“Morning and the Island Man wakes up to the sound of the blue surf……the steady breaking and wombing.”
This shows that the Island Man is dreaming about sleeping in Jamaica. He is happily waking up on his Island, which is his childhood home. He is waking up to the sound of the blue surf. The word ‘blue’ is used here to describe the surf. Blue is a lively colour that shows that his island is vivid and vibrant.
“Wakes up to the sound of the blue surf in his head.” In this quote, the sounds of the ‘s’, sibilance is trying to recreate the sounds of the island as well as the imagery of the sea. The poet has also used enjambment in the first stanza to create deliberate ambiguity. It almost confuses the reader whether if he is actually there or if he is dreaming.
“The steady breaking and wombing” The word wombing implies that the island is so worm and so safe that it is literally like being in the womb. This also implies that this is the place where he came from, his origin, his home.
Afrika in Nothing’s Changed also delivers sad feelings about the destruction of his childhood home.
“Small round hard stones click under my heels……….crunch in tall, purple flowering, amiable weeds.” This shows that even though Apartheid is finished, nothing’s changed as shown in the title in District Six. This saddens the poet there is supposed to be greater equality in District Six, but all remains the same. The first stanza is describing the setting of stones and weeds, being a place that is not in good repair and which is falling apart. The words amiable weeds are used to describe the weeds as friendly weeds and as if they are being personified. The words bearding and amiable are almost as these plants have been suddenly been given personality and characteristics. The poet also uses colours such as the purple flowers which is very odd. The poet is talking about something being destroyed yet purple indicates something being vibrant and full of life and it sits uncomfortably with amiable weeds. The poet uses the words purple with amiable because he feels a sense of kinship with the weeds. He personifies them. Weeds are unwanted and people try to destroy them and the poet is feeling the same way that he is unwanted and he is just like a weed and therefore he feels sad just like them.
However in the poem Island Man, Nichols is feeling a sense of joy, remembering the beauty of the landscape.
“Wild birds and fisher putting out to the sea…….. he always comes back groggily groggily.”
The second stanza implies the simplistic pleasure of Island life. It is laid back and this is something about this kind of life that Island Man remembers. The word defiantly personifies the sun. The sun is really bright and almost harsh and the word defiantly almost seems to be daring anyone to try and stop him. It also means that despite his best wishes the sun is going to set. The poet doesn’t want this because he wants to lie on his island, to be relaxed, the sun is surfacing anyway telling him that it is all going to end.
The poet also uses sibilance to try and recreate the sounds of the sea.
Nichols also uses the word emerald to describe his island. Emerald in itself is deep green which we associate with nature, relaxation and with things that are free and pure. The word emerald also has another meaning, emerald from the precious stone implying that his island is something precious, valuable and something that means a lot to him. Nichols also repeats the words groggily for effect but these two words are completely isolated from the rest of the poem which is where Island Man’s thoughts are because he too is completely isolated from his Caribbean culture.
Tatamkhulu Akrika describes his bitter feelings towards the white people in District Six because they had his childhood home destroyed and redeveloped.
“I back from the glass………..Nothings changed.”
This shows when the poet comes back to this place, it reminds him of how difficult it was as a young man living in this place and that prejudice and racism that he saw when living there. He is literally has been a boy again leaving a small mean O, in the glass of the restaurant. It also shows that anger is built up in him as a boy. His rage also builds up because there is a barrier between the black community and the white community and the barrier being the glass of the restaurant. The boy can see the white people and them eating in the restaurant but cannot get to it and the glass symbolises the idea of the two separate communities. What the poet wants to do here desperately is to break down that glass of barrier through violence.
“Hands burn for a stone, a bomb, to shiver down the glass.” This demonstrates that the small mean O, the boy, grows to become somebody who wishes to show violence.
‘Nothing’s Changed’ in the end is almost spit out by the poet, going back to the title.
In the same way Grace Nichols also shows a negative feeling about being in London.
“Comes back to sands………Another London Day.”
This shows that the poet is feeling quite negative about being in London and that what he had seen about Jamaica had all just been a dream. Here Nichols uses repetition in with the words ‘comes back’. This emphasises the idea of a transition, and idea of a journey. He also uses ‘sands’ as a deliberate echo of the word sounds to almost tease us with the wild ways of the island. The poet also uses colours such as grey and metallic in contrast to the blues and greens of the island. Grey here symbolises dull and metallic symbolises industrial and ugly. The word ‘soar’ almost echoes as the wild birds soaring in the island but the soar also suggests the rising sound of the cars that he can hear. Grace Nichols is trying to use words such as the surge [of the waves] and the soar [of the birds] to relate to things in London that he sensed in the islands.
‘muffling muffling’ is repeated like groggily is like the muffling pillow on his ears.
‘His crumpled pillow waves.’ This shows that when he was looking at his pillows, the waves are no longer on the sea, they are on the pillow. It is sort of like everything has been transformed and shifted from the sea to something else in London. The word ‘heaves’ shows that the Island Man gets up from his bed with great dissatisfaction from being in London.
‘Another’ indicates to us that it just is another day in London, with nothing exciting, nothing to look forward to but something that he has been doing for quite a long time, as if a daily routine.
In conclusion I feel that Nothing’ Changed was a better poem than Island Man because Afrika in his poem uses different techniques that have worked better than Nichols. He uses similes, metaphors and onomatopoeia to help the reader to understand the poet’s feelings about District Six. The word click used in the first stanza is an onomatopoeia, which helps the reader to visualise the feelings the poet is trying to deliver to us. He uses repetition with the words mean mouth to add to the effects. In the second stanza, Afrika uses enjambment to give the reader a sense of speed that increases as his fury increases.
The readers can also sense the sadness through his descriptions of what has changed in the environment. He uses descriptive words throughout the poem to emphasize the feelings that he wants his readers to feel. This can also be seen with the use of first person. This helps to make the poem more vivid and we can sense his feelings because he is referring to himself, which makes us realise that he went through all this.
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
A very good essay. Detailed and perceptive analysis of poetic techniques used by both poets. Accurate and thorough analysis of language using correct poetic terminology. Most comments are supported by references to poems. Explores and discusses meaning thoroughly. Shows knowledge of social and historical context. A few lapses in expression and needs a conclusion to summarise exploration of both poems.