"Feeling "whole" and comfortable with who we are important to us all. Discuss and compare how poets from other cultures explore this in their poems

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GCSE –English poetry                                                                   Aruna Bhalla

“Feeling “whole” and comfortable with who we are important to us all. Discuss and compare how poets from other cultures explore this in their poems.”

                Everybody needs a sense of belonging. That is who they are, where they come from, and who they belong to. A person without an identity does not exist, it’s as if they are in no mans land, neither here or there.

Culture is the main ingredient in the recipe of an identity, to spice up an identity you can add heritage, a name, traditions, emotions, tastes, and genes. As the DNA in each identity is different every identity in a person is unique, and individual. As we all know, no two people are the same.

        I will be discussing two poems in this essay, the first being a poem written by John Agard called “Half Caste.” Agard was born on the 21st of June in 1949. He moved from Guyana to England in 1977. Like many people in the Caribbean Agard is mixed race. His mother is Portuguese and his father is black. Agard loves living in England: “The diversity of cultures here is very exciting.'

However there is one thing he does not like, and that is the racial origin views. He dislikes the word “Half Caste” which is used to describe a person of a mixed race. This term is still used by many today, and is now considered as rude and insulting. This might have led John Agard to write the poem “Half Caste” to express his views and opinions on this offensive expression.

The second poem I will be discussing and comparing is written by Sujata Bhatt called “Search for My Tongue“. She was born in 1956. Sujata was born in the Indian state of Gujarat. She moved to the United States where she learnt English. Now she lives in Germany. Sujata wrote this poem as she was afraid she might lose her original language whilst studying in America. Sujata referred to her mother language as “the deepest layer in her identity.”


        ” Half Caste” is a basic story of a coloured young man, who belongs to a mixed race. Throughout the poem he is talking directly to the reader. After reading “Half Caste” you can immediately assume the poet is of a different culture, his identity has come from two different worlds hence the title “Half Caste” half meaning two parts of something.

“Search for My Tongue,” is about a girl who has got two languages. She has a mother tongue and a different language which is spoken where she lives. She feels afraid that she may loose her mother tongue because she can’t bring it out into the open.

The message I feel Agard is giving is simply getting the reader to think deeper into the term of “Half Caste,” and how it could offend a majority of the community. It’s as if he is forcing the reader to question their thoughts on “Half Caste”:

“Explain yuself…when yu say half caste.”

This quote is an excellent example of how the poet wants the reader to acknowledge this poem, he really wants to get their minds to open up and to start thinking, he wants them to feel the anger and pain he feels. He does this by using emotive and positive language. By using words like “Explain” again and again he encourages the reader to really question themselves, which I think is a very effective technique to use, to grasp the readers’ attention and make them fully aware of his emotions.

When we compare this with Sujata’s message, we see that it is different unlike Agard, who is more demanding and aggressive she is calmer. I felt after reading these two poems this related two different personalities, and how they both deal with their dilemmas in their identity. Sujata wants the readers to put themselves in her position. We could argue that maybe this a cry for help rather then an argument. We could suggest Sujata was asking the audience for help rather then getting angry and abrupt:

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“I ask you, what would you do”

This quote is a perfect example on how Sujata portrays herself to the audience.  In the above quote she is simply asking the reader what would you do, if you were in my position.  Both poets ask the reader to put themselves into their shoes, but Sujata asks in a more reserved and polite manner, unlike Agard who uses more forceful language and has a harsher approach. Agard uses a much more forceful tone to convey his anger.  From this we can see how different both poets are.

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