Different Cultures - Cluster 2

Revision notes for the first cluster of poems in the Different Cultures section.

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  • Created by: Lilly
  • Created on: 13-05-11 18:42

(From) Search for My Tongue by Sujata Bhatt

What's it about? - The poem is about the conflict between the poet's first language and the foreign language she now uses. The poet is really worried she'll forget her first language (mother tongue), but she still dreams in her first language so her fear is put to rest.

Setting - The poem does not have an obvious setting but it seems as if she is talking to a person, or a crowd of people. Her mouth becomes the setting, in her dream, as it turns into a growing garden.

Theme - Cultural identity: belonging to two different cultures. Belonging: the need for people to fit in to give them a sense of belonging.

Feelings and attitudes - She worries that she is forgetting her mother tongue - and that her second language would never feel as natural. This is part of the bigger worry that she might loose her Indian identity. She is concerned that stuck between two different cultures. She is happy when she realises that her mother tongue will always be part of her. She could be challenging the way English has taken over in many parts of the world.

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(From) Search for My Tongue by Sujata Bhatt

Style - The title means two things: the search for the woman's mother tongue and the search for her cultural idenitity. The section that deals with the difficulty of speaking two languages has harsh diction eg "rot", "die" and "spit". The repetition emphasises the frustration and anger she feels. There is also repetition line 34 "the bud opens-the bud opens". It emphasises her feeling of wonder. Assonance lines 13, 14 "mouth", "out" stresses the negative diction. The Gujarati is a visual contrast to the rest of the poem. It makes it stand out off the page. The language is also spelt of phonetically in English so we can read it and read the sounds. It helps us a readers to imagine what it is like for the poet. Full of metaphorical language: her mother tongue is described as a growing plant with blossoms into a flower. It gives us the impression that the poet believe's her native language is a beautiful language.

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(From) Unrelated Incidents by Tom Leonard

What's it about?- The poem is about attitudes towards non-standards accents and dialects. It is written phonetically in a Scottish accent. The character in the poem is pretending to be a newsreader to make the point that just because he does not use Standard English it does not mean people cannot take him seriously.

Setting - There is no actual setting for the poem because it is written as a speech, rather than a story. 

Theme- Social indentity. Social injustice.

Feeling and Attitudes- The poet is annoyed at the dominance of the Standard English, and how working-class, regional accents are not heard. He mocks the idea of snobby people in a saracastic tone.

Style - Dialectal words and phrases are used throughout the poem eg "belt up", "coz" and "scruff". They're used to show which social group the character belongs and adds a personality to the character. He values the way that he speaks and feels that it is good enough to be used in the poem.

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(From) Unrelated Incidents by Tom Leonard

The poem starts with language that  is close to Standard English but becomes more dialectal as it progresses, making the poem quite hard to understand. The poet ends with a rather aggressive phrase "belt up", expressing his anger with people who look down on non-standard accents and suggesting that these people should "shut up". The graphology of the poem is unusual as it uses very short lines and looks like a television autocue. It gives the reader the impression that the poet is mocking the newsreaders. It also highlights the contrast between the ccent and dialect used by the newsreaders and the strong Scottish accent.

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Hafe-Caste by John Agard

What's it about? - The poet makes fun of the term "half-caste". He sees himself as a mix of things - rather than half of something - and compares it to loads of other things which are great because they're made up of mixtures, like paintings and symphonies.

Setting - The poet seems to be talking to a crowd of people, or a person, who uses the term "half-caste". I think the poet is referring to the English society in general because it mocks the English weather.

Theme - The problem of applying a term to a group of people as it can cause offence - so the poet tries to tackle the situation by using humour. Racial prejudice: some people have different views of people who have different coloured skin to their own. 

Feelings and attitudes - He mocks the idea of mixed-race people being inferior or "incomplete". He's baffled and amused by the idea of being half a person. However, although a comic poem, Agard gets frustrated that people aren't more open-minded.

