On the other hand, ‘Island Man’ is a short poem which reflects the difference between a dream and reality. The structure on the page is disconcerted and the stanzas towards the end of the poem become shorter as the island man comes out of his dream of the Caribbean, and “heaves” himself into reality, which is London.
Although there are some words in the poem which are physically isolated from the rest of the poem such as “groggily groggily” and “to surge of wheels” which emphasises the distance between the two countries; Caribbean and England and the difficulty in shifting back from the Caribbean to London, but as the poem persists the words “surge of wheels” almost connects together with the poem emphasising that the distance has been narrowed and the island man is now coming back to reality.
There is also a lot of repetition in this poem to emphasise onomatopoeic sounds demonstrating that the slaves have no control, and there is an endless escape from the suppression that they are under. “Stick is the whip/ stick is the whip” and “knees spread wide/ knees spread wide.”
The repetition corresponds to ‘Island Man’, which reminds the reader of the transition between London and the Caribbean “he always comes back groggily groggily/ Comes back to sands of grey…”
The structure of the poem ‘Limbo’ is very much spaced out on the page and there is only one capital letter in the whole poem, correlating to the poem “Island Man”, which only has several capital letters, which denotes the formality of the English language and allows emotions and expressions to run more freely.
Both poems use linguist sounds such as onomatopoeia, sibilance, rhyme, alliteration to heighten the sense of cultural heritage.
In ‘Limbo’, alliteration and rhyme is used to remind the reader of the suffering of the slaves, “dark deck”, “raising me/ saving me” and as the word dark is repeated throughout the poem it associates fear with the slaves and the darkness on the ship.
In addition, Brathwaite engages the reader by using the 1st person which shares the expressions and feelings with the reader and gives an insight into the lives of the slaves, arousing a sense of sympathy.
The onomatopoeic sounds; “stick hit sound” evokes the sound of chains being hammered in chaining the slaves to the ship; which are very forceful and powerful monosyllabic words.
The rhythm right through this poem is reinforced by the refrain “limbo/ limbo like me” which establishes the rhythm from the very beginning. This refrain also holds the poem together and gives the poem structure in relation to the slaves doing the limbo on the ships which holds the slaves together. But towards the end of the poem, the reader begins to notice that the refrain doesn’t go all the way to the end and it stops at the point when the slaves leave the ship to go to separate destinations; which reflects the separation of family and friends and therefore the end to the limbo dance
‘Island Man’ seems to include a lot of contrasts, such as colours and different forms of transport and images to convey the contrasts between the two countries and how he feels about the countries; for instance, colours such as blue and emerald are associated with the Caribbean whilst the colour grey is associated with London. Also in the Caribbean boats are often used by fishermen whereas in London wheels represent cars on the road.
The words “muffling muffling” emphasise the fact that the London sound of the North Circular is absorbing the Island memories symbolising the separation from the Caribbean man’s cultural roots.
There are certain aspects that will never be forgotten due to the “pillow waves” on the Caribbean man’s pillow which reminds him of the waves of the sea in the Caribbean and the fact that the pillow will be there when he gets back, and the Caribbean will always be with him in his head when he goes to bed and wakes up. So even though he is being exiled from his culture there is still a fond remembrance and that he is still very much connected to his roots.
The non-standard English applied in ‘Limbo’ reinforces the Caribbean dialect which evokes the sense of culture which is not lost, for example; “ship like it ready” , which removes the sibilance making the words sound harsher. However in the poem ‘Island Man’ Nichols makes use of a lot of sibilance reinforcing the echoes of the soft sounds of the sea, “… to the sound of blue surf.”
The conclusions to both poems are rather direct and discouraging. Brathwaite uses techniques to imply a sense of communication and hope for the slaves towards the end of the poem and raises the naive aspirations of the slaves is devastating as they are only to discover that they are taking a backward step into the hell of slavery. “…sun coming up/ and the drummers are praising me/ out of the dark/ and the dumb gods are raising me/ up up up…”
Then the reader begins to understand that the pattern and rhythmic flow has gone and are replaced with short painful words such as “hot/ slow/ step.”
Also the first full stop at the end of the poem concludes the life of the slaves which is the end to freedom and the arrival into slavery, relating to a living hell. “…on the burning ground.”
The conclusion to Island Man is similar in the way that it ends with a powerful last line; “Another London day”, which is physically isolated reminding the reader of how exiled this man feels from his culture.
Both poems are successful in the way in which they arouse the reader’s emotional senses and covey a sense of pain and isolation from their cultural background.