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Using the poems- 'Telephone conversation' by Wole Soyinka and 'Nothing Said' by Brenda Agard, compare and contrast the themes, the use of language and structure and effectiveness of the poet's message

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Using the poems- 'Telephone conversation' by Wole Soyinka and 'Nothing Said' by Brenda Agard, compare and contrast the themes, the use of language and structure and effectiveness of the poet's message Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian, and Brenda Agard, a West Indian, are both black poets. They want to portray their views and beliefs on colour prejudice. Although the poems are written in different decades they have many other similarities in the theme and message. 'Telephone Conversation' was written in the 1960s. Peoples' views, beliefs and opinions about colour prejudice were different then from in the 1980s, when 'Nothing Said' was written and different again from nowadays, the early 21st Century. During the forty-year period, from the 1960s to 2004, there has been a huge change. Youngsters today will have a different response to both poems, as compared with those in the 1960s and 1980s. Today is different, as, in the majority of instances, colour prejudice will not be tolerated, whereas the 1980s was a period where coloured people struggled to get equal opportunity. A large number of Government initiatives took place to secure this. For example, it was in this period that the Rampton and the Swann report ensured that there was equal educational opportunity for ethnic children. Going back to the 1960s, some politions, such as, Enoch Powell were campaigning to reduce ethnic minority immigration to this country. ...read more.


'Wouldn't you rather see for yourself?', implying that instead of asking stupid questions, the landlady should meet him. The language in Agard's poem, 'Nothing Said', is not sophisticated. It is simple, with much repetition, containing no similes, adjectives or alliteration. In addition, there are not many metaphors, with little onomatopoeia, 'slashed'. The main language is rhyme and, infrequently, some rhythm, 'we marched half the day...until the pain goes away'. Also, many of the words and verbs are repeated throughout the poem. The poet's thoughts and the feelings of the black crowd are repeated too, when Brenda Agard comments on the word, 'march'. All of this emphasises the message, equal rights, for blacks and whites. Capital letters likewise add to the effect. 'We' is used consistently to show the unity, along with, 'brothers and sisters' to further show union among the black race. The whole poem is easy to understand. The language is clear and the message is clear. It is written in the third person rather than the first person, as was the previous poem, which suggests more black solidarity, which has occurred over the years, since the first poem. As well as language there are many similarities and differences in the use of tones in the two poems. 'Telephone Conversation' uses sarcasm, with wit and humour. ...read more.


This poem, 'Nothing Said' would not be written nowadays, as racism is being stamped out, the media and newspapers attitude would not be the same. The back voice is being heard. The two poems are really interesting perspectives on racist attitudes to immigrants to this country, in the second half of the 20th Century. The poems were clearly written as educational and propaganda. However, I believe audiences' response nowadays would be different and the pieces serve more as historical as to what happened then. It would be foolish to say there is no racism in this country at all, now, but it is minimal, and every effort is made to stamp it out. One recent example is when the white, Spanish football fans were chanting racist comments to the black, English players. In England everyone saw this as a disgrace and something had to be done. Nothing, in effect, was done, then several days later a similar incident, although not on the same scale, occurred within English football, having the police get involved. A man was prosecuted from going to a football game for five years. There is a huge difference here, which is that England will not tolerate it, yet, it seems, other parts of the world are behind. For making racist comments, both incidents were treated seriously by the press, police and viewed negatively by society in general. The main message I have learned, from these poems, is that attitudes can be changed and the written word is a powerful device to do this. ...read more.

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