Compare the cultural backgrounds and the style of language these three black poets use to describe their experiences. They are: Maya Angelou-"Still I rise", Benjamin Zephaniah- "Miss World" and Grace Nichols-"Sugar Cane" through their poems.

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By a close analysis of language, show

how the poets convey their cultural heritage and

experiences through their poems.

This essay will compare the cultural backgrounds and the style of language these three black poets use to describe their experiences. They are: Maya Angelou-“Still I rise”, Benjamin Zephaniah- “Miss World” and Grace Nichols-“Sugar Cane” through their poems.

These three poems were written by black poets. They all have a theme of standing up for yourself, fighting for your rights and being strong and overcoming pain and suffering.

“Sugar Cane” is a poem about the life of a sugar cane that is grown and harvested. The poet personifies the sugar cane so the reader can associate more with the sugar cane, and there is a compelling desire for the reader to want to read the poem.

“Miss World” is about a girl who is beautiful inside and does not want to be judged like an object in a show. The poem is written like a rap and so is inviting to younger people. This poem teaches that appearances are not important.

“Still I Rise” is about a woman talking about all the hardships her ancestors had to endure and how she will prevail whatever is thrown at her. This poem is about standing tall and strong and not letting anyone put you down.

In “Sugar Cane”, the poet uses very descriptive language that helps the reader visualise the sugar cane. For example, “indifferent hard and sheathed in blades”. These blades are the sharp leaves of the sugar cane. This image is of a strong object, capable of defending itself. The blades are a symbol of the black slaves, able to fight back against people, wanting to destroy them. The poet also uses language in a West Indian dialect, “he isn’t what he seem” and “he shiver like ague when it rain”. The poet uses personification to help the reader visualise the sugar cane as a thing that matters, like a person. Later on in the poem, the poet uses, “he comes to learn the truth about himself, the crimes committed in his name”. This refers to the fact that the slaves were used to farm the sugar cane for “the white man” and died from over work, exhaustion and starvation.

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In “Miss World” the poet also uses words that rhyme if the reader is reading in a West Indian accent, “best for self-defence” “cause no grievance”. Ordinarily these would not rhyme, so the reader would know at once by reading this or “de” (the) or “day”(they) that this poem is written in a dialect.

In “Still I Rise” the poet always speaks in correct English and shows that she is well educated and is articulate. She uses phrases like “Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear”.


Sugar Cane is grown ...

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