Tag: cxc poetry analysis

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.

A Contemplation Upon Flowers by Henry King

STANZA 1
Stanza one centers on the characteristics of flowers.  They are gallant, humble, etc., and they return to the earth (figuratively, they die every winter–but this isn’t revealed until later) after putting on a show. His first lesson that he learnt was to become brave and to remember the place where the flower came from, as referred to line 1, 5-6 ” Brave flowers that I could gallant it like you“ The persona wishes that he could be as brave as the flowers, who are aware of their allegiance to the earth. ” You are not proud you know your birth for your embroidered garments are from earth.” They know their place and obey the order, or cycle, of life and death. The persona wishes that he could be this way because he is the opposite, he wants to live forever. The persona wants the flowers to teach him NOT to fear death, but to accept it. Line 1 can also be identified as a literary device known as personification because brave flowers cannot gallant which only living things such as animals or humans can do. Also in line 5 and 6 can be identified as Biblical allusion another literary device because the bible in the books of John and Matthew Jesus talked about the lilies in the field where they are created and their birth place.

STANZA 2
Stanza two switches focus to the speaker:  he would rather it be always spring, so he’d never have a winter (again, so he’d never die, but this doesn’t become clear until later:  winter is often used as a symbol of death).  He wishes he could go to the earth (his grave), and look as cheerful, and smile, as the flowers do when they go to their earth. The second stanza the speaker learnt the second lesson which was to accept nature and their selves for today the flowers in the field may be beautiful and blooming but tomorrow the flowers know their beauty will not last forever where they may withered away and torn to pieces. In line 7 and 8 “You do obey your months and times, but i would have it ever spring;” metaphor can be found in the sentence.

 

STANZA 3
In stanza three, the focus on the speaker in stanza two combines with the focus on the flowers in stanza one, as the speaker asks the flowers to teach him to not fear death; to teach him that his breath may sweeten and perfume his death, as the flowers’ breath sweetens theirs . In the last stanza the poet learnt his last lesson which was to accept death as referred in line 13 and 14 ” Oh teach me to see death and not to fear, but rather take truce.” The only literary device that can be found is rhyme.

In line 17 and line 18 ” You fragrant flowers then teach me that my breath like yours may sweeten and perfumed my death.” The name was given to the poem because the poet shows that the speaker is studying the poem. This poem “A contemplation upon flowers by Henry King” is about a man who wants the flowers to teach him to become humble. The comparison of the life of a simple flower is made to the life of a human, in the sense that we both are born, we both live, and we both must die.

Majority of people fear death, but the flowers accept death with open arms and a smile. This poem by Henry King praises flowers for not only their humble lifestyles but also for their acceptance of death. Instead, the flowers taught him three lessons.

LITERARY DEVICES
. SIMILE
Stanza 1, line: The persona is wishing that he could be as brave as the flower. This implies that the persona does not think that he is brave, but a coward in the face of death.
Stanza 2, line 14: This is another comparison between the persona and the plant. The persona wishes that he could look death in the face and be cheerful, like the plant. Again, this emphasizes that he fears death.

EUPHEMISM
This phrase is a replacement for the word death. It softens death and makes it appear welcoming and pleasant.

IRONY
It is ironic that the flowers look so fresh and alive, when they are facing their very mortality, on the top of a casket. Death is a sad affair, yet the flowers are at their best when ushering people back to the earth.

PERSONIFICATION
The persona is speaking directly to the flowers and giving them human qualities, therefore, the whole poem is an example of the use of personification at its best. He even goes as far as to ask the flowers to teach him things that will allow him to acquire their qualities.

TONE
The tone of the poem is admiration, because the persona literally admires the flowers for its accepting attitude towards death.

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood, or atmosphere of the poem is a pensive one. The persona is thinking about death, how he relates to it versus how others relate to it.

CONTRAST
A contrast in this poem is the persona’s fear of death, versus the flowers’ acceptance of it.

THEMES
Death is the overwhelming theme in this poem. The persona admires the way in which the flowers deal with death and wish to emulate it. Death is a very scary prospect for the persona.Nature is his willingness to accept nature as a worthy contrast to humans personality and approach to life. He uses the natural to highlight the failings and weaknesses of man.

