Poems from Different Cultures

Cluster 1 & 2, Exam Wed 18 May 1.15pm

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  • Created by: Ellie
  • Created on: 16-05-11 20:12

Nothing's Changed

  • Reflecting on SA, post Apartheid era, District Six multicultural yet bulldozed by government
  • 7 stanzas
  • ends with the same words 'nothings changed' - emphasises key point, visual representation as there is a lack of change in the poem
  • basically symmetrical apart from short stanza in the middle, emphasises key point 'no sign says it is: but we know where we belong' referring to the signs seperating - disappeared physically but not in reality
  • first line monosyllabic, bitter, angry, detached - gives mood of poet
  • second stanza: 'District Six' very short, explosive sentence, spitting words out. Also repetition of 'and' in contrast to fullstops and punctuation representing loss of control in his feelings
  • body parts 'hands' 'feet' 'eyes' - sense that pain has become a part of the poets physical being
  • 'crushed ice white glass' 'linen falls' 'single rose' images of luxury (WHITES) in contrast with 'plastic table's top, wipe your fingers on your jeans (BLACK) - more comfortable? clear difference
  • 'its in the bone' metaphor - sums up that the culture is a part of him, engrained in him
  • final stanza is the emotional climax of poet's anger, final, spits out last two words - 'b' alliteration emphasises anger and aggression
  • District six used as a symbol in itself of the Apartheid
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Island Man

  • Carribean man taken out of his own culture, transplanted somewhere completely different
  • ISLAND LIFE: sibilance 'sound of blue surf' - represents the sound of waves, fond memory
  • 'wombing' implies a sense of protection and comfort
  • 'wild seabirds and fishermen pushing out to sea' lifestyle is simplistic, laidback
  • CONFUSION: 'he always comes back       groggily groggily' - isolated words representing how he feels
  • gap in words represents gap between dream/reality, waking/sleeping, caribbean/london?
  • LONDON LIFE: drab colours and unpleasant noises
  • disjointed and uncomfortable, large gap between words, ill at ease, uncomfortable
  • rhyme 'soar' 'roar' exaggerates noise
  • 'muffling muffling etc' repetition emphasises boredom, metaphor of waves, memory is still present 'heaves' shows he's unwilling
  • shape of poem with lines dipping in and out echoes the waves of the caribbean
  • hints suggest strengths of his culture, it is still there and very much a part of him

imagery, juxtaposition/contrast, enjambment, repetition and alliteration

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  • set in India, dont have enough water, hadn't been any then pipe burst, go out and celebrate, dance, fill up buckets
  • religious, uses 'congregation' and 'kindly God' - people see God as something special, view water as a gift
  • starts with short sentences, representing the gradual drip of water, middle are much longer, representing burst of pipe and flooding
  • similie 'skin cracks like a pod' skin dried up
  • metaphor 'liquid sun' water is as important to life as sun
  • water is personified, and given human (if not superhuman) qualities and appreciated as something special
  • enjambment represents the flood of water and flow of emotions
  • compared to Night of the Scorpion, happy ending? both have blessing from God
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Two Scavengers In A Truck

  • poem about the rich and poor people of society, democracy doesn't work
  • set in San Francisco at 9.00am


  • title is part of poem
  • lines hang over each other, huge gulf between


  • similie 'gargoyle Quasimodo' makes the bin men seem grotesque, ugly
  • adjectives make the reader feel like they are really there, paints a vivid image
  • constantly contrasting in the poem
  • 'across that small gulf in the high seas' implies that although they are close, they are so far away, emphasises the point of the poem
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Night of the Scorpion

