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By Marcia Douglas

By Marcia Douglas

By Marcia Douglas
 Marcia Douglas was born in the UK of Jamaican parents in 1961, but grew upVisit Marcia Douglas ' s we bsite: www.marciadouglas.com or see http://www.peepaltreepress.com/author_disp lay.asp?au_id=17  " id="pdf-obj-1-2" src="pdf-obj-1-2.jpg">

Marcia Douglas was born in the UK of Jamaican parents in 1961, but grew up in rural Jamaica. She left Jamaica in 1990 to

study for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative

Writing at Ohio State University and was awarded a Ph D in African American and Caribbean Literature in 1997.

 The poem is set in Jamaica, in a town called Cocoa Bottom. People, both adults
  • The poem is set in Jamaica, in a town called

Cocoa Bottom. People, both adults and

children, have travelled from far and wide to

see the switching on of Mr Samuel’s electric

lights as it is a momentous occasion. It seems

almost as if it is a magical event that even

nature is anticipating and waiting to see. However, it ends in disappointment; nobody

is able to record the event.

 ‘Then’ takes us into the middle of a story; stories are very important in cultures
  • ‘Then’ takes us into the middle of a story; stories

are very important in cultures like these and it

makes it sound very dramatic

  • ‘All the children’ – make it sound almost religious in tone

  • The first two lines are disarmingly simple with all the children coming to see these lights it

makes it sound like a performance, a show; it’s

exciting

  • Mr Samuel by mentioning his name he has become a local celebrity; this is a unique event

 ‘Camped on the grass’ – they are prepared to arrive early and stay for along
  • ‘Camped on the grass’ – they are prepared to arrive early and stay for along time

  • ‘lamps

...

oil’

ironic they have brought old

technology of oil lamps to see new technology of electric bulbs. The lamps are

full as well, meaning they could stay a long

time

  • ‘Waiting for sunset’ – irony here in them waiting for natural light to fade so they can

watch the artificial light

  • ‘yellow, orange’ – the scene clearly becoming darker but the poem is very colourful

 ‘Grannie Patterson ...
‘Grannie Patterson ...

peeped

..

door’

the contrast

with the children is apparent. Marcia is suggesting that although the older members of the community are there to witness the event,

they are not as comfortable with the new

technology as the children. She seems scared as

she’s peeping? Or is she excited and is desperate

to see

‘Cable

  • ...

sun’

this simile is an interesting one.

The idea of technology vs nature is apparent

here. Is the electricity cable ‘taking over’ from

the sun? Is the cable crossing through the sun, removing some of its power? A pencil line is not

as colourful as the light from the sun with its

many shades. Anything else?

 ‘Fireflies waited in the shadows ... lanterns off’ – lots of references to light here.
  • ‘Fireflies waited in the shadows

...

lanterns off’

lots of references to light here. Fireflies are

a natural light source but they have their natural light off; Marcia has also included

nature in the anticipation of such an event

now

  • The Kling-klings ‘congregating’ emphasises the religious atmosphere of this scene. With the flies and the birds coming to watch I’m

reminded of the Lion King! Even nature is

aware that something momentous is going to happen.

 ‘A breeze .. held breath’ – a wonderful example of personification and anticipation of a
  • ‘A breeze

..

held

breath’ – a wonderful example

of personification and anticipation of a

magical event

  • ‘bamboo

..

swaying’

logical that with no wind

the bamboo would stop swaying but repeats

the feeling of anticipation

  • ‘as soft as chiffon curtains:/Closing. Closing’ – the repetition of the ‘s’ sound makes this a

very gentle ending to the night and the full

stops between closing indicate a certain

amount of time has passed

 ‘Light!’ – has a whole line. Light was one of the first things god created.
  • ‘Light!’ – has a whole line. Light was one of the first things god created. The amazement

is heightened by the simplicity of the word along with the exclamation mark.

  • ‘Mr Samuel smiling’ – indicates how pleased and triumphant he feels about the display

  • ‘silhouette

..

yellow

shimmer’ – images of

contrasting light and colour to make it seem

realistic and marvellous

  • ‘gasp’ – sense of incredulity and awe

 ‘fluttering’ – everything’s moving again, the world is in motion at the spectacle of light
  • ‘fluttering’ – everything’s moving again, the

world is in motion at the spectacle of light

  • ‘tweet-a-whit’ – as if nature is able to talk about the spectacle

  • ‘swaying’ x 2: the breeze has arrived again but there is a sense of movement and delight,

of nature and mankind being in a similar state of awe

  • ‘Light! Marvellous light!’ – the crowd are united in their opinion of the display, their

enthusiasm clear

 ‘then the breeze ... bowed heads’ – these four
‘then the breeze
...
bowed
heads’ – these four

lines show the wind becoming stronger but the

simile of so many bowed heads make the tone religious, as if praying to a higher power.

‘Swelling’ x2 shows the power of nature. It

creates a sense of drama and humans/nature

being in accord.

  • ‘And a voice in the wind whispered:’ – the tone is reverential now, serious: for such an important event, why is there nobody to record and remember it? This changes the tone of the poem

and it becomes sad as nobody can answer. Can

nobody write? The ironic thing here is that this poem is a written record of the moment.

The third stanza is perplexing. Lines 34/35 tell us nobody heard a sound – very negative.

The third stanza is perplexing. Lines 34/35 tell us nobody heard a sound very negative. No, they saw light; light doesn’t make a noise. Why would warm

rocks hear noise? There should be some debate here. The last four lines introduce a sense of disappointment with the children going home, needing their oil lamps

to help them see. Does this show that they believe it

was a waste of time? Does this show that we, as people, love the idea of new things but very quickly get bored with them and only different things keep us interested? The dark journey home indicates a

sense of loss, combined with the moment passing.