‘Hurricane Hits England’ is a poem by Grace Nichols. The poem is about the problems of belonging to two cultures and the effects of memories and experiences from her past. In contrast, Sanjita Bhatt’s poem, ‘From Search for My Tongue’ is also about coming to terms with a new life and different culture. In search for my tongue it is about the poet’s original language that is vital to her identity, whereas in hurricane hits England, it is the reminiscence of hurricanes from her native Caribbean that affects the poet.
The hurricane makes the poet reminisce about her native Caribbean. From the very start of Nichols poem, the audience is given the impression that the person hasn’t quite connected with her new country. ‘It took a hurricane, to bring her closer to the landscape’. This shows that the character feels alienated and doesn’t feel at home. However, Bhatt’s poem starts of with a strong but conversational tone, ‘you ask me…I ask you’, opening a close relationship with the reader. The writer feels fear that she has lost the ability to speak for her culture and consequently questions her identity.
Nichols shows that in her poem, it is the hurricanes that re connects her to her heritage. It breaks the ‘frozen lake’ in her. This suggests that her personality and history was turned frozen, and she felt restricted when she moved to England. On the other hand, in search for my tongue Sanjita expresses how difficult it is to be bilingual with certain phrases. ‘If you live in a place you had to speak a foreign tongue’. Here there is a suggestion that some people would not be allowed to speak their own language.
Sanjita carries on the theme of cultural identity and the problems it brings, ‘lost the first one…and could not really know the other’. The second language seems to be alien to the original language and the writer demonstrates that she feels that she can’t fully understand a completely different culture. In hurricane hits England, a hurricane is being described in the south of England, using negative diction such as ‘howling’, ‘rage’ and ‘fearful’. This suggests that the storm was an upsetting and frightful scene when in fact she feels reassured as it reminds her of her childhood in the Caribbean.
In search for my tongue, the poet argues that you cannot use both ‘tongues together’, and that ‘your mother tongue would rot and die in your mouth’ and ‘you had to spit it out’. This suggests that the second language has made the first language seem as being disgusting. Whereas, In hurricane hits England, the character tries to talk with the hurricane using goddess names such as ‘oya’ and ‘shango’. These reflect her religious culture and emphasize the importance of culture.
In from search for my tongue, the first person, ‘you ask…I ask’ is used to create a personal close relation with the reader. The poem also uses harsh diction such as, ‘rot’, ‘die’ and ‘spit’; again to emphasize the difficulties of speaking two languages. The repetition of these words also emphasises the frustration and anger she feels. The poems form is well suited to its subject. The Guajarati stands out in the poem, conveying that it is important in her life. It is almost given equal status to the English language as it is not translated. The poem speaks differently to different people.
In hurricane hits England, the poet uses juxtaposition, ‘fearful and reassuring’, to emphasize the characters mixed feelings. In addition, using Caribbean god names such as ‘oya’ and ‘shango’ shows that the women’s thoughts are going back to her original place of birth. ‘o why is my heart unchained’, the poet questions herself why she feels the way she does. The hurricane represents her inner turmoil and so becomes a sympathetic poem.
In conclusion both poems are very similar in expressing the difficulties with being stuck with two cultures. The theme of the value of life, without its conflicts is eventually conveyed towards the end of each poem. The poem uses an extended metaphor in which the mother tongue is described as a growing plant where it says “grows longer, grows moist, grows strong veins’. ‘The bud opens in my mind’ and ‘it pushes the other tongue aside’. Plant imagery is also used; the final line “it blossoms out of my mouth” portrays an image in the reader’s mind of a bursting flower. The word gives a positive significance.
In hurricane hits England the character finally realizes that despite all the turmoil, al that matters is being alive and having a place on earth and this is shown in the very last line ‘the earth is the earth is the earth’. This is the ‘sweet mystery’ of life. Her ‘frozen lake’ is now broken and she feels closer to England than every before.