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Half-Caste by John Agard

Style - It is written as a dramatic monologue which is why there is no punctuation. No punctuation allows the monologue to just flow and makes it sound more direct and informal. Metaphorical language: the poet compares being of mixed race to the different colours of a painting, showing it is beautiful and to the weather, showing it is natural. This is the central to his argument against the term "half-caste", which he sees as negative and very insulting. It is written in a Caribbean dialect, which is a form of creole. This shows that the poet values this form of language, and that he is comfortable with the different sides to his background. It is written in humorous tone eg when it talks about the English weather. Repetition of the word "half", and the many different contexts the poet puts it into emphasise the stupidity of using the term "half-caste". Lack of capitial letters could suggest everyone is equal however, he still writes a captial "I" when he is talking about himself.

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Half-Caste by John Agard

Key lines - Line 1, 2, 3 "Excuse me/ standing on one leg/ I'm half-caste" The introduction to the poem can either been seen in two ways: like a greeting and "excuse me" being used sarcastically by the character to apologise for being different or it is a jokey way of poking fun at the term "half caste", and that he is not apolgising, but it announcing, confidently, that he is, in fact, mixed race, but uses the term "half-caste" to prove his point. Line 34 + 36 "half of mih ear/ half of mir eye" Agard extends the idea of being half to the individual pars of his body to show how silly it is. Line 39 + 41 "half-a-hand/ half-a-eye". The nonsensical images show how silly the idea of being half of something really is. Agard writes lines 39, 41, 43 and 46 with hyphens to mock the way "hafe-caste" is spelt.  Line 48 "wid de whole of yu eye". This metaphoric pharase means he wishes people coule see things as they really are, and not only what they want to see.

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Love After Love by Derek Walcott

What's it about? - The poem is about self-discovery - learning, accepting and celebrating who you are after the end of a relationship. The poem describes how we often ignore our own needs in order to give attention to those we love. I get the idea of Heaven in this poem and that we are talking to our soul, after death. There is a lot of religious references. Or maybe it's about turning a new leaf and living a life for God.

Setting - A metaphorical house. Or Heaven.

Theme- The importance of being comfortable and happy with who we are. The value of the past in helping us to grow up: the importance of our background and the things we have experience d in the past.

Feelings and attitudes - The poet is positive and an optimistic. There is a calm assurance about the poem. He's reflecting on his own experiences over a long period of time, and he seems confident that what he' saying is good advice.

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Love After Love by Derek Walcott

Style - There is a series of metaphors in the poem. Eg. The mirror is the way that we see ourselves and look back at the past and the person that is greeted at the door is our old self (how we used to be). The ideas in the poem are very complex, but the language used is very simple. The poem reads like a series of instructions. The repetition of the word "will" sounds confident and assured.

Key Lines - Line 10 "All your life..." This sentence implies death, and that maybe the character is regretting their choice to ignore that certain person, whether it is their self, or Jesus Christ. Line 12 onwards. The poet encourages the reader to put the past behind them and move on.

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This Room by Imtiaz Dhaker

What's it about? - This poem describes a room that has gone wild; all the items in it are trying to escape. They are in search of "space, light and empty air" (freedom). On another level the room is a metaphor used to describe the person in the poem, who feels that it is time to break away from the predictable and the restrictions of life. She metaphorically rises out of normality and darkness, and into enlightenment.

Setting - The poem's setting is a house, from which the rooms and their contents are trying to escape.

Theme - Celebration of the fact that life can be unpredictable. Celebration of personal growth. The fact that change can be a good, exciting thing, rather than something to worry about. Freedom is the most important element of our lives and use shoule make the most of it.

Feelings and attitudes - She is excited about this special moment in her life when things suddenly change for the better. She feels joyful and overwhelmed because it's so sudden and improbable. She is relieved that she is finally free.

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This Room by Imtiaz Dhaker

Style - It is written in free verse to reflect how important freedom is to her. Personification of the room: the room is portrayed as a person who is full of energy. Present partciple: the verbs are in the "-ing" form. This adds immediacy to the poem and makes it sound as if it is happening now, which enables the reader to get involved in the action of the poem. Onomatopoeia is used to enhance the sound effects of the poem. You can "hear" some of the words. The poem appeals to senses to emphasise the pleasure of being alive and free. The poem is full of movement which is reinforced by the use of enjambment and also shows the poet's excitement and happiness through out the poem.

