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A Contemplation Upon Flowers - Literature Notes

BRAVE flowers--that I could gallant it like you,


And be as little vain!
You come abroad, and make a harmless show,
And to your beds of earth again.
You are not proud: you know your birth:
For your embroider'd garments are from earth.
You do obey your months and times, but I
Would have it ever Spring:
My fate would know no Winter, never die,
Nor think of such a thing.
O that I could my bed of earth but view
And smile, and look as cheerfully as you!
O teach me to see Death and not to fear,
But rather to take truce!
How often have I seen you at a bier,
And there look fresh and spruce!
You fragrant flowers! then teach me, that my breath
Like yours may sweeten and perfume my death..
Stanza 2, line 14: This is another comparison between the persona and the plant. The persona wishes that
he could look death in the face and be cheerful, like the plant. Again, this emphasizes that he fears death.
2. EUPHEMISM
This phrase is a replacement for the word death. It softens death and makes it appear welcoming and
pleasant.
3. IRONY
It is ironic that the flowers look so fresh and alive, when they are facing their very mortality, on the top of
a casket. Death is a sad affair, yet the flowers are at their best when ushering people back to the earth.
4. PERSONIFICATION
The persona is speaking directly to the flowers and giving them human qualities, therefore, the whole
poem is an example of the use of personification at its best. He even goes as far as to ask the flowers to
teach him things that will allow him to acquire their qualities.
TONE
The tone of the poem is admiration, because the persona literally admires the flowers for its accepting
attitude towards death.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood, or atmosphere of the poem is a pensive one. The persona is thinking about death, how he
relates to it versus how others relate to it.
CONTRAST A contrast in this poem is the persona's fear of death, versus the flowers' acceptance of it.
THEMATIC CATEGORY
Death, nature,

O'l Higue - Literature Notes


You think I like this stupidness! gallivanting all night without skin,
burning myself out like cane-fire
to frighten the foolish?
And for what? A few drops of baby blood?
You think I wouldn't rather
take my blood seasoned in fat
black-pudding, like everyone else?
And don't even talk 'bout the pain of salt
and having to bend these old bones down
to count a thousand grains of rice!
If only babies didn't smell so nice!
And if I could only stop
hearing the soft, soft call
of that pure blood running in new veins,
singing the sweet song of life
tempting an old, dry-up woman who been
holding her final note for years and years,
afraid of the dying hum ...
Then again, if I didn't fly and come
to that fresh pulse in the middle of the night,
2.how would you, mother,
name your ancient dread?
And who to blame
for the murder inside your head ...?
Believe me As long as it have women giving birth
a poor ol' higue like me can never dead.

LITERAL MEANING
In this poem, the Ol' Higue / soucouyant tells of
her frustration with her lifestyle. She does not
like the fact that she sometimes has to parade
around, in the form of a fireball, without her
skin at night. She explains that she has to do
this in order to scare people, as well as to
acquire baby blood. She explains that she
would rather acquire this blood via cooked
food, like every-one else. Her worst complaint
is the pain of salt, as well as having to count
rice grains. She exhibits some regret for her
lifestyle but implies that she cannot resist a
baby's smell, as well as it's pure blood. The
'newness' of the baby tempts the Ol' Higue, and
she cannot resist because she is an old woman
who fears death, which can only be avoided by
consuming the baby's blood. She affirms her
usefulness in the scheme of things, however, by
claiming that she provides mothers with a name
for their fears (this being the death of a child),
as well as some-one to blame when the evil that
they wish for their child, in moments of tired
frustration, is realized. She implies that she will
never die, so long as women keep having
babies.

LITERARY DEVICES
1. SIMILE
Cane-fire has a very distinct quality. It burns very quickly and its presence is felt through it's pungent
smell. Therefore, when the Ol' Higue compares herself to cane fire in her fireball state, it implies that she
uses a lot of energy quickly, and is very visible.
2. RHETORICAL QUESTION

Stanza 1,line 4: This rhetorical question highlights the scant regard that the Higue has for the
average person. She is thoroughly annoyed that she has to literally waste her energy on them.

Stanza 1, line 5: This highlights the fact that, again, she is annoyed that she has to expend so
much energy to obtain a few drops of baby blood.

Stanza 1, lines 6-8: The Ol' Higue is emphasizing the fact that regular people ingest blood too,
just in a more palatable manner. She would not mind if she could ingest it in the same manner as
well.

Stanza 3, lines 22-23: At this point the Ol' Higue is making excuses for her presence, claiming
that she serves an actual purpose in the scheme of life. If a child dies of unknown causes, she can
be scapegoated for it.

Stanza 3, lines 24-25: 'The murder inside your head' refers to the moments, when out of pure
frustration and tiredness, a mother might wish ill on her child. The Ol' Higue is implying that,
again, she can be used as a scapegoat if something unfortunate happens to the child. The mother
is relieved of bearing the burden of guilt.