  • poet remembers a story from childhood, mother stung by scorpion, villagers come to help but are superstitious and judgemental, mother cares more about children than pain
  • only 2 stanzas, first very long stanza tells us the story of the poem, short fragment of second stanza offers the mother's thoughts
  • begins and ends with objective, considered language, makes it believable
  • 'i remember the night' - transports reader into the poem, persona sounds believable, first person personalizes the experience, believable
  • 'parting with his poison - flash of diabolic tail in the dark room' alliteration of p makes scorpion sound evil and aggressive, 'diabolic' personifies as the evil, enjambment is discomforting, emphasisies pain and suffering
  • 'peasants came like swarms of flies' anthropomorphic similie, dehumanises the villagers and makes them seem foolish, onomatopoeic 'buzzed' implies prayers are shallow and meaningless
  • repetiton of 'they said' makes them seem irritating, incapable of their own thoughts, poet is critical of the villagers
  • ending last 3 lines, mother reflects - removed from emotional tone of poem, returns to objective rational 'only', demonstrates family is far more important than religion or culture
  • compares with Blessing (religion)? 
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  • about the nature of mankind - how can love and evil exist side by side? (glass half full/empty)
  • four clear section, each discusses the same idea - how is it that love and evil can exist same place same time?
  • first about the vultures ("drizzle despondant dawn drab" etc, evil side - however "nestled close to his mate" - showing there is love and tenderness) , second about love itself, third about concentration camp, last about the question
  • word 'strange' very isolated, suggests how the poet is contemplating...
  • second section about love? personification of love - constant contrasts - love can switch on and off? bad side of love
  • the commandant (concentration camp) is a representation of evil (description "going home for the day with fumes of human roast clinging rebelliously his hairy nostrils" cringe, disgusting, sick, then contrast as he "pick up a chocolate for his tender offspring waiting at home for Daddy's return")
  • "praise bounteous providence if you will poet posing a question, asking the reader what do they want to believe? poet gives his answer by starting and ending with the negative
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(from) Search For My Tongue

  • character is expressing how difficult it is to be bilingual as you are never sure which language to use, and as a result end up questioning your own identity, not sure where you belong, difficult belonging to two cultures
  • themes of cultural identity, belonging and the importance of language
  • use of her native Gujarati language
  • the first person ('I', 'me') creates very personal opening and address
  • questions at the beginning of the poem reflects the fact the woman is questioning herself
  • start of the poem has quite a colloquial tone
  • one of the sections has harsh, negative diction eg 'rot' 'die' 'spit'
  • repetition used to emphasise how she has to repeat the problem over and over in her head to try and reach an answer
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(from) Unrelated Incidents

This poem is about attitudes towards non-standard accents and dialects and how we are characterised by the way that we speak. It is a phonetic transcript of a Glaswegian accent in the form of a TV autocue. He is pretending to be a newsreader to suggest that just because he doesn't have a Standard English accent, he is still trustworthy and worthy of respect.

THEMES: social identity, injustice and prejudice in society, the truth..?

  • dialectal words and phrases are used to show which social group the person belongs to and how he values the way he speaks enough to use it in the poem
  • final phrase 'belt up' expresses his anger, imperative
  • layout is like a television autocue, unusual, short phrases
  • this highlights the contrast between his dialect and the way newsreaders speak
  • lots of slang and colloquial words
  • talking directly to and addressing the reader
  • uses humour to make serious criticisms
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Whole poem is an objection to the term 'half-caste' used to describe people of mixed race. 'Half-Caste' implies people of mixed race are inferior (half isnt as good)

THEMES - racial discrimination, inequality

  • start of the poem 'excuse me' seems like a sarcastic apology for who he is, sorry hes different
  • whole poem is a dramatic monologue, quite direct in tone
  • written in first person so the reader can empathise with the character's feelings
  • poem presents the reader with several funny images 'standing on one leg', quite humerous, showing he doesnt take the haters seriously, he's a human being
  • encouraging people to open their minds and see him for who he is
  • ending shows he has not given up, will keep going
  • quite a positive attitude
  • challenges the reader to counter argue with him, makes it very difficult
  • mocking of the racist people
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Love after Love

'guide to loving yourself'

The poem is about self discovery, learning accepting and embracing who you are - valuing all the things that make you, you. It describes how often we ignore our own emotional needs for other people, should make time for ourselves.

