Hurricane Hits England

Hurricane Hits England

Grace Nichols' poem is about the experience of being an immigrant, of living in a foreign country. Like 'Presents from My Aunts in Pakistan, it is also about how such an experience affects a character's sense of themselves and their cultural identity.

At the start of the poem the character feels some distance, or lack of connection with her new country. She doesn't feel quite at home, or part of things, it is still alien to her:

'It took a hurricane, to bring her closer To the landscape.'

The hurricane re-connects her to her heritage and homeland. It breaks the 'frozen lake' in her. This frozen lake suggests that until the storm she has felt cut-off from the deeper aspects of her personality and her history, that she felt restricted and had to live on the surface.

The hurricane not only re-connects her with a full sense of herself it also connects life in England with life in the West Indies. In the end the message of the storm is that the 'earth is the earth is the earth., In other words, beneath superficial differences we are all connected and share a common experience.

This is an elaborate impassioned poem. Nichols uses a dense combination ofpoetic effects, from metaphor to paradox to apostrophe. Like the characterin the poem we have to work hard to decode the message of the storm and theaffect it has on the character.

When you listen to the poem concentrate on the tone that is used.

Does the character sound confused, or pleading or excited, or all three at different points

Nichols uses a lot of poetic devices in this poem. Whilst you do not get marks in the exam for simply identifying these poetic devices, you will get credit for applying the technical terms correctly.

The bulk of the marks, though, we be given for your analysis of the devices.

In the large panel below is a selection of quotes from the poem and underneath that is a range of devices used, e.g. metaphor. Select the correct device for the quote on display and then mark your answer before you move on to the next question:

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In all poetry questions you will be asked to write about the following:

  • The subject(s) of the poem
  • The attitude of the poet
  • The poetic devices the poet uses The attitude of the poet

In other words you will be asked about what the poet is writing about,what the poet feels about the subject(s) and how the poem iswritten.

Subject
The poem is about the experience of coming to terms with a new life and a different culture. It is about how we adapt to new circumstance and can temporary lose sight of who we are.
The character in the poem has felt disconnected from her environment because it seems so different.
The storm is a metaphor for a big event that re-connects the character with her full sense of herself and her cultural heritage. This re-connecting also extends to the two places.
She realises at the end of the poem that there is continuity between her experience and between England and the West Indies.
She realises that beneath the surface differences human experience is the same.

Attitude
The character initially feels separate form her new environment and from aspects of her self. The poem is about re-connection.
The feelings are of confusion, empowerment, excitement and release.
The character feels unchained by the end of the poem. She has regained a full sense of who she is and where she lives. She feels a part of things, natural in her new environment and home.
Style
Nichols uses a lot of poetic devices to convey the drama of the inner and outer storms.
The exuberance and energy of the poetry matches the character's feelings.
Repetition is used to create a sense of immediacy and excitement.
The poem is like a way of thinking. The character asks a lot of questions. After the first stanza it is in the present tense, so that we feel the emotions at the same time as the character does.

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