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Poem Comparison-Half Caste and I am not that Woman

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17 August 2007 A Comparison of "I am not that Woman" with "Half Caste" The two poems I am going to compare are "I am not that Woman" by Kishwar Naheed and "Half Caste" by John Agard. Although these poems are essentially about different things, with "I am not that woman" being about a feminist and "Half Caste" about skin colour, underneath this they are both about being prejudiced against somebody for no real reason. The poem "Half Caste" begins with the words "Excuse me standing on one leg I'm half caste." This is an almost apologetic beginning to the poem, it immediately shows that being mixed race is seen as negative, and that the person is unsure of himself, because of this view. In contrast, "I am not that Woman" starts very strongly with the title words "I am not that woman." This, although also creating a feel that women are being treated unfairly, shows that the person in this poem is far stronger in her views that it is unjust, and will not stand for it, whereas the beginning of the other poem leads us to believe that the person will put up with the unfair treatment. "Half Caste" then goes on to question why "when picasso mix red and green" is not "a half caste canvas." This, as well as the example of the "half caste symphony," by Tchaikovsky, is used because these also use "half caste" things but these are accepted, and even highly regarded. ...read more.


In "I am not that Woman" we are given images of her "hid in your walls of stone," which is again the image of being trapped because of who you are. It also mentions "you roamed free as the breeze." This shows us very definitely that one person is restricted, while the ones that fit in, in this case men, in the other poem white people, are unbound. The difference is that in this poem she says "chains cannot smother my fragrance." This shows that she still feels she could, and should, be free, and as a consequence, we are made to feel that she is becoming more and more so. This also shows the subtlety of women compared to men, as the word "fragrance" is a far more delicate word than chains, this shows the different way men and women can fight. Men use force, and women have subtle ways. Also, in "half Caste" we are more given an image of using half of you because of the prejudice, where as in "I am not that Woman" it is more a feel that they are attempting to stop her completely and she is fighting that. That fact could also explain why "I am not that Woman" comes across as the stronger poem. In "Half Caste" you are given the idea that, although the person is restricted, they are still able to do things, whereas in "I am not that Woman" there is more an idea that the people doing the discriminating are trying to completely control her. ...read more.


"Half Caste" maintains its slightly apologetic and almost ironic view on things the whole way through where "I am not that Woman" manages to stay strong and powerful for the entirety. Both of the poems persuade the reader to support the same viewpoint that it is writing from, which is that the person being discriminated against is the one having a hard time of things and that is it unjust. Both of the poems manage to move the reader to really sympathise with the unfairness the subjects of the poems are experiencing. Overall, I prefer the poem "Half Caste" as I feel that it is written with more genuine feeling than "I am not that Woman." I like the way that it is entirely written in lower case as I think it is a very simple way of getting a point across. I also like the constant idea of "half" as I find it very meaningful. The ideas around people not listening to him properly also strike a chord. It is a more subtle poem as it makes less use of the obvious imagery that "I am not that Woman" uses. I find this makes it a rewarding poem to read as you need to understand the deeper meaning more to fully grasp the aim of it. All in all I like the almost apologetic air that "Half Caste" has more than the powerful side of "I am not that Woman." Despite my personal preference, these poems are both extremely well written and thought out, and the ideas and morals behind them come across very strongly. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rebecca Britton ...read more.

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