Poems from other cultures

Both poems, ‘Hurricane hits England’ and ‘Search for my tongue’ explore the importance of feeling confident with your identity. Furthermore, how it seems to have changed once they settled in another country, facing modern cultures. The arrival of a hurricane in England, which tends not to occur usually triggers thoughts about the writer’s experiences/life in the Caribbean, on the other hand. The opening line from ‘Hurricane hits England’ shows that the poet has triggered thoughts about her past. This makes her reflect about life at home in the Caribbean.

The following two lines, “Half the night she lay awake, the howling ship of the wind”, I believe she is using the ship as a metaphor to show how the storm carries memories. I also think she is reflecting on when a ship carried her from her homeland when she may have been vulnerable due to slavery in the past one-two centuries. Later she says, “Like some dark ancestral spectre, fearful and reassuring”. This is very contradictory; also known as a paradox. The second stanza the poet’s mood, changes she is rather abrupt with short instructions to African gods, this is highlighting her culture as well.

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This changes to the first person after the first verse, which could mean she is closer to herself and being pretty reflective. Furthermore, the third and fourth stanzas start out asking rhetorical questions. These are asking in affect, “Why am I thinking about my past”. These are direct questions in the first person which again shows she’s being personal, this proves she is a rather emotional person. The fourth stanza is the centre of the poem. This means it is a key area in the structure of the poem, and in affect is telling herself there is “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Furthermore it says, “The blinding illumination” then the last line is “Into further darkness? ” this is clearly a paradox again as you cannot illuminate into further darkness, this again is saying her life has passed obstacles which have put her down in the past, however now life is improving after she has accepted her identity. The fifth stanza links to the ocean and travel; this is extending the metaphor throughout the poem. The two lines: “Their crushed roots, their cratered graves? ” is saying she feels she has been buried for such a long time feeling poor in emotion, however she now is thinking about her roots.

The use of the word “graves” most definitely refers to her ancestors, saying they may have passed away with distress, rather than accepting her identity, because of slavery in the past. This is because she is from black heritage and prior to historical advancements, they were not accepted as a community or race. Following on to the sixth stanza, there is only one line and again is a question. “O why is my heart unchained”? I believe this is the turning point in the poem, for the poet’s heart to now be unchained it means it must have been chained before, this again links in with slavery as she has felt trapped earlier in life.

Also, the word used by the poet “unchained” is relevant to slavery as slaves were chained in earlier times, this choice of vocabulary is important. The poet is emphasising this idea as she has left it as a one-lined stanza, making the point short and sharp. Later, in stanza seven her mood has changed considerably it is though she has accepted her identity and is extremely confident, the use of repetition also proves this. The start of ‘Search for my Tongue’ is similar to ‘Hurricane hits England’ as she triggers thoughts about her identity, in this case her “mother tongue”, which is her first language.

The poet uses the word “you”, this grabs the reader’s attention far more than ‘Hurricane hits England’. This is because it is gripping the reader into the poem and maybe trying to get the reader to compare their feelings. She says, “If you had two tongues in your mouth” this is referring to identity again, this is symbolising you can have your original language as well as a second language, which happened when she emigrated. With the poet describing both languages this proves no one can get rid of their old language, it is in their heritage.

As in ‘Hurricane hits England’ the poet uses the imagery of the ‘Hurricane’, this poem uses language as to reflect her identity. I do feel that imagery is a better way to reflect identity as it has many key points such as actually thinking of the structure of a hurricane rather than just using words to express her points. The first time in the poem in which she uses a metaphor is line twelve and thirteen: “Your mother tongue would rot, rot and die in your mouth” this is clearly referring to an object which can die. The following Gujerati is roughly the same as the meaning of the poem.

This I believe is keeping her mother tongue alive, also it is used to communicate to all maybe even her family. It makes this poem available for a much large audience as Gujerati is spoken by many millions in the eastern world Following on straight after the Gujerati she starts with the extended metaphor which is the flower, “It grows back a stump of a shoot” this is clearly referring to her language and mother tongue. I also find that her Gujerati is compared to a plant; this comparison is developed throughout the poem.

This is the start of when imagery is used just as ‘Hurricane hits England’ did. This draws the reader in much more than just using words, as you can imagine a plant growing using your mind, just as her first language does. Finally, on ‘Hurricane hits England’, the poet’s mood has changed considerably it is though she has accepted her identity and is extremely confident; the use of repetition also proves this. With “Ah, secret mystery”, this is implying that it must have been a scary mystery at the start however, now she feels released.

The final line uses a group of three repetitions, which shows confidence. The poet also is understanding the meaning of life; a realisation point of the poem. Finally on ‘Search for my tongue’, the use of imagery with the flower is fully extended as she makes use of it throughout the last stanza. The line “The bud opens, the bud opens in my mouth” proves she is referring to a flower swell as her language. It first starts to rot then blossom, this is a positive association and proves she has grasped her mother tongue after such a long time after emigration to another country.

When she remembers her language it seems to blossom out of her mouth, however when it wasn’t used before, it seemed to have rotted. Therefore she needed to keep a balance. Towards the end of both poems they both show a positive association, both using imagery which is a key point to these poems. Both poems have a realisation point which make sure they both have understood their identity and it is not to be forgotten. Even though the poets think identity is fragile however so important for not only their culture however their own life.