THEMES - value of the past, importance of your background, importance of being comfortable and happy

  • series of metaphors in the poem, the 'mirror' is the way we see ourselves and look back at the past
  • 'feast on your life' makes life seem like a delicious banquet which should be enjoyed and savoured
  • religious diction eg 'give wine, give bread' - these are part of a religious ceremony and give the poem a sincere and caring tone
  • ideas of the poem are complex, let the language used is simple
  • poem reads like a list of instructions (imperatives) on how to find and enjoy yourself
  • enjambment, the lines run on which reinforces the point that our lives are a series of events that run together to shape us as a person
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This Room

This poem exists on more than one level. Superficially, it describes a room that has 'gone wild', all the items in it are trying to escape. On a deeper level, the room is a metaphor used to describe the person in the poem who feels that it is time to break free from the restraints society places on people. The poet thinks we should welcome times like this, use the chance. Celebrates the fact that life is unpredicatable and exciting.

THEMES - life can be unpredictable, identity, freedom, change

  • enjambment, very little structure, represents movement
  • personification - the room is personified as a person who is full of energy
  • imagery - pots, pans, bed are images used to represent quest for freedom
  • verbs are in present particple (-ing) form, sense of immediacy and action
  • onomatopoeia - enhance the sound effects of the poem 'cracking' 'clash' 'clang'
  • appeals to the senses to emphasise pleasure of being alive and free
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Not My Business

About the unfair treatment of citizens by the authorities, especially military regimes. Shows a culture where injustice is common and people only worry about themselves. As long as they are safe and have enough to eat, it doesn't matter about others. Trying to convey the message that we cannot ignore injustice just because it doesn't directly affect us - it is short-sighted because eventually it will.

THEMES - injustice and inequality

  • violent diction - 'stuffed' 'dragged' - vivid description of what is happening so reader can sense and empathise with the horror of the situation
  • repetiton used throughout the poem to stress the issues - the chant seems like a mantra that people use to hid and sheild themselves from the truth
  • similies 'soft like clay' portrays how seriously this person was beaten
  • metaphor 'froze my hungry hand' emphasises the terror that the character feels
  • interrogatives 'what business...savouring mouth?' trying to get the reader to relate to the situation
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Presents from My Aunts in Pakistan

Shows the dilemmas faced by people of dual nationality. The girl's aunts are sending her traditional clothes from Pakistan, but she states that she would rather be dressed in Western fashions, feeling that Pakistani clothes are too beautiful for her. She describes some beautiful Pakistani things and juxtaposes them with her life in England. She remembers her journey from Pakistan, trying to remember her homeland. Finally, she imagines herself back in Pakistan, on the outside looking in (how she feels in England?) she is not fully integrated in either culture - causes internal conflict and turmoil.

THEMES - belonging to two cultures, fond memories, alienation

  • poem is written as a first person narrative, to enable us to share her stories and emotions and to empathise with her
  • first stanza contains vivid adjectives to describe the colours which represent her culture
  • imagery is used throughout, enables reader to visualise scenes and items
  • political comment 'fractured land/throbbing through newsprint' in relation to battle near homeland
  • conflict between two cultures is depicted as the two are juxtaposed
  • positive and negative diction is juxtaposed to contrast the cultures
  • metaphors eg 'I was aflame' express her feelings
  • non chronological order and hard to work out, inner turmoil
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Hurricane Hits England

The hurricane causes the writer to reminisce about her homeland in the Caribbean. Hurricane is frightening, but also welcoming as it reminds her of her homeland. The hurricane represents her inner turmoil at belonging to two cultures. She realises that turmoil aside, being alive and having a place on Earth is most important.

THEMES - force of nature, strength of memories, inner turmoil belonging to two cultures

  • negative diction describes the storm on one level
  • religious chants, shows woman's respect for the storm
  • interrogatives, lots of questions, show the woman is questioning herself and her feelings
  • juxtaposition and contrast
  • pathetic fallacy - hurricane represents her inner turmoil
  • third person at the first stanza, not comfortable with herself, then becomes used to herself and the reality
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