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A Contemplation Upon Flowers - Literature Notes

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

And be as little vain! LITERAL MEANING
You come abroad, and make a harmless show, The persona wishes that he could be as brave as
And to your beds of earth again. the flowers, who are aware of their allegiance to
You are not proud: you know your birth: the earth. They know their place and obey the
For your embroider'd garments are from earth. order, or cycle, of life and death. The persona
wishes that he could be this way because he is the
You do obey your months and times, but I opposite, he wants to live forever. The persona
Would have it ever Spring: wants the flowers to teach him NOT to fear death,
My fate would know no Winter, never die, but to accept it.
Nor think of such a thing.
O that I could my bed of earth but view LITERARY DEVICES
And smile, and look as cheerfully as you! 1. SIMILE
O teach me to see Death and not to fear,
 Stanza 1, line: The persona is wishing that
But rather to take truce!
he could be as brave as the flower. This
How often have I seen you at a bier,
implies that the persona does not think
And there look fresh and spruce!
that he is brave, but a coward in the face
You fragrant flowers! then teach me, that my
of death.
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.
This phrase is a replacement for the word death. It softens death and makes it appear welcoming and
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.

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.

The tone of the poem is admiration, because the persona literally admires the flowers for its accepting
attitude towards death.

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.
Death, nature,
O'l Higue - Literature Notes

You think I like this stupidness! - LITERAL MEANING

gallivanting all night without skin, In this poem, the Ol' Higue / soucouyant tells
burning myself out like cane-fire of her frustration with her lifestyle. She does
to frighten the foolish? not like the fact that she sometimes has to
And for what? A few drops of baby blood?
You think I wouldn't rather
parade around, in the form of a fireball,
take my blood seasoned in fat without her skin at night. She explains that she
black-pudding, like everyone else? has to do this in order to scare people, as well
And don't even talk 'bout the pain of salt as to acquire baby blood. She explains that she
and having to bend these old bones down would rather acquire this blood via cooked
to count a thousand grains of rice! food, like every-one else. Her worst complaint
is the pain of salt, as well as having to count
If only babies didn't smell so nice! rice grains. She exhibits some regret for her
And if I could only stop lifestyle but implies that she cannot resist a
hearing the soft, soft call
of that pure blood running in new veins,
baby's smell, as well as it's pure blood. The
singing the sweet song of life 'newness' of the baby tempts the Ol' Higue, and
tempting an old, dry-up woman who been she cannot resist because she is an old woman
holding her final note for years and years, who fears death, which can only be avoided by
afraid of the dying hum ... consuming the baby's blood. She affirms her
usefulness in the scheme of things, however,
Then again, if I didn't fly and come by claiming that she provides mothers with a
to that fresh pulse in the middle of the night, name for their fears (this being the death of a
2.how would you, mother, child), as well as some-one to blame when the
name your ancient dread?
And who to blame
evil that they wish for their child, in moments
for the murder inside your head ...? of tired frustration, is realized. She implies that
Believe me - she will never die, so long as women keep
As long as it have women giving birth having babies.
a poor ol' higue like me can never dead.

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.


 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
 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.

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.

This device emphasizes the Ol' Higue's dependence, even addiction, to the sweet blood of the baby.

The mood of the poem is reflective.

The tone of the poem is slightly bitter and resigned. She accepts that the cycle of her life cannot change.

A Stone's Throw - Literature Notes

We shouted out A crowd has caught a woman. The persona
'We've got her! Here she is! implies to the reader that the woman is not
It's her all right '. decent. She was beautiful, but scared because
We caught her. she had gotten 'roughed up' a little by the
There she was - crowd. The persona states that the woman has
experienced men's hands on her body before,
A decent-looking woman, you'd have said, but this crowd's hands were virtuous.
(They often are) He also makes a proviso that if this crowd
Beautiful, but dead scared, bruises her, it cannot be compared to what she
Tousled - we roughed her up has experienced before. The persona also
A little, nothing much speaks about a last assault and battery to come.
He justifies this last assault by calling it
And not the first time justice, and it is justice that feels not only right,
By any means but good. The crowd's 'justice' is placed on
She'd felt men's hands hold by the interruption of a preacher, who
Greedy over her body – stops to talk to the lady. He squats on the
But ours were virtuous, ground and writes something that the crowd
Of course. cannot see. Essentially, the preacher judges
them, thereby allowing the lady to also judge
And if our fingers bruised the crowd, leading to the crowd inevitably
Her shuddering skin, judging itself. The crowd walks away from the
These were love-bites, compared lady, still holding stones [which can be seen as
To the hail of kisses of stone, a metaphor for judgments] that can be thrown
The last assault another day.
And battery, frigid rape,
To come
Of right.
For justice must be done 1. SARCASM
Specially when The persona is making the point that the lady
It tastes so good. was in fact NOT decent looking.

