island man

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Island man
· Island Man
The subtitle really explains this simple poem - it tells of a man from the Caribbean, who lives
in London but always thinks of his home.
The poem opens with daybreak, as the island man seems to hear the sound of surf - and
perhaps to imagine he sees it, since we are told the colour. The poem opens with daybreak,
as the island man seems to hear the
sound of surf - and perhaps to imagine he sees it, since we are told
the colour. This is followed by simple images
* the fishermen pushing their boat out,
* the sun climbing in the sky,
* the island, emerald green.
The island man always returns to the island, in his mind, but in thinking of it he must "always"
come "back" literally to his immediate surroundings - hearing the traffic on London's North
Circular Road.
Grace Nichols ends the poem with the image of coming up out of the sea - but the reality is
the bed, and the waves are only the folds of a "crumpled pillow". The last line of the poem is
presented as the harsh reality.
Many Afro-Caribbeans in Britain live a split existence. They may yearn
for the warmth and simple pleasures of the islands they think of as
home, yet they find themselves, with friends and family, in a cold
northern climate. This poem neatly captures this division - between a
fantasy of the simple life and the working daily reality. But perhaps
it is not really a serious choice - if one were to stay on the island,
then one would bring one's problems there, too. In fact, this man is
like most other British people - he does not relish work, but faces up
to it.
After reading the whole poem, one sees that it is ambiguous - the
island is both in the Caribbean and Great Britain.
Grace Nichols also challenges us to think about where home really
lies. Is it
* the place we dream about,
* the place where we, our friends and family live, or
* the place where we do our work?
The poem is written as free verse - it is a quite loose sequence of

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The poet relies on effects of sound - contrasting the
breaking of the surf with the roar of traffic. There are a few rhymes
and repetitions. Grace Nichols also refers to colour - blue for surf
(surely an error - the surf is the white foam of the blue sea),
emerald (green) for the island and grey for the traffic. There is no punctuation in the poem.…read more

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The opportunities of London are far removed from the beauties of the Caribbean
· Feelings:
· Homesick
· Idealising the past / previous home
· Regret
· Dull repetitive nature of present working life
Metaphor sands / of a grey metallic soar (L
unpleasant beach)
Personification · the sun surfacing defiantly
· to dull North Circular roar
Alliteration · sun surfacing
· Stanza 3 = Sands, soar, surge (like
Repetition · groggily groggily…read more

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Grace Nichols, born in Guyana but a resident of Britain since 1977, wrote the poem 'Island Man'
'for a Caribbean island man in London who still wakes up to the sound of the sea' (her own words).
It is a poem of contrasts based on the two places that the man has known as home and is set as he
is waking up in London.…read more


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