Praise Song for my Mother by Grace Nichols Analysis

Authors Avatar by adiththomasgmailcom (student)

Praise Song for my Mother – Grace Nichols

What are the poet’s feelings about family and how does she convey these ideas?

Grace Nichols writes Praise Song for my mother as ode, or letter, as a celebration of her mother. Having moved from Guyana to the UK, the ‘ode’ is in a Caribbean style, praising her mother for all that she has done. Nichols writes about what family is, and what it means to her, and the poem seems to be positive, in adoration of her mother, but there are also other standpoints that say the poem could have a deeper, negative meaning.

Nichols conveys the powerful, protective love that she receives from her mother in the poem in a variety of ways. She writes that she was ‘water to [her], deep and bold and fathoming’. As water is a necessity to live, she creates the image that her mother was a necessity to her life, and that she ‘couldn’t live without her’. She uses many of these metaphors, using the term ‘You were’ to convey the different roles her mother played in her life, that although she was just a woman, she was to her, the ‘moon’s eye’ and the ‘sunrise’. The use of the past tense in ‘you were’ shows that her mother may have passed away, and that this is not only a celebration of her mother, but also a celebration of her mother’s life, and that the poem is a sort of mourning of her mother. However, this can also be interpreted as the memories of her childhood, when she lived in Guyana with her family, written in the past tense, to convey her feelings in the past. The fact that this poem is written in 14 lines, as a sonnet, shows the ode of love from Nichols to her mother, and the loving bond in family.

Join now!

Nichols could also be trying to convey the message that family is about growing, and allowing the children to develop and learn. Although this at first sight, a poem of positivity, and ‘praise’ for her mother, there could be a more negative, possibly sarcastic side to the poem. The phrase ‘you were water to me’ initially seems positive, but when paired with ‘deep and bold and fathoming’, makes the reader think that there was possible ‘too much water’, and that Nichols’ mother was possibly overprotective or that she enveloped Nichols in her care. The words ‘deep’ and ‘bold’ make you ...

This is a preview of the whole essay