And then - this guru, 2. PERSONIFICATION

Preacher, God-merchant, God-knows-what - This device is particularly effective because
Spoilt the whole thing, the word 'kisses' is used. Kiss implies
Speaking to her something pleasant, but it is actually utilized to
(Should never speak to them) emphasize something painful that has
Squatting on the ground - her level, happened to the lady; she was stoned.
Writing in the dust
Something we couldn't read. 3. PUN
And saw in her
Something we couldn't see  Title: The title of the poem is itself a
At least until pun on two levels. A stone's throw is
He turned his eyes on us, used by many people in the Caribbean
Her eyes on us, to describe a close distance. eg. "She
Our eyes upon ourselves. lives a stone's throw away". The other
use of the title is to highlight the
We walked away content of the poem. It is a figurative
Still holding stones stoning, or judging, of a woman.
That we may throw
Another day
Given the urge.

 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

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.

The tone of the poem is mixed. At times it is almost braggadocious, then it becomes sarcastic, moving to

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. LITERAL MEANING
I'm no woodchopper now The poem is about a black boy who wishes that he
like all ancestor's. could have regular things in life. Things such as
a congratulatory hug, to be educated to the highest
I wish I could be educated level and to travel without harassment. The
to the best of tune up, and earn persona yearns to stop fighting for the basic right
good money and not sink to lick to be successful and to rise above societal
boots .I wish I could go on every expectations.
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 1. REPETITION:
opposing. Wish same way creation The constant repetition of the phrase 'I wish'
would have me stand it would have me stretch, points to a yearning, a desperation even, for the
and hold high, my voice basic things that life has to offer.
Paul Robeson's, my inside eye The repetition gives credence to the idea that the
a sun. Nobody wants to say persona might believe that his wishes are actually
hello to nasty answers. dreams that might not come true.

.I wish torch throwers of night 2. ALLUSION:

would burn lights for decent times.
Wish plotters in pyjamas would pray  Stanza 1, lines 6 and 7, alludes to slavery,
for themselves. Wish people wouldn't the state of lacking control over one's own
talk as if I dropped from Mars life and destiny. The fact that reference is
made to this hints to how the persona feels
I wish only boys were scared about his life. He does not feel as if he has
behind bravados, for I could suffer. control over it.
I could suffer a big big lot.
I wish nobody would want to earn
the terrible burden I can suffer.

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.
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.

Racism, survival, oppression, desire/dreams.
Dulce et Decorum Est - Literature Notes

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks LITERAL MEANING

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we Wilfred Owen, the poet, tells of his first hand
cursed through sludge, experience in war. He tells the tale of tired and
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs wounded soldiers walking through dirt and
And towards our distant rest began to trudge. sludge. Suddenly, there is a warning about gas,
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots which the soldiers hurriedly
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all and awkwardly heed by donning their helmets.
blind; Unfortunately, one soldier is too late in
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots donning the helmet and his companions watch
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped him 'drowning' in the gas. The unfortunate
behind. soldier was thrown in the back of a wagon,
where it is implied that he was left to die. The
Gas! Gas! Quick boys! - An ecstasy of persona points out that if you (the reader/
fumbling, listener) could have witnessed these events,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; then you would not tell children the old lie:
But someone still was yelling out and dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (It is
stumbling, sweet and honourable to die for one's
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime ... country).
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 1.SIMILE
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
 Stanza 1, line 1: This simile introduces
He plunges at me, guttering, choking,
the exhaustion of the soldiers.
 Stanza 1, line 2: This emphasizes not
only the tiredness of the soldiers, but
If in some smothering dreams you too could
the fact that they might be sick as well.
 Stanza 2, line 19: This device gives a
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
visual image of how the soldier
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
physically reacted to the gas.
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
Floundering implies flopping about,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
therefore, the soldier was flopping
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
about violently. We know it was
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
violent because fire and lime illicit
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
excruciating pain.
My friend, you would not tell with such a high
 Stanza 4, line 39: This device gives a
visual image of the expression on the
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
soldier's face. This is a particularly
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
grotesque image that highlights the
Pro patria mori.
soldier in the throes of death.

