An Analysis of ‘One Continent to Another’By Grace Nichols

Like the yesterday of creation morning
she had imagined this new world to be
bereft of fecundity
No she wasn’t prepared
for the sea that lashed
fire that seared
solid earth that delivered
her up
birds that flew
not wanting to see the utter
rawness of life everywhere
and the men who seed the children
she wasn’t prepared for that look
in their eye-
that loss of deep man pride
Now she stoops
in green canefields
piecing the life she would lead

This piece analyses the poem ‘One Continent to Another’ written by Grace Nichols. Here is my analysis on the piece.

Structure

This poem is written as free verse perhaps to reflect the myriad of thoughts going through this woman’s head. In particular, a woman who want to migrate. The fluidity in the structure reflects the woman’s concerns. It is evident that the woman’s concerns are apparent and the structure of the poem reflects her concerns well.

Poetry Analysis

The poem begins with the opening which is ‘ Like yesterday of creation morning…’ and I found myself asking what does this mean? Then, I looked deeper and realised that the change the woman sought was long overdue. The woman in the poem yearns for a new start however she is constrainted  by her present condition. Even in her imagination, there are limitations as she ‘imagined this new world to be bereft of fecundity’. In simple English, she is sceptical of the abundance and opportunities available in this new place she wishes to migrate.

In my perceptions, I view this woman as a refugee who doesn’t fully understand the dangers and implications of moving from one continent to another. In the second part of the poem, it is implied that she is not ‘prepared for sea that lashed, fire that seared, solid earth that delivered her up’. The reader now understands the implications of the woman’s migration and the hardship she will encounter in doing so.

In the third part of the poem, the reader is introduced to disappointment the woman faces. The disappointment that in this situation, men cannot do anything to make the situation better but rather despair in the ‘loss of deep man’s pride’.

In the final part of the poem, we return to the present where we see the woman’s current situation. The mention of green canefield implies she is a slave to her condition and is trying to make sense of her situation.

 

Thank you for reading.

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