Critical Essay Coursework

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Name: Victoria NgClass: S3CDate: 20 November

Explore the techniques used by the poets to reveal despair and coping with reality in the poems. (Poems – Island Man and Mid-Term Break)

Critical Essay

In these two poems, hopelessness and sadness is evident as it speaks of something important being ripped out of ‘Island Man’ and Seamus Heaney’s lives. Grace Nichols and Seamus Heaney reveal this emotion through contrasts, imagery, assonance and many other techniques. This contributes to the main themes of each poem: homesickness and death.

Grace Nichols uses many contrasts to convey homesickness. The most obvious one is in the metre. When Island Man is dreaming, enjambment between the lines of description of the Caribbean Island creates a steady, upbeat, yet hypnotic rhythm. This conveys Island Man’s happiness and excitement, as a fast metre in poetry is often used to do so. However, when he’s waking up, it slows down. The space between ‘groggily groggily’ and ‘he always comes back’ insinuates a pause, to which it slows down in the next stanza. He wakes up and ‘comes back to sands’. The sudden slow metre contrasts with the fast one in the first half of the stanza. This displays Island Man’s unwillingness of going back to reality, which we can deduce as sadness and reluctance. Also, Grace Nichols uses simple imagery to create a greater contrast of the Caribbean and London. For example, ‘sun surfacing defiantly’ and ‘steady breaking and wombing’ are used to show that the Island Man remembers every single detail. The fact that his memory is so vivid tells the reader that he misses the Caribbean very much. The relative lack of detail when describing London shows that he prefers the Caribbean. The fact that his memory is so vivid tells the reader that he misses the Caribbean very much. This demonstrates the theme of homesickness thoroughly.

There are also many contrasts in the colors of ‘Island Man’. When describing the Caribbean Island, ‘emerald...
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