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Grace Nichols grew up in Guyana in the Caribbean. She now lives in England.

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Introduction

Grace Nichols grew up in Guyana in the Caribbean. She now lives in England. In 1987 a hurricane hit the south of England. Hurricanes are relatively common in the Caribbean, but extremely rare in England. In this poem a woman feels the power of the storm and is reminded of her home in the Caribbean. She experiences the storm in a mystical or religious way; calling to the West African gods of storm and hurricane and asking questions about the meaning of things. The questions are mysterious - symbolic? In some way the storm sets her free and helps her to feel more at home in England. Hurricane = a very violent storm Hurricane Hits England Why is she not close to the landscape? Rage (below) is a metaphor for the force of the storm, but might other anger be referred to? ancestral = belonging to or coming from one's ancestors - spectre = a ghost or spirit It took a hurricane, to bring her closer To the landscape. Half the night she lay awake, The howling ship of the wind, Its gathering rage, Like some dark ancestral spectre. ...read more.

Middle

Note pattern of three repetitions An allusion to a song? What does the image of a frozen lake symbolize? What trees are 'within' her? What does this last line mean? - That the same earth lies beneath her in England as in Guyana? Ah, sweet mystery, Come to break the frozen lake in me, Shaking the foundations of the very trees within me, Come to let me know That the earth is the earth is the earth. Grace Nichols Note repetition of 'mystery' Mystery Allusion to a song - "Ah, sweet mystery of life - at last I've found you" was a popular song many years ago. Mystery can mean a religious truth divinely revealed, especially one beyond human reason. It can also mean a secret religious rite. Mystery is the name given to Babylon the Great, in Revelations in the Bible. Babylon was the place of slavery for the children of Israel - Is this relevant or merely a coincidence? The author of the poem, Grace Nichols, uses the hurricane to show the reader how she feels about her life. The hurricane is wild and out of control, stirring up memories that had been forgotten. ...read more.

Conclusion

which seems to suggest that she longs to be home and her emotions for where she came from are very high. Grace Nichols eventually begins to unravel the mystery saying "I am riding the mystery of your storm" showing that she is beginning to listen to what the hurricane is trying to tell her. She talks about the "foundations of the very trees within me" meaning her roots with her homeland are in her thoughts, twisted around each other like the roots of the tree. "...the frozen lake in me" shows the reader that her thoughts had been hidden from herself but nature had released these memories when the frozen lake was broken by the storm. The author constantly talks about nature and its effects, such as the hurricane and "the blinding illuminations" which I think refers to both natural lightning and the illumination that the author has been exposed to so that she sees things much more clearly. At the end of the poem she says "...the earth is the earth is the earth" using repetition to relate to the strength of nature and the fact that people cannot control nature and nature will prevail as people continue to live and then die but the earth will still be the earth. ...read more.

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