Tag: 2018-2023 CXC poems

An African Thunderstorm Questions- CSEME PRO

  1. Identify the two similes used in stanza 1.

    2. Why are the clouds described as “pregnant” in stanza 2?

    3. Comment on the use of the word “stately” in line 10.

    4. Quote two consecutive words in stanza 2 that suggest that the thunderstorm might be dangerous.

    5. Explain why this thunderstorm might not be as welcome to the villagers.

    6. In line 24, alliteration is used. Write down the line and indicate the alliteration and also comment on its effectiveness.

Little Boy Crying by Mervyn Morris

Stanza 1
The poem begins with a description of a child crying. However, his cries seem harsh and fierce “Your laughter metamorphosed into howl”.  This also suggests that the child is normally a happy one and something happened to have changed his happiness. The last line in the stanza informs us that the reason why the child is crying is because he has been beaten “the quick slap struck”. The little boy is also staring at the parent hoping that he might be feeling guilty for hitting him. This might mean that the child is trying to play on the parent’s emotion “you stand there angling for a moment’s hint”.

Stanza 2
It is important to note that the stanza is giving the point of view of the parent. The parent is imagining that the child is demonizing him for hitting him “The ogre towers above you, that grim giant,// empty of feeling a colossal cruel”. From this, we can understand that the parent thinks that the child believes that he is cruel and evil for hitting him and therefore is thinking of ways to overcome or get away from the parent.

 Stanza 3
Poet makes it clear that the father loves his son. However, he is slapping him for is own good. He also suggests that the father is hurt by the son’s tears and would do anything to make him stop crying. “This fierce man longs to lift you//……” Yet, the lesson must be taught. 

Stanza 4
Maybe this stanza suggests that no matter that there are often important behaviour or lessons children must learnt by children.


Parent – Child Relationship

The father seems to be firm and strict with his son. Although he loves him he does not allow him to have his own way.

Childhood Experiences

The little boy experiences pain and resentment for his parent. Unlike Ana, his childhood is not one that is carefree without any consequences for undesired behaviour.


The father tries to be a good parent. In his eyes there are some lessons that his son must learn. Therefore, he carries out physical punishment so that he can learn these lessons.

Orchids by Hazel Simmons-McDonald

The persona is moving from a house that she has occupied for five weeks. She has sent her belongings to her future home, but one item remains in her old space, an orchid. The persona clarifies that she was given the orchid as a gift, but implies that it holds no value because the gifting of orchids is habitual for the person who gave her. She describes the flower as odourless, but attractive. She watered the orchid once, expecting it to die, but it survived. It not only survived, but bloomed. The persona contemplates plucking the bloom and pressing it between the pages of a book. The purpose of this is to allow her to appreciate the flower.

Structure of the Poem

The poet’s use of blank verse (lacks rhyming pattern) effectively captures the persona’s struggle between hope and despair as he narrates (tells his life-story) with a tone that similarly and occasionally shifts between feelings of optimism and pessimism, adding to a mood that varies between contemplative serenity and foreboding uncertainty.

Illustrated by the poet’ use of emotive  language to describe the aesthetically pleasing orchids–

“purple petals/blossoms … full blown/like polished poems/ This morning the bud … unfurled” juxtaposed against the persona’s destructive intentions–“I watered them once/ I would toss them out/I starved them/I’ll pluck the full-blown blooms/press them”.

Indicative of the persona’s seeming lack of appreciation for the orchids as natural and philosophical emblems of beauty, wisdom and strength.

Symbolism/ Symbol
The orchid is a flower of magnificence that brings a universal message of love, beauty, wisdom, thoughtfulness, luxury, strength, refinement,  affection, new growth and development.
“This elegant flower should make you feel pampered. Purple is the colour of royalty. Orchids are generally regarded as symbolic of rare and delicate beauty…. Their graceful appearance draws immediate attention, and their reputation as an exotic and unusual flower evokes a sense of refinement and innocence”.

Literary Devices

SIMILE- lines 13-14 
The orchid’s full blown blossoms are being compared to a polished poem. The word polished in this comparison implies perfection, shiny and pleasant to read.

