Search For My Tongue, Hurricane Hits England and Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan
- Pages: 11
- Word count: 2507
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In poetry, poets should use the three techniques stated in the title to make their person and poem expressive. They can also use extended metaphors to give that little add of feeling to it. The three chosen poems for this essay are, ‘Search For My Tongue’, ‘Hurricane Hits England’ and ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’. ‘Search For My Tongue’ is a poem about a Gujarati woman called Sujata Bhatt that had moved to another country resulting in her having to speak ‘a foreign tongue’.
She felt alienated because she felt out of place as the ‘mother tongue’ died in her mouth but returned to her overnight in a dream where it grew back, stronger than the ‘foreign tongue’. Sujata Bhatt uses language to create a feeling of homesickness. She uses ‘lost’ when mentioning the loss of her ‘mother tongue’. This expresses sadness, and then the Gujarati text helps the reader to understand what she has lost and what her ‘mother tongue’ is like. Words like ‘rot’ and ‘die’ makes the reader feel that Sujata’s homesick, as her home language is dead and so doesn’t feel at home because of the loss in her culture.
Another word that is used that is also very important is the word ‘the’. She uses this with the ‘mother tongue’. This shows that the language is not hers any longer, as she doesn’t recognise it anymore. It’s her mothers and because she does not own that particular tongue, she feels homesick because it was part of her life and is now removed. Imagery is another technique used by Sujata, and the words used can make the reader visualise the important symbolic images in the poem. Words like ‘rot’ make the reader visualise death or something decaying.
On line four, where it reads ‘if you had two tongues in your mouth’, shows an image that these two tongues are fighting each other and that the ‘mother tongue’ is defeated. It gives a very negative and ugly image, as it seems like there are two fat worms squirming in her mouth fighting as the ‘foreign tongue’ ‘pushes the other aside’. It’s also symbolic because the two tongues must get tangled up and so does the two languages. The phrase ‘foreign tongue’ is very imaginative as it seems like a stranger is present and is intruding in her blood language.
When the poet ‘spits’ out the Gujarati language it makes the reader visualise that she’s trying hard to get her first language out of her mouth and so like spit, it comes out in little bits and you have to wait patiently for it to build up again. It also seems like the Gujarati text is trapped in the middle like where the heart is in the body. The last verse of the poem is describing the tongue like a plant in an extended metaphor. It portrays the tongue as, ‘it grows back, a stump of a shoot grows longer, grows moist, grows strong veins’.
The reader will then visualise a plant, with the stem growing taller and thicker with long roots and then when ‘the bud opens in my mouth’ it’s as if instead of a flower on the roof of the stem, it’s a tongue and as it ‘blossoms’ it’s reborn, like spring. The reason why the poet used an extended metaphor in the last verse, was because when the subject is replaced by something that symbolises it becomes much more imaginative. The form or structure of the poem is important and can represent the emotions of the described person.
In ‘Search For My Tongue’ the structure of the poem is mixed and seems interrupted, as the ‘mother tongue’ suddenly appears in the middle of the English text as if it’s trapped. The English text is also tightly spaced out between each line, but between the Gujarati and the phonetic text it is greatly spaced. Again, this is as if Sujata ‘spits’ the language out slowly. However these aren’t the only meanings behind the poem. Firstly, the Gujarati is trapped in her heart and so it’s not easily released.
So when it appears in her dream, it comes out of her subconscious mind, therefore the ‘foreign tongue’ comes out like an image as it is fighting deeper and deeper in her mind. Secondly, the phonetic language is the ‘foreign tongue’ fighting back making the Gujarati sounds in the English alphabet, which is not what happens in ‘Hurricane Hits England’. ‘Hurricane Hits England’ is about a Guyanan woman called Grace Nichols, who had moved to England. She experiences an unfamiliar weather event in England that is quite common and had happened in the year in which she was born in Guyana.