 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.


 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.

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona/ poet is thinking about his experiences in WW1.

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.

War, death, survival, oppression, patriotism
Epitaph - Literature Notes

They hanged him on a 4. clement morning, 5.

between the falling sunlight and the women's The poem is an epitaph to a slave that was
breathing, 1.like a black apostrophe to pain. hung in the past. The first stanza explains that
All morning while the children 2.hushed the nameless slave was hung in the morning,
their hopscotch joy and 6.the cane kept and while some respect was paid to his
growing memory, in the form of the children's actions,
3.he hung there sweet and low. life essentially went on. In stanza two, the
At least that's how persona makes it clear that this slave's death
they tell it. It was long ago has little relevance in the present, except as a
and 7.what can we recall of a dead slave or two passing memory when islanders think about
except when we 8.punctuate our island tale what has influenced their lives up to the
1.they swing like sighs across 9.the brutal present.
sentences, and 10.anger pauses
till they pass away.


 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.
This metaphor emphasizes the fun that the children paused, out of respect for the swinging body
of the dead slave.

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.

The mood of the poem is reflective

The tone of the poem is reflective and slightly sarcastic.

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, LITERAL MEANING
I lay in the 1.frost flowers with a gun, An adult is reminiscing about a traumatic
2.the air ran blue as the flowers; I held my breath, childhood experience. The persona went hunting
2.two birds on golden legs slim as dream and shot two birds, plovers. He suffers extreme
things 2.ran like quick silver on the 1.golden sand, guilt about this action in adulthood. The poem
my gun went off, they ran with broken wings into describes the event, the actions of the bird, how he
the sea, I ran to fetch them in, but they swam with reacts, and, by the last line, asks the birds to
their heads high out to sea, They cried like two forgive his guilt.
sorrowful high flutes,
With 1.jagged ivory bones where wings should
be. For days I heard them when I walked that
headland, crying out to their kind 4.in the LITERARY DEVICES
blue, The other plovers were going over south on 1.METAPHOR
silver wings leaving these broken two. The cries
went out one day; but I still hear them over all the
 Line 4: The nature of frost is that it covers
sounds of sorrow 5.in war or peace I ever have
everything in its path, therefore, when the
heard, time cannot 6.drown them, 1.Those slender
flowers are compared to frost, it implies
flutes of sorrow never cease, 3.Two airy things
that there were a lot of flowers, enough to
forever denied the air! I never knew how their
hide the boy from the birds.
lives at last were split, but I have hoped for years
all that is wild,
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.


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

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.

The mood of the poem is nostalgia and guilt.

The tone of the poem is sad. The poet's response to his guilt is sadness.

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 LITERAL MEANING
God. The poet expresses that the world is full of
1.It will flame out, like shining from shook God's glory and greatness. This greatness,
foil: however, will burn out in a dramatic
1.It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil manner because of man who smears, smudges
Crushed. 2.Why do men then now not reck and pollutes everything without consciousness.
3.his rod? Nature is resilient, however, and will persevere
4.Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; from deep in the earth and burst forth,
9.And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared counteracting all of man's ill.
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. LITERARY DEVICES
And for all this, nature is never spent;
5.There lives the dearest freshness deep down
 Line 3: This line indicates that the
world will burn out in a brilliant way.
And though the last lights off the black West
Think of how shiny and reflective foil
can be, that is the brilliance with which
Oh, morning, 5.at the brown brink eastward,
the earth will temporarily burn out.
springs -
 Line 4: Think of the manner in which
Because the 11.Holy Ghost over the bent
oil slowly spreads across water,
6.World broods with warm breast and with ah!
eventually taking over as much of the
bright wings.
surface as possible. That is the way in
which the world gathers to a greatness.

