In ‘Nothing’s Changed’ the poet expresses his anger in many ways. The persona is a black South African man, angered at the way black people were treated in South America during apartheid. However, the way they were treated is not what angers him so much. It is the fact that the abolition of apartheid has not really changed the perspective of white people or the treatment of black people. The main thing that stands out in this poem is the comparison between the posh restaurant for white people and the ‘working man’s cafe ‘. ‘Crushed ice white glass, linen falls, the single rose .
This gives an example of the high quality, indicating expensive glassware, white tablecloths and the decoration. This description clearly indicates the superiority of the restaurant. This comparison is made very vivid by the description of the persona. Also ,this symbolises conflicting cultures, the white people, dining in a posh, new restaurant with clean tablecloths and expensive items, whereas the black people dine on cheap takeaways at a plastic table without a tablecloth, spit pieces on the floor and wipe their hands on their jeans. ‘it’s in the bone. ‘ [line 40]
This indicates the poets perceptive on the influence culture has. It shows that the poet thinks because black people were treated badly and lived poor quality lives, they began to accept the opinions of white people. Even after the abolition of apartheid, they still deem themselves inferior. Continuing on the theme of self image, the persona says ‘but we know where we belong. ‘ This indicates the separation between people of the persona’s culture and those with different cultures. The separation was so severe that people have been confined to specific areas, ways of life and rights.
This angers the poet because apartheid was officially abolished in 1994 which was before the poem was written. As the poet writes in the last line (48) ‘nothing’s changed’ is what angers him so much The use of repetition in this poem is very effective at conveying the poet’s feelings towards the matter. Also there are alliterations and assonances to suggest a sense of regularity, building up to the persona’s point in the final line, ‘nothing’s changed’ However the first stanza has a lot of irregularity in it such as the vowel sounds.
Each word has a different sound and there are only two rhyming words. Small round hard stones click under my heels, seeding grasses thrust bearded seeds into trouser cuffs, cans, trodden on, crunch in tall, purple-flowering amiable weeds’ Here, the rhyming words are in red and onomatopoeic words are in blue. This poem has a dominating sound aspect. There are various poetic devices based on sound to provide more advanced description. Some other examples are the assonances and alliterations further on in the poem. Also, the different vowel sounds give an idea of an uncomfortable mood. However this changes in the second stanza with the repetition of ‘and’.
This stanza starts off quite calmly in comparison to the first but lines 15 and 16 tell of the anger of the persona. The ‘and’ leads up to a dramatic part of the poem. ‘and my hands, and the skin about my bones, and the soft labouring of my lungs and the hot, white, inwards turning anger of my eyes. ‘ Repetition is indicated in red. The words after the repetition grow increasingly intense. The repetition continues into the third stanza where phrases such as ‘Brash with glass’ and ‘name flaring like a flag’ give a negative impression of the of the place being referred to.
These are some of the poetics devices as mentioned previously. ‘Brash with glass’ is an assonance because the ‘a’ sound is repeated and ‘flaring like a flag’ is both an assonance and a simile. The last stanza expresses the anger of the poet the strongest when it says ‘Hands burn for a stone, a bomb, to shiver down the glass. Nothing’s changed’ This expresses his wish to destroy the restaurant because of the continuing suffering of the people of his culture. He shows his anger in the first three lines of the quote, then expresses what he is angry at.
John Agard uses a lot of sarcasm in ‘Half-Caste’. It is in this way that he conveys his thoughts. Somebody has referred to the persona as half cast and he is angry. This poem is his reply. The first stanza begins addressing the reader. Agard portrays his opinion by using sarcasm in the first three lines. He sees the person who offended him thinking that he is only half a person and it is this he takes offence to. It is not so much the cast but the opinion that he is less of a human being because of his parentage.