A hurricane. She feels more at home in England, believing that the gods are surrounding and relating to her when the hurricane approaches her. The form of the poem is all jagged. Some of the lines only have a couple of words and others have five or six. It’s all aligned to the left so to the right side it’s uneven but on the other side it’s straight. As the left alignment is straight, it shows that the poet has a straight, strong back even if she does feel out of place in England.
Secondly, the layout of the poem looks like an English coast, and this is an image because she mentions a ship, which was probably how she arrived in England and ‘whales’ so it could be connected to the sea as the coast is referred to. Finally, the lines that only have two or three words seem like they were destroyed by the hurricane. Another important way in which the poet has tried to express herself in the poem, is that she has used certain techniques enabling readers to visualise an image like similes.
Many of the words such as ‘howling’ and ‘ dark ancestral’ are ghost related. These then express old images because it looks like the hurricane is also from her past. Where it states ‘howling ship’, this gives an image that she came to England by ship but in pain because ‘howling’ is a negative word that describes screaming and agony. The word ‘rage’ on line five shows fierce, angry weather sailing towards England and herself, as it is her ‘back home cousin’ because this event occurred back in Guyana.
It also seems like it came back to haunt Grace Nichols. The chanting of the gods that are weather related paints a picture that the forces are sweeping over the seas heading towards England. They are acting upon her making her feel warm and safe and not alienated in the foreign country. In verse three, she is talking and asking questions as if the hurricane is alive. ‘Old tongues’ shows a very ugly image. It makes the reader think of an old mouldy tongue, that used to be a thing of her past but has come back to follow her.
Following on to the next stanza in the poem, ‘the blinding illumination’ is like lightning that shows a new light to the way the poet sees things but then that’s a paradox as the ‘further darkness’ causes power cuts which doesn’t make sense because Grace Nichols feels at home with this light that is causing chaos! The simile ‘falling heavy as whales’, is double sided. It could mean that because the trees are heavy it’s just like whales falling on top of you, or that the whales are like the outburst of torrential rain surrounding the hurricane. The cratered graves’ are important in this poem because it’s showing that the voodoo gods are bringing death along with the hurricane as the unsightly ‘crusted roots’ are showing. On line twenty-six, it mentions ‘unchained’. This gives an image of freedom. Further on, the ‘frozen lakes’ show that her feelings are cold and numb. The numbness shows that she is helpless and is just watching everything fly past her as she’s also in pain. Pain from the inability of movement. The ‘sweet mystery’ gives an image of the love she has towards the hurricane, even though she is lifeless from the numbness it gives her.
Finally, the poet has reached to a point where she is liberated The hurricane reminds Grace Nichols of her family because the hurricane shakes the ‘foundations of the trees’ contained by her. The hurricane fascinates the poet. Towards the middle, the poem shows that the hurricane is only there for her because it’s as if the ‘crusted roots’ and the ‘foundations of the very trees’ in her all connect to a family tree, and that this freak weather event is trying to connect the family and country together again. The poem ends with, ‘Come to let me know
That the earth is the earth is the earth. ‘ This is as if, she learns that she is living in one place and that earth is circular. It never stops turning because it goes round and round and round. In the poem the poet creates a feeling of homesickness by using certain words like ‘old tongues’. It’s as if her past is no longer with her because it has faded from her mind. ‘Falling’ is another word used with meaning that is very negative, as it’s a down side of things. She’s falling apart from her family because of the distance between them.