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.

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.


 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.

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.

The mood of the poem is pensive because the persona is reflecting on man's influence on the world.

The tone of the poem is one of confidence and formality.

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
the 4.grave attention of 1.your eyes
surveying me amid my 5.world of knives
The persona reflects on the image of some-one
that stays with me, 1.perennially accuses
he cares for. This love interest accused him,
and convicts me of 2.heart's-treachery:
with their eyes, of breaking their heart. The
and neither you nor I can plead excuses
persona admits that both of them (he and the
for you, you know, can claim no loyalty -
love interest) can make no excuses for his
my land takes precedence of all my loves.
behaviour because the love interest does not
take precedence over his land, or country.
Yet I beg mitigation, pleading guilty
Despite this fact, the persona begs for mercy,
for you, my dear, accomplice of my heart
pleading guilty for being seduced by his love
made, without words, 6.such blackmail with
interest's beauty. This person protects him
your beauty
dearly and he admits that, as a result of this, he
and proffered me such dear protectiveness
has committed treason against his country. He
that I confess without remorse or shame
hopes that his country, his other dearest love,
my still-fresh treason to1.my country
will pardon him because he loves both his
and hope that she, my other, dearest love
country and his love interest.
will pardon freely, not attaching blame
being your mistress (or your match) in


 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.

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.

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about his two loves and how he is torn
between them.
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.

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,
This poem tells the tale of old LeBrun, a man
Pink glasses, cork hat and 2.tap-tapping cane,
that was rumoured by the townspeople to be a
3.A dying man licensed to sell sick fruit,
loupgarou. Old women would relax under
Ruined by fiends with whom he'd made a
eaves and gossip about Le Brun, while literally
shutting him out of their lives with their
It seems one night, these 4.Christian witches
closing windows. The prevailing gossip, in this
poem, is that he transformed into a hound one
He changed himself into an 7.Alsatian hound,
night, but was dealt a wound by his own
A slathering lycenthrope, hot on a scent,
watchman. He then lugged his entrails back to
1.But his own watchman dealt the thing a
his doorstep, almost dead.
Which howled and lugged its entrails, trailing
With blood back to its doorstep, almost dead.


 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.

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.

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'.
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.

It is ironic that Le Brun's own watchman dealt him a lethal blow.

The mood of the poem is reflective.

The tone of the poem is calm and reflective. The persona appears to be simply recounting a piece of

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 LITERAL MEANING
5.search behind my shadow. A father is talking to his son and telling him how
things used to be. The father tells his son that
There was a time indeed people used to be sincere, but are now superficial
they used to 6.shake hands with their hearts; and seek only to take from others. The persona
but that's gone, son. tells his son that he has learnt to be just like these
Now they shake hands without hearts people, but he does not want to be. He wants to be
while their left 7.hands search as sincere as his son.
my empty pockets.

'Feel at home'! 'Come again' ;

they say, and when I come LITERARY DEVICES
again and feel 1. METAPHOR
at home, once, twice The people's eyes are as cold as ice. This means
there will be no thrice - that there is no warmth or real feeling in the words
for then I find doors shut on me. that they say, or how they behave.This metaphor
literally allows you to visualize a block of ice,
So I have learnt many things, son. cold and unwelcoming.
2.I have learnt to wear many faces
like dresses - homeface, 2. SIMILE
officeface, streetface, hostface
cocktail face, with all their 2.conforming  Stanza 4, lines 20-21 emphasizes the
smiles like a fixed portrait smile. constant changes in the persona's face. If
you think of how often a woman changes
And I have learned, too. her dress, then that is how often the
to laugh with only my teeth persona adjusts his personality to suit the
and shake hands without my heart people around him. The list of faces that
I have also learnt to say, 'Goodbye', follow this line emphasizes this point.
when I mean 'Good-riddance' ;  Stanza 4, lines 23-24 compares people's
to say 'Glad to meet you', faces to smiles in a portrait. If you think
without being glad; and to say 'It's been about a portrait, it is usually very formal
nice talking to you', after being bored. and stiff, even uncomfortable. Therefore,
the implication is that the smiles are
But believe me, son. actually fake and stiff. They are
I want to be what I used to be conforming, or trying to fit, to a
when I was like you. I want preconceived mold that is set up by
8.unlearn all these muting things. societal expectations.
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.

