marilyn’s skirts
fly over her head forever

On the river bank,
bees drizzle over
hot white rhododendrons

Later she will walk
the dust, a scarlet girl
with her whole stripped skin
at her heel, stuck like an old
shoe sole or mermaid’s tail

Later she will lie down
in the flecked black ash
where the people are become
as lizards or salamanders
and, blinded, she will complain:
Mother, you are late, so late

Later in dreams he will look
down shrieking and see
ladybirds
ladybirds

Note:

One of the final horrors of the Second World War—and to many, perhaps the greatest atrocity of any war—was the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan's refusal to surrender unconditionally cost them dear—200,000 dead and unimaginable suffering to the hibakusha, or survivors. As with the American deployment of Agent Orange in Vietnam, the radiation fallout in Japan caused birth deformities down the generations.

Alison Fell's poem about Paul Tibbets, who planned the operations and piloted the aeroplane which dropped the "Little Boy" atomic bomb on Hiroshima—a B-29 Superfortress that Tibbets named after his own mother—offers some of the most haunting and disturbing imagery in the book.  Note the poignant motifs of skin and lateness, the images from fairy tales and children's activities, and the suggestion that the perpetrator got a sexual thrill from his massacre. Particularly effective is the stanza about the bees and the rhododendrons.  However, she is probably wrong about Tibbets having any conscience, as all his life he boasted about his "achievement".  During a 1975 interview he said: "I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it, and have it work as perfectly as it did . . . . I sleep clearly every night." In March 2005, he stated, "If you give me the same circumstances, I'd do it again."

Invasion by Choman Hardi

Soon they will come. First we will hear
the sound of their boots approaching at dawn
then they’ll appear through the mist.

In their death-bringing uniforms
they will march towards our homes
their guns and tanks pointing forward.

They will be confronted by young men
with rusty guns and boiling blood.
These are our young men
who took their short-lived freedom for granted.

We will lose this war, and blood
will cover our roads, mix with our
drinking water, it will creep into our dreams.

Keep your head down and stay in doors –
we’ve lost this war before it has begun.

Note:

The poem is read by an unknown speaker to an unknown listener.  The speaker does not refer to themself directly, instead focusing upon the ominous 'them' in the first half of the poem, and the inclusive 'we' in the second half. 

The use of 'them' is unsettling, especially in the first two lines. The idea of unknown people coming out of the 'mist' suggests that they are not open or clear about their intentions, but are instead shady characters. Therefore, we could read the 'mist' as a metaphor for the uncertainty that the townsfolk felt.

The use of 'we', on the other hand, appeals to the reader as they are put into the position of the unknown listener. Therefore, we react as the listener would, with uncertainty, worry and pessimism. This pessimism is built up by a knowing tone in lines such as 'We will lose this war'.

Presentation on theme: "‘Even Tho’ by Grace Nichols LO) To explore how Nichols conveys the nature of relationship through language and structure."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘Even Tho’ by Grace Nichols LO) To explore how Nichols conveys the nature of relationship through language and structure.

2 What impression of the poem do you get from these images?

3 Grace Nichols – creating a ‘voice’
Grace Nichols grew up in Guyana, on the northern coast of South America, facing onto the Caribbean. This poem explores the nature of relationship in this type of environment.Grace Nichols – creating a ‘voice’Keywords: Creole, standard English, poet's voice, language choice, relationships, carnival, succulentWeb link!

4 First, read the poemAnimation

5 Shows convergence of both cultures
Standard EnglishCreole dialectEven ThoSounds primitiveShows love + togethernessMan I love but won’t let you devour even tho I’m all watermelon and starapple and plum when you touch me1st 2 lines show contrasting feelingsWith contrasting feelingsTo consume greedily, she sees herself as fruit for him to eat,Gives impression that he has fairly dominant role4 line stanza shows togetherness of the twoExotic fruits-succulent, juicy. A metaphor for herself. Suggests she’s soft, exotic for himExtended metaphor for him eating her – image suggests physically involved.

6 Slightly less appealing
image + more orientatedtowards taste/ texture ratherthan food.Juxtaposition of these itemsis unusual but continuesCaribbean theme.4 line stanza continuesbreaks with 1st + last stanzareinforces their separateIdentities.even tho I’m all seamoss and jellyfish and tongue Come leh we go to de carnival You be banana I be avocadoLinks to primal language.celebrationCreole dialect used to convey convergence with Guyana cultureMetaphors – idea of morebalanced relationship asthey are both portrayed asfruit + go to carnival togetherPrimal language used, suggests instinctiveness

7 Creole dialect helps to reinforce Caribbean atmosphere
Come leh we hug up and brace-up and sweet one another up But then leh we break free yes, leh we break freeRepetition and rhymehelps to reinforce theirphysical connectionEnjoyable, indulgentContinued enjambment reinforces sense of ‘breaking free’ throughout the poemContrasting feeling returnsSuggests forcefully disconnect, repetition of ‘break’ suggests it’s difficult to do

8 And keep to de motion of we own person/ality
Links back to line 8/9 of seaAnd keep to de motion of we own person/alityOxymoron – reinforces contrast of individuals togetherindividualThey stay true+ strong to themselvesPossibly expressing theneed for individuals tomaintain their ownIdentities.Language: the combination of standard English and Creole link colonial roots. Moves seamlessly from one to the other, like Nichols’ own comments on her feeling at home in both cultures.Guyana enriched by Caribbean, myths + landscape + culture. This poem embraces both

9 How does the poet use language, form and punctuation to convey the nature of the relationship in the poem ‘Even tho’.show an understanding of the use of language, form and punctuationdemonstrate the ability to make relevant connections between the techniques used and the presentation of the nature of the relationship;use the ‘PEEE’ technique to show the link between form and point of view.

10 PlenaryHave you:understood the ways Nichols has used language and structure to convey the nature of her relationship;connected with the different attitudes presented.Discuss how successfully the poet conveys the balance of being close and yet still needing freedom within a relationship.For English Literature, find another poem in Relationships that explores a relationship between a woman and a man through one (or more) strong personal voice. Compare the impact that the relationship has on them as readers.

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