3. REPETITION
The repetition of the word 'soft' emphasizes the fact that the call of the child's blood has captured and
beguiled the Ol' Higue'. She implies that she cannot resist that call.
4. ALLITERATION
This device emphasizes the Ol' Higue's dependence, even addiction, to the sweet blood of the baby.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is reflective.
TONE
The tone of the poem is slightly bitter and resigned. She accepts that the cycle of her life cannot change.
THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Supernatural

A Stone's Throw - Literature Notes


We shouted out
'We've got her! Here she is!
It's her all right '.
We caught her.
There she was A decent-looking woman, you'd have said,
(They often are)
Beautiful, but dead scared,
Tousled - we roughed her up
A little, nothing much
And not the first time
By any means
She'd felt men's hands
Greedy over her body
But ours were virtuous,
Of course.
And if our fingers bruised
Her shuddering skin,
These were love-bites, compared
To the hail of kisses of stone,
The last assault
And battery, frigid rape,
To come
Of right.
For justice must be done
Specially when
It tastes so good.
And then - this guru,
Preacher, God-merchant, God-knows-what Spoilt the whole thing,
Speaking to her
(Should never speak to them)
Squatting on the ground - her level,
Writing in the dust
Something we couldn't read.
And saw in her
Something we couldn't see

LITERAL MEANING
A crowd has caught a woman. The persona
implies to the reader that the woman is not
decent. She was beautiful, but scared because
she had gotten 'roughed up' a little by the
crowd. The persona states that the woman has
experienced men's hands on her body before,
but this crowd's hands were virtuous.
He also makes a proviso that if this crowd
bruises her, it cannot be compared to what she
has experienced before. The persona also
speaks about a last assault and battery to come.
He justifies this last assault by calling it justice,
and it is justice that feels not only right, but
good. The crowd's 'justice' is placed on hold by
the interruption of a preacher, who stops to talk
to the lady. He squats on the ground and writes
something that the crowd cannot see.
Essentially, the preacher judges them, thereby
allowing the lady to also judge the crowd,
leading to the crowd inevitably judging itself.
The crowd walks away from the lady, still
holding stones [which can be seen as a
metaphor for judgments] that can be thrown
another day.

LITERARY DEVICES
1. SARCASM
The persona is making the point that the lady
was in fact NOT decent looking.
2. PERSONIFICATION
This device is particularly effective because the
word 'kisses' is used. Kiss implies something
pleasant, but it is actually utilized to emphasize
something painful that has happened to the
lady; she was stoned.
3. PUN

At least until
He turned his eyes on us,
Her eyes on us,
Our eyes upon ourselves.
We walked away
Still holding stones
That we may throw
Another day
Given the urge.

Title: The title of the poem is itself a


pun on two levels. A stone's throw is
used by many people in the Caribbean
to describe a close distance. eg. "She
lives a stone's throw away". The other
use of the title is to highlight the
content of the poem. It is a figurative
stoning, or judging, of a woman.

Line 23: There is a play on the word 'come'. The persona is telling the reader that the crowd is
planning to rape the lady. This act is to come, or occur, in the near future. Come, in this context,
also means to ejaculate, the culmination of the act of sex. The rapists in the crowd also plan to
'come'.

4. ALLUSION (biblical)
The content of the poem alludes to the story of Mary Magdalene in the Christian Bible. See John 8 v 5-7.
TONE
The tone of the poem is mixed. At times it is almost braggadocious, then it becomes sarcastic, moving to
scornful.
THEMATIC CATEGORY
Discrimination, religion, survival, hypocrasy, oppression, alienation.

Dreaming Black Boy - Literature Notes


I wish my teacher's eyes wouldn't
go past me today. Wish he'd know
it's okay to hug me when I kick
a goal. Wish I myself wouldn't
hold back when an answer comes.
I'm no woodchopper now
like all ancestor's.
I wish I could be educated
to the best of tune up, and earn
good money and not sink to lick
boots .I wish I could go on every
crisscross way of the globe
and no persons or powers or
hotel keepers would make it a waste.
I wish life wouldn't spend me out
opposing. Wish same way creation
would have me stand it would have me stretch, and
hold high, my voice
Paul Robeson's, my inside eye
a sun. Nobody wants to say
hello to nasty answers.
.I wish torch throwers of night
would burn lights for decent times.
Wish plotters in pyjamas would pray
for themselves. Wish people wouldn't
talk as if I dropped from Mars
I wish only boys were scared
behind bravados, for I could suffer.
I could suffer a big big lot.
I wish nobody would want to earn
the terrible burden I can suffer.

LITERAL MEANING
The poem is about a black boy who wishes that he
could have regular things in life. Things such as
a congratulatory hug, to be educated to the highest
level and to travel without harassment. The
persona yearns to stop fighting for the basic right
to be successful and to rise above societal
expectations.

LITERARY DEVICES
1. REPETITION:
The constant repetition of the phrase 'I wish' points
to a yearning, a desperation even, for the basic
things that life has to offer. The repetition gives
credence to the idea that the persona
might believe that his wishes are actually dreams
that might not come true.
2. ALLUSION:

Stanza 1, lines 6 and 7, alludes to slavery,


the state of lacking control over one's own
life and destiny. The fact that reference is
made to this hints to how the persona feels
about his life. He does not feel as if he has
control over it.

Stanza 3, lines 19 to 20, alludes to Paul Robeson, a black intellectual, who attained success despite
difficult circumstances. The persona yearns to be like this person. He wants room to stretch intellectually.

Stanza 4, lines 22 to 25, alludes to the klu klux klan. Burning lights refers to the burning of
crosses and the pyjamas alludes to their white outfits that look like pyjamas. The persona wants
them to leave him alone, find something else to do other than make his life difficult by
contributing to his wishes remaining in the realm of the dreams.

TONE
The tone/mood of the poem is one of sadness. The persona is thinking about how he is treated and
he reacts to this in a sad way. He keeps wishing that things were different.
THEMATIC CATEGORY:
Racism, survival, oppression, desire/dreams.

Dulce et Decorum Est - Literature Notes


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all
blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime ...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could
pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,My friend, you would not tell with such a high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Stanza 4, line 39: Cancer is a horrible disease that takes many lives on a daily basis. Therefore, to
compare this dying soldiers face to this disease is to emphasize the agony that the soldier was
going through, which was reflected on his face.

