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Comparing poems about identity

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In this essay I will be comparing two poems about identity-"Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan" by Moniza Alvi and "Welsh Landscape" by R.S. Thomas. "Welsh Landscape" was written in approximately 1963. It's a poem of dismay; Thomas is despairing about what is happening to his country. Although he has an obvious love for his country, in "Welsh Landscape" this is almost hidden by Thomas's feelings of bitterness and frustration at what's happened to the once infamous landscape, history and language of Wales. Thomas wishes that Wales would just move forward and embrace its heroic past, but in his eyes this just isn't happening. "Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan" was written in the late 20th century. It's also a poem of despair-but in a different way. Thirteen-year-old Moniza Alvi isn't angry, but she's uncomfortable where she is and wishes that she could fit in. She'd give anything for that. She wishes desperately that she could feel more at home and ordinary in Britain, where she's lived practically all her life, but she can't. She can't reconcile her two cultures-Pakistani and English-and she's confused and upset about this. ...read more.


Overall, I think that RS Thomas is trying to say that we should appreciate Wales but be conscious of its violent past and try to move on from that-instead of being trapped between the past and present. At the moment, people just aren't moving on. Moniza Alvi, on the other hand, feels lost. She's confused. She longs to be able to wear her "glistening", "satin-silken", "embossed" clothing, but can't fee comfortable in them. "My costume clung to me and I was aflame," she says. "Aflame" implies that when she wears these clothes, she feels embarrassed and angry that she doesn't look right. "Costume" suggests that these don't feel like her ordinary clothes; it's like she's trying to be something that she's not. However, although she longs for "denim and corduroy" (ordinary, plain British clothes) she doesn't describe them with anywhere near as much enthusiasm. They're plain, even if they are comfortable, and here we see that Moniza Alvi is again torn between her two cultures. She's envious of her Aunt Jamila, who can "Rise up out of its fire, half English". ...read more.


She just wants to feel right where she is; she doesn't have an identity. Here, we see a contrast between the two poems that I'm studying-brittle as it is, at least RS Thomas has an identity. The mood throughout "Welsh landscape" is that of frustration. RS Thomas is irritated because he sees the potential in Wales-"the constant noisy tractor" and the "hum of the machine" which implies that work in Wales is indeed moving forward. He sees the beauty of Wales in the "immaculate" rivers and the "wild" sky, but is angry that people aren't willing to maintain this beauty in other aspects of Wales-the "wind bitten towers and castles" and, "mouldering quarries and mines". He's frustrated that people aren't maintaining the areas that his country has always been famous for. He feels that he's been affected unnecessarily-if the Welsh people did what in his eyes are their duties, he wouldn't be in this situation. He's extremely aggravated that this has been allowed to happen and that Wales' reputation and condition is continuing to deteriorate. He's worried that eventually, Wales won't even have its "soft consonants" and, "wind-bitten towers and castles" to its name-they'll be allowed to die out. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sophie Kelly 2080 ...read more.

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