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Compare and Contrast the Poetry of James Berry and John Betjeman, with particular reference to the Cultural Differences. Refer to at Least two Poems by each Poet

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Compare and Contrast the Poetry of James Berry and John Betjeman, with particular reference to the Cultural Differences. Refer to at Least two Poems by each Poet James Berry's poems are written from the perspective of a lady named Lucy. Lucy moved to England because she had heard the streets were practically paved with gold there. She writes letters to her friend Leela in the form of poems. Lucy regrets her move to England in a lot of ways and finds it gloomy and cold. She misses Jamaica and doesn't really like London but she is too proud to admit that, so her letters also contain a number of positive yet vain sounding points about the advantages of living in England, such as, "An' doctors free." Lucy writes of how she has, "turned a battery hen," in the poem 'Lucy's Letters' because she feels trapped in London. She was used to a relaxed and friendly way of life in Jamaica so the culture in London came as a big shock to her. London is a lot bigger and much less friendly than Jamaica. In Jamaica everyone knows each other so Leela asked Lucy in a letter to her if she'd ever met the Queen. Lucy is used to the unspoilt beauty of the Jamaican scenery so London comes as a big change. ...read more.


Betjeman's poems are named after counties and describe the country lifestyle he was used to when he was younger. His county poems are written in two contrasting sections. In the poem 'Hertfordshire' Betjeman writes of how he was made to join his father's shooting syndicate. His father thought he was a milksop after he accidentally fired a gun into the ground, saying: "How many times must I explain? The way a boy should hold a gun?" In the second half of the poem, Betjeman writes of how that large, open countryside has been replaced with rows of identical and box-like houses. He writes of how the old flint churches and thatched cottages look, "strange and ill." He sums this up by writing, "One can't be sure where London ends," this relates to an earlier line in the poem, naming villages that used to be miles away from London which are now part of it. It caused his father great pain to see his son couldn't shoot, which contrasts greatly with the happy relationship between Leela and Lucy in Berry's poetry. Betjeman ends the poem with the words: "Far more would these have caused him pain Than my mishandling of a gun." This mean even though he was upset that his son couldn't shoot, it would have broken his heart to see the Hertfordshire countryside had been urbanised. ...read more.


The scenery described by the two poets is very different. Berry's account of Jamaica describes it as being very sunny and peaceful. The structure of the poetry written by both poets is very different. Betjeman uses very regular four lined stanzas, each with a regular rhyming pattern, which reflects his routine and uniform lifestyle. The way Berry's stanzas are irregular with no real rhyme reflect the easygoing lifestyle in Jamaica. Betjeman writes his poems in Standard English with no colloquial phrases, reflecting his uniform and very English lifestyle further. He uses archaic language, reflecting in some ways the way he dislikes change and also the way he is quite traditional. Berry, however, uses Creole phrases and grammar in his poetry. In the poem 'Lucy's Letter,' Berry uses the phrase, " I long for we labrish bad," meaning Lucy longs to gossip without restraint. Berry uses figures of speech in his poetry unlike Betjeman. For instance, in the poem 'Lucy's Letter', Berry uses the metaphor, "I really a sponge" and in 'From Lucy: Englan' Lady,' he uses similes such as, " Like a seagull flyin' slow slow." Berry and Betjeman have very different writing styles, partly because of the influences of their very different cultures. Berry's easy going Jamaican upbringing is reflected in his poetry through his use of Creole and the structure of his poetry. Betjeman reflects his English upbringing through his regular, ordered stanzas. Although they are very different they both work very well and make for very enjoyable reading. Jessica Scott 10X ...read more.

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