Stanza 4, lines 39-40: This is another graphic comparison that compares the soldier's face to
incurable sores. 'Sores' is a disgusting visual image of degradation which, in turn, highlights the
soldier in the throes of death.

ALLITERATION

Stanza 1, line 7: This device points to the level of fatigue that the soldiers were undergoing.

Stanza 1, lines 7-9: This highlights not only the fatigue that the soldiers were feeling, but the fact
that they were injured as well.

Stanza 4, lines 29-30: This device highlights a visually graphic death mask. The soldier is in the
throes of impending death.

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona/ poet is thinking about his experiences in WW1.
TONE
The general tone of the poem is both sarcastic and ironic. The persona/ poet tries to present a visual of the
realities of war while using the haunting words that contradict that reality. It is, in fact, NOT sweet and
honourable to die for one's country.
THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
War, death, survival, oppression, patriotism

Epitaph - Literature Notes


They hanged him on a 4. clement morning, 5. swung
between the falling sunlight and the women's
breathing, 1.like a black apostrophe to pain.
All morning while the children 2.hushed
their hopscotch joy and 6.the cane kept growing
3.he hung there sweet and low.
At least that's how
they tell it. It was long ago
and 7.what can we recall of a dead slave or two
except when we 8.punctuate our island tale
1.they swing like sighs across 9.the brutal sentences, and 10.anger pauses
till they pass away.
LITERARY DEVICES
1. SIMILE

Stanza 1, line 4: The swinging body of the slave is compared with an apostrophe to pain. This
comparison is very powerful because, in English grammar, an apostrophe represents ownership.
Therefore, it is implying that the pain of the black race is so palpable that it is almost something
that they own. It emphasizes the painful nature of their history.

Stanza 2, line 14: The dead slave's body's swing is compared to sighs. A sigh is an exhalation of
breathe that can signal many feelings; relief, agitation, joy, etc., with the major quality being
brevity. Therefore, the emphasis is not necessarily on the feeling that the dead slave elicits, upon
being remembered, but the brevity with which he is remembered.

2. METAPHOR
This metaphor emphasizes the fun that the children paused, out of respect for the swinging body
of the dead slave.
3. ALLUSION
This line alludes to the Negro Spiritual 'Swing Low'. This spiritual speaks of an individual's
journey to heaven. This relates to this poem because it carries the implication that the slave's soul
has gone to heaven. He hung 'sweet and low' and the chariot came for him, his soul is at rest.

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is reflective
TONE
The tone of the poem is reflective and slightly sarcastic.

THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Death, racism, desires and dreams

Forgive My Guilt - Literature Notes

Not always sure what things called sins may be, I am sure of one sin I have done.
It was years ago, and I was a boy,
I lay in the 1.frost flowers with a gun,
2.the air ran blue as the flowers; I held my breath, 2.two birds on golden legs slim as dream things 2.ran like quick silver o
With 1.jagged ivory bones where wings should be. For days I heard them when I walked that headland, crying out to their
them, 1.Those slender flutes of sorrow never cease, 3.Two airy things forever denied the air! I never knew how their lives
Airy, and beautiful will forgive my guilt.

Line 8: The sand is being compared to gold, the colour. It is emphasizing how beautiful the setting was.
Line 12: This metaphor emphasizes the injuries that the birds sustained. The bones are compared
to jagged ivory, which is a direct contrast to the smooth feathers that existed before the injury.
Lines 20-21: The birds are compared to a flute, an instrument that plays beautiful music. This emphasizes
the sadness that is related to their death.
2. SIMILE
Line 5: The air and the flowers are being compared, both are blue.
Lines 6-7: This simile offers a beautiful visual image of the birds. Dreams are beautiful, and the birds are
compared to this.

Line 7: The speed of the birds is being highlighted, while also maintaining that beautiful visual
imagery.

3. PUN
The pun is between the words 'airy' and 'air'. 'Airy' means light and beautiful, while 'air' refers to the sky
and flying. The poet is lamenting that these light and beautiful things can no longer fly and feel the
pleasure of air rushing past them.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is nostalgia and guilt.
TONE
The tone of the poem is sad. The poet's response to his guilt is sadness.
THEMATIC CATEGORY
Death, childhood experiences, nature, guilt, loss of innocence, desire/dreams.

God's Grandeur - Literature Notes


The world is 7.charged with the 8.grandeur of God.
1.It will flame out, like shining from shook foil:
1.It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. 2.Why do men then now not reck 3.his rod?
4.Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
9.And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
5.And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
is bare now, 10.nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;


5.There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, 5.at the brown brink eastward, springs Because the 11.Holy Ghost over the bent
6.World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

2. RHETORICAL QUESTION
The persona questions why men do not care about God's wrath. He implies that this wrath is sure because
the Earth is charged, or commanded with the grandeur of God.
3. ALLUSION (biblical)
This 'rod' refers to the rod of correction that is found in the Christian Bible. See 2 Samuel 7:14. This line
implies that God will punish man for being reckless with the world.
4. REPETITION
This device highlights the damage that man has done to the world. Trodding implies that one walks, or
tramples, in order to crush or injure.
5. ALLITERATION

Lines 10-11: This device emphasizes the impact that man has had on his environment. He has
impacted every crevice of the world in some negative way, as implied by words such as 'smudge'.

Lines 14-15: This device clarifies that the Earth is resilient, no matter what man does to harm it, it
will bounce back.

Lines 18-19: This device simply re-iterates the resilience of the Earth, we can actually visualize
the sun rising.

