I have been studying 2 poems from 2 different cultures, Blessing by Imtiaz Dharker. And Island Man by Grace Nichols. The poems are both set in 2 different countries, that are both different from our own. Blessing is about how precious water is in some parts of India, and shows how difficult it is for a lot of people to get enough water. Island Man contrasts life on a Caribbean island and life in London and shows the views that someone from the Caribbean may have when living in London. Blessing is set in a hot country, where clearly it is hard for some people to get enough water. As the writer lives in India and is originally from Pakistan, it relates back to that area, where it is very hot and people living in shantytowns, or deprived areas, may not get direct water.
The stanzas of the poem are broken up in an unusual way, there are 4 stanzas, but all vary in length, the first is 2 lines, the 2nd is 4 lines, the 3rd is much longer and is 11 lines and the last stanza is 6 lines. And each has a different focus, the first is introducing the poem, and very quickly explains what it is about. “There is never enough water” shows the starting point of the poem, that where it is set, there is not enough water for all the people here. The 2nd stanza tries to put an image in your head and almost to put you in their position, along with the 1st stanza together. The 3rd stanza focuses on the event of the poem, a municipal pipe bursts, and there is a rush for the water, as they don’t get enough, and there is a shortage of water, this is a big event for these people.
Prices start at $12
Prices start at $11
Prices start at $14
Prices start at $12
The 4th stanza shows the excitement of the children of the village. By using words such as “screaming” to describe their reaction to the water. The length of the stanzas and the positioning of the full stops makes the poem change pace at certain points. “silver crashes to the ground And the flow has found A roar of tongues. From the huts,” Although a line of the poem ends, it does not take a longer pause like a full stop. This also then leads to parts of it, sounding like someone talking, as the above quote, as it makes it sound more ‘natural’ to the ear. “ground” and “found” also rhyme, although these sections rhyme, there is no repeated rhyme through the poem, there is no pattern between the rhymes. These 2 rhymes are a line apart from each other, but it rhymes again 3 lines later with these words “around”. This shows a lack of pattern between the lines, which does make it sound more like someone talking. The opening line says “The skin cracks like a pod”
This immediately compares it to something like a pea pod, or “cracks” also might make you think of parched ground. It also has the use of a simile, “like a pod” as it is comparing the ground, which is the skin of the earth, to a dried up, possibly pea pod. “Imagine the drip of it, The small splash, echo In a tin mug,” “Imagine suggests that there is not enough water, and instead, most of the people imagine it, as even just the small splash may excite them since it is so hard to get water. “echo” suggests an empty pot with the small splash of water, making it empty of water. Making the empty echo sound of tin. “the voice of a kindly god” The writer is comparing the sound of the water to the people in the poem, as god-like, or maybe a gift from the gods, which may be shown by the word “voice” as if a god is giving the water as a gift. “Sometimes, the sudden rush of fortune. The municipal pipe bursts,”
the municipal pipe, which is the main water pipe supplied by a council or the government, bursts, “fortune” is usually a word associated with a win, so is comparing the pipe bursting, as a victory for these people, as they finally have some water. “silver crashes to the ground” The writer is comparing the value of the water to the people, as equal to that of a precious metal like silver. It also links to some culture from the writers home country, as in countries like India and Pakistan, it is common for wealthy people to throw silver coins on the floor for poorer people to pick up. And so is comparing it to this, saying that it is of equal value to these people. Crashing is a powerful word and adds emphasis to the sound of the water hitting the ground. “and the flow has found A roar of tongues…” This suggests that there is a lot of excitement as this happens, that these people are ready for the water and are there quickly to get a drink. The word “roar” shows the excitement of this by the use of a strong verb. “…From the huts, A congregation:…”
“Congregation” again relates it back to religion like at the start, as it is a word associated with prayer, shows the value of the water to the people, comparing it with a god or worship. “…every man woman child for streets around butts in, with pots, brass, copper, aluminium, plastic buckets, frantic hands” This section is done as a list, which changes the pace of it. It also shows the desperation for the water that they will use anything they can get their hands on to get some water, even using hands to cup the water, it shows how deprived of water these people are. And it also shows it as a mass event, as everyone is coming from far away to get water. “and naked children screaming in the liquid sun,” this shows the excitement of the children, which is also emphasised by the use of a strong verb like “screaming” which shows the joy of these children at the water. “liquid sun” shows the strong sunlight shining off their bodies, glistening in the sun.
This poem makes me think about how things like water, which we take for granted, for some people are very hard to come by, and many die from unclean water, or a lack of water every day. “frantic hands,” I think is an effective part of the poem, it uses a strong word like “frantic”, which shows excitement or a rush for the water, and also shows how desperate they are for water, that they would use their hands to try and get water. The second poem is called Island man and is written by Grace Nichols. The poem is about a man originally from the Caribbean, who constantly thinks about his home and now lives in London. The author, Grace Nichols, is originally from Guyana, which is a country north of Brazil in South America but has a Caribbean culture.
In the first stanza, it begins with the man dreaming about his Caribbean home, waking up back on his island “Morning and island man wakes up to the sound of blue surf in his head the steady breaking and wombing” This section shows the sounds of the waves as being in his head, this also shows that he is dreaming, but the waves are also soothing, and comforting, which is shown by the made-up word “wombing” which suggests protection, like a womb. “wild seabirds and fishermen pushing out to sea” the line break after seabirds, is used to emphasise the word, and the sound at the end of the words in some other lines, the words at the end of lines have an s sound too. This emphasises the sound of the sea waves in the words. “the sun surfacing defiantly from the east of his small emerald island” “defiantly” shows that he is refusing to forget about his home, that he does not want to forget, it is stuck in his memory and misses it.
It also shows that he does not want to wake up, as he is tired, and perhaps not looking forward to another day. “emerald” suggests that it has high value to him and it could also suggest that the golden sands and the green palm trees, could make it looking jewellery, like maybe a gold and emerald ring. “groggily groggily” this links back to the sounds of the waves, the repeating sound of the waves hitting the shore, and also shows he does not want to wake up, as he always comes back tired. “Comes back to sands of a grey metallic soar to a surge of wheels to dull North Circular roar” the word soar has been used, normally roar would have been used, this could relate back to the sound of seabirds overhead, confusing the realities, and missing his home.. “surge of wheels” describes the sounds of the city, as he is awake again, for another day. “North Circular roar” points out an area of London, linking to the sentence before it, the cars moving along, like a dull surge.
“Muffling his crumples pillow waves island man heaves himself Another London day” “muffling” suggests the sound of him waking up, on the pillow, the muffled sounds from the pillow, also the repetition of the word suggests, again, the repeating of the waves hitting the shore, so is still thinking of his island. “heaves himself” suggests the effort of getting out of bed and leaving his dream, which again, shows he misses it and cannot forget the past. This poem shows how hard it is for the man to leave behind his old culture and start a new life in London, as he cannot forget the past and his happy life back on his island. The contrast is shown very effectively by the writer, as herself, lives in London and can compare her home with life in London. “grey metallic soar” I thought was an effective line, as it makes the dullness has a sound, of the soar of cars passing. The poems contrast 2 different cultures, which does wake you up to different lives people from other countries would have, especially island man, contrasting life in the Caribbean, to life in London, Blessing only shows one different culture, but it does wake you up to the differences between my own and the lives that some people there might have.