Let’s start

Dear girls, off we go with this project.  We will learn a lot from each other and we will get to appreciate poems from writers from all over the world.  I tried to choose poetic productions that somehow can promote the free expression of your ideas, feelings, insight, etc.  and this is what poetry is meant for, isn’t it?   It breathes inside our mind and body, it moves the "chords of our emotions" ,  it inspires us and makes us see things through different lenses.  It promotes a whole new experience of a particular event.  Thanks in advance for all the things you are going to teach me.  We will have fun together (hopefully) because we will be able to express our opinions without feeling judged.  This is a blog, do remember.  Nobody is judging anybody.  We are only expressing ideas which become good food for thought for all the others. 

The poem you are going to read does not present either the title or the name of the author.  Is the writer a man or a woman in your opinion?  What do you think the title of the poem could be?  Where does the writer come from?  Mind you, try to substantiate your answers, try to explain why you are claiming certain things.  Don’t throw things there just for the sake of writing something. 

(for a Caribbean island man in London who still wakes up to the sound of the sea)
and island man wakes up
to the sound of blue surf
in his head
the steady breaking and wombing
wild seabirds
and fishermen pushing out to sea
the sun surfacing defiantly
from the east
of his small emerald island
he always comes back                            groggily   groggily

Comes back to sands
of a grey metallic soar
                                             to surge of wheels
to dull North Circular roar

muffling muffling
his crumpled pillow waves
island man heaves himself

Another London day

Though not all of you have replied to the questions I posed last week, here I am going on with the analysis of this beautiful poem.  Are you all ears?  Or better, should I write, are you all eyes?  Well, the title of the poem is "Island Man" (1984) and it was written by Grace Nichols (she is John Agard’s wife, last year we read his famous poem "Half-caste.  Do you remember it?).  So some of you were right in their assumptions.  I congratulate with you.  Now, let’s hone our skills and let’s try to read this poem "more deeply".  You all got the gist, that is the difficulty for a Caribbean immigrant to live in an urban environment and his need to find a way how to accept the different reality surrounding him.

What do you notice regarding punctuation?  What marks possible divisions in the poem?  We know that punctuation and the lay out of a poem play an important role, since they add meaning to it. 

The nostalgic tone of the poem is built through the contrast between the "emerald island" and London.  The colours of the island contrast with those of London.  What are these colours?  What sounds did the man hear on his island? What sounds does he hear in London?  Do remember the relevance of the langauge used by the poet.  The use of language that appeals to the senses adds value to the poem. 

In "sands of grey metallic soar" a word belonging to the semantic field of Nature, "sands", is used in conncetion with "metallic soar", an expression which evokes an industrialized urban setting.  The two semantic fields are connected through "grey", which could refer both to the sands of an island and to the overall colour of London.  Find two more examples of words used metaphorically in this second part of the poem. 

The island man wakes up from his dream of the emeral island to find a different reality.  Which words in lines 11-19 express the effort and unpleasantness of waking up to "another London day"?


This entry was posted in Poesia Postcoloniale. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Let’s start

  1. canda98 says:

    Dear Paola,

    you are right in observing that the way words are displayed on the page (you refer to the lay out of the words on the right margin of the poem) adds meaning to the poem itself. The effect of stressing the anguish of the man is also reached through the absence of punctuation. His dreams cannot be “controlled” by any commas, or fullstops or any other punctuation mark. Keep writing, your ideas are really worth reading.

  2. canda98 says:

    Dear Smarty,

    You are really SMART, really bright and intelligent. I don’t know who you are and this allows me to express my opinions more freely. I was really taken aback by the deep analysis you have been able to write. It seems that this poem has really triggered what I expected: it involved all of you so deeply that you felt the need to read it over and over again. And the more you read a poem the more you get to “see”, “perceive”, “hear” new things. Sometimes you tend to be too carried away in your analysis, for example when you say that the poetess is in love with this man and she will never embrace him again. Here you added something that is not stated in the text, that you imagined. With poetry “guts” reactions are fine, but then we really need to support our response with something really stated in the lines. However, if this poem made you phantasise a lot about the poetess and her partner, then I am happy.