6. PERSONIFICATION
When one broods, they are pondering on something. Therefore, the world ponders, but in a positive way,
with warm breasts. This implies that it feels good because it has persevered despite of man's interference.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is pensive because the persona is reflecting on man's influence on the world.
TONE
The tone of the poem is one of confidence and formality.
THEMATIC CATEGORY
Nature, religion

It is the Constant Image of your Face - Literature Notes


It is the 3.constant image of your face
framed in my hands as you knelt before my chair
the 4.grave attention of 1.your eyes
surveying me amid my 5.world of knives
that stays with me, 1.perennially accuses
and convicts me of 2.heart's-treachery:
and neither you nor I can plead excuses
for you, you know, can claim no loyalty my land takes precedence of all my loves.
Yet I beg mitigation, pleading guilty
for you, my dear, accomplice of my heart
made, without words, 6.such blackmail with your beauty
and proffered me such dear protectiveness
that I confess without remorse or shame
my still-fresh treason to1.my country

and hope that she, my other, dearest love


will pardon freely, not attaching blame
being your mistress (or your match) in tenderness.

LITERARY DEVICES
1. PERSONIFICATION

Lines 4, 6-7: The love interest's eyes constantly accuses and convicts the persona. This device
highlights the extent to which the persona has hurt this person.

Lines 18-20: The persona hopes that his country, his other dearest love, will forgive him for the
treasonous act of loving another. This highlights the patriotism that defines the persona's
relationship to his country.

2. OXYMORON
The term heart's-treachery implies that the heart, something so vital and indicative of love, has committed
a terrible crime. It highlights the heartbreak that the persona has caused his love interest.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about his two loves and how he is torn
between them.
TONE
The tone of the poem is sadness and guilt. The persona is guilt ridden over this love triangle and sadness
permeates the words that he uses to describe it.
THEMATIC CATEGORY
Love, guilt, patriotism, places, desires/ dreams

Le Loupgarou - Literature Notes


A 5.curious 1.tale that threaded through town
Through greying women sewing under eaves,
Was how his greed had brought old Le Brun down, 1.greeted by slowly shutting jalouses
When he approached them in 6.white linen-linen suit,
Pink glasses, cork hat and 2.tap-tapping cane,
3.A dying man licensed to sell sick fruit,
Ruined by fiends with whom he'd made a bargain.
It seems one night, these 4.Christian witches said,
He changed himself into an 7.Alsatian hound,
A slathering lycenthrope, hot on a scent,
1.But his own watchman dealt the thing a wound
Which howled and lugged its entrails, trailing wet
With blood back to its doorstep, almost dead.

LITERARY DEVICES
1. ALLITERATION

Lines 1-3: This alliteration gives the reader a visual imagery of the manner in which the gossip
about Le Brun spread. A thread is thin and fine and can weave itself in any crevice, sometimes in
a very non-linear and sinuous manner. This describes the way in which the gossip spread. It
managed to touch the whole village in an almost insiduous, and complete, manner.

Line 5: This literary device speaks to the results of the gossip. Le Brun is alienated from the
people of the town. Their fascination with him, however, is evident by the fact that they slowly
shut their jalouses/windows. The lack of speed implies that they are watching him, while also
alienating him.

Lines 17-21: This alliteration highlights the severity of the loupgarou's injuries. You can almost
see and hear the wetness of the blood, as well as see the entrails trailing wet through the use of
this device.

2. ONOMATOPOEIA
The tap-tapping cane is a part of Le Brun's physical description. He appears to stand out, in terms of his
physical appearance, down to the use of his cane.
3. PARADOX
This statement appears nonsensical at first, but actually makes sense in the long run. The loupgarou is, in
fact, a man who is leading a half life as man and beast, so he is not really 'living'. The fact that he can pass
on the 'gift' of becoming a werewolf clarifies the fact that Le Brun is actually 'licensed to sell sick fruit', or
pass on his sick 'gift'.
4. OXYMORON
The words 'Christian' and 'witches', placed together, emphasizes the dual nature of the women in the
village. They are good Christian women who mean no harm, but their fear of the 'difference' that they
sense in Le Brun (contributed by his mode of dress), leads them to react in an unchristian manner, like
witches, in dealing with him.
* IRONY
It is ironic that Le Brun's own watchman dealt him a lethal blow.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is reflective.
TONE
The tone of the poem is calm and reflective. The persona appears to be simply recounting a piece of
gossip.
THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Supernatural

Once Upon A Time - Literature Notes.


3.Once upon a time, son,
they used to laugh with their hearts
and laugh with their eyes;
but now 4.they only laugh with their teeth,
while 1.their ice-block eyes
5.search behind my shadow.
There was a time indeed
they used to 6.shake hands with their hearts;
but that's gone, son.
Now they shake hands without hearts
while their left 7.hands search
my empty pockets.
'Feel at home'! 'Come again' ;
they say, and when I come
again and feel
at home, once, twice
there will be no thrice for then I find doors shut on me.

So I have learnt many things, son.


2.I have learnt to wear many faces
like dresses - homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface
cocktail face, with all their 2.conforming smiles like a fixed portrait smile.
And I have learned, too.
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart
I have also learnt to say, 'Goodbye',
when I mean 'Good-riddance' ;
to say 'Glad to meet you',
without being glad; and to say 'It's been
nice talking to you', after being bored.
But believe me, son.
I want to be what I used to be
when I was like you. I want
8.unlearn all these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for 2.my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snake's bare fangs!
So show me, son,
how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
3.once upon a time when I was like you.