PUN- line 11 
The purple heart literally refers to the splash of color in the center of the orchid’s bloom, but it could also refer to the bravery of the flower. This is so because a purple heart, in the army, is a medal that a soldier receives for bravery.

Metaphor- lines 1-2
The persona compares her experience over a five week period with boxes that she uses to pack her belongings in.


The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is thinking about the lack of value that she places in the orchid.


Tone of the Poem
The tone of the poem is one of almost bored musing.


Questions based on ‘DREAMING BLACK BOY’.

1. The theme of the poem is:
(a) The boy’s dreams of a better life
(b) The boy’s need for recognition
(c) An uncaring society 2. What do the following expressions in Stanza one suggest?
“wouldn’t go pass me today”
“to hug me when I kick a goal.18 3. How does the boy differ from his ancestors? 4. For what does the boy wish in Stanza two? 5. Find the expressions which show that the boy needs freedom and opportunities to
grow. 6. What does the expression “spend me out opposing” suggest about the boy. 7. What does the boy wish for persons who break the law? 8. Quote the expressions in the last Stanza which show the suffering of the boy.


South –Kamau Brathwaite


The persona speaks about the fact that today he is recapturing the beauty of the island of his birth. He reflects on the fact that he has travelled to the lands of the north, which appeared to be the very opposite of his island. The persona appeared, at that point, to be homesick for his island and resented the ease and comfort that the Northerners’ felt towards their land. He then shifts back to the present where he appreciates certain features of the island, particularly those that remind him of his past on the island.


•Stanza 1, lines 1-2: The sound that the alliteration elicits, when spoken, is a positive one. This is the case because the alliteration forces the reader to sound cheerful, thereby facilitating the interpretation that the persona is happy to be home.

•Stanza 1, lines 4-5: This alliteration, again, draws the reader through the sound that it elicits. One can almost hear the sound that the sea makes through the repetition of the ‘s’ sound. It emphasizes the joy that the persona feels to be home.

•Stanza 2, lines 13-14: This alliteration, when spoken, is staccato. It literally emphasizes the persona’s discomfort, and dislike, of the new context that he is faced with. It is alien to him, as seen when contrasted with the scene that he describes in the first stanza.

•Stanza 4, line 33: This device gives the reader a visual image of the scene. It is simple image that highlights the persona’s excitement at being home and seeing scenes, even seemingly inconsequential ones, that he knows and loves.

•Stanza 5, line 43: This alliteration gives the reader a visual of what the persona sees as pleasant and calming, as opposed to the alliteration in stanza 2. The sound that the alliteration illicits is a calm one, implying that the persona is at peace.

•Stanza 1, lines 6-7: This device gives a beautiful impression of the effect that the island had on the persona. He felt whole when he was there, at peace.

•Stanza 2, lines 16-17: The shadows, in this context, represents his past life and experiences on the island. The memories of his island elicits feelings of sadness, even homesickness. These memories cast an oppressive shadow over his life in the north.   3.SIMILE
The persona compares the flowing of the rivers, which represents the north, to his longing for his island home. This comparison indicates that his longing is an intense one, he is homesick.

The word capture means to take possession of something or someone. Therefore, when the persona says that he is recapturing his island, it implies that he is taking back possession of what he once owned.

5.’Since then I have travelled’ 
This line indicates that the persona did not  remain on the island of his birth.

6.’sojourned in stoniest cities’ 
This highlights a contrast between the persona’s island and the cities that he visited. His island has beaches and oceans, while the cities that he visited were concrete jungles made of stone.

7.’We who are born of the ocean can never seek solace in rivers’
The persona refers to the north, and its populace, as rivers, while the south, and his island, is the ocean. This line highlights the persona’s discontent in the north.

8.’reproves us our lack of endeavour and purpose’ 
Reprove is to reprimand. Therefore, the line is saying that the flowing river, the north, reprimands the ocean, the south, for its lack of effort and resolve. This implies that the persona might be homesick and, therefore, not functioning at full capacity in the new northern environment.

