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Critical Analysis- Praise Song for my Mother by Grace Nichols

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Introduction

This poem is a lyrical ballad written with a simple rhyme scheme of a-b-c. ab-c. The poem, as the name suggests is a song where the poet is rejoicing her relationship with her mother by making use of simple but powerful imagery. It is important to note that unlike the commemorative poems that are usually written by Western writers, "Praise for My Mother" does not have a requiem like elegiac mood. The overall tone of the poem is pleasant. "Praise Song" is a panegyric on the writer's mother. in which she celebrates a woman who gave her both roots to grow from and wings to fly with. Writing about her own mother, Nichols once commented that she was a '... warm, intelligent, loving woman who was full of stories, anecdotes and songs from her own childhood. People loved being around her and I can't remember a single day when our home wasn't visited by some friend, neighbour or relative who had dropped in "just fuh [sic] minute" but ended up staying hours.' ...read more.

Middle

Her mother used to give piano lessons. The first 8 years of her life that she spent in a village left an imprint on her that shows in the poem as well; the rhythm of music and the beat of pan, the call of the fisherman and the fruit vendor, the odour of mud and salt when she went crab hunting ("the crab's leg"), the whole of the morning sky, the whole of the evening sky, ("sunrise" and "moon's eye"). The poem is also repetitive, 'replenishing replenishing'. The poet may have opted for this because it brings a sense of childhood as a young child would repeat words. Nichols wants to use this effect because the repetitive content relates to a child's attitude, which will then recall the memories Nichols had of her mother when she was a child. Food is a very important part of Caribbean culture and tradition. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is why throughout the poems she applies her own dialect of Creole, which is the official dialect of the Caribbean. She also uses Creole because she feels as though she should preserve it. She maintains that her Caribbean language is 'genuinely exciting' and that Creole's aspects are very vivid which concludes her to believe that there is no equivalent in the English language. Nichols has successfully carved a niche for her culture and poetry in the existing canon of complex poets and poetry by writing in a laymen's register. This is a poetry that everyone can understand and read. This is a poetry that everyone can identify with. This is the poetry the Nichols has written for her countrymen, for her mother, for her roots- it is a tribute to her roots back at home. We get a clear sense of this in 'Praise Song for My Mother', in which she talks of a mother who is 'deep and bold and fathoming' and who 'replenishes' her whenever she needs comfort. ...read more.

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There are some good points made in this essay and contextual factors are also considered. The point and the evidence are normally secure but the explanations need to be developed to justify the interpretations that are being made.

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Marked by teacher Laura Gater 04/07/2013

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