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Critical Essay: Hurricane hits England Assignment

‘Hurricane Hits England’ is a poem written by Grace Nichols. The poem describes the effect that a powerful hurricane has when it hits England. The poem shows the contrast in cultures between: the Caribbean and living in England; the hurricane reminds Nichols of the weather she used to witness as a child in her native land, which the poem is strongly linked to. The poem is mainly written it first person narrative however there is a short introductory stanza written in third person. The poet uses imagery to help link the hurricane with the Caribbean this helps to explore the main theme of ancestral heritage.

The first stanza is linked to the Caribbean and the theme of ancestral heritage as the poet describes the effect the hurricane has on her and on her surroundings:

“It took a hurricane, to bring her closer

To the landscape”

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Here the poet is telling you that she feels more at home in England because of the hurricane, because she had witnessed many Hurricanes as a child in the Caribbean. This helps me to understand where the poet is really from and also how she used to feel isolated in England:

“Like some dark ancestral spectre”

The spectre relates to the voodoo gods, which used to be worshiped in the Caribbean, ‘ancestral’ supports the fact that the location of the Caribbean relates to her ancestors that would had been living in there at the time voodoo would have been used. Throughout the poem the Caribbean is used as a link to help emphasis the main theme of ancestral heritage.

In the second and third stanza the way the location exploits the theme is strongly presented further:

“Talk to me Huracan

Talk to me Oya

Talk to me Shango”

Here the repetition emphasises the poet reciting the names of the Voodoo Gods, this supports the Voodoo culture and the theme of ancestral heritage as her ancestors may have worshiped these Gods. In the third stanza:

” What is the meaning

Of old tongues

Reaping havoc”

The ‘old tongues’ refers to the old language that would be used in the Caribbean at the time of her ancestors. The metaphor ‘reaping havoc creates a dark tone and relates the theme of black magic.

Stanza’s five and six continue to explore the theme by using the location of the Caribbean:

“Falling as heavy as whales”

Which relates to the trees crashing to the ground, leaving huge holes like ‘cratered graves’. This could also be used to represent the woman being ripped up from where she grew, leaving behind a huge gap in her life:

“O why is my heart unchained?”

Relates to slavery, as it was popular in the Caribbean when her ancestors would have lived. I believe this adds a sense of belonging to the poem as the poet is free where her ancestors would have been captured and sold on as slaves. The theme of ancestral heritage is further portrayed in stanza six:

“Tropical Oya of the weather”

Here the woman is talking to the Voodoo Gods asking for help, this creates a sense of coming together at the end of the poem for the women and the storm. The theme of ancestral heritage helps the reader to have more of an understanding towards the storm and for woman’s feelings towards it.

In the last stanza, the use of imagery further portrays the theme:

“Shaking the foundations of the very trees within me”

The metaphor here is effective in showing us that the women is very spiritual, just like her ancestors were, and that not much has changed referring to her and to her ancestors believes even though she has not met her ancestors the poet somehow feels connected to them. The last line of the poem:

“That the earth is the earth is the earth”

Leads the reader to believe that the poet has made her peace with the storm and that things will remain the same no matter where about in the world she is and that she will always have a part of the Caribbean with her.

Grace Nichols poem, ‘Hurricane hits England’ is strongly linked to the setting of the Caribbean and the poet does capture the essence of the location to exploit the theme of ancestral heritage.

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