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Referring to 'Half-Caste' and Poems You've Read By Tom Leonard, Write About the Humour and the Anger in Their Poems.

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Referring to 'Half-Caste' and Poems You've Read By Tom Leonard, Write About the Humour and the Anger in Their Poems. John Agard's poem develops a simple idea which is found in a familiar term. Half-caste as a term for mixed race is now rare. The term comes from India, where people are rigidly divided into groups (called castes) which are not allowed to mix, and where the lowest caste is considered untouchable. At the start of the poem John Agard uses the phrase, "Excuse me". He is trying to seem polite so that he can get into the conversation and then get his point across. However this politeness is not used in the rest of the poem. In the poem John Agard pokes fun at the idea, he uses humour in this poem to break the barriers of people's minds so that they will listen to what he says and not just take the term stereotypically. He does this with an ironic suggestion of things only being "half" present, by puns, and by looking at the work of artists who mix things. The poem opens with a joke - as if "half-caste" means only half made (reading the verb as cast rather than caste), so the speaker stands on one leg as if the other is not there. ...read more.


The poem is colloquial, written as if spoken to someone with commands like "Explain yuself" and questions like "wha yu mean". The punctuation is non-standard using no comma nor full stop, not even at the end, he does this to further the fact that he is considered different and outside the 'normal' communion. Meaning that he is not even thought of as having any knowledge. Also he doesn't use a question mark after the questions as if to be commanding and to state that he knows the answer and just wants to get the fact that the people are racist but don't understand that there is no difference between two colours or two races. John Agard uses 'common' letters as apposed to where in normal writing we would use capital letters. Also, when he uses the names Picasso and Tchaikovsky in the poem he does not put the first letters of their names as capitals. He does this to show that all men are the same and not different, no one should be considered higher everyone is of common humanity. This poem, from, 'Unrelated Incidents' by Tom Leonard, uses non-standard English to explore ideas of class, education and nationality. The poem is a phonetic transcript which shows how a Glaswegian Scot might speak. The poet imagines the BBC newsreader smugly explaining why he does not talk "lik/wanna you/scruff" - though in this version, of course, he is doing just this. ...read more.


I think he brings his anger of the word and idea of "Half-Caste" into his poems in the last stanza of the poem. He thinks of 'Halfe-Caste' as only half of something and uses this with humour i.e. including his body parts and dreams he is angry that people are seen differently. John Agard is proud of his origin and of being who he is. He is celebrating his existence and who he is by saying, even if other people think he's different he still sees himself as being no different to anyone else. His main argument is that people should not be treated differently. His poems are similar to Tom Leonard's in the fact that they are both dealing with the same subject of culture. John Agard is using the culture of skin and Tom Leonard is using the culture of language. I think that, in the 'Unrelated Incidents' poem, Tom Leonard's point is that other dialects and accents, other than the bbc dialect, are heard as having no value. Tom Leonard stresses the fact that all of the newsreaders and people in authority think that they are better than everyone else is inferior in the way that they speak. I disagree with Tom Leonard on the fact that people all over Britain have to understand what the newsreaders are saying so it is easier if they all use a bbc dialect so everyone can understand them. by K.Moore 10C Kriss Moore 10C March 2004 ...read more.

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