Stanza 6, lines 38-40 compares the persona's laugh to a snakes. When you think of a snake, words such as
sneaky and deceitful come to mind. Therefore, the implication is that the persona is fake, just like the
people he despises.
3. REPETITION
This phrase is repeated at the beginning and the end of the poem. This usually signals the beginning of a
fairy tale. Therefore, it is implied that the persona is nostalgic about the past.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is nostalgic. The persona is remembering how things used to be when he was
young and innocent, like his son.
TONE
The tone of the poem is sad. The poet's response to his nostalgia is sadness.
THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Death, childhood experiences, hypocrasy, loss of innocence, desire/dreams.
* It is IRONIC that the persona is behaving in the exact way that he despises. However, and there is an

implication that things cannot go back to what he remembers, due to the influence of societal
expectations.

Orchids - Literature Notes


I leave this house
3.box pieces of the five week life I've gathered.
I'll send them on
to fill spaces in my future life.
One thing is left
a spray of orchid someone gave
4.from bouquet one who
makes a ritual of flower-giving sent.
The orchids have no fragrance
but purple petals draw you
to look at the 2.purple heart.
I watered them once
when 1.the blossoms were full blown
like polished poems.
I was sure they'd wilt
and I would toss them out with the five week litter.

They were stubborn.


I starved them.
They would not die.
This morning the bud at the stalk's tip 5.unfurled.
I think I'll pluck the 6.full-blown blooms
press them between 7.pages of memory.
Perhaps in their thin dried transparency
I'll discover their 8.peculiar poetry.
2. PUN
The purple heart literally refers to the splash of color in the center of the orchid's bloom, but it could also
refer to the bravery of the flower. This is so because a purple heart, in the army, is a medal that a soldier
receives for bravery.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is thinking about the lack of value that she
places in the orchid.
TONE
The tone of the poem is one of almost bored musing.
THEMATIC CATEGORY
Death, nature, survival, desire/ dreams.

Sonnet Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802


Earth has not anything to show more 4.fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its 5.majesty:
1.This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples Lie
open upon the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
2.Never did sun more beautifully 6.steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
3.The river glideth at his own steep will:
Dear God! 4.the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

LITERAL MEANING
The persona in this poem is reflecting on the
perfection of the city. He believes that there is
nothing on Earth so beautiful as the city in the
morning. Only a dull person would not appreciate
such a majestic sight. He is awed by the calm of
the city.

LITERARY DEVICES
1. SIMILE
The persona compares the manner in which the beauty of the morning settles over the city, to that of a
garment on a body. This emphasizes the perfection of the beauty of the morning, just as a garment flows
smoothly over a body.

2. PERSONIFICATION

Lines 9-10: The sun is referred to as a male who rises sharply and beautifully. This emphasizes
the beauty of the city in the morning. The use of this personification also helps the reader to
personalize this beauty.

Line 12: Like the sun, the river is personalized as well. This allows the reader to see the river as
real, instead of a thing. It comes alive and we can visualize it's movement, gliding, as beautiful.

Line 13: When some-one is asleep, they are usually peaceful. Therefore, when the persona
describes the houses as sleeping, he is emphasizing the peace that exists in the city in the
morning. The inhabitants of the houses are asleep, therefore the houses are quiet and peaceful.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is expressing his thoughts, and
reaction to, the city in the morning.
TONE
The tone of the poem is one of awe.
THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Nature, places.

South - Literature Notes


1.But today I 4.recapture the islands
bright beaches: blue mist from the ocean
rolling into the fishermen's houses.
1.By these shores I was born: sound of the sea
came in at my window,2. life heaved and breathed in me then
with the strength of that turbulent soil.
5.Since then I have travelled: moved far from
the beaches:
6.sojourned in stoniest cities, walking the lands of the north
1.In sharp, slanting sleet and the hail,
crossed countless saltless savannas and come
to this house in the forest 2.where the shadows oppress me
and the only water is rain and the tepid taste
of the river.
7.We who are born of the ocean can never seek solace

in rivers: 3.their flowing runs on like our longing,


8.reproves us our lack of endeavour and purpose,
9.proves that our striving will founder on that.
We resent them this wisdom, this freedom: passing us
toiling, waiting and watching their cunning declensions down to the sea.
Bright waves splash up from the rocks to refresh us,
1.blue sea-shells shift in their wake
and 10.there is the thatch of the fishermen's houses, the path
made of pebbles, 11.and look!
Small urchins combing the beaches
look up from their traps to salute us:
they remember us just as we left them.
The fisherman, hawking the surf on this side
of the reef, stands up in his boat
and halloos us: a starfish lies in its pool.
1.And gulls, white sails slanted seaward,
fly into limitless morning before us.

Brathwaite, K. 'South' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education

Stanza 4, line 33: This device gives the reader a visual image of the scene. It is simple image that
highlights the persona's excitement at being home and seeing scenes, even seemingly
inconsequential ones, that he knows and loves.

Stanza 5, line 43: This alliteration gives the reader a visual of what the persona sees as pleasant
and calming, as opposed to the alliteration in stanza 2. The sound that the alliteration illicits is a
calm one, implying that the persona is at peace.

2.PERSONIFICATION

Stanza 1, lines 6-7: This device gives a beautiful impression of the effect that the island had on
the persona. He felt whole when he was there, at peace.

Stanza 2, lines 16-17: The shadows, in this context, represents his past life and experiences on the
island. The memories of his island illicits feelings of sadness, even homesickness. These
memories cast an oppressive shadow over his life in the north.