Ol’ Higue by Mark McWatt

In this poem, the Ol’ Higue / soucouyant tells of her frustration with her lifestyle. She does not like the fact that she sometimes has to parade around, in the form of a fireball, without her skin at night. She explains that she has to do this in order to scare people, as well as to acquire baby blood. She explains that she would rather acquire this blood via cooked food, like every-one else. Her worst complaint is the pain of salt, as well as having to count rice grains. She exhibits some regret for her lifestyle but implies that she cannot resist a baby’s smell, as well as it’s pure blood. The ‘newness’ of the baby tempts the Ol’ Higue, and she cannot resist because she is an old woman who fears death, which can only be avoided by consuming the baby’s blood. She affirms her usefulness in the scheme of things, however, by claiming that she provides mothers with a name for their fears (this being the death of a child), as well as some-one to blame when the evil that they wish for their child, in moments of tired frustration, is realized. She implies that she will never die, so long as women keep having babies.
LITERARY DEVICES

1. SIMILE
Cane-fire has a very distinct quality. It burns very quickly and its presence is felt through it’s pungent smell. Therefore, when the Ol’ Higue compares herself to cane fire in her fireball state, it implies that she uses a lot of energy quickly, and is very visible. 
2. RHETORICAL QUESTION

•Stanza 1,line 4: This rhetorical question highlights the scant regard that the Higue has for the average person. She is thoroughly annoyed that she has to literally waste her energy on them.
•Stanza 1, line 5: This highlights the fact that, again, she is annoyed that she has to expend so much energy to obtain a few drops of baby blood.
•Stanza 1, lines 6-8: The Ol’ Higue is emphasizing the fact that regular people ingest blood too, just in a more palatable manner. She would not mind if she could ingest it in the same manner as well.
•Stanza 3, lines 22-23: At this point the Ol’ Higue is making excuses for her presence, claiming that she serves an actual purpose in the scheme of life. If a child dies of unknown causes, she can be scapegoated for it.
•Stanza 3, lines 24-25: ‘The murder inside your head’ refers to the moments, when out of pure frustration and tiredness, a mother might wish ill on her child. The Ol’ Higue is implying that, again, she can be used as a scapegoat if something unfortunate happens to the child. The mother is relieved of bearing the burden of guilt.
3. REPETITION
The repetition of the word ‘soft’ emphasizes the fact that the call of the child’s blood has captured and beguiled the Ol’ Higue’. She implies that she cannot resist that call.
4. ALLITERATION
This device emphasizes the Ol’ Higue’s dependence, even addiction, to the sweet blood of the baby.
IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES

5. ‘stupidness!’
This is a distinctly Caribbean phrase that highlights frustration or scorn. Therefore, it highlights the Ol’ Higue’s frustration with her lack of self control.

6. ‘gallivanting’
This term refers to some one ‘playing around’, having fun. The Ol’ Higue is being sarcastic at this point. She is expressing displeasure at having to fly around to seek prey.

7. ‘pure blood running in new veins’
Babies are often associated with purity, this is what is emphasized here. The Ol’ Higue simply cannot resist the lure of new and pure blood.

8. ‘holding her final note for years and years, afraid of the dying hum …’
This tells us that the Ol’Higue has been living this desperate existence for a long time. It also implies that she will keep hanging on, despite her frustration. The final line confirms this point: ‘As long as it have women giving birth a poor Ol’ Higue like me can never dead’
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is reflective.
TONE
The tone of the poem is slightly bitter and resigned. She accepts that the cycle of her life cannot change.
THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION

Supernatural
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The Woman Speaks to the Man who has Employed Her Son- Lorna Goodison

SUMMARY

The persona in this poem is telling the story of a mother who loved her son. The mother became aware of the child’s presence when she experienced morning sickness. She placed all her hopes in the child and raised him as a single parent because his father was indifferent to the child’s existence. The mother had set no barriers on what the child could become, but is told that he has an employer who values him so much that he is given his own submarine gun. The son tells his mother that his employer is like a father  to him, but the mother wonders at the father figure who purposefully endangers his child. She prepares for her son’s death by going downtown to buy funeral apparel. The mother feels powerless, so she prays for her child and says protective psalms for him. On the other hand, she reads psalms of retribution for the employer and weeps for her son. Her situation does not look good and is likened to a partner system in which she draws both the first and the last hand.

LITERARY DEVICES

  1. SIMILE

Lines 1-2: The persona emphasizes that the mother placed all her hopes in her son. When you are poor, generally, you have no prospects, you only dream and hope. Therefore, the persona uses this metaphor to emphasize the mother’s dependence on her son’s success.