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.

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.

The tone of the poem is sad. The poet's response to his nostalgia is sadness.

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
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. LITERAL MEANING
The persona is moving from a house that she has
One thing is left occupied for five weeks. She has sent her
a spray of orchid someone gave belongings to her future home, but one item
4.from bouquet one who remains in her old space, an orchid. The persona
makes a ritual of flower-giving sent. clarifies that she was given the orchid as a gift, but
implies that it holds no value because the gifting
The orchids have no fragrance of orchids is habitual for the person who gave her.
but purple petals draw you She describes the flower as odourless, but
to look at the 2.purple heart. attractive. She watered the orchid once, expecting
it to die, but it survived. It not only survived, but
I watered them once bloomed. The persona contemplates plucking the
when 1.the blossoms were full blown bloom and pressing it between the pages of a
like polished poems. book. The purpose of this is to allow her to
I was sure they'd wilt appreciate the flower.
and I would toss them out with the five week

They were stubborn. LITERARY DEVICES

I starved them. 1. SIMILE
They would not die. The orchid's full blown blossoms are being
compared to a polished poem. The word polished
This morning the bud at the stalk's tip 5.unfurled. in this comparison implies perfection, shiny and
pleasant to read.
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.
The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is thinking about the lack of value that she
places in the orchid.
The tone of the poem is one of almost bored musing.
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 persona in this poem is reflecting on the
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
perfection of the city. He believes that there is
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples Lie
nothing on Earth so beautiful as the city in the
open upon the fields, and to the sky;
morning. Only a dull person would not appreciate
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
such a majestic sight. He is awed by the calm of
2.Never did sun more beautifully 6.steep
the city.
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!

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.


 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.
The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is expressing his thoughts, and
reaction to, the city in the morning.
The tone of the poem is one of awe.
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. LITERAL MEANING
1.By these shores I was born: sound of the sea The persona speaks about the fact that today he
came in at my window,2. life heaved and is recapturing the beauty of the island of his
breathed in me then birth. He reflects on the fact that he has
with the strength of that turbulent soil. travelled to the lands of the north, which
appeared to be the very opposite of his island.
5.Since then I have travelled: moved far from The persona appeared, at that point, to be
the beaches: homesick for his island and resented the ease
6.sojourned in stoniest cities, walking the lands and comfort that the Northerners' felt towards
of the north their land. He then shifts back to the present
1.In sharp, slanting sleet and the hail, where he appreciates certain features of the
crossed countless saltless savannas and come island, particularly those that remind him of his
to this house in the forest 2.where the shadows past on the island.
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 1. ALLITERATION
in rivers: 3.their flowing runs on like our  Stanza 1, lines 1-2: The sound that the
longing, alliteration illicits, when spoken, is a
8.reproves us our lack of endeavour and positive one. This is the case because
purpose, the alliteration forces the reader to
9.proves that our striving will founder on that. sound cheerful, thereby facilitating the
We resent them this wisdom, this freedom: interpretation that the persona is happy
passing us to be home.
toiling, waiting and watching their cunning  Stanza 1, lines 4-5: This alliteration,
declensions down to the sea. again, draws the reader through the
sound that it illicits. One can almost
Bright waves splash up from the rocks to hear the sound that the sea makes
refresh us, through the repetition of the 's' sound.
1.blue sea-shells shift in their wake It emphasizes the joy that the persona
and 10.there is the thatch of the fishermen's feels to be home.
houses, the path  Stanza 2, lines 13-14: This alliteration,
made of pebbles, 11.and look! when spoken, is staccato. It literally
Small urchins combing the beaches emphasizes the persona's discomfort,
look up from their traps to salute us: and dislike, of the new context that he
they remember us just as we left them. is faced with. It is alien to him, as seen
when contrasted with the scene that he
The fisherman, hawking the surf on this side describes in the first stanza.
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 Ltd, 2005.