3.SIMILE
The persona compares the flowing of the rivers, which represents the north, to his longing for his island
home. This comparison indicates that his longing is an intense one, he is homesick.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about his island home, as well as places that
he has visited in the north.
TONE
The tone of the poem goes from being reflective, to being elated.

THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Patriotism, places, desires and dreams

Test Match Sabina Park - Literature Notes


Proudly wearing the 4.rosette of my skin
I 5.strut into Sabina
3.England boycotting excitement bravely,
6.something badly amiss.
Cricket. Not the game they play at Lords,
the crowd - 1.whoever saw a crowd
at a cricket match? - are caged
7.vociferous partisans, quick to take offence.
8.England sixty eight for none at lunch.
1.'What sort o battin dat man?
dem kaaan play cricket again,
praps dem should-a-borrow 2.Lawrence Rowe!'
And on it goes, 9.the wicket slow
as the batting and the crowd restless.
1.'Eh white bwoy, how you brudders dem
does sen we sleep so? Me a pay monies
fe watch dis foolishness? Cho!
So I try to explain in my Hampshire drawl
about conditions in Kent,
about 10.sticky wickets and muggy days
and the monsoon season in Manchester
but fail to convince even myself.
The crowd's 11.loud 'busin drives me out

12.skulking behind a tarnished rosette


somewhat frayed now but unable, quite,
to conceal a 13.blushing nationality.

Brown, S. 'Test Match Sabina Park' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pear

Stanza 3, line 10: This question represents the general frustration of the West Indians in the
crowd. They are annoyed that the cricket match is progressing so slowly.

Stanza 4, lines 16-18: These questions imply that the West Indian crowd's level of frustration has
escalated.

2. ALLUSION
The allusion to Lawrence Rowe, a very colourful and successful West Indian cricketer, emphasizes the
fact that the match is slow and boring.
3. SARCASM
To 'boycott' is to abstain from, or to stop, doing something. Therefore, the persona is being sarcastic
because excitement is a good thing. People usually boycott for something negative, therefore the persona
is, again, highlighting the slow and boring pace of the cricket match.
*There is a distinct CONTRAST between the beginning of the poem when the persona is proud, and
'struts'. However, by the end of the poem, he is embarrassed and 'skulking'
VOICES
There are two distinct voices in this poem. The English man's and the West Indian's.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is tense.
TONE
The tone of the poem is one of frustration (West Indian) and embarrassment (English man).
THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Discrimination, places, culture and sports

The Woman Speaks to the Man Who Has Employed Her Son
Her son was first known to her
as a sense of unease, 5.a need to cry
for little reasons and a metallic tide
rising in her mouth each morning.
Such signs made her know
that she was not alone in her body.
She carried him 6.full term
7.tight up under her heart.
1.She carried him like the poor
carry hope, hope you get a break
or a visa, hope one child go through
and remember you. He had no father.
The man she made him with had more
like him, 2.he was fair-minded
he treated all his children
with equal and unbiased indifference.
She raised him twice, once as mother
then as father, 8.set no ceiling
on what he could be doctor
earth healer, pilot take wings.
But now he tells her is working
for you, 3.that you value him so much
you give him one whole submachine gun
for him alone.
He says 1.you are like a father to him
she is wondering what kind of father
would 4.give a son hot and exploding

LITERAL MEANING
The persona in this poem is telling the story of
a mother who loved her son. The mother
became aware of the child's presence when she
experienced morning sickness. She placed all
her hopes in the child and raised him as a single
parent because his father was indifferent to the
child's existence. The mother had set no
barriers on what the child could become, but is
told that he has an employer who values him so
much that he is given his own submarine gun.
The son tells his mother that his employer is
like a father to him, but the mother wonders at
the father figure who purposefully endangers
his child. She prepares for her son's death by
going downtown to buy funeral apparel. The
mother feels powerless, so she prays for her
child and says protective psalms for him. On
the other hand, she reads psalms of retribution
for the employer and weeps for her son. Her
situation does not look good and is likened to a
partner system in which she draws both the first
and the last hand.

LITERARY DEVICES
1. SIMILE

death, when he asks him for bread.


She went downtown and bought three
and one-third yard of black cloth
and a deep crowned and veiled hat
for the day he draw 9.his bloody salary.
She has no power over you and this
at 10.the level of earth, what she has
are prayers and a mother's tears
and at 11.knee city she uses them.
4.She says psalms for him
she reads psalms for you
she weeps for his soul
her 12.eyewater covers you.
She is throwing a 13.partner
with 4.Judas Iscariot's mother
the thief on the left hand side
of the cross, his mother is the 14.banker, 15.her
draw though
is first and last for she still throwing two hands
as mother and father.
She is prepared, she is done.4.Absalom.

Lines 1-2: The persona emphasizes that


the mother placed all her hopes in her
son. When you are poor, generally, you
have no prospects, you only dream and
hope. Therefore, the persona uses this
metaphor to emphasize the mother's
dependence on her son's success.

Line 17: The employer is being


compared to a father figure. This
implies that this person fills a gap in
the son's life.

2. SARCASM
The persona appears to praise the child's father by referring to him as 'fair-minded'. She is, however,
chastising him for not only ignoring his son, but all of his other children.
3. IRONY (situational)
The son innocently tells his mother that his employer values him so much that he gave him a whole
submachine gun for himself. The irony in this situation is that if you really care about someone, you do
NOT give them a gun due to the negative results that are bound to occur.
4. ALLUSION (biblical)

Lines 28-29: This line alludes to a particular verse in the Christian Bible, Luke 11 vs 11. The
verse questions what the actions of a good father should be.

