John Agard Half Caste Poem Analysis

In the poem “half-caste” John Agard uses a variety of metaphors. He refers to things that are multicoloured to get his point across “yu mean when Picasso mix red an green is a half-caste canvas” John Agard is trying to tell his audience that Picasso doesn’t just use one colour in his paintings, he uses a variety of colours, which makes the painting more interesting.

This relates to John Agard because he is a mixture of two colours, which makes him something beautiful.

Another metaphor John Agard uses is “yu mean Tchaikovsky sit down at da piano and mix black key wid white” Again John Agard is saying that mixing two colours is a wonderful thing. John Agard repeats “half” 17 times. He is telling the audience that being half-caste doesn’t mean that he is half a person. However he refers him self as half when he says “I dream half a dream”.

No one can dream half a dream.

He is being ironic. John Agard is making the audience feel sorry for him. This is because dreaming half a dream is kind of sad, as if his multicoloured background prevents him from fulfilling his dream. The language he uses is Caribbean dialect which is patois. But at the beginning and the end of the poem he uses Standard English.

In the poem “search for my tongue” Sujata Bhatt uses a plant as imagery, and as a metaphor. The plant is dying out. She uses the plant to show her mother tongue is dying out of her mouth just like a plant would.

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“Your mother tongue would rot, rot and die in your mouth”. If you don’t do anything to the plant, the plant would die. This is the same thing for Sujata Bhatt.

If she doesn’t do anything to do with Gujarati, her mother tongue would be forgotten. However the plant grows back to life, which means her mother tongue, is doing the same. Sujata Bhatt repeats, “tongue” and “you” several times. She is trying to get the audience thinking about what they would do if had they had to learn two languages, and how hard it is. Sujata Bhatt starts off with a rhetorical question “you ask me what I mean” she is trying to get the audience involved at the beginning of the poem.

In “half-caste” John Agard’s structure is different to Sujata Bhatt’s structure. John Agard’s poem is set out in four stanzas. The first stanza and last stanza are the shortest stanzas with only three lines in. These two stanzas are the only lines that are written in Standard English, as the rest is written in Caribbean dialect.

The Caribbean dialect is more like slang and they miss some letters out. For example “explain yuself wha yu mean when yu say half-caste” John Agard has purposely missed out letters to add to the effect that he is not from England. In Standard English we would say these words “yuself” and “wha” and “yu” with added in letters. We would say “yourself” and “what” and “you” this adds to John Agard’s style of the poem. John Agard also used a lack of punctuation. But John Agard reads the poem slow.

However Sujata Bhatt has just spaced her poem on the page in a line. In verse 17 – 30 she speaks Gujarati which makes the poem eye catching because there is a different language in the poem. It says in the poem “munay thoonky kay aakhee jeebh aakhee bhasha” she is telling us that her mother tongue is coming back to life in her dream. Towards the end after she speaks Gujarati and she uses a lot of commas.

The use of commas she uses is to build the effect of the plant growing back step by step and the commas help create that image. He says “it grows back, a stump of a shoot, grows longer, grows moist, grows strong veins” the use of commas helps slow down the atmosphere and creates an image that stage by stage its all coming back to her. The plant which was her mother tongue is growing back.

John Agard and Sujata Bhatt feel very strongly about there multicultural backgrounds. If someone tries to insult John Agard about being “half-caste” he would be very questioning. Like in the poem, its like someone had called him half-caste and John Agard takes it the wrong way and thinks he is half a person.

I think that John Agard makes his point very clearly in his poem about how he feels about being multicultural. Sujata Bhatt feels sad that she is loosing her mother tongue and wouldn’t want anything or anyone to take that away from her.

When she feels like she is loosing that language she makes her point how hard it is speaking two different languages. But when the Gujarati comes back I think she still finds it difficult to learn both languages. Sujata Bhatt helps you to feel that confusion when she puts some Gujarati in her poem. Out of those two poems “half-caste” and “search for my tongue” I found “search for my tongue” a better poem. Sujata Bhatt helps you understand how she feels and because I know how hard it is to speak different languages, that poem interested me more.

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John Agard Half Caste Poem Analysis. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

John Agard Half Caste Poem Analysis
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