 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.


 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.

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.

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.

The tone of the poem goes from being reflective, to being elated.

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.
The persona, a white male, proudly enters
Cricket. Not the game they play at Lords, Sabina Park to watch a cricket match between
the crowd - 1.whoever saw a crowd England and the West Indies. The persona
at a cricket match? - are caged notices that the game is slow and that the
7.vociferous partisans, quick to take offence. crowd is not reacting well. He is, in fact,
initially shocked that there is a crowd at all
8.England sixty eight for none at lunch. because this is usually not the case at Lords.
1.'What sort o battin dat man? By lunch, England is sixty eight for none, and
dem kaaan play cricket again, the crowd gets abusive. They even state that
praps dem should-a-borrow 2.Lawrence maybe they should borrow Lawrence Rowe.
Rowe!' The persona tries to explain the reason behind
the slow pace of the British side, but fails to
And on it goes, 9.the wicket slow convince even himself. His embarrassment at
as the batting and the crowd restless. England's performance has him eventually
1.'Eh white bwoy, how you brudders dem skulking out of the venue.
does sen we sleep so? Me a pay monies
fe watch dis foolishness? Cho!

So I try to explain in my Hampshire drawl LITERARY DEVICES

about conditions in Kent, 1. RHETORICAL QUESTION
about 10.sticky wickets and muggy days
and the monsoon season in Manchester  Stanza 2, lines 6-7: This question
but fail to convince even myself. reveals that, despite the fact that
cricket is a popular sport in England,
The crowd's 11.loud 'busin drives me out the venues for the matches are not
12.skulking behind a tarnished rosette crowded. This question could also
somewhat frayed now but unable, quite, point to the fact that Sabina Park was
to conceal a 13.blushing nationality. very crowded.

Brown, S. 'Test Match Sabina Park' in A

World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and
Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson
Education Ltd, 2005.

 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

The allusion to Lawrence Rowe, a very colourful and successful West Indian cricketer, emphasizes the
fact that the match is slow and boring.

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'

There are two distinct voices in this poem. The English man's and the West Indian's.

The mood of the poem is tense.

The tone of the poem is one of frustration (West Indian) and embarrassment (English man).

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 LITERAL MEANING
rising in her mouth each morning. The persona in this poem is telling the story of
Such signs made her know a mother who loved her son. The mother
that she was not alone in her body. became aware of the child's presence when she
She carried him 6.full term experienced morning sickness. She placed all
7.tight up under her heart. her hopes in the child and raised him as a
single parent because his father was indifferent
1.She carried him like the poor to the child's existence. The mother had set no
carry hope, hope you get a break barriers on what the child could become, but is
or a visa, hope one child go through told that he has an employer who values him
and remember you. He had no father. so much that he is given his own submarine
The man she made him with had more gun. The son tells his mother that his employer
like him, 2.he was fair-minded is like a father to him, but the mother wonders
he treated all his children at the father figure who purposefully endangers
with equal and unbiased indifference. his child. She prepares for her son's death by
going downtown to buy funeral apparel. The
She raised him twice, once as mother mother feels powerless, so she prays for her
then as father, 8.set no ceiling child and says protective psalms for him. On
on what he could be doctor the other hand, she reads psalms of retribution
earth healer, pilot take wings. for the employer and weeps for her son. Her
But now he tells her is working situation does not look good and is likened to a
for you, 3.that you value him so much partner system in which she draws both the
you give him one whole submachine gun first and the last hand.
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 LITERARY DEVICES
death, when he asks him for bread. 1. SIMILE
She went downtown and bought three
and one-third yard of black cloth  Lines 1-2: The persona emphasizes
and a deep crowned and veiled hat that the mother placed all her hopes in
for the day he draw 9.his bloody salary. her son. When you are poor, generally,
you have no prospects, you only dream
She has no power over you and this and hope. Therefore, the persona uses
at 10.the level of earth, what she has this metaphor to emphasize the
are prayers and a mother's tears mother's dependence on her son's
and at 11.knee city she uses them. success.
4.She says psalms for him  Line 17: The employer is being
she reads psalms for you compared to a father figure. This
she weeps for his soul implies that this person fills a gap in
her 12.eyewater covers you. the son's life.