  3. anonimo says:

    hi!!! I’m in late I know..I’m very sorry but last weeks my web connection was k.o..

    Well, as far as this beautiful poem is concerned, I noticed that there’s no puntuaction in it; the divisions are marked by spaces and pauses, as we can see in line 10. This technique in my opinion gives more strenght to the poem: the poem is less fluid and so it expresses the cruelty of the life of the Carribean man in london.

    There are in the poem a lot of contrasts between the colours of the island and that of london: the island is blue (the sea), yellow (the sun) and emerald, while London is represented by the grey, the colours of roads, cars, roars, wheels and pollution. As far as the sounds is oncerned, in the island the man used to wake up with the sound of blue surf, with the singing of the seabirds and the songs of the fishermen; in London instead he wakes up with the metallic noise of cars, wheels and roads, a “grey metallic soar”.

    The examples of words used metaphorically are “surge of wheels” , that associates a word belonging to the semantic field of nature, “surge” with a word that evokes the world of the city and ” crumpled pillow waves” .

    The word that expresses the effort and unpleasantness of waking up to another London day for me is the verb “heaves”, bacause in my opinion throught it we can understand his sense of anguish for every single morning in which he wakes up.


  4. anonimo says:

    At long last I’ve arrived..! I’m always busy…So I’ve read with great attention the poem “Island Man”; I like it because he/she expresses maybe the homesickness when he/she lived in this “perfect” island: yes, it arouses a sensation of perfection, nearly of paradise. In my opinion the author is a woman that describes the remote life of a man who now can be her husband or however a man who she loves.

    This memory lives in the Island man’s hearth; “the sound of blue surf” resounds still in his mind; the “sun that surfaces” every morning “ from the east of his EMERALD island” appears still in his eyes.. These are memories that the man but an ordinary man brings in his heart.

    At the end appear three words that emblematize the beginning of another day in London, a big and chaotic city, where maybe the protagonist lives his melancholy.

    The onomatopoeia “ groggily groggily” is a symbol of the man’s condition and it’s very original..

    These poems from different cultures have enrapture my mind because they speaks about conditios where many people live or can’t survive. So I thank very much Prof.ssa Ziraldo for the opportunity that She gave us. Ele

  5. anonimo says:

    the title coul be: “The dream”

    In my opinion this poem is a poet’s dream.it is the wish of a man who wants to go away from the reality. the protagonist is soffocated by his everyday life. I understand this, throug the use of sentences like: “the sound of blue surf in his head” or “muffling his crumpled pillow waves”. he wants to let the readers know his wishes and his homesickness of his past life. The only way to do this is: the immagination and the dreams. The man need to relie on dreams. There is a slight sadness in remembering old times in serenity and probably going back to the past.

  6. anonimo says:

    I think that the blank verse between the 11th verse and the 12th verse divides in two parts the poem: in the first part the man dreams of his island, then in the second part he wakes up and find himself in London. Within this verse there is an auditive and visual contrast: the emerald island and the blue sea are stifled by the grayness of the city; the sounds enphasise the differences between the relaxing atmosphere of the island and the stressing life of London: the “steady breaking wombing” produces by the waves contrasts with roars of wheels and deafing noises of machines. Besides, the poetress uses many words metaphorically. For example “wild”: she describes the wildness of nature, the wake of birds near the sea and the blue surf in opposite to the artificial “grey metallic soar”, i.e. the adjective “wild”, referred to the city, alludes to the traffic jams in the North Circular. Also the word “waves” is used as a metaphor: it refers to sea around the island, but also to his crumpled pillow in London. The annoyance of the man can be noticed in the verse 11-19, because in this part, describing the city life, the poetress uses words that have a strong sound and they contrast with the sweet words referred to the island.


  7. anonimo says:

    The author doesn’t use punctuation but she puts the words in a very strange place, some words are on the right (line 11 and 14), that suggest us the restlessness of the Island Man.

    There is a clear contrast between the sounds and the colours of the Emerald Islan and those of London, for exemple the blu of sea is in conflict with the metallic grey of the wheels. To underline this contrast the writer uses a lot of images, that appeals to the five senses; this descriptions are in two different parts of the poem: in the first part, from line 1 to line 11, the author gives a description of the island and the feeling of the man, then she compares this to the vision of London.

