In both poems the tone and mood is very different, in Nothing Changed, there is a very tense atmosphere, unlike in Island Man, where everything is very calm. I think that in Nothing’s Changed, a very tense atmosphere has been built up because of the huge amount of emotive and powerful language, which all build anger and rage, making you very tense, as you have no idea if the man will do something very irrational and unexpected. I feel one way the poet builds tension could be the use of repetition, as the words “and the” are repeated. The third time the words are repeated the poet says “hot, white, inwards turning anger of my eyes.”
This shows he is extremely angry, and it is also using imagery, giving you a picture of how angry he truly is. Also, the repeated words make you read faster. Another way in which the poet may have built tension is the use of words such as “brash” and “burn.” I think that words such as these sound harsh, and could even show pain, which makes the man seem even angrier, building even more tension. I think that the calm and relaxed atmosphere in Island Man may have been built up because of the use of words which show beauty or calmness such as “blue surf.” Waves sound very calming and relaxing, which is how the island man feels when he is at his home. Another example of these calming words is “wild seabirds,” when you think of seabirds, you might picture a beautiful coast, where you feel calm and relaxed.
In both poems the amount of the use of structure and form is very different, I think that in Island Man, there is lots of added effect because of the amount of use of structure and form, however, in Nothing’s Changed I feel there is much less use. The main use of structure and form in Nothing’s Changed is the fact that the last words of the poem, “Nothing’s changed” are exactly the same as the title. I think that the poet may have done this to show that it is a cycle, and that the start, where nothing has changed, is the same as the end. This could show that he feels that nothing will ever change, and there is one cycle, and that he could have given up hope of anything changing. Another example of using the structure of the poem to add effect is when the fourth stanza is broken up into two stanzas; one with two lines and one with six lines, all of the other stanzas all have eight lines.
I feel that this could be because the last line of the stanza with two lines says “but we know where we belong,” I feel that this is showing there is nothing more to it, it will always be like that, and nothing he says will change it. This could be another sign that the poet has given up hope, and feels that nothing will ever change. In Island Man, there is a lot more use of structure and form, an example of this is the same as in Nothing’s Changed, the poem is a cycle. There is no punctuation in the poem, so it never stops, this could be the poet saying that the Island man’s life in London is just one big boring cycle. Another reason I think the poem is a cycle are the last words, “another London say.” This may be showing every London day is the same, and this is just another, I think this could be reinforced with words such as “dull” and “grey” which give a impression of something that is boring.
Another example is the space between the words “he always comes back” and “groggily groggily.” I think this gap could be there as it is the space between his dream and reality, and also, asleep and awake. The final example of the use of structure and form is when you turn the poem on its side, the poem can be interpreted as many pictures, this could be a coincidence, or the poet may have done this on purpose. One of these pictures is waves breaking, which is another reminder of how much the island man longs to be back at home. The other is a picture of a city, such as London, which could be showing that no matter where the Island Man looks, he always sees London.
In both poems there is lots of imagery which is achieved through the use of lots of metaphors, similes, and personification; one example of a metaphor in Island Man is “Emerald Island.” I think that the poet could have called the island an emerald as he feels is it extremely precious, and even priceless. The word emerald makes you think of expensive jewels, however, I think the word emerald was not used here in a material sense, but rather, the poet is saying that the island man’s home is as valuable as an emerald, and that it is not worth money, but it is worth happiness. Another example of a metaphor is “crumpled pillow waves,” however, this is also personification. I think the poet could be showing how much the island man misses his home in that even when he is awake, everything reminds him of his home, in this case, the creases in the pillow case reminding him of the waves of the sea.
The personification in this phrase is that the pillow is actually waving goodbye to him, I think that this personification/metaphor is linked, and that it is not the pillow waving goodbye to him, but rather the waves of the sea at his home, so his home is waving goodbye. Another example of personification in Island Man is “sun surfacing defiantly,” I think by this the poet could mean that at the island man’s home, the sun would surface regardless of what he wanted, and now that he is in London, he misses it and wants it back. I feel that what he used to take for granted he now misses even more, and is angry that he never took the time to appreciate the sun. There are also many uses of personification in Nothing’s Changed; one example is “seeding grasses thrust bearded seeds.” In this one phrase there is a metaphor and two sets of personification.
