GCSE English Paper 2 Revision

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  • What is it about?
  • In the 18th century, European countries took African people and traded them as slaves - they were carried in the holds of ships - dark, cramped, dirty and diseased places. 
  • While the slaves were on the ships they invented the limbo dance as a way of keeping themselves fit whilst chained to long iron bars.
  • Today the dance remains a cultural tradition in the West Indies.
  • Limbo can mean a special dance where people pass under a pole by leaning backwards. However, it can also refer to empty space (people say "I'm in limbo" when they don't know what to do.)
  • In the poem, the ambiguity of the word is exploited. By going into slavery, the Africans are passing into a world where they mean nothing ('limbo like me'); on the slave ship they enter the limbo dance as a way of maintaining their culture on-board. 
  • It explores ideas of hope and despair.
  • What do I need to know about the author?
  • Kamau Braithwaite is a West Indian writer - he often writes about how powerful countries have taken over smaller countries and exploited them.
  • What poetic features are noteworthy?
  • The repetition of the word 'limbo' is key to the meaning of the poem.
  •  It provides the musical beat of the poem, like…


Hannah Smith


Very useful. :)

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