Key Lines - Line 7,8 "it's nightmares. From dark corners" The bed leaves behind darkness, in favour of enlightenment. Line 12 "daily furniture of our lives stirs..." Everyday surroundings seem to come to life and normal routines and disrupted. Line 15 "in celebration..." Even functional objects are now capable of emotion. Line 16 "crowd of garlic, onions, species" Food is personifed - eveything is coming alive. Line 18 "No one is looking for the door." Not looking for a way out. Line 21 "I've left my feet" She is not longer attached to the ground, but is floating.

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Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan by Moniza Alvi

What's it about? - A teenage girl who has grown up in England, but born in Pakistan, describes the presents she has recieved from relatives in Pakistan. Despite thinking the clothes a jewellery are beautiful, she feels uncomfortable wearing them; she felt they were too nice for her. In lines 27-43 she thinks of times when the cultures clashed, like the way she felt when her mum's jewellery was stolen, how she never wore the clothes form her aunts and how her friend didn't like the presents. In lines 44 - 69, the poet tries to make sense of the vague memories she has of first coming to England, and of Pakistan. She seems to think she will never feel properly or wholely Pakistani or English.

Setting - The poem is set in England where the girl lives. Images of Pakistan are given through her memories and the things she remembers from the old photos. In the last stanza, the girl imagines she is at the Shalimar ornamental gardens.

Theme - Growing up in two different cultures and the frustration felt. Alienation. Idenity and Culture. Childhood experiences and memories.

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Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan by Moniza Alvi

Feelings and attitudes - Firstly confusion and feeling out of place is the first type of feeling the poet feels. The poet has mixed feelings about the presents and about Pakistan - she finds them attractive and exotic, but also foreign and strange. She still feels uncertain of her identity towards the end of the poem - she seems to feel like an outsider.

Style - Free verse and free rhyme. Prosaic - it is pros instead of poetry. The first stanza describes strong, rich colours to represent Asian culture. The two cultures are juxaposed throughout the poem to reinforce the contrast between them. Positive and negative diction is juxaposed throughout to contrast the two cultures and to show the problems that arise when the two cultures meet. Contrast: Mum liked jewellery, but it was stolen. Camel lamp was beautiful, but cruel. She thought her new clothes were beautiful, but they did not impress her friend. The poet compares the conflict in Pakistan to her confused identity. There is this constant conflict between her English and Pakistani background. It is written in a tone that is full of pain and uncertainty - her lack of knowledge about the country where she was born causes her emotional turmoil. The poem ends on a uncertain note; that she is still unsure.

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Presents from m Aunts in Pakistan by Moniza Alvi

Key Lines - Line 23-24 "and I was aflame/ I couldn't rise up out of its fire" Refers to the legend of the Phoenix rising from the flames - but she can't re-create herself like this. Lines 20 + 27 "I longed/ I wanted" A child-like desire of something she can't have. Line 34-36 "My mother cherished her jewellery - Indian gold, dangling, filigree. But it was stolen" The theft of her mother's jewellery in England could be a metaphor for England stealing her Pakistani identity. "Filigree" could represent the idea of her Pakistani identity being precious and delicate to her. Line 44-45 "But often I admired the mirror-work,/tried to glimpse myself" She likes her new clothes, but does not feel connected to them. Also, she's trying to see her identity in the mirror not a glimpse of her physical self. Lines 49 and 54 contain irony. They all sailed to England on a boat, and when they arrive in England she plays with a tip boat. The real boat took her away from her homeland. Second to last stanza and the first stanza use the sound "s" to make it sound aggressive. Lots of hypens throughout the poem to emphasise the poet's confusion. Line 55, 56 and 59 "I pictured my birthplace/ from fifties' photographs." "throbbing through newsprint." The poet's can't rmember Pakistan properly, she has to imagine it. Her knowlegde of Pakistan is based on what she's read and heard.

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Not my Business by Niyi Osundare

What's it about?- This poem is about unfair treatment of citizens by the authorities. It explains what could happen if people ignore the bad treatment of others. The poet is trying to convey the message that we cannot ignore injustice just because it does not affect us.

