Simple analytic notes on Praise Song for My Mother

This was a poem in the poetry anthology section of relationships that I had to study for my GCSE English and so I thought to share my simple notes, which may be helpful to those who have just started looking at Praise Song for My Mother by Grace Nichols

Praise song – traditional African poetic form

there are no full stops in this poem, it is all flowing and continuous

You were

water to me

deep and bold and fathoming

  • “water” – natural imagery. water is essential for living, water is precious just as the mother is to the child and vice versa, the relationship between mother and child is precious. you can see your own reflection in water so does the child reflect it’s mother? Water suggests sea, oceans. ocean depth love? continuous, everlasting, replenishing love?
  • “deep” – theres more than just whats on the surface
  • “fathoming” – solving problems, depth, providing answers/never ending, continuing. a verb that suggests movement

You were

moon’s eye to me

pull and grained and mantling

  • “you” – personal pronoun, more intimate and personal
  • “moon” – radiant, light in the darkness, guidance, the ocean and the moon link because the moon controls the tide “pull” so it is reliant, this is constant as it occurs every night
  • “eye” – guidance, watching out for the persona, personification of the “moon”
  • “moon” symbolises tranquility. the mother provides peace to the child?
  • “mantling” – kept everything together, protection

You were

sunrise to me

rise and warm and streaming

  • “sunrise” – warmth, comfort, spreading light/joy, essential to start everyday, dependent on the sunrise coming everyday
  • “streaming” – constant, flowing to everywhere and around all the rocks and barriers
  • “rise” – lifting us through

You were

the fishes red gill to me

the flame tree’s spread to me

the crab’s leg/the fried plantain smell

                                                            replenishing, replenishing

  • “flame tree’s” – providing shelter, protection, gathering light
  • “the crab’s leg” – is considered to be the tastiest and best part of the meat, its hard to get to
  • repetition of “replenishing” – its ongoing, filling up again, giving more

Go to your wide futures, you said

  • explore the world
  • there is still no full stop which suggests that this is only the beginning of the persona’s life, suggests that searching for the future is the beginning of one’s life?
  • the mother (family) had to be sacrificed in order to explore the world
  • “you said” – an imperative? told by the mother to go seek the future, the potential?
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