Comparing and contrasting three poems that portray the yearning to belong.

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Candidate number: 36

Comparing and contrasting three poems that portray the yearning to belong.

Meghna Gordhan Harjani

Candidate Number: 36

Centre Number: 91543

Emirates International School

Teacher: Mrs. Pam Parasram

Grade 11 English Literature Poetry Coursework


Comparing and contrasting three poems that portray the yearning to belong.

We all long to be a part of something and to feel accepted, irrespective of age, culture and society. Similarly, Stephen Spender’s poem, “My Parents kept Me from Children who were Rough”, Moniza Alvi’s “An Unknown Girl” and Phyllis McCormack’s “Crabbit Old Woman” talk about how each of the poets long to be a part of a certain society or culture, and this longing outlines the underlying theme across all three poems.

My Parents kept Me from Children who were Rough is about childhood bullying and regret. The narrator experiences bullying at a young age and I sense a feeling of regret as the poet wished he could be a part of the group of rough boys. I get the impression that the narrator, now at his adult stage, feels that he did not make the most of his childhood, and this was perhaps due to class differentials. Whereas, Moniza Alvi’s poem reveals how the narrator had left her hometown at a young stage and when she returns, she yearns to be a part of it. I believe she finds it difficult to reconcile her roots with her foreign lifestyle and falls under the dilemma where she is forced to choose one life, despite her strong desire for both. We get a contrasting idea in Crabbit Old Woman, as it is a plea to break free from the stereotypical image of old people. The old woman feels that she is being judged unfairly because her body has crumbled. She expresses how her soul remains intact, and would like the nurses to realize that her “battered heart swells” with undiscovered vivacity.

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All the three poems have an underlying theme of belonging. My parents… is about how the narrator “longed” to fit in with the group of bullies. The world being so brutal, made growing up hard for the narrator. At a young age, the narrator probably needed to feel wanted and important and hence, wanted to be part of a group. There are many other significant themes present, such as a theme of childhood bullying, as the narrator fears the boys who had “muscles like irons”. A theme of regret, coupled with loneliness is distinguished, as the poet “longed to forgive” ...

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