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Compare Limbo with Nothing’s Changed

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In this essay I will be comparing Limbo and Nothing’s Changed to see how each poem conveys the authors ideas about culture and tradition. Even though both poems are set in very different places with different beliefs, there are still some views that go on throughout the world. Both Limbo and Nothing’s Changed show the inequality of different races with the black people being undermined by the whites. Also in each poem the Black people know that they deserve more than what they are getting.

In Limbo you can feel the vulnerability as the ‘water is surrounding’ the slaves and as their ‘knees are spread wide’. This shows that the blacks feel insignificant and are made to feel as though they are below the whites. The slaves also see the whites as ‘dumb gods’ who are powering over them but are only winning as they are the majority and hold the power. In Nothings Changed the first stanza shows the ‘amiable weeds’, which is that some of the black people are being forced into believing that they truly are an inferior race.

Also, comparisons are made between the standards of living of whites and blacks as the whites have their ‘haute cuisine’ whilst the blacks are left with ‘bunny chows’. The interpretations that can be made from reading both poems can have similarities but at the same time have differences can be immense, which may be due to the different nature of the poems and the way the authors convey their ideas. Brathwaite starts by evoking feelings of hate which come through by the one-syllable words that he uses like ‘stick’, ‘whip’ and ‘hit’.

They have very harsh sounds but are also words of violence, giving you a hellish feel to the situation of slavery that Brathwaite is interpreting. However, in Afrika’s poem, he uses similar metaphors like ‘hard stones click’. Although these are fairly hard sounding one-syllable words similarly to Brathwaite’s poem, they don’t evoke the feelings of hell, but feelings of trepidation and apprehension. Limbo is written in the present tense, showing that what is happening to the slaves is happening directly.

Not as an account of what did happen whereas in Nothings Changed it shows what it’s like now and how it used to be. In Limbo there are many different structures that Brathwaite uses to convey the feelings of his culture and traditions, which don’t appear in Nothings Changed. In Limbo there is, as mentioned earlier, the harsh one-syllable words bringing in that hatred which is probably aimed towards the whites but could also be the way that the whites view the blacks. There is also the almost chorus like line of ‘limbo, limbo like me’ which appears after each stanza, keeping it at a song like rhythm.

The ‘chorus’ is separating each stanza, which also could be the way that the blacks feel from the whites. Separate. There are also some sentences about the ‘long dark deck’, which helps you capture that feeling of imprisonment. In contrast to that there is stanza’s which are 3 lines long but each line only consists of 1 word. This could be to add focus to them. Afrika’s poem consists of a very different structure to Limbo’s. It has no chorus but includes the one-syllable hard words, helping to get the feel of the place that the poet is entering.

However, there are may differences in this poem which really show the different techniques the poet uses to build up the structure which will put across his feelings. There is a great many uses of language like the personification of body parts, ‘the labouring of my lungs’ and similes like ‘flaring like a flag’ which also shows alliteration. All of these techniques are used to help build up a picture in your head of the images of the place being described, This gets across Afrika’s perspective of the place.

There is also the extended metaphor of ‘glass’, which goes on throughout the poem, symbolising the invisible difference between to places and maybe the invisible difference between people, whether they be white or black. Overall, Limbo and Nothing’s Changed both protest over the inequality between white and black people but both poets have different ideas of how to structure their writing to get it across to the reader. Both poems are very deep with a meaning put across so differently, but which both mean exactly the same thing.

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