How do the poets of "half-caste" and "search for my tongue" feel about their multicultural backgrounds and how do they communicate it?

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Simone Kaur Gill              10T

How do the poets of “half-caste” and “search for my tongue” feel about their multicultural backgrounds and how do they communicate it?

Both of these poets John Agard and Sujata Bhatt write poems about their multicultural backgrounds. In John Agard’s poem “half-caste” he starts off with Standard English. But as he goes on through out the poem he uses Caribbean dialect. His poem is about his feelings towards being multicultural. He feels angry, sad and is questioning his audience. In Sujata Bhatt’s poem “search for my tongue” she has many feelings about her mother tongue and how she doesn’t want to lose her first language. She is feeling sad because she thinks she is loosing her mother tongue but it comes back in her dream and she feels happy again.

John Agard was born in Guyana but moved to England in 1977 so he has lived in England for 30 years. John Agard finds the term “half-caste” insulting and wants people to know how he feels about being mixed raced. Sujata Bhatt is like John Agard because she was born in India but moved when she was young. Sujata Bhatt moved to the United States. This is where she learned her English. She married a person from Germany, where she later then moved to. She wrote this poem “search for my tongue” because she was afraid of loosing her mother tongue Gujarati.

In “half-caste” John Agard demonstrates a lot of emotions. He is angry in his poem he says “ah rass” this is a term of discust. John Agard is being ironic when he says “I offer you half a hand” you would expect him to offer you a whole hand. How can you offer half a hand? John Agard is also trying to be humours, when he refers to things as half. Like the English weather “yu mean when light on shadow mix in de sky is a half-case weather” John Agard is trying to put across that the English sky is never one colour it’s a mixture  of colours like blue, white, grey. This links in with his multicoloured background because they are different colours just like he is. Sujata Bhatt also uses a lot of emotions in her poem. Sujata Bhatt feels sad when she says “If you had two tongues in your mouth, and lost the first one, the mother tongue” she feels like she didn’t get to know her mother tongue and feels sad that she don’t know her first language. Sujata Bhatt thinks that her mother tongue would not come back to her in the first part of the poem. So the first two stanzas of her poem are about her sadness. However when she realises her mother tongue is back she feels happy “it grows back, a stomp of a shoot” she is feeling pleased that she can remember Gujarati again. Sujata Bhatt felt that she had lost her mother tongue forever but when she realised that it came back she was relieved that she still knows Gujarati. No one would want to there mother tongue.  

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The tone in John Agard’s poem “half-caste” is said in an angry tone. John Agard is warning those people who call him half-caste, as John Agard finds the word “half-caste” offensive. John Agard says “explain yuself wha yu mean” it’s as if someone as called John Agard half-caste and he wants to know the reason why they have called him half-caste. John Agard is thinking that being half-caste doesn’t mean he should be called something different. Through out the poem John Agard’s tone does change. He starts being perplexed. He has given the audience reasons in which being half-caste ...

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