When ‘darkness’ is mentioned, it’s as if she doesn’t want to accept the realism in the hurricane because it isn’t going to do much for her. It is going to leave a bigger ‘mystery’ for her to solve. When looking at the title of this poem, it’s like a newspaper headline. This may be because it is a fact but like all newspapers, pieces are added to them along with interviews about how people feel about what has happened, and this poem has that little extra. It’s describing the hurricane in Grace Nichols perspective. These aren’t the only times where specific language is used to cause an affect to readers. Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ is written by a Pakistani woman called Moniza Alvi who’d moved to England and got sent a salwar kameez from her aunts but feels as if she isn’t good enough to wear them and because of her moving to England she’s disorientated as she’s of ‘no fixed nationality’. The language used in this poem that causes a feeling of homesickness are words like ‘glistening’ and ‘I could never be as lovely… ‘. ‘Glistening’ shows sparkles in her mother culture and then ‘I could never be as lovely… makes a picture that the clothes are too exquisite for her, and so she cannot wear them because she doesn’t belong to that society any longer. It also reveals that she is insecure about herself. In the poem Moniza Alvi mentions many colours, because of the fact that many of the Pakistani garments are coloured and decorated and so this reminds her of her past ethnicity. The jewellery that her mother ‘cherished’ was ‘stolen’. This shows coldness to the English culture because there is no respect for ethnic minorities and their beliefs.
The last verse of the poem mentions that she is of ‘no fixed nationality’, and just standing there, ‘staring at the fretwork ‘ of the Shalimar Gardens’. Firstly, she feels as if she is alone in the world just watching others pass around her, and secondly, because she can only ‘stare through the fretwork’- not be a part of it. To make the confusion that the poet is feeling stand out, she has created a certain structure in the poem. The form of the poem is all spread out. Everything is everywhere. As she is of ‘no fixed nationality’ she’s not in a fixed place.
She’s confused! She doesn’t where or even who she is, so blocks of writing are spaced out like herself. The form of the poem is in such a way, that it is hard to see where it starts and ends. Along with the form, the imagery of the poem can really stand out as well because it is a vital role in the poem. As the word ‘glistening’ shows sparkles, this helps to visualise stars and shiny sequins. This is a very positive image, which illustrates that Pakistani’s have a delightful culture full of happiness, but unfortunately she hasn’t a part of it.
Moniza Alvi feels pain because the ‘candy striped bangles’ shattered and ‘drew blood’ and a feeling of trapped ness is created because the coloured stripes in the candy are put in between each other, with each one ensnared by the surrounding stripes. As a result of this, it shows that the poet is trapped between the two cultures. The ’embossed slippers’ show that she feels a false skin is uncomfortably stitched to her and that it covers her true identity. The garments are like ‘costumes’. They ‘cling’ to her as if she is an actor in a play.
It’s all pretence because it’s as if she transforms into someone else when she tries on the ‘lovely’ clothes, but when they are removed, she’s back to normal- just like an actor. It’s important, that the images are stretched out as far as possible. For example on lines twenty-three to four, the poet tries to push the image of a phoenix rising out of its ashes, but then showing that she ‘couldn’t rise up out of its fire’. When she ‘tried to glimpse herself’ in the mirror, it was like her face was drawn out and looking at her straight in the face and telling a long historical story about her.
From lines forty-nine to fifty-four, there’s a picture of Grace Nichols running away from war. She’d been ‘sent to England’ ‘screaming’ finding herself alone with her English grandma. Throughout the journey it is obvious that it was uncomfortable, because it was ‘prickly’ and hot. It all seems disturbing and the poet is trying to make a painful image of what she had been through, as it was hard moving from country to country. The photographs that are mentioned are from the fifties’, and so are black and white.
This gives an image of Pakistan being far away and fading out. It doesn’t seem too colourful any more, but dead with ‘fractured land’ that is symbolic because it shows that the poet is being torn apart as well, not knowing who she really is. Basically the poem is showing that the culture and traditions involved are becoming unordinary as the clothes are locked up in the wardrobe, the jewellery that the mother treasured was ‘stolen’ and the request of clothes from Marks and Spencers by her aunts weren’t usual.
The poet just wants to be part of her ethnic culture without having to wear certain clothes and getting judged by others. As seen, the three poets all use the three same techniques to make their poem memorable and valued. Extended metaphors are used and negative with a few positive images are told. I think that the poets used their language, form and images carefully, as all three poems are memorised in my mind.