9.’proves that our striving will founder on that.’ 
The term founder literally means the owner or operator of a foundry. This has little to do with the context of the poem, therefore, it can be assumed that poetic license was utilized at this point. Contextually, the line can be interpreted as meaning that the persona’s subsequent striving, or efforts, will be founded on the reprimand made by the river, or the north.

The emphasis placed on this word, through the use of italics, highlights the fact that the persona is both happy and excited to be home.

11.’and look!’ 
The exclamation mark emphasizes the persona’s enthusiasm, and excitement, when he identifies a scene that is reminiscent of his past.

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about his island home, as well as places that he has visited in the north.

The tone of the poem goes from being reflective, to being elated.

Patriotism, places, desires and dreams

Test Match Sabina Park by Stewart Brown

The persona, a white male, proudly enters Sabina Park to watch a cricket match between England and the West Indies. The persona notices that the game is slow and that the crowd is not reacting well. He is, in fact, initially shocked that there is a crowd at all because this is usually not the case at Lords. By lunch, England is sixty eight for none, and the crowd gets abusive. They even state that maybe they should borrow Lawrence Rowe. The persona tries to explain the reason behind the slow pace of the British side, but fails to convince even himself. His embarrassment at England’s performance has him eventually skulking out of the venue.


Stanza 2, lines 6-7: This question reveals that, despite the fact that cricket is a popular sport in England, the venues for the matches are not crowded. This question could also point to the fact that Sabina Park was very crowded.

Stanza 3, line 10: This question represents the general frustration of the West Indians in the crowd. They are annoyed that the cricket match is progressing so slowly.

Stanza 4, lines 16-18: These questions imply that the West Indian crowd’s level of frustration has escalated.

2. ALLUSION–The allusion to Lawrence Rowe, a very colourful and successful West Indian cricketer, emphasizes the fact that the match is slow and boring.

3. SARCASM-  To ‘boycott’ is to abstain from, or to stop, doing something. Therefore, the persona is being sarcastic because excitement is a good thing. People usually boycott for something negative, therefore the persona is, again, highlighting the slow and boring pace of the cricket match.


4.’rosette of my skin’ 
Rosette implies a reddish colour, or tint, to the skin, that sometimes resembles a rose. This description immediately identifies the race of the persona as caucasian. The persona is proud of his race, as he enters Sabina Park.

‘This word means to walk proudly. It emphasizes the fact that the persona is proudly walking into Sabina Park.

6.’something badly amiss’  
The persona is jolted by the fact that the match is going slowly. The word ‘amiss’ implies wrong, the game should not be going so slowly.

7.’vociferous partisans’
Vociferous means to be very noisy and clamorous, while partisan is a person who shows biased, emotional allegiance. Therefore, the West Indian crowd was extremely noisy in their support of their team. They were also very unappreciative of the slow pace of the match.

8.’England sixty eight for none at lunch’
While this is a good score, it never-the-less highlights the slowness of the match, hence the fact that the experience, for the crowd, was far from exciting.

9.’the wicket slow’
The purpose of the wicket is to ‘out’ the opposing side. Therefore, no ‘outing’ is occurring, the wickets are standing. Everything about the match is going slowly.

10.’sticky wickets’
This implies a sticky, or awkward situation. It highlights England’s situation.

11.’loud ‘busin’
The English team was being loudly abused.

12.’skulking behind a tarnished rosette’
Skulking implies hiding in shame, and tarnished means tainted. Therefore, the proud Englishman is now embarrassed, and the rosette of his skin is making him stand out. Initially this was a very good thing, but now it is a disadvantage.

13.’blushing nationality’. 
At this point, the Englishman admits to being embarrassed for his team, as well as himself.

*There is a distinct CONTRAST between the beginning of the poem when the persona is proud, and ‘struts’. However, by the end of the poem, he is embarrassed and ‘skulking’

There are two distinct voices in this poem. The Englishman’s and the West Indian’s.

The mood of the poem is tense.

The tone of the poem is one of frustration (West Indian) and embarrassment (English man).

Discrimination, places, culture and sports