Lines 38-39: Psalms is a particular chapter in the Christian Bible. In this chapter there are verses
for protection, the mother uses those for her son, as well as verses for retribution and rebuking. It
is implied that the mother chooses those for the employer.

Lines 43-45: In the Christian Bible, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. Therefore, it does not bode well
for the mother if she is in a 'partnership' with this person's mother because she might also be
betrayed. The banker in the 'partnership' also happens to be the thief on the left hand side of the
cross' mother. This also does not bode well for the mother if the apple does not fall far from the
tree.

Line 49: Absalom is the son of David, in the Christian Bible. Absalom betrayed his father, which
implies that the mother feels betrayed by her son because she has placed all her hopes in him.

MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about a mother's response to her son's life
choices.
TONE The tone of the poem is pragmatic and pessimistic. The persona is telling the tale as it is, with no
positive energy.
THEMATIC CATEGORY
Death, love, survival, desires/ dreams, childhood experiences.

Theme For English B - Literature Notes


The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you Then it will be true.
1.I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in WinstonSalem.
3.I went to school there, then Durham, then
here to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in the class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:
It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, 2.I hear you:
hear you, hear me - we too - you, me, talk on
this page.
(I hear New York, too.) 1.Me - who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,

LITERAL MEANING
The persona's lecturer gave him an assignment
to write a page that reflects 'him', or his
character. The persona wonders if this is a
simple task, and begins to think about his life.
Things like his age, place of birth, race and
place of residence. Based on these musings, he
surmises that he is confused due to his youth.
He guesses that he is what he feels, sees and
hears, which is Harlem, New York. He
continues his musing about what he likes, and
concludes that he likes the same things that
people of other races like. On this basis, he
questions whether or not his page will be
influenced by race. He concludes that it will not
be white. He admits that his instructor, as well
as the fact that this instructor is white, will have
some influence on his page. He states that they
both influence each other, that is what being
American is about. He believes that both of
them might not want to influence each other,
but it cannot be helped. He concludes that both
of them will learn from each other, despite the
fact that the instructor has the advantage of
being older, white and 'more free'. All of these
musings and conclusions become his page for

English B.
or records - Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me not
like the same things other folks like who are
other races.
1.So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
4.But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part
of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
5.As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me although you're older - and white and somewhat more free.

LITERARY DEVICES
1.RHETORICAL QUESTION

Stanza 2, line 6: The persona ponders


the ease of what he is asked to do. This
question, in turn, actually highlights the
difficult nature of the task.

Stanza 3, line24: This question


highlights the persona's confusion as to
who he is, or his character. He is
unsure.

Stanza 4, line 32: The persona is


wondering whether his race will affect
what he writes on the page. This is
despite the fact that he concludes that
race does not hinder people, in general,
liking the same things.

This is my page for English B.

2. REPETITION
This repetition emphasizes the profound impact that Harlem, New York, has had on the personality of the
persona.
* It is interesting to note that the persona's 'page for English B' becomes a journey of self discovery that
actually does not end. He forms no conclusion as to who he is because his personality is still 'in process'
MOOD/ ATMOSPHEREThe mood of the poem is reflective.
TONE
The tone of the poem is also reflective.
THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Racism, places

West Indies, U.S.A - Literature Notes


Cruising at thirty thousand feet above the endless
green 1.the island seems like dice tossed on a
casino's baize, some come up lucky, others not.
Puerto Rico takes the pot, 2.the Dallas of the West
Indies, 2.silver linings on the clouds as we descend
are hall-marked, 1.San Juan glitters like a
maverick's gold ring.
All across the Caribbean we'd
collected terminals - 1.airports are like calling
cards, cultural fingerprints; the hand written signs
at Port-au-Prince, Piarco's sleazy tourist art, the
lethargic contempt of the baggage boys at 'Vere
Bird' in St. Johns ....
And now for 4.plush San Juan.
But the pilot's bland you're
safe in my hands drawl crackles as we land, 'US
regulations demand all passengers not
disembarking at San Juan stay on the plane, I
repeat, stay on the plane.' 3.Subtle Uncle Sam,
afraid too many 5.desperate blacks might reenslave this Island of the free, might jump the
barbed
electric fence around
6.'America's back yard' and claim that vaunted
sanctuary ..... 3. 'give me your poor .....' Through

LITERAL MEANING
The persona is travelling in a plane, looking down
at San Juan, Puerto Rico, as the plane descends. He
is saying that this island is the wealthiest in the
Caribbean because it has won the jackpot, it has
come up lucky. He then points out that he, and
others, had travelled to many Caribbean islands
and received a hint of the flavour of each island
through it's calling card, - its airport - all of which
fail when compared to plush San Juan. As they
land, they are instructed to stay on the plane if their
destination is not San Juan. The persona takes
offence and states that America does not want
blacks in San Juan, implying that they might be a
disruptive force. He notes the efficiency with
which things flow, enabling them to take to the
skies once more. During the ascent, the persona
notes the contrast between the influences of the
Caribbean and America. He likens San-Juan to a
broken TV, it Iooks good on the outside, but
broken on the inside.

LITERARY DEVICES
1. SIMILE

toughened, tinted glass 7.the contrasts tantalise;


US patrol cars glide across the shimmering tarmac,
containered baggage trucks unload with 8.fierce
efficiency. So soon we're climbing,
low above the pulsing city
streets; galvanized shanties overseen by
condominiums polished Cadillacs shimmying with
pushcarts and as we climb, San-Juan's 9.foolsglitter calls to mind the shattered innards of a TV
set that's fallen off the back of a lorry, all painted
valves and circuits 1.the road like twisted wires,
the bright cars, micro-chips.
10.It's sharp and jagged and dangerous, and
belonged to some-one else.

