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Analysis of Grace Nicholls' poem "Childhood".

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Introduction

English Essay Analysis of Grace Nicholls' poem "Childhood" Grace Nicholls was born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1950 and educated at St. Stephen's Scots School, PPI High School, and the University of Guyana. She worked as a teacher, freelance journalist and Guyanese Government employee before moving to Britain in 1977. She is regarded as the most authoritative voice among contemporary black women poets in Britain. "The Fat Black Woman's Poems'" which she wrote in 1984 uses humour to deconstruct a racial and sexual stereotypes, this poetry collection is where the poem which I am going to analyse "Childhood" came from. Childhood is about the poet reminiscing about her childhood in her home country, she is telling us about the community she lived in and the fishing industry that she was involved in. How they killed the fish and how her religious background has affected her life in her new country. She is telling us one of her childhood stories. The theme of this poem is of a culture clash between the 'easy' life of the British and the 'hard-working' life of the Caribbean , the poet is trying to set a theme of how people in Britain do not have to catch there own food and the way they catch fish is a lot harder. She may not like this country because it is so different to hers, like 'at Sunday school' in this country most people work on a Sunday and it is supposed to be a day of rest and it may have come as a shock to her when she came to this country. ...read more.

Middle

"was a watershed of sunlight" shows that maybe her childhood and her life now have a boundary between them. Her childhood was a very happy time and the "sunlight shows that. Maybe she could not see over that boundary and see what was happening to the fish, she was protected by the "watershed of sunlight". The "sunlight" is to make her childhood appear better and the "watershed" also means "summit which may mean that her childhood was the happiest times of her life. "and strange recurring mysteries" this line contrasts the 'happy' theme from the last line with darkness of this line. Her homeland seems to be a place of contrast just like this poem, the atmosphere is a lot darker in this line compared to others, it could refer to the idea that childhood is not reality and that it is a mystery which could remain unsolved and it could be frustrating. "strange" suggests that these mysteries are not of the adventurous type, they are odd and uncomfortable for her to talk about. There is enjambment used here. "the fishes before a drought" this is the first time that the "fish" theme is introduced, there is a non-standard form of plural indicates that the poet is not comfortable with the English language or it maybe a link into the idea of childhood and a child would probably use that kind of language. "drought" implies that life was not perfect which is a theme that runs through the poem. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is a sad line to finish on; she feels sympathy for the fish although they are the only things that she has to eat. She may have wanted to pray for the fish but she didn't know how to because no one had told her at Sunday school, so she was helpless just like when she was trying to save the fish from dying she was helpless, there is a contrast between the saltwater and freshwater, the theme of contrasts had been repeated earlier on in the poem. I think that this poem starts off quite happy but continues to get sadder as the poem continues up until the point where the fish have died. It was probably quite a traumatic time for her watching the fish die right in front of her, this may have been the time where she began to grow up and realise that eating the fish was their only option for survival and she should be grateful for what she has. I chose to analyse this poem because it is quite interesting and there are many contrasts in it to write about like happy and sad and freshwater and saltwater. The poem also tells us a lot about how hard life was in her homeland and how easy it is in this country because we do not have to catch our own food all we have to do is cook it and eat it. This is my favourite poem because it is quite simplistic and easy language to read, it is also quite an insight in to her life which gave me plenty to write about in my analysis. ...read more.

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