    The Island Man, when he wakes up, instead of the sound of the sea he hears the noise from the street and he sees the dull “North Circle road” instead of the seabird and the fishermen.

    The turbolent feeling of the man are also reproposed (I’m not sure that this word really exists, probably it is better use return..) in lines 11-19 where the speaking-I realise the monotony of the days in London.


  8. canda98 says:

    Dear Sepy,

    First of all I want to point out that it is not a problem if you do not manage to write promptly. It does happen that computers do not work or that you have plenty of homework to do, so you cannot update the blog. This “space” is meant for our own enjoyment of literature, so I do not want any of you to feel frustrated. I just want you to feel the pleasure of writing about something that involves you deep inside.

    The verb heaves, as you try to point out, strengthens the idea of how difficult it is for this man to get up in the morning. He has to lift (metaphorically speaking) all the weight of his dreams and along with it the weight of a weary existence in a city which is depriving him of his Carabbean liveliness.

    I would not use the term “cruelty”, but hardship (perhaps) since cruelty implies that someone is doing something really bad to you. In this case there is no reference to somebody doing him harm.

  9. canda98 says:

    Dear Ele,

    Thank you for your positive feedback. It is important for a teacher to know that her students appreciates what she is doing. That way I know I am on the right track. These poems speak to us as human beings, they unveil realities otherwise unknown to us. We learn about peoples whose lives are hidden to us. What’s more, we see things through the perspective of people who come from or live in the country of interest for our poem. So we see things from the “margins” (I do not like this work, but is unfortunately used in literature) and not through “mainstream” dominant categories.

    You are right in saying that certain words mark important elements inside the poem (emblematize does not exist as a verb!)

  10. canda98 says:

    Dear Cristy,

    You are certainly right in emphasising, or better pointing out the relevance of the blank space between certain lines (blank verse is something different! remember! Shakespeare’s sonnets).

    I am happy to read that you noticed so many things about this poem. Keep writing when you can and keep reading (but just if it is pleasant to you)

  11. canda98 says:

    Dear Jolly,

    you can see from the poem that the layout of words plays an important role, it adds meaning to the poem itself. The contrasting images are another important aspect of the poem, you are right. You are also right when you question the existence of “reproposed” (yet I like the sound, unfortunately we cannot coin new verbs. If only we were poets, we had such a power we could reinvent a language!)

    Keep going you are on the right track!

  12. anonimo says:

    In my opinion the writer is a woman because the melancholy which is presented in the entire poem is typically feminine. I think the title of this poem could be: the Island. Reading the poem I underlined six principal words: “island, man, sound, blue, surf” and “his head”. On these words I based my interpretation of the poem. The writer wants the reader to identify with the protagonist. We know that he is a Caribbean man but now he lives in London. The writer wants to dedicate him this poem. London is a big, chaotic city and when the man isn’t sleeping he hears the noise of the cars, traffic, and people. But when he wakes up, at first, he doesn’t hear this noise he thinks to hear “the sound of the blue surf” and of the seabird. Hearing this sounds he has the impression to see his “small emerald island”. He imagines this landscape, the sea, the seabirds, the waves and his island because he is homesick, he would like to return home and he thinks at his childhood. But slowly he “comes back” from his island. London’s noise brings him back to reality. Before waking up, the island man, with his head on the pillow thinks it’s made of waves. This dream ends and the protagonist of this poem returns on his reality: this is “another London day”. In the poem there are also the contrast between the colour of the island (emerald) and the colour of the city (grey). The writer uses words that take us back to the sound of the sea (like: breaking, wombing sun surfacing, muffling, muffling pillow, waves,..) but also words which guide the readers to the noise of the city (like: groggily, groggily, grey metallic soar, to surge, …).


  13. canda98 says:

    Dear Francy,

    You wrote a wonderful analysis of the text. I am very happy to read that you appreciated the poem so much. It is interesting the way you proceeded in the analysis of “Island Man”. Hopefully the new poem will involve you as much as this one did. Keep on reading and writing. I love reading your comments! Hope to read you again soon. Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.