‘Excuse me standing on one leg I’m half-caste’ standing on one leg’ is included to mock the person that insulted the persona by almost saying ‘you think I’m half a person. You think that I stand on one leg’. Somebody has chosen to put the persona on the spot so he does the same back. He ridicules the offender by putting him on the spot by asking them a question they cannot answer and making fun of him because he is narrow minded. He mocks his offender by repeating the lines- ‘Explain yuself Wha yu mean When yu say half-caste’ This is followed all four times it is said by an example of how the offender is being stupid.
He includes famous examples such as Picasso and Tchaikovsky and says if you mix black with white, you don’t get a half-caste canvas or symphony in these cases. ‘Explain yuself wha yu mean when yu say half-caste yu mean when Picasso mix red an green is a half-caste canvas/’ This is ridiculing him by saying that he was suggesting such examples. The whole poem is written as if the poet was actually speaking it aloud. It is very phonetic which I think is influenced by the culture of the persona. For example, ‘yu’ is used a lot instead of ‘you’ and there are consonants missing off the end of some words.
This shows the culture of the poem is of Caribbean origin. The persona goes on to suggest in the third stanza that he has a keen half of his ear and a keen half of his eye. Afterwards, he also goes on to suggest he onll has half a hand and closes half an eye when he sleeps. On top of this, he adds ‘I dream half a dream’ and at night, he only casts half a shadow in the moonlight. In the last two stanzas, comes the main moral of this poem. ‘but yu must come back tomorrow wid de whole of your eye and de whole of yu ear and de whole of yu mind an I will tell yu de other half f my story’ In the last two stanzas suggest that the person who called him half cast was only using part of his eye, part of his ear, and part of his mind. This is very ironic as the persona was accused of only being half a person when it was the person who said that to him who was using half of his mind. ‘Charlotte O’Neils Song’ is about a general servant working for an upper class family. She decides she has had enough and moves on to go and live in New Zealand. This poem/song was written after the time by a different author who saw Charlotte O’Neil on a ship’s records.
Fiona Farrell came up with this song as a reason why Charlotte O’Neil left. The poem is written in a defiant kind of anger. The first stanza is basically the persona describing her duties and giving an idea of how hard life was. The disobedient tone is set through the rhythm and the rhyming in the verse. It is also just like ‘Nothings Changed’ built up through repetition and almost mocking the recipient ‘and I washed your plate, and I scrubbed till my hands were raw. ‘ The repetition of ‘and’ builds up the girls anger, though not in the threatening way ‘Nothings Changed’ did.
The next stanza compares the persona’s life to her master’s. ‘You lay on your silken pillow, I lay in my attic cot’ Here she is expressing her feelings about the unfairness of the situation. The master has probably never done any work and lives a life of luxury whereas Charlotte has worked most of he adult life and received a mere pittance. Once again,tells her story to make the reader sympathise with her and understand her situation. She tries to make her master look a fool to express her anger. She then follows this same pattern again to end verse two, she compares their lives, then gives a quote that makes her boss look bad.
The third stanza is about the persona stating that she will not do her duties ‘never say ‘sir’ or ‘thank you ma’am, and I’ll never curtsey more’. This is a very powerful line because of the repetition of never. The persona uses various methods of getting the reader to understand what she is feeling so the poem means more. The second half of stanza three and the whole of the last stanza is about Charlotte building up to say she is leaving. The anger increases as you read on. ‘I’ve cleaned your plate, and I’ve cleaned your house, and I’ve cleaned the clothes you wore. But now your on your own my dear.
I wont be there any more. And I’ll eat when I please, and I’ll sleep when I please, and you can open your own front door. ‘ This is the final verse. The repetition of ‘and’ gives an impression of increasing anger and the repetition of ‘I’ shows that she is thinking about herself for once. The final line, ‘and you can open your own front door. ‘, is a good ending to the poem because it has already been included. The repetition makes the line stronger and more powerful every time you read it. The poet writes this so well, the reader feels the anger themselves because they can identify with the persona so well.