The first example of personification is “seeding grasses thrust,” this could be the poet showing that after he left his home he is not welcome, as he left the black people, and even the grass does not want him here. The second set of personification is also a metaphor, “bearded seeds.” The metaphor is that the seeds have beards; this is also personification, as only people grow beards. I think that by the phrase, the poet may mean that the seeds are neglected just like the rest of the town, and just as if people do not shave, and neglect the hair, they grow a beard, the seeds have grown a beard too. This is again, referring to the theme of the town being neglected, and no one caring about it.
Another use of personification in Nothing’s Changed is “amiable weeds.” I think that this might be the poet saying that the weeds are a little bit like the black people, they may not look nice, and you do not think they are, however, they are actually friendly nice people, and people should look past how they look. The final use of personification in Nothing’s Changed is “it squats.” I think this may be the poet saying that white people are sometime stupid too, as squatting is the primal position, and their fancy restaurant is squatting.
In Nothing’s Changed there is a lot of diction used, in the form of alliteration and assonance, however, in island man, there is very little. One example of a use of assonance in Nothing’s Changed is “seeding grasses thrust bearded seeds.” I think the poet may have used this assonance of the s sound, as it sounds very aggressive, making you tense, and helping you to feel his anger and rage. Also, the s sound sounds a lot like a snake hissing. A Snake usually hisses when it is ready to attack, just as the man is ready to attack the white people. Another example of diction in the poem is in the form of alliteration, “flaring like a flag.”
I think that the poet might have used this alliteration to show how much the name is “in your face.” The repeated f gives the line more impact, and helps you feel how the black man feels having to see the sign, but not being able to go in. The final piece of assonance in the poem is this time in the form of onomatopoeia, in the word “crushed.” I think that the word is used as it sounds how the black man feels. It gives much more impact reading the word aloud, as crushed is just a word, but when you hear the sound also, it gives double the impact. There is one example of diction in Island Man, in the phrase “sun surfacing,” this gives the line more impact, and the s sound sounds like the waves below.
After reading both poems several times, I feel I know the poets messages/morals. I think that Nothing’s Changed has been written, to oppose stereotypes towards black people, however, I feel that it could be a last desperate attempt, and that the poet may be very close to giving up hope. I think that the poet may be giving up hope as in the poem he says “but we know where we belong.” This phrase is said in a sad context, and it makes you feel that the poet has given up hope.
I agree with the poet in that black people are treated extremely unfairly in some places, and that it must stop, I think this as I feel that it is wrong to treat people differently because of their skin colour, and that it is unjust, and should never happen. It is my opinion that almost everything in the poem is a fair statement, and that the poet has tried to put an end to something which is very unfair, and he is a very brave person to try to end racism and stereotypes against black people. On the other hand, I disagree with the poet in one respect, as I think that in the phrase “hands burn for a stone, a bomb,” it is unfair to want to hurt all white people.
I feel that not all white people are racist to black people, and to want a bomb is very unfair. On the other hand, wanting a stone, to break the metaphoric barrier between black and white people is very fair. I think that the poem is being used to change people’s ideas about black people, and give them a better idea of how black people really are, and that they are not stupid animals, but people just the same as white people, who also have feelings. The poem has made me consider the fact that there is not racial equality in some parts of the world, and that I should always do what I can to work towards a fairer world. I think that Island Man’s message is also to get rid of stereotypes, in this instance about London. Many people from other countries may think that London is the place of dreams, where you can earn vast amounts of money, and then relax at home, and go out and do one of the plentiful leisure activities you can do in London; however, this is not the case.
The poet could be saying that you will face many problems at first, and will have to work very hard, and that once you leave home, you miss it, and will regret not appreciating it. I think that there could also be another message from the poet, which is that you should appreciate everything about your home, as some people, who are not there anymore, as you may not be at some time in the future, and they miss home dearly. I agree with the poet that you should always appreciate your home, and that it is true that some people move as they want more money, however, money does not necessarily mean happiness. It is my opinion that the poet is also right in saying you should always value your home, as when you are there, you do not, however, when you are not there anymore, you wish you had appreciated it more.
One aspect of the poem I disagree with is that the island man is saying that life in London is always the same, and that nothing fun ever happens, as I feel sometimes the man must have fun, even if it is on rare occasions, and that the poet could be being slightly pessimistic. I believe that the poem is being used for a very different reason to Nothing’s Changed, and that it is written to show people from other countries that London isn’t the same as they think it is, and to think twice before emigrating there. Also, the poet could be saying that you should not rush into moving for the sake of something as petty as money and that before you do, make sure you know that it is definitely what you want to do. The poem has made me consider the fact that there are people in the world who are unhappy with where they are as they made a rash decision, and that before I ever make a big decision, think it through properly, considering the negative aspects as well.