Line 2: Puerto Rico is compared to dice


that is tossed on a casino's baize, it can
either come up with winning numbers, or
losing numbers. Puerto Rico comes up
with winning numbers in the game of
chance, as reflected in its wealthy exterior,
which is supported by America.

Lines 7-8: San Juan's glitter is compared to a maverick's gold ring. The word maverick implies
non-conformist, an individualist. This implies that San Juan, Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean, but
not a part of the Caribbean. It belongs to America.

Lines 10-11: Airports are compared to calling cards. This means that, like a calling card, the
quality of the airport gives you an idea of the island's economic status. The airport is also
compared to a cultural fingerprint. A fingerprint is an individual thing, therefore the airport gives
the traveler an idea of the island's cultural landscape.

Line 39: The road is compared to twisted wires. This means that the roads, from above, look both
plentiful and curvy. This does not carry a positive connotation, but implies confusion.

2. ALLUSION Line 5: Dallas is an oil rich state in America. Therefore, many of its inhabitants are
wealthy, and the state itself, is wealthy. By stating that San Juan is the Dallas of the West Indies, it implies
that it is a wealthy island in the West Indies.

Lines 5-7: An allusion is being made to the well known cliche; 'every cloud has a silver lining'. It
means that behind everything that is seemingly bad, there is good. In the context of this poem, it
means that the good, the silver lining, has a mark, or stamp, that authenticates its good quality; it
is hallmarked. This implies that it will always have its silver lining showing.

3. SARCASM Line 20: This statement means the exact opposite of what is stated. The persona is
disgusted that Uncle Sam (America) would have such a regulation. This regulation bars anyone from
stepping a toe on Puerto Rican soil, if it is not your intended destination. You just have to remain in the air
craft, no matter the waiting period, until it is time for takeoff. The persona believes that the Americans are
being blatantly discriminatory, and are attempting to camouflage it through the use of regulations. He
does not believe that they have achieved their goal of subtlety.

Line 26: The persona implies that America is all talk and no action. They really do not want the
poor because they bar them from entering and expediently sends them on their way when they
enter their airport. The statement is sarcastic because it is loaded with an alternate meaning, due
to the contrast in statement and action.

CONTRAST
The contrast in this poem is found in stanza 5. The American cars etc, against the pushcarts. The
American culture versus the Puerto Rican culture.
MOOD/ ATMOSPHERE
The mood of the poem is sarcastic.
TONE
The tone of the poem is slightly bitter, which is fueled by the sarcastic atmosphere.
THEMATIC CATEGORIZATION
Discrimination, oppression, places, culture.

Ballad of Birmingham - Literature Notes


'Mother dear, may I go downtown
instead of out to play,
1.and march the streets of Birmingham
in a freedom march today?
1.'No, baby, no, you may not go,
for the dogs are fierce and wild,
and clubs and hoses, guns and jails
ain't good for a little child.'
'But mother, I won't be alone.
Other children will go with me,
1.and march the streets of Birmingham
to make our country free.'
1.'No baby, no, you may not go,
for I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead,
and sing in the children's choir.'
She has combed and brushed 2. her night dark hair, and 2. bathed rose petal sweet,
and drawn white gloves on her small brown hands, and white shoes on her feet.
The mother smiled to know her child
was in the sacred place,

but that smile was the last smile


to come upon her face.
For when she heard the explosion,
her eyes grew 4.wet and wild.
She 5.raced through the streets of Birmingham
calling for her child.
She 6. clawed through bits of glass and brick,
then lifted out a shoe.
'O, here's the shoe my baby wore,
but, baby, where are you?

3. IRONY (situational)
The overwhelming irony that exists in this poem is the fact that the mother was so adamant about NOT
sending her child to the freedom march, because she considered it to be so dangerous. Yet it is while in
church, the place that she thought was sacred and safe, that the child got killed.
THEME
Death is the overwhelming theme in this poem. A mother's over protectiveness does not, and seemingly
cannot, prevent this tragic event from occurring.

The Lynching - Literature Notes


His spirit in smoke ascended to high heaven.
1.His father, by the cruellest way of pain,
Had bidden him to his bosom once again;
The 3.awful sin remained still unforgiven.
1.All night a bright and solitary star
(Perchance the one that ever guided him,
Yet gave him up at last to Fate's wild whim)
Hung pitifully o'er the swinging 4.char.
Day dawned, and soon the 5.mixed crowds came to view
The 6.ghastly body swaying in the sun:
The women thronged to look, but never a one
2.Showed sorrow in her eyes of 7.steely blue;
And little lads, lynchers that were to be,
Danced round the dreadful thing in 8.fiendish glee.
Claude McKay, A World of Poetry (2005)
2. ALLITERATION / METAPHOR

The alliteration serves the purpose of drawing the readers' eye to this particular passage in the
poem. This line also doubles as a metaphor. In this case, the metaphor tells the reader that the
woman is white, because blue eyes are a feature of the Caucasian race. It also highlights the level
of racism in the society. This is the case because if women, who are suppose to be nurturing and
caring, show steel (unfeeling, clinical) in their eyes, then it is an echo of the views of the society.

THEME
Racism
The poem confronts a time in history when Black people were not viewed as human. On this premise,
they could be lynched without it causing a ripple in the moral fiber of their society. The fact that women
and children could view the charred remains with little or no feeling speaks volumes about the extent to
which racist values were entrenched in the society.