different cultures poetry

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Robert Harrison 11S

GCSE English Literature Coursework Poems from different cultures


In this essay I am going to look at and compare two poems called Half-Caste by John Agard and Search for My Tongue by Sujata Bhatt. Half-Caste is about being mixed race as Agard’s mother was white but his father was black and he came to England from the Caribbean. The word 'half-caste', can be used to describe people of mixed race but is considered rude and insulting.

Search for My Tongue is about Bhatt who was born in India and spoke Gujarati as their first language but then moved to the U.S. and learnt English and describes what it is like to speak and think in both languages.

Both Poems use a mixture of English and their own language which in the case of Half-Caste is Agard’s West Indian Dialect and in Search for My Tongue is Bhatt’s native language Gujarati.

In ‘Search for my tongue’ there are two meanings as a tongue is not only the part of your mouth, but also it can mean a language, so your mother tongue is your first language. The poem seems to be about Bhatt feeling that she is losing her first language and she is trying to find it again. Whereas in ‘Half-caste’ Agard is writing about how other people view people of mixed race and is asking them questions by saying ‘explain yuself’, which is repeated throughout the poem and it almost seems that he is having an argument with someone.

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‘Search for my tongue’ begins with Bhatt telling the reader what it is like to have ‘two tongues in your mouth’, which is a metaphor meaning she knows two languages.  Bhatt is saying that one language doesn’t know the other and she has to thinks differently in each language, she says ‘You could not use them both together’, so perhaps she feels like the languages are so different to each other that she has to use either one or the other and that she’s a different person when she uses the other language. It seems she is getting the  reader ...

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