Line 17: The employer is being compared to a father figure. This implies that this person fills a gap in the son’s life.

  1. SARCASM

The persona appears to praise the child’s father by referring to him as ‘fair-minded’. She is, however, chastising him for not only ignoring his son, but all of his other children.

  1. IRONY (situational)

The son innocently tells his mother that his employer values him so much that he gave him a whole submachine gun for himself. The irony in this situation is that if you really care about someone, you do NOT give them a gun due to the negative results that are bound to occur.

  1. ALLUSION (biblical)

Lines 28-29: This line alludes to a particular verse in the Christian Bible, Luke 11 vs 11. The verse questions what the actions of a good father should be.

Lines 38-39: Psalms is a particular chapter in the Christian Bible. In this chapter there are verses for protection, the mother uses those for her son, as well as verses for retribution and rebuking. It is implied that the mother chooses those for the employer.

Lines 43-45: In the Christian Bible, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. Therefore, it does not bode well for the mother if she is in a ‘partnership’ with this person’s mother because she might also be betrayed. The banker in the ‘partnership’ also happens to be the thief on the left hand side of the cross’ mother. This also does not bode well for the mother if the apple doesnot fall far from the tree.

Line 49: Absalom is the son of David, in the Christian Bible. Absalom betrayed his father, which implies that the mother feels betrayed by her son because she has placed all her hopes in him.

IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES

  1. ‘a need to cry for little reasons and a metallic tide rising in her mouth each morning.’

These two symptoms are early signs of pregnancy. The metallic tide refers to vomiting. These signs usually occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.

  1. ‘full term’

This means that the mother carried her son for the full nine months that a pregnancy should last.

  1. ‘tight up under her heart’

This hints at the love that the mother harbours for her child. He was not simply ‘close to her heart’, but ‘tight up’ under it. It implies that the son holds a special place in her heart.

  1. ‘set no ceiling’

A ceiling is something that blocks you in, you cannot get past it. The mother set no limits on her son, he could be anything he wanted to be.

  1. ‘his bloody salary’

This implies that the mother believes that the result of the son’s ‘job’ will be death.

  1. ‘the level of earth’

The mother has no power to change her son’s situation. Earth is used to emphasize her powerlessness on this level, the realm of ‘reality’.

  1. ‘knee city’

This refers to the fact that the mother constantly prayed for her child.

  1. ‘eye water covers you’

This implies that the mother cried constantly for the plight of her son. The fact that it ‘covers him’ speaks to the high quantity of tears that were shed.

  1. ‘partner’

This is an informal saving scheme set up with a specific number of individuals for the duration of a specific time span. Each person agrees to pay a designated figure on a monthly basis. The ‘draws’ are decided, meaning who gets the money first, second, third etc, on a monthly basis.The banker then collects the money and gives the monthly pool to the person who is to receive their ‘draw’. Therefore, a ‘partnership’ is dependent upon the honesty of the banker, who could abscond with the money, as well as the honesty of the members of the savings scheme, who could decide NOT to pay after they have received their draw.

  1. ‘banker’

The banker, or financial controller, of this partnership is the mother of a thief. This does not bode well for the mother if the thief on the cross learnt it from his mother.

  1. ‘her draw though is first and last for she still throwing two hands as mother and father’.

This statement implies that though the mother has the advantage of first draw as mother, she loses that advantage because she also has the role of father. Mothers cannot father sons. The fact that the son has found a father figure proves this to be true. Therefore, she has the last draw, which carries with it the disadvantage of not receiving a full ‘draw’. The longer one waits for a draw is the more likely that dishonesty will come into play on the part of the participants.

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about a mother’s response to her son’s life choices.

TONE

The tone of the poem is pragmatic and pessimistic. The persona is telling the tale as it is, with no positive energy.

THEMATIC CATEGORY

Death, love/love and family relationship, survival, dreams and aspirations, childhood experiences, religion

Orchids by Hazel Simmons-McDonald

LITERAL MEANING
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.

 

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
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.

Themes
Death
Nature
Survival

Test Match Sabina Park by Stewart Brown

SUMMARY
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.

LITERARY DEVICES

1. RHETORICAL QUESTION
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.

IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES

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.

5.’strut
‘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’

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

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE 
The mood of the poem is tense.

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

THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Discrimination, places, culture and sports