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.

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
 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.

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about a mother's response to her son's life
TONE The tone of the poem is pragmatic and pessimistic. The persona is telling the tale as it is, with no
positive energy.

Death, love, survival, desires/ dreams, childhood experiences.
Theme For English B - Literature Notes
The instructor said,

Go home and write LITERAL MEANING

a page tonight. The persona's lecturer gave him an assignment
And let that page come out of you - to write a page that reflects 'him', or his
Then it will be true. character. The persona wonders if this is a
simple task, and begins to think about his life.
1.I wonder if it's that simple? Things like his age, place of birth, race and
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston- place of residence. Based on these musings, he
Salem. surmises that he is confused due to his youth.
3.I went to school there, then Durham, then He guesses that he is what he feels, sees and
here to this college on the hill above Harlem. hears, which is Harlem, New York. He
I am the only colored student in the class. continues his musing about what he likes, and
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem, concludes that he likes the same things that
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas, people of other races like. On this basis, he
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y, questions whether or not his page will be
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator influenced by race. He concludes that it will
up to my room, sit down, and write this page: not be white. He admits that his instructor, as
well as the fact that this instructor is white, will
It's not easy to know what is true for you or have some influence on his page. He states that
me they both influence each other, that is what
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what being American is about. He believes that both
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, 2.I hear you: of them might not want to influence each other,
hear you, hear me - we too - you, me, talk on but it cannot be helped. He concludes that both
this page. of them will learn from each other, despite the
(I hear New York, too.) 1.Me - who? fact that the instructor has the advantage of
being older, white and 'more free'. All of these
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. musings and conclusions become his page for
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life. English B.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records - Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me not
like the same things other folks like who are
1.So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white. 1.RHETORICAL QUESTION
4.But it will be
a part of you, instructor.  Stanza 2, line 6: The persona ponders
You are white - the ease of what he is asked to do. This
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you. question, in turn, actually highlights
That's American. the difficult nature of the task.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part  Stanza 3, line24: This question
of me. highlights the persona's confusion as to
Nor do I often want to be a part of you. who he is, or his character. He is
But we are, that's true! unsure.
5.As I learn from you,  Stanza 4, line 32: The persona is
I guess you learn from me - wondering whether his race will
although you're older - and white - affect what he writes on the page. This
and somewhat more free. is despite the fact that he concludes
that race does not hinder people, in
This is my page for English B. general, liking the same things.

This repetition emphasizes the profound impact that Harlem, New York, has had on the personality of the

* 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.

The tone of the poem is also reflective.

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 LITERAL MEANING
casino's baize, some come up lucky, others not. The persona is travelling in a plane, looking down
Puerto Rico takes the pot, 2.the Dallas of the West at San Juan, Puerto Rico, as the plane descends.
Indies, 2.silver linings on the clouds as we He is saying that this island is the wealthiest in the
descend are hall-marked, 1.San Juan glitters like a Caribbean because it has won the jackpot, it has
maverick's gold ring. come up lucky. He then points out that he, and
All across the Caribbean others, had travelled to many Caribbean islands
we'd collected terminals - 1.airports are like and received a hint of the flavour of each island
calling cards, cultural fingerprints; the hand through it's calling card, - its airport - all of which
written signs at Port-au-Prince, Piarco's sleazy fail when compared to plush San Juan. As they
tourist art, the lethargic contempt of the baggage land, they are instructed to stay on the plane if
boys at 'Vere Bird' in St. Johns .... their destination is not San Juan. The persona
And now for 4.plush San Juan. takes offence and states that America does not
But the pilot's bland you're want blacks in San Juan, implying that they might
safe in my hands drawl crackles as we land, 'US be a disruptive force. He notes the efficiency with
regulations demand all passengers not which things flow, enabling them to take to the
disembarking at San Juan stay on the plane, I skies once more. During the ascent, the persona
repeat, stay on the plane.' 3.Subtle Uncle Sam, notes the contrast between the influences of the
afraid too many 5.desperate blacks might re- Caribbean and America. He likens San-Juan to a
enslave this Island of the free, might jump the broken TV, it Iooks good on the outside, but
barbed broken on the inside.
electric fence around
6.'America's back yard' and claim that vaunted
sanctuary ..... 3. 'give me your poor .....' Through
toughened, tinted glass 7.the contrasts tantalise; LITERARY DEVICES
US patrol cars glide across the shimmering 1. SIMILE
tarmac, containered baggage trucks unload with
8.fierce efficiency. So soon we're climbing,
 Line 2: Puerto Rico is compared to dice
low above the pulsing city
that is tossed on a casino's baize, it can
streets; galvanized shanties overseen by
either come up with winning numbers, or
condominiums polished Cadillacs shimmying with
losing numbers. Puerto Rico comes up
pushcarts and as we climb, San-Juan's 9.fools-
with winning numbers in the game of
glitter calls to mind the shattered innards of a TV
chance, as reflected in its wealthy exterior,
set that's fallen off the back of a lorry, all painted
which is supported by America.
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.

