Critical Analysis- Praise Song for my Mother by Grace Nichols

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This poem is a lyrical ballad written with a simple rhyme scheme of a-b-c. ab-c.

The poem, as the name suggests is a song where the poet is rejoicing her relationship with her mother by making use of simple but powerful imagery. It is important to note that unlike the commemorative poems that are usually written by Western writers, “Praise for My Mother” does not have a requiem like elegiac mood. The overall tone of the poem is pleasant.

“Praise Song” is a panegyric on the writer’s mother.  in which she celebrates a woman who gave her both roots to grow from and wings to fly with. Writing about her own mother, Nichols once commented that she was a ‘… warm, intelligent, loving woman who was full of stories, anecdotes and songs from her own childhood. People loved being around her and I can’t remember a single day when our home wasn’t visited by some friend, neighbour or relative who had dropped in “just fuh [sic] minute” but ended up staying hours.’

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Starting with the vocabulary, it is vivid but hard-hitting. The writer uses the images of water, moon and sun- all powerful symbols of nature, to describe her mother’s character which shows her strength of personality and the extent of her love and affection towards her. The red colour of the fish’s gills is reminiscent of the maternal love; a break from the clichéd usage of the colour red in “standard” English literature where the colour is usually associated with sensuality.

Talking about the lyrical style, a look at the formative years of Grace Nichols in Guyana may shed some light ...

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There are some good points made in this essay and contextual factors are also considered. The point and the evidence are normally secure but the explanations need to be developed to justify the interpretations that are being made. 4 Stars