The two poems I have selected to analyse and compare are Island Man, and Nothing’s Changed. I feel that both poems have different meanings, however, that they are based around the same idea. I think that Nothings Change is about conflicts between different cultures, black people and white people, and that t he poem may have been written to contradict people stereotypes about black people, and to show that they are not animals, and that they do have feelings.
On the other hand, Island Man is about a Caribbean island man, who has come to London, and now misses his home, and wants to go back, but he can’t as he is now trapped in London. I think this poem may have been written to warn people that moving to England is not as great as they think, that even though you will earn much more money, that money does not necessarily mean you will be happy, so people may think twice about making their decision.
Even though the poems have very different morals, I feel that they could be based around a common theme, which I feel is segregation and loneliness. Both people in the poems are unhappy with where they are, and do not feel comfortable as they are segregated and lonely. In both poems, the men have reacted in different ways to being lonely, in Nothing’s Changed, the black man is uncomfortable around the white people, and is unhappy with the way they treat him.
I feel that his makes him angry. This is shown by powerful language such as “hands burn for a stone, a bomb.” In Island Man, his reaction is sadness. I feel that the fact that he is uncomfortable and lonely is shown through lots of personification, such as “sun surfacing defiantly,” and “crumpled pillow waves. I feel the poet may have used this personification as it shows that he is lonely, and to make him feel better he thinks of objects as people. I think that the theme of loneliness reinforces the content of the poems as people usually listen more to people who are, in the case of Nothing’s Changed, angry, and in Island Man, sad.
In both poems, the poets meaning and opinions are conveyed to the reader in similar ways, in Island Man, I think that poets meaning and opinions could have been conveyed metaphorically, as he still almost asleep, and is in a daydream, through many subliminal messages in different phrases of the poem. One example of this is the word “breaking,” I feel that this word may have been used to show that the waves breaking at his home, are actually breaking his heart, because of his powerful longing to be there. Also, it could show his idea of London breaking, he thought it would be amazing, and he would be happy, however, in reality, London is not the best place for him.
Another example of a subliminal message is the word “wombing,” the poet may have used this word because in the womb, you are safe, and protected from all harm, that is how he felt at his home, the sea waves were like a womb, on his island, he was safe, and happy, however, because of greed he left this “womb,” and now regrets it, he feels vulnerable, which again, I think may be the poet relating to the theme of loneliness. A third example of a subliminal message is “wild seabirds,” the word wild might have been used to show that the birds are free, and not trapped anywhere, unlike the island man, who has been trapped by his greed for the money in London, and now London has trapped him, and will never let him go. The island man again is showing longing to be free, and back at his home where he was.
The final example of a subliminal message in Island Man is emerald island,” the word emerald can be interpreted in different ways; I feel that it could have been used to show two things. Emeralds are a precious gem, which are worth a lot of money, and some could even be priceless, so it could be showing that his home is precious, and priceless, and he should not have left for the money in London. On the other hand the word emerald can also show greed and envy, so people on the island would be jealous of the people in London, and go there, however, you should resist. The poet may have even used the word for both meanings, showing that you should never leave something which is priceless because of jealousy and greed.
I feel that in Nothing’s Changed, the poet may have also used subliminal messages to convey his meaning and opinions, however, in this poem many other methods could have been used too, such as the extremely powerful language, which shows his anger. In this poem I feel that the poet has conveyed the meaning in a literal way, as everything that is said is real, and actually happening. An example of a subliminal message in the poem is the first word of the poem, “small,” this word immediately makes you feel uncomfortable, and shows how the poet is feeling, like he has no power, and therefore, that black people have no power.
Another example is “cans trodden on, crunch,” this may be the poet showing that the place is neglected, and that no one cares about it. He may even be going as far as saying that this is happening because none of the white people care about the black people, so why should they care about a country dominated by white people? Also, crunch is an aggressive sound, so it could be showing that the poet is angry with the white people, and wants to hurt them. I think that another example of a subliminal message could be “tall, purple-flowering, amiable weeds.” I think that the poet is showing that even though weeds are a bad thing, you should also see the good side to them; they are purple-flowering and amiable. He may be showing that you should see black people like this.
They may not belong in this country, however, you should also see their good side, and not always focus on the negative. A third example of a subliminal message is “I press my nose to the clear panes,” This could be the poet saying that he wants to get to know the white people, however, they just aren’t listening. He could also say the panes are like a barrier between the black and the white people. This links in with the phrase “Hands burn for a stone, a bomb.” His shows a link between a boy and a man, a stone and a bomb, the poet could be saying that when he was a boy he just wanted to break the barrier between black and white people, but now, he wants to kill the white people because of the way they have treated black people. The final subliminal message that I feel could be in the poem is “District six, no board says it is.” I think this may be the poet saying that no one cares, which could be him again referring to neglect, the place is so unimportant, it has no name.