Blessing and Island Man are two very different poems. The theme of Blessing revolves around people in a third-world country, who get very little water given to them. A blessing in their eyes occurs when a pipe bursts. Island Man, however, is about a man from the Caribbean who is now in London, but dreams he was still living in his homeland, even though he wakes up back in London. While the poems themes are dissimilar, the poems are both very descriptive, and the poets use description to help us empathise further with their characters.
The structure of the poem Blessing is quite irregular. The first stanza is a mere two lines: it sets the scene. The next two stanzas increase in length before becoming smaller again at the last stanza. This helps us to picture how, in the beginning, there are only a few drops of water available however when the pipe bursts in the third stanza, the verse size increases along with how much water there is. Also, in the third stanza, commas are omitted in the line every man woman child to show the urgency of everyone in the village, who seize this opportunity to grab water. Imtiaz Dharker does use commas however when describing the different materials that the pots are made of. This makes it seem as if, even though Dharker only describes five vessels, there are a multitude of pots and buckets being used.
Throughout the third stanza, the lines are free-flowing, and run into each other like the water which is being described. Island Mans structure is also a fairly irregular one. Lines such as groggily groggily and to surge of wheels are placed away from the main poem; this gives a sense of confusion, like the man who has just woken up and is still not quite sure where he is. To add to this effect, the lengths of lines in each stanza vary and this gives a muddled or sleepy feel to the poem. The last line Another London day is on its own to show that the man has finally come out of the dream, and he is jolted back into reality. Another short line appears at very beginning of the poem. The one-word, staccato sentence shows how the island man has suddenly woken up.
Blessing uses very descriptive language to convey how the characters are feeling or thinking. Throughout the poem, there are subtle references to church or religion. Using words such as congregation or a kindly god make the reader feel as if the water is a gift from God. This is amplified by the fact that the poem is called Blessing, which is a spiritual word and often associated with God and religion. There are more implications that the water is a gift from God, such as when the poem says the flow has found. This shows that the water finds the people, instead of it being vice versa it sounds miraculous, because the people didnt choose for all this water to come at once but it was greatly longed for.
Dharker also conveys how important the water is to them by describing it as silver instead of just water, and sudden rush of fortune to show that in their country, water is extremely rare and never taken for granted. Words with negative connotations for us such as screaming and roar are turned around in this poem and used to a positive effect. In the last stanza, the phrase flashing light could show how water is such a light to these peoples lives and a novelty to them, on the other hand it could also show that the flow of water is slowing down now, and it is only in spurts or flashes but still looks like light. Island Man also contains very powerful language.
In the first stanza alone there are many interesting word choices. The word wombing conveys how comforting and secure the Caribbean seems to the man. It is linked to him feeling safer at his place of birth rather than a bustling city like London. Colour is used several times in the first stanza as well: blue for surf, emerald for the island vegetation and grey for the traffic of London. This gives a very strong image in the readers mind. Wild seabirds is a very natural image which gives a strong contrast with other descriptions such as dull North Circular it shows how artificial London is in comparison to the Caribbean. Some ambiguous words have been chosen too, such as soar and roar. These are ambiguous because they could easily apply to the Caribbean sea, or the London traffic.
Various poetic techniques are put to good use in Blessing. The first one that becomes apparent is the use of end stopped lines. These keep the sentence to the point and fairly literal, which is important when they are used to set the scene, as seen in the first stanza of Blessing. Imagery is frequently used too, such as liquid sun and this adds to the feeling of heat in the poem, helping us to realise how important the water is to the characters. Onomatopoeia is used in the line drip of it, the small splash and this is used to give a clearer picture of what is happening in the poem. Another technique used is alliteration. One example of this is the phrase polished to perfection which helps the reader to picture the scene. Also, ambiguity features in Blessing in the phrases highlights. While we would tend to think that highlights refers to your hair, in this country the children are not as superficial as we are.
The highlights probably refers to their skin being changed colour by the reflecting sun and water. This inconclusive word gives a sense of mystery to the last stanza, and it makes it seem like a cliff-hanger ending. Island Man shares some of Blessings poetic techniques such as the use of metaphors, in pillow waves. This shows how island mans dreams of sea comfort him in his sleep. Virtually no punctuation is used in Island Man to show how relaxed the personality of the man is, however a capital letter is used to mark a turning point in the poem. It is used in Comes back to sands to show that now, the island man is back in London physically and mentally. Grace Nichols relies on sound to make an effective contrast: she makes a clear difference between the breaking of the surf and the roar of the traffic.
In conclusion, while these two poems are basically about two very different things, they share many descriptive techniques. I definitely enjoyed both of the poems, but Island Man is the one I prefer. I find it quite easy to relate to because Ive had many dreams I havent wanted to wake up from, and even though I live in a city, the huge amounts of traffic is sometimes daunting to me, as it is to the island man. I found Blessing harder to relate to, as a lack of water isnt something we generally experience in this country. However, the poem makes you want to not take things for granted which I think is a moving sentiment.