Setting- In Nigeria. The names of the characters in the poem are Nigerian names.

Theme- Injustice in society. Self-preservation. Persecution of citizens by the authorities.

Feelings and attitudes - The poet implies that all the action going on is none of his business and is not his problem. But he is scared when it looks like the same thing will happen to him.

Style - The poem inspired by the poem "First they came..." The poem is full of euphemisms (a nicer way of describing things) eg "Then off to a lengthy absence". The poem is almost similar to a song, with the repetition of "What business of mine is it...", which almost becomes it's chorus.

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Not my Business by Niyi Osundare

Singing makes you feel better which takes away the dark theme of the poem. The jeep represents the people in charge ie the government. The jeep is more sinster because it has no identity and the use of "the" shows it is always there. Violent diction is used throughout the poem eg "beat", "stuffed him", "dragged" and "booted". This vividly describes what happens in each case so that the reader can share the horror of the situation. Repetition is used throughout the poem to stress the issues eg "no query, no warning, no probe". Repetition of "they" shows that the arrival of "them" is a regular occurrence. Similies eg "soft like clay" describes how badly the man was beaten. He became as soft as clay. The fact that the poem mentions "one morning", "one night", "one day" and "one evening" emphasises that injustice can occur at any time. The simple, factual tone makes it sound inevitable. It is ironic how he never gets to eat his yam at the end of the poem.

Key Lines - Line 25 "...bewildered lawn". Personification of the lawn stands for the speaker's own frightened confusion. By repeating "What business of mine is it..." sounds as if the poet is trying to convice himself or that he wants to justify his ignorance. 

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Hurricane Hits England by Grace Nichols

What's it about? - The poem describes the hurricane which hit the south of England in 1987, which makes the poet remember the hurricanes that used to strike in her homeland of Guyana in the Caribbean.

Setting - It is set in England, but also refers to Guyana in the past.

Theme - The force of nature. The strength of memories from the past. The importance of culture and language. Belonging to two different cultures.          Feelings and attitudes - At first she is scared by the storm.  But then she feels a connection with the storm and finds meaning in it - she feels like a link with nature and with the Carribean.


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Hurricane Hits England by Grace Nichols

Style - Negative diction eg "howling", "rage", "dark" and "fearful". These words describe the storm and the experience of living in a new land. Traditional Caribbean gods are called upon - "Huracan", "Oya" and "Shango" (gods of winds and storms). The woman's thoughts go back to her original place of birth and this is shown by using language from this culture. Religious chants are evoked in the last two stanzas: "I am...", "Come to...". This shows the woman's respect for the storm (the power of nature) and the feelings that it creates in her. Each stanza ends with an interrogative as it adds an impression of uncertainity. The poem uses the third person in the first stanza, which shows that she doesn't feel comfortable with herself and how she fits in. It then changes to first person which shows the woman is no longer scared - she is thinking of her homeland - she feels she fits in, in her homeland, and can be herself. The repetition of "I am" in the second to last stanza shows she is confident in herself.

Key lines - Line 5 "it's gathering rage" This is a personification of the wind links to the three gods of the wind and storm. Line 8 "Fearful and reassuring" A juxaposition emphasises the woman's mixed feelings.

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Hurricane Hits England by Grace Nichols

Line 12 "My speeping, back-home cousin" The Caribbean weather is like a family member to her; it's comforting to her. Line 19 "The blinding illumination" The lightning could be a metaphor for the enlightenment the storm brings to her. Line 27 "O why is my heart unchained?" This is separate from the other stanzas so that it stands out from  the rest of the poem. It has several possible meanings, this could mean "Why am I suddenly free fom the restraints of England?" or "Why does she feel the way she does, that is, tossed and uprooted by the storm?" Line 34 "Shaking the foundations of the very trees within me" Her cultural roots have also been revealed by the storm. Line 36 "That the earth is the earth is the earth" All places on Earth are connected - she no longer feels apart from her homeland.

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very helpful + im 100% sure this poem will come up in the exam on Monday

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