Personality, appearance and where we stand in life all make up our identity. The country that we grew up in can also have a very strong effect on our identity. In “Presents From” family traditions are important ideas where as in “Search For” the language that she speaks is a major factor in her identity.
You cannot help but notice the structure of “Search For” as it is split down the middle with a full stanza of Gujarati. This gives us an instant hint into what her problem is as we can see the visual representation of the Gujarati interrupting her English. Another thing that the structure tells us is that the languages can co-exist. By reading it we notice that the English still makes perfect sense without the interruption of the Gujarati. Similarly in “Presents From” the poet also uses the structure to her advantage; to help convey the message that identity is important. Moniza Alvi sets the poem out with a random structure, with different length lines and stanzas; this helps us to understand the girl’s confusion and predicament.
Both poems are set in 1st person therefore both poets believe that the best way of showing how important identity is, is by using 1st voice to describe personal experiences. By listening to a personal experience the reader tends to get a better picture in their mind. When hearing something in 1st voice it also adds to the veracity as it cuts out the middleman. In “Search For” the first word is “You” this immediately involves the reader by developing a relationship. This effect would not be possible in any other voice but 1st.
In “Presents From” the poet does not use any words that directly involve you but as she is still using 1st voice you still feel as if she is personally telling you a story.
Both poets use metaphorical language, for example in “Search For” an extended metaphor is used as she keeps referring to the tongues being like plants growing in her mouth until one grows longer and dominates. She refers to it as a plant many times such as “grows longer, grows moist, grows strong veins, it ties the other tongue in knots”. This metaphor emphasises her feelings on her identity. In “Presents From” the poet does not use an extended metaphor but she still uses them to support her message of her conflict of not quite fitting in. She uses this metaphor “Candy-striped glass bangles snapped, drew blood”. They snapped so this gives us the impression that she doesn’t belong to her Pakistani identity and that she is trying to break free of it. Another metaphor is at the end “staring through the fretwork at the Shalimar gardens” this shows her situation as if there is a barrier stopping her from being part of Pakistan.
In each poem the poet decides to use power words. These words give the reader a vivid image in their mind of the situation for example in “Search For” the poet uses the word “blossom”. This gives us a very strong image in our mind a lot stronger than if she would have used the word flowered. “Presents From” also contains power words such as “the clothes were radiant in my wardrobe” the word radiant gives the reader a vivid image of the bright colours standing out in her wardrobe. The image in the readers mind would be not be anywhere near as immense as if she would have just said “the clothes stood out in my wardrobe”.
The tone in ” Search For” changes throughout; this shows the poets view on her identity changing in time with the tone. The poem starts off in an anxious tone as she is worried, the next stanza shows the big turning point where as in the last stanza it shows the poet relieved and optimistic as she realises that her ‘tongues’ can live together. In “Presents from” the tone doesn’t change as she still feels as if she is stuck between cultures. Therefore the tone stays the same in tune with the way she feels about her identity,
I liked both of these poems but I prefer “Presents From” as I feel as if you could relate to it more whether or not your problem is about is about your identity. Regardless we all feel confusion, and struggle to work out our problems sometimes. “Search For” talks about identity in one specific way, i.e. ‘languages’ therefore it can be quite a hard poem to relate to unless you speak two languages. Both poets convey that identity is important in their own special ways.