English Lit. Poems From Different Cultures

Those are all the poems I studied for my exam last year, hope it helps. Includes nothings changed, scavengers, island man etc. etc.

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  • Created on: 09-05-12 17:33
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Limbo: Ambiguous meanings can represent an imaginary place of the forgotten or
An unknown place between two extremes
A prison
Subject matter: Limbo is a poem with deep roots in African culture. It is composed
of two narratives, one describing the journey from Africa to sugar plantations in the
Caribbean the other describing the African limbo dance-Slaves in transportation.
Someone onboard the ship begins to beat out a rhythm and the speaker of the poem
begins to dance. The speaker squeezes his body under the stick and rises in
triumph and feels a sense of almost trance like exhilaration
The chorus "Limbo, Limbo like me..." is rhythmical and sounds like a song that might
be sung by the slaves while they are doing the limbo dance. The rhyming for
example "steady ...ready" helps to give the poem a steady rhythm, much like the
beating of a drum. The happy rhythm contrasts with the bleak subject of what
happened to the slaves as they travel from Africa to the Caribbean. The poem is free
verse, with no caesura, helping to make is flow like natural speech or singing.
Rhythm: the unifying factor is the rhythm of the poem. The limbo dance and `limbo
limbo like me' runs through the poem which is reminiscent of jazz music which
starts with a group of notes or a simple tune. Limbo is the base of the poem it
creates a heartbeat or pulse.
Language: The poem uses repetition effectively. Repetition of the word
"me" makes the poem more vivid to the reader. Additionally repetition of the
words "dark" creates bleak imagery of the dark compartment under the ship
that the slaves were kept in during their journey and repetition of the
words "stick" and "whip" remind us of the cruelty shown to the Africans.
The poem uses variations of `dark' which has ambiguous meanings; he also
refers to silence reusing it numerous times this could refer to the fear and
anticipation of the unknown.
The poet personifies water, "the water surrounding me" to show the
speaker's feeling of helplessness, the slaves could not escape. This also
helps to create imagery for the reader.
At line 40 the tone of the poem seems to change. "The sun coming up the
drummers are praising me" The word limbo also means a state between
living and dead. The sun coming up could suggest the speaker is out of
Limbo and has survived the journey. The word limbo means neither here
nor there, so the limbo has ended and the slaves have arrived at their
The words "down, down, down" and "up, up, up" could represent the boat
rocking or alternatively the movement of the Limbo dance.
"The music is saving me" describes the escapism the limbo dance brought to
the Africans.
The words "hot, slow, step" brings the rhythm to a stop. Symbolising their
journey has ended "on the burning ground" could suggest that the ground is
burning, causing him pain, because it is not his homeland.

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Attitude: References to darkness and silence create a dark mood from the off set
the connotations of light and when the poet talks of the music saving him the mood
changes and as the drum beats he is almost `resurrected'
Imagery: The poem creates an image of a ritual being performed on the ship ­
References to light and suffering
Nothings changed
Poet: Egyptian raised in south Africa was involved in the anti-apartheid movement
even refusing to classified as `white' and fought for freedom from…read more

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In the last stanza "boy again" shows how he feels reduced and small, a child
again. "Hands burn, for a stone, a bomb" show's the poet's deep anger,
frustration and hurt. It makes him want to be violent.
Attitude/Tone: The use of alliteration and monosyllables make the words snappy
and sharp. These harsh sounds produces a violent tone. The use of compressed
grammar ` up market, haute cuisine' vents the poets anger.…read more

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The dull north circular roar" is a cultural reference to a very busy ring road
that goes all of the way round London.
Repetition of the word muffling is used as the island man wakes up to reality
and the sound of the sea drifts away.
The word "heave" suggesting he doesn't want to get up but he must do in
contrast it could infer how a man would heave himself onto an island in
desperation.…read more

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The metaphor "silver crashes to the ground" also helps to show how
precious the water to the people.
The community is described as a "congregation" another link to religion.
"butts in with pots, brass, copper, aluminium, plastic buckets" tells the
reader that the people are not wealthy and are desperate for water.
The last stanza starts with a metaphor creating beautiful imagery for the
reader "naked children screaming in the liquid sun" The water is a miracle to
them and the atmosphere is blissful.…read more

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However, 'Beautiful People' is a
compliment. So, right from the start, we feel the garbage men are at a
The poem seems to re-enforce the American dream of rugged individualism
exemplified by television advertisements were `all is possible' but we seem
to question how it would be possible for the garbage men to achieve this
success as the older garbage man seems to foreshadow the future of the
younger worker.
However, the garbage men are 'looking down' (line 7) into the Mercedes.…read more

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This could be used to represent the outlook
people should have towards garbagemen as the public only know of a part
of their life and shouldn't judge them.
The garbagemen stare at the young couple 'as from a great distance' (line
27). They are actually close together, stuck at the red light. This shows the
distance between the two lives the people live.…read more

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Night of the scorpion
Poet: Ezekial was born in Bombay, India during the British rule.
Subject matter: The poem shows a clash of cultures in rural India, the idea of rituals
and modern more sceptic and rationalistic beliefs. The narrator recalls the night his
mother was bitten by a scorpion. The neighbours flocked to the scene chanting
prayers and searching for the scorpion whilst her husband tried to be logical and
attempted to cleanse the bite with burning paraffin.…read more

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Rhythm: The poem is written in free verse with no rhyme scheme and has more of a
conversational effect as if he is recounting what happened to a friend
The title is in some ways deceptive. It leads us to believe we are in for a
frightening and dramatic tale with a scorpion taking centre stage. In fact, the
poem is not about the scorpion at all, but about the reactions of different
people to its sting.…read more

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Detached Tone - the son is an onlooker - describing the event - factual and
unemotional - as a child does he understand what's happening?
Emotion - only in last 3 lines - set apart - mother's emotions are reported.
Onomatopoeia - 'buzzed', 'clicked', 'groaning' - uncomfortable sounds.…read more


Paul Dutton

A really detailed set of notes on each poem.  This resource has plenty of infomation on context, structure and language.  Excellent.

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