 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.

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.

The mood of the poem is sarcastic.

The tone of the poem is slightly bitter, which is fueled by the sarcastic atmosphere.

Discrimination, oppression, places, culture.
Ballad of Birmingham - Literature Notes

'Mother dear, may I go downtown LITERAL MEANING

instead of out to play, The poem is about about a mother who loses her
1.and march the streets of Birmingham child. The child made a request to attend a
in a freedom march today? freedom march through the streets of Birmingham,
but the mother said no. She feared the many
1.'No, baby, no, you may not go, violent things that could befall her child in this
for the dogs are fierce and wild, setting. She, however, agreed that the child could
and clubs and hoses, guns and jails attend church. She was content with the
ain't good for a little child.' knowledge that her child was safely at church,
until an explosion saw her racing through the
'But mother, I won't be alone. streets of Birmingham to find her child. She did
Other children will go with me, not find her, but instead, found a foot of shoe in
1.and march the streets of Birmingham the rubble.
to make our country free.'
1.'No baby, no, you may not go, 1. REPETITION
for I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead,  The purpose of the child's repetition of
and sing in the children's choir.' where she wants to go and why, is to
contextualize the poem. The reader is
She has combed and brushed 2. her night dark made aware that the poem is set in
hair, and 2. bathed rose petal sweet, Birmingham during the civil rights
and drawn white gloves on her small movement. The repetition is for emphasis
brown hands, and white shoes on her feet. of this fact.
 The mothers repetition of no, highlights
The mother smiled to know her child her fear of the harmful things that could
was in the sacred place, happen to her child. Note that after each
but that smile was the last smile no, she lists possible harmful things that
to come upon her face. could occur if the child goes on the
freedom march.
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.
 The comparison of the darkness of the
She 6. clawed through bits of glass and brick, child's hair to night is purely to emphasize
then lifted out a shoe. how black the persona's daughters hair is.
 The comparison of her sweet smell, after
'O, here's the shoe my baby wore,
but, baby, where are you? her bath, emphasizes the care that went
into preparing the child for church. She
did not send her child out into the world
with an uncaring touch.

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.

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. The poem is about a black male who has been
1.His father, by the cruellest way of pain, lynched. The morning brings with it spectators
Had bidden him to his bosom once again; that have come to see the body. These are women
The 3.awful sin remained still unforgiven. and children who show no remorse for the scene
1.All night a bright and solitary star before them.
(Perchance the one that ever guided him,
Yet gave him up at last to Fate's wild whim) LITERARY DEVICES
Hung pitifully o'er the swinging 4.char. 1. ALLUSION
Day dawned, and soon the 5.mixed crowds came
to view  This alludes to the death of the individual,
The 6.ghastly body swaying in the sun: presumably a Black person, who is now in
The women thronged to look, but never a one heaven. This seen in the reference to being
2.Showed sorrow in her eyes of 7.steely blue; bidden, or called, to his father's 'bosom'.
And little lads, lynchers that were to be,  This star alludes to the one that guided the
Danced round the dreadful thing in 8.fiendish three wise men to baby Jesus. In this
glee. context, it highlights that this star has,
possibly, provided illumination in the
Claude McKay, A World of Poetry (2005) night for the victim of the lynching, but